Friday, April 27

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it." 
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

To imagine that a person who intrigues us has access to a way of life unknown and all the more attractive for its mystery, to believe that we will begin to live only through the love of that person—what else is this but the birth of great passion?
Marcel Proust, from the mistranslation of Y.K. Karaosmanoglu

"To say that religion is useful is not at all to say that it is true. We as scientists are in the truth business, we are not in the useful delusion business. I could invent a religion right now that I guarantee you would be more useful than any religion on offer and if we could spread it to billions we would live in a better world and this religion would be transparently false to everyone in this room, it would be a lie. Here’s the religion: Help people to the best of your ability, don’t lie, cheat or steal—and here’s where it gets novel—raise your children to value science and mathematics and excel in these areas as best as they can and if you don’t do this you will be tortured after death by a seventeen-headed demon named Phyllis. If we could spread this all over the world—if we could replace Islam with this faith—we would live in a better world, absolutely. Does that lend the slightest credence to the idea that this demon named Phyllis exists? No."
— Sam Harris - on arguments for the utility of religion as a means to limit open criticism of religious claims

"Her new book was on the phenomenon of word casings, a term she’d invented for words that no longer had meaning outside quotation marks. English was full of these empty words—’friend’ and ‘real’ and ‘story’ and ‘change’—words that had been shucked of their meanings and reduced to husks. Some, like ‘identity,’ ‘search,’ and ‘cloud,’ had clearly been drained of life by their Web usage. With others, the reasons were more complex; how had ‘American’ become an ironic term? How had ‘democracy’ come to be used in an arch, mocking way?"
— Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
—Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Who knows what we are, what we feel? who knows even at the moment of intimacy, this is knowledge? aren’t things spoilt then, by saying them?
Virginia Woolf 

I wonder if any of them can tell from just looking at me that all I am is the sum total of my pain, a raw woundedness so extreme that it might be terminal. It might be terminal velocity, the speed of the sound of a girl falling down to a place from where she can’t be retrieved. What if I am stuck down here for good? 
— Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation 

You’re not a kid anymore. You have the right to choose your own life. You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple. It’s your right. 

For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist."
- Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye

Why do anything— why wash my hair, why read Moby Dick, why fall in love, why sit through six hours of Nicholas Nickleby, why care about American intervention in Central America, why spend time trying to get into the right schools, why dance to the music when all of us are just slouching toward the same inevitable conclusion? The shortness of life, I keep saying, makes everything seem pointless when I think about the longness of death 
— Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation  

“Among our egocentric sad-sacks, despair is as addictive as heroin and more popular than sex, for the single reason that when one is unhappy one gets to pay a lot of attention to oneself. Misery becomes a kind of emotional masturbation.”
— Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward

You don’t meet a lot of people that you really like. I don’t anyway. 
— Nick Cave 

These things, she felt, were not to be passed around like disingenuous party favors. She kept an honor code with her journals and her poems. ‘Inside, inside,’ she would whisper quietly to herself when she felt the urge to tell… 
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold