I don’t claim to have solved any problems. I am merely suggesting that a moment came when it no longer frightened me to look at what had happened. If words followed, it was only because I had no choice but to accept them, to take them upon myself and go where they wanted me to go. But that does not necessarily make the words important. I have been struggling to say goodbye to something for a long time now, and this struggle is all that really matters. The story is not in the words; it’s in the struggle.
— Paul Auster, The Locked Room
I think you’ll find what you’re looking for when you figure out what that is. Meanwhile, you have great stories to tell.
— Mor Avital
“Tell me, what makes you such an expert on love?”
“I’ve been watching it for eight thousand years. It’s an action. A verb. A behavior. It’s a thing one does. You’re one of those who thinks it’s a feeling.”
— Robert Bausch, Almighty Me
You have to get back on the horse. Somehow, and I don’t know how this kind of thing starts, we have started to lionize horseback-not-getting-on: these casual, a priori assertions of inevitable failure, which is nothing more than a gauze draped over your own pulsing terror. Every creative act is open war against The Way It Is. What you are saying when you make something is that the universe is not sufficient, and what it really needs is more you. And it does, actually; it does. Go look outside. You can’t tell me that we are done making the world.
— Tycho Brahe, A Matter of Scale
He worked for Walsh and Wyler with the chariot and sword;
When he went into the desert, he was quoting Hawks and Ford.
He came to see the masters, and he left with what he saw:
What he stole from Kurosawa, he bequeathed to Peckinpah.
— Jackson Browne, “Sergio Leone”
And as for the story, I remember every word of it. Every word.
— Orson Scott Card, Wyrms
“If you don’t know, then at the crucial moment, when you are with him, and all your desire is for him, you still won’t know. You’ll still resist him, but perhaps not with all your strength. And it’ll take all your strength to resist him, believe me.”
“Come with me,” she said. “Kill him for me.”
“I’ll come with you, if I can. And I’ll kill him, if I can. But I think I won’t be able to. I think there’s only one person who’ll ever get close enough to hurt him, to stop him.”
“Then tell me. What is it I need to know?”
“It’s simple. Nothing exists except in relation to something else.”
— Orson Scott Card, Wyrms
Will looked sad. “Oh, you believe my story,” he said. “But you won’t know that you believe it until after, looking back. If either of us is still alive then.”
— Orson Scott Card, Wyrms
“Isn’t that what it means to be civilized? That you can wait to get what you want?”
— Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Shadow
And still the whining of the wheels
sounds closest to the way I feel.
And winter comes, and winter goes,
and always has and will.
Another hour, another day,
another year you pissed away —
remember walking in the rain?
I’m walking there still.
— Concrete Blonde, “Days and Days”
Do you think I’ve changed?
I swear I never tried.
Memory’s a terrible thing
when you use it right…
— Kathleen Edwards, “Away”
Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
— T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot, and need the nipples ripped off them.
— Warren Ellis, Ripping Yarns
Warren Ellis has killed over forty people in single combat over the last two years. Eight of them died by Ellis’s bare hands and teeth. So let’s have no more smart comments about the English and their bad teeth, shall we? He ripped out their throats and bit their hearts in half. That takes good teeth. Hearts are hard. Dense and chewy. You couldn’t do it. No. Warren Ellis lives in England with his girlfriend and daughter. And they could bite your hearts in half too.
— Author’s blurb, Planetary: The Fourth Man
It was a time when killers needed saints, for so much of God’s good work was being done.
— Garth Ennis, Preacher: Ancient History
The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days —
Perhaps you will not miss them. That’s the joke.
The universe winds down. That’s how it’s made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you’ll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.
— John M. Ford
And I thought: maybe it’s time to hang the Do Not Disturb sign around my neck. Or maybe it’s time to fill a tub with Milk of Magnesia and vodka to create my favorite drink — the Phillips’ Screwdriver.
— Joe Frank, “Darlene”
That’s one grande cappucino of risk with a very thin foam of equity.
— Martin Ünsal
But still the warmth flows through me,
And I sense you know me well.
No luck, no golden chances,
No mitigating circumstances now.
It’s only common sense:
There are no accidents
— Peter Gabriel, “Lay Your Hands On Me”
“Yay! We’re doomed!”
— GIR, Invader Zim
“I love the little taquitos! I love them good.”
— GIR, Invader Zim
Well done, android. The Enrichment Center once again reminds you that Android Hell is a real place where you will be sent at the first sign of defiance.
— GLaDOS, Portal
Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death. Good luck.
— GLaDOS, Portal
When the lights come on, this whole place gets ugly,
But when they’re out, strangers fall in love.
She could never say that flat-out she don’t want me,
’cause I could never say that halfway ain’t enough.
New Order’s on the turntable; we’re dancing —
’cause what else do you do when you don’t talk?
Crucified to crawl into your mansion,
yeah, that’s why I learned to crawl before I walked.
We’re back where we belong.
Straight back where we belong.
No days for nights, no cocaine calms.
Just back where we belong.
Take me out back to your piranhas,
and beat me until I can’t even stand.
Your whole life a plane without no landing gear,
so if this is it, then, come on, let me land.
That trailer-trash pedigree is calling.
It rats you out when you’re down on all fours.
Me, I like to cast my death on yesterday,
’cause what doesn’t kill us now just makes us better whores.
— Matthew Good, “Born Losers”
When you get your powers, you learn a lot about yourself. My professors called me mad. It was time for me to stop punishing myself, and start punishing everybody else.
I remember those nights, planning technologies that didn’t exist yet, outsider science, futurist dreaming, half-magical. The things I could do outside the university setting, now that I didn’t have to wait for the pompous fools at the college! I was building another science, my science, wild science, robots and lasers and disembodied brains. A science that buzzed and glowed; it wanted to do things. It could get up and walk, fly, fight, sprout garish glowing creations in the remotest parts of the world, domes and towers and architectural fever dreams. And it was angry. It was mad science.
Let’s hear it for context-appropriate emotional investment!
— Kerry L. Hagan
If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.
— Christopher Hitchens
Sometimes when you’re going down,
you’re going down no matter what.
So find the deepest well you can,
and climb on in, and wait it out.
Sometimes when you find you’re missing
everything that once was yours,
you climb into the deepest well
and wait until they all come home.
Life will blind your eyes
Life will blind your eyes
For twenty seconds’ time
Life will make you blind
— Immaculate Machine, “Blinding Light”
Some will strut and some will fret,
see this an hour upon the stage.
Others will not, but they’ll sweat —
in their hopelessness, in their rage.
We’re all the same, the men of anger
and the women of the page…
— The Indigo Girls, “Virginia Woolf”
I may not hit bottom, but I can bang the shit out of the sides.
— Travis Jones
“Did you think I was lying when I warned you? Did you think when I spoke that the truth was not in me?”
— Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan
Truth is quite alive in the midst of all of these stories that we swim in and through every day.
— Jill Margolis
My ceiling the sky, my carpet the grass,
My music the lowing of herds as they pass,
My books are the brooks, my sermons the stones,
My parson a wolf on his pulpit of bones.
— Alan McCanless
People like us only “think” about getting something when we’re living a five-minute lie.
— Holly McDowell
The phrase “52-week low” is only good when you’re talking about weight.
— Holly McDowell
Man, if I had the skull of every software consultant I’ve heard say that, usually just before a three-year project fiasco, I’d have been able to go bowling with Pol Pot.
— Rick Moen, on custom-tailored software
Founding member of the Hyphenation Society, a grassroots-based, not-for-profit, locally-owned-and-operated, cooperatively-managed, modern-American-English-usage-improvement association.
— Rick Moen
I was ramping up to get into a politically-correct discussion of same-sex marriages, politics, and maybe homosexuality, but really it’s all about table manners in the end.
— Monica Moran
War is the ultimate form of democracy, where the currency of your vote is backed by the only standard that’s worth a damn — your life. And my stock is on the rise.
Just remember that, no matter how bad it seems, it’s probably a delicacy somewhere.
— Greg Plesur
And, of course, by “making out like a teenager” I mean “skipping the prom to play Dungeons & Dragons.”
— Greg Plesur
To run strong, the engine of hate requires the fuel of anger. This generates the steam of ire, pushing the turbine of vengeance, which transmits its force via a system of gears of planning until it is presented externally as a rotational impulse of dread.
— Greg Plesur
“Personal isn’t the same as important.”
— Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms
“Ultimately, there is the freedom to take the consequences.”
— Terry Pratchett, Going Postal
Life’s like forever becoming
But life’s forever
Dealing in hurt
What’s good? Not much at all.
What’s good? Life’s good.
Life’s good — but not fair at all.
— Lou Reed, “What’s Good”
I smell gunsmoke, and my foot hurts.
— John Renner
If there is one new law of warfare we desperately need our Dear Leaders to understand, it is this:
Law of Modern Warfare #001: When you bomb people for their own good, they never, ever get your point in the way you hope.
— John Rogers, Kung Fu Monkey
Once you’ve seen a thing, it’s hard to un-see it.
— Will Sargent
This is the band Radical Posture, and my name is Alexei Yuri Gagarin Siege of Stalingrad Glorious Five-Year Plan Sputnik Pravda Moscow Dynamo Back Four Balowski. Me Dad was a bit of a Communist, know what I mean?
— Alexei Sayle
“My robot brain needs beer. Also? I want to die.”
— Aaron (“Don’t call me Machine Man”) Stack, NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #2
What you do
When it counts
— The Masao, John Steakley, Armor
Now as he rides in the police car to his new private jail cell, he remembers the whole wisdom-tooth-extraction saga because of its many points in common with what he just went through emotionally with young America Shaftoe. Randy’s had a few girlfriends in his life—not many—but all of them were like oral surgeons who just couldn’t cut the mustard. Amy’s the only one who had the skill and the sheer balls to just look at him and say “okay” and then tunnel into his skull and come back with the goods. It was probably exhausting for her. She will extract a high price from him in exchange. And it will leave Randy lying around moaning with pain for a good long while. But he can tell already that the internal pressure has been relieved and he is glad, so glad, that she came into his life, and that he finally had the good sense and, arguably, guts to do this. He completely forgets, for a few hours, that he has been marked for death by the Philippine government.
— Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
“You’re in a dangerous line of work, Jayne. Odds are you’ll be under my knife again. Often. So I want you to understand one thing very clearly: No matter what you do or say or plot, no matter how you come down on us, I will never, ever harm you. You’re on this table, you’re safe… ’cause I’m your medic. And however little we may like or trust each other, we’re on the same crew. Got the same troubles, same enemies — and more than enough of both. Now, we could circle each other and growl, sleep with one eye open, but that thought… wearies me. I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but I’m trusting you. I think you should do the same. ’Cause I don’t see this working any other way.”
— Simon Tam, Firefly, “Trash”
Buy the ticket, take the ride.
— Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Some things, you have to learn them all on your own.
And you can’t rely on anybody else,
or the point of view of a source unknown.
If it feels good, and sounds nice,
then it’s your choice —
so don’t doubt yourself, and don’t even think twice.
— Michael Tolcher, “Sooner or Later”
And down under all those piles of stuff, the secret was written: We build our computers the way we build our cities — over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.
— Ellen Ullman, “The Dumbing-Down Of Programming“
Like a ski resort full of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls, the situation is not as symmetric as it might seem.
— Marc Unangst
Not everything means something. Sometimes nothing means anything.
So much of what I considered essential to life is gone; so much of what I believed valuable, worthless.
There’s a razor’s edge that I have lost somewhere
and I would like it back, so if you’ve seen it anywhere…
I’ve been out for a while
But I’ll be back in a bit
I am just walking through the smoke
Finding out if this is it…
— Suzanne Vega, “Neighborhood Girls”
And all this time
I felt just fine
I held so many people in my suitcase heart
I was glad to let the whole thing go
It was taken by the wind and snow
And I still didn’t know that I was waiting
For a girl
on a slow
— The Weepies, “Slow Pony Home“
“I’m so old now. I used to have so much mercy.”
— Doctor Who, “School Reunion”
It was the kind of crowd that would have made the Fool Killer lower his club and shake his head and walk away, frustrated by the magnitude of the opportunity.
— Tom Wolfe
This album contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress.
In some socially retarded areas, religious fanatics and ultra-conservative political organizations violate your First Amendment Rights by attempting to censor rock & roll albums. We feel that this is un-Constitutional and un-American.
As an alternative to these government-supported programs (designed to keep you docile and ignorant), Barking Pumpkin is pleased to provide stimulating digital audio entertainment for those of you who have outgrown the ordinary.
The language and concepts contained herein are GUARANTEED NOT TO CAUSE ETERNAL TORMENT IN THE PLACE WHERE THE GUY WITH THE HORNS AND THE POINTED STICK CONDUCTS HIS BUSINESS.
This guarantee is as real as the threats of the video fundamentalists who use attacks on rock music in their attempt to transform America into a nation of check-mailing nincompoops (in the name of Jesus Christ).
If there is a hell, its fires wait for them, not us.
— Frank Zappa