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The Favorite Quotation Thread


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While EWB has never really had enough interest to prompt a print subforum, we are a community characterized by good taste and I've always been interested in what everyone is reading when they aren't staring at a screen.

With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to have thread where we could collect some of our favorite quotes, or passages, old or new. You don't have to provide an explanation, but do if you can. As an added wrinkle I thought we could keep quotations close to about 500 words or under? People skim over longer ones, and it would be nice to keep things succinct. With luck, this might turn some folks onto reading something new!

First a short one but a favorite:

"Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability.

And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand."

- Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

And then a more cumbersome quote that cracks 600 words... I am bad at rules. Even my own. To be fair though, this is a pretty frenetic read:

" I called her. Right in the middle of the conversation, she said: "What do you feel like doing right now?" I replied, automatically, same tone of voice as one might say "I could go for a tuna sandwich on rye," I said: "I wanna fuck." A second of silence. Then: "Okay," she said, just as casually. "Come on over."

I got there fast. She met me at the door in a frowzy black slip, hair all a mess, no makeup, barefoot, half-asleep, emotionally neutral to the world. I thought she was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen in my life. Especially in that ratty old black slip. I couldn't believe I was about to be holding something as magnificent as this in my arms, such a hunk of woo-man, such a primal Earth Goddess, such a lush juicy creation of the Almighty God in Heaven or Hell I didn't care which and she had a brain besides! I had it made. Life couldn't get any better than this! Like Swamp Dogg once sang: "If I die tomorrow/I've lived tonight!" Damn straight!

Who cared if Western civilization was sinking into entropy or gearing up for Armageddon, I never could decide which? All my philosophy was gibberish, and Western civilization was a bucket of shit in the first place! So who cared! I wanted to fuck this woman in the mud of a ditch while a firestorm of whitehot PLO and Israeli bullets whizzed over our heads! I wanted to take her down to the Everglades and throw her down in the swamp and do dirty things to her till she screamed like a polecat tangled up in an electric fence for "More! More! More! Stop! Stop! Stop! No, don't! Eat me! Kill me! Break me! Fuck me!" And then I'd push her down so deep in the mud and the green slime and rotting tropical overgrowth it almost buried both of us in our faces and hair and mouths and we'd love like reptiles slither down lower than the gutter our screaming bellies pounding together in the muck from which all life sprang before we or the media or New York magazine careers or anything else amounted to shit!

Alligators would come slogging over, take one look at the likes of us and turn right around and hightail it the other way! Water moccasins cowered at the bottom of the river, scared we'd bite 'em and then they'd die! Because we are death as well as life! We are jungle fever, beri-beri, Mau Maus ravenous for each otehr after which we'll go machete and bar-bee-cue us some missionaries! We have become one with the primordial ooze! Beats the Upper East Side for shitsure!

Then I yank her upfrom the slime and jet nonstop to Cambodia. I want to fuck her on top of a pile of bleached bones, mountains of skulls, hundreds of rotting carasses! I want to feel death all around me, that's how alive I feel just looking at her, TO BE INSIDE... yeah I want death from sea to shining sea, moutains of it blotting out the horizon, I want to scream with wild dog joy in the pit of a smoking charnel house! In Makindye Prison, Kampala, Uganda! On top of spilled organs of the dead a foot deep! I want Idi Amin to see us! He's been around a bit, I know, but he's never seen this! Might learn something! I want to fuck death, I want death to know it ain't shit, I can lick it, because what I am holding in my arms right now and am about to carry into the bedroom and to which I will deliver up my body and soul deep in the center of her belly, the center of her, I'm serving notice right now is the final and absolute inarguable rebuttal that shoots death down forever!

-Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Lester Bangs

Edit: Just noticed the typo in the subtitle... haha. Grifterfail.

Edited by GRIFT
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"That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen."

Charles Bukowski 'Women'

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Good thread GRIFT. I have a ton, but let's get started:

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flame yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don‘t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

My actual favorite quotation from Infinite Jest are the six pages that describe which facts one could learn in a halfway house, but it's obviously too long. Still, in my eyes those are the best pages ever written. Just breath-taking.

This one is a bit over the 500 word mark, but damn it's one of the best quotations ever in my opinion.

"I can believe things that are true and I can believe things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen — I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it." She stopped, out of breath.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

That should do for now, but trust me, more will come. This thread is going to be awesome.

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So that milk was several weeks old, like everything else in my refrigerator. But did I throw it away? No. I'll probably sniff it again in two weeks' time, just to torment myself. I have two personalities. Two idiots. The one who sniffs the milk and doesn't throw it away, and the one who sniffs the milk two weeks later.

My Less Than Secret Life by Jonathan Ames

I wondered where the person was who had taken my place, who wanted to know what news people had been told. I'm always looking for the person who replaces me, who thinks the things I do, who fills in for me when I'm not there. I know there is someone younger than me doing what I did and someone older doing what I will do, and someone my age being just like me.

I Pass Like the Night by Jonathan Ames

If you're a fan of Bored to Death, you need to check out the novels/non-fiction of Jonathan Ames.

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I'll probably post in here all the damned time, but here's a couple of all-time favourites;

At lilac evening I walked with every muscle aching among the lights of 27th and Welton in the Denver colored section, wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

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Hustlers of the world, there is one Mark you cannot beat: The Mark Inside.

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

He wondered, as he had many times wondered before, whether he himself was a lunatic. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.

1984 by George Orwell

I'm breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

This is another paradox, that many of the most important impressions and thoughts in a person's life are ones that flash through your head so fast that fast isn't even the right word, they seem totally different from or outside of the regular sequential clock time we all live by, and they have so little relation to the sort of linear, one-word-after-another word English we all communicate with each other with that it could easily take a whole lifetime just to spell out the contents of one split-second's flash of thoughts and connections, etc. -- and yet we all seem to go around trying to use English (or whatever language our native country happens to use, it goes without saying) to try to convey to other people what we're thinking and to find out what they're thinking, when in fact deep down everybody knows it's a charade and they're just going through the motions. What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny part of it at any given instant.

"Good Old Neon" in Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

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These are from webcomics:

"When two ninja engage in battle, not a word is spoken. There is no room for banter. Perfect focus must be maintained.

Every attack and parry is plotted ten steps in advance.

Like a silent, deadly game of Battleship.

Not chess. Battleship.

Chess is a little too... 'Rooky, Pawny' for my tastes"


"The flyer has a cute kitten drawn on it! It represents violence and carnage!"

One from an actual book:

There is no instance of a nation ever having benefited from prolonged war

-From Art of War

I'll post a couple more later, but I forget the exact wording so I have to find the book they are in.

Edited by OctoberRavenO
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"Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk:

Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don't you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can't think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it? Do you read everything you're supposed to read? Do you think every thing you're supposed to think? Buy what you're told to want? Get out of your apartment. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive shopping and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you're alive. If you don't claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.

"Choke" by Chuck Palahniuk

The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas' date=' concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.[/quote']

"Rant" by Chuck Palahniuk

By first believing in Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, Rant Casey was recognizing that those myths are more than pretty stories and traditions to delight children. Or to modify behavior. Each of those three traditions asks a child to believe in the impossible in exchange for a reward. These are stepped-up tests to build a child's faith and imagination. The first test is to believe in a magical person, with toys as the reward. The second test is to trust in a magical animal, with candy as the reward. The last test is the most difficult, with the most abstract reward: To believe, trust in a flying fairy that will leave money.

From a man to an animal to a fairy.

From toys to candy to money. Thus, interestingly enough, transferring the magic of faith and trust from sparkling fairy-dom to clumsy, tarnished coins. From gossamer wings to nickels... dimes... and quarters.

In this way, a child is stepped up to greater feats of imagination and faith as he or she matures. Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.

"Lullaby" by Chuck Palaniuk

Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.

"The Dice Man" by Luke Rhinehart

breaking my established patterns was threatening to my deeply ingrained selves and pricked me to a level of consciousness which is unusual, unusual since the whole instinct of human behavior is to find environments congenial to the relaxation of consciousness. By creating problems for myself I created thought.

I also created problems.

"Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe

I am Envy. I cannot read and therefore wish all books burned.

"The Jew of Malta" by Christopher Marlowe

I count religion but a childish toy' date=' And hold there is no sin but ignorance.[/quote']

"A Drink Before the War" by Dennis Lehane

The Hero always gave me a dope slap upside the head whenever he caught me looking in the mirror. “Men built those things so women would have something to do' date='” he’s say. Hero. Philosopher. My father, the Renaissance man.[/quote']

I might add more later.

Edited by WalkerWGZ
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I'm never going to be able to quote passages from my favourite books, but I would like to chime in and say that I am incredibly grateful that my school made it compulsory for our English classes to study Brave New World. It was met with a range of feeling from students from sheer indifference to sheer hatred, but I thought it was amazing.

If I were to quote anything, it'd be something far less profound than anything here already, in fact, I'd say it's more than a fair shout it'd be something from the Hitchhiker's Guide.

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I'm never going to be able to quote passages from my favourite books, but I would like to chime in and say that I am incredibly grateful that my school made it compulsory for our English classes to study Brave New World. It was met with a range of feeling from students from sheer indifference to sheer hatred, but I thought it was amazing.

If I were to quote anything, it'd be something far less profound than anything here already, in fact, I'd say it's more than a fair shout it'd be something from the Hitchhiker's Guide.

To be honest, I found mine just typing 'Charles Bukowski quotes' into Google and going down the list. I can't remember passages that I specifically enjoyed reading, but I know that I have enjoyed Bukowski and the sentiments he has expressed. My quote works on that kinda level more than anything.

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I feel the tone has been appropriately lowered to the point where Discworld is acceptable.

Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.
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I'll throw in the old favourite from Hitchiker

What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."
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Here are two from Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevski:

It was not only that I could not become spiteful, I did not know how to become anything; neither spiteful nor kind, neither a rascal nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. Now, I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot become anything seriously, and it is only the fool who becomes anything. Yes, a man in the nineteenth century must and morally ought to be pre-eminently a characterless creature; a man of character, an active man is pre-eminently a limited creature.

I swear, gentlemen, that to be too conscious is an illness – a real thorough-going illness. For man's everyday needs, it would have been quite enough to have the ordinary human consciousness, that is, half or a quarter of the amount which falls to the lot of a cultivated man of our unhappy nineteenth century, especially one who has the fatal ill-luck to inhabit Petersburg, the most theoretical and intentional town on the whole terrestrial globe. (There are intentional and unintentional towns.) It would have been quite enough, for instance, to have the consciousness by which all so-called direct persons and men of action live.

And from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:

"It's like you said the other day," said Adam. "You grow up readin' about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus' when you think the world's full of amazin' things, they tell you it's really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nucular waste hangin' about for millions of years. 'Snot worth growin' up for, if you ask my opinion."

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I'll throw in the old favourite from Hitchiker

What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

One of the first things I think of when the Guide comes up in conversation or whathaveyou is the whole bit about Cricket (Crikkit? I'm sure it's spelled differently, but I haven't read it for ages and I'm too lazy to Google).

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So then I understood. It was war that made her so angry. She didn't want her babies or anybody else's babies killed in wars. And she thought wars were partly encouraged by books and movies. So I held up my right hand and I made her a promise: 'Mary,' I said, 'I don't think this book of mine is ever going to be finished. I must have written five thousand pages by now, and thrown them all away. If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won't be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.' 'I tell you what,' I said, 'I'll call it The Children's Crusade.' She was my friend after that.

Slaughterhouse Five or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut

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Many Oscar Wilde quotes are fantastic. The guy would either have been amazing or extremely annoying to be around.

"When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood it is hard to shake hands with her."

"A true friend stabs you in the front."

"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

...and on he goes.

The first couple of pages of Palahniuk's "Choke" are excellent.

"If you're going to read this, don't bother.

After a few pages, you won't want to be here. So forget it.

Go away. Get out while you're still in one piece.

Save yourself.

There has to be something better on television. Or since you have so much time on your hands, maybe you could take a night course. Become a doctor. You could make something out of yourself. Treat yourself to a dinner out. Colour your hair.

You're not getting any younger.

What happens here is first going to piss you off. After that it just gets worse and worse.

What you're getting here is a stupid story about a stupid little boy. A stupid life story about nobody you'd ever want to meet. Picture this little spaz being about waist high with a handful of blonde hair, combed and parted on one side. Picture the icky little shit smiling in old school photos with some of his baby teeth missing and his first adult teeth coming in crooked....."

And it continues like this for a few pages.

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Charlie Kaufman: There was this time in high school. I was watching you out the library window. You were talking to Sarah Marsh.

Donald Kaufman: Oh, God. I was so in love with her.

Charlie Kaufman: I know. And you were flirting with her. And she was being really sweet to you.

Donald Kaufman: I remember that.

Charlie Kaufman: Then, when you walked away, she started making fun of you with Kim Canetti. And it was like they were laughing at *me*. You didn't know at all. You seemed so happy.

Donald Kaufman: I knew. I heard them.

Charlie Kaufman: How come you looked so happy?

Donald Kaufman: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn't have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.

Charlie Kaufman: But she thought you were pathetic.

Donald Kaufman: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago.

Adaptation was decent, but this conversation always stuck with me, especially the end part.

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"I've looked at the world for quite a few years now and I've found that if I don't laugh, I'll probably end up crying."

- Silk

Demon Lord of Karandia - David Eddings

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