So, in the interests of survival

So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.

Kurt Vonnegut

Without translation

Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.

George Steiner

Translation is a disturbing craft

Translation is a disturbing craft because there is precious little certainty about what we are doing, which makes it so difficult in this age of fervent belief and ideology, this age of greed and screed.

Gregory Rabassa

The writing of a novel

The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.

Eudora Welty

If it sounds like writing

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.

Elmore Leonard

Each writer is born

Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.

Gore Vidal

Making people believe the unbelievable

Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.

Stephen King,

When I sit down to write a book

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.

George Orwell

Cheat your landlord

Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.

William S. Burroughs

Don’t worry

Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.

Drew Houston

A friendship

A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.

John D. Rockefeller

Kickstarter eliminates the risk

Kickstarter eliminates the risk that publishers and booksellers face. They have limited resources and limited shelf space, and Kickstarter is proof to them that something is going to work.

Seth Godin

Slavery

Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man’s nature – opposition to it is his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.

Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes in life

Sometimes in life, you just have to smile, put on a brave face, and pretend that everything is okay. Raise your head up high, hold back your tears and bravely walk away.

Betty Boop

Chaos

It’s all about finding calm in the chaos.

Donna Karan

We believe that we can change the things around us in accordance with our desires

We believe that we can change the things around us in accordance with our desires—we believe it because otherwise we can see no favourable outcome. We do not think of the outcome which generally comes to pass and is also favourable: we do not succeed in changing things in accordance with our desires, but gradually our desires change. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant to us. We have failed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us beyond it, and then if we turn round to gaze into the distance of the past, we can barely see it, so imperceptible has it become.

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

As regular visitors to TPV may have noticed, PG usually only includes one quote per day, but he was feeling vaguely philosophical when he came upon this Proust quote and broke his own rule.

The good parts of a book

The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.

Ernest Hemingway

The falcon cannot hear the falconer

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

Oh, you hate your job?

Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.

Drew Carey

Bad writing is not easier

Bad writing is not easier than good writing. It’s just as hard to make a toilet seat as it is a castle window. Only the view is different.

Ben Hecht

The most beautiful thing

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.

Albert Einstein

An expenditure of words

An expenditure of words without income of ideas will lead to intellectual bankruptcy.

Ravi Zacharias

Have You Ever Noticed?

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

George Carlin

Class Division

Class division in knowledge goes deeper than any other class division.

Richard Burdon Haldane

If you get to my age

If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.

Warren Buffett

How many times

How many times had those awful words – “I know what I’m doing” – been uttered throughout history as prelude to disaster?

Christopher Buckley

O ye that love mankind

O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

The dons, the bashaws, the grandees

The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and curse, but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America.

John Adams, letter to Patrick Henry, June 3, 1776

When I look back to the Year 1761

When I look back to the Year 1761, and recollect the Argument concerning Writs of Assistance, in the Superiour Court, which I have hitherto considered as the Commencement of the Controversy, between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole Period from that Time to this, and recollect the series of political Events, the Chain of Causes and Effects, I am surprized at the Suddenness, as well as Greatness of this Revolution.

Britain has been fill’d with Folly, and America with Wisdom, at least this is my judgment. — Time must determine. It is the Will of Heaven, that the two Countries should be sundered forever.

It may be the Will of Heaven that America shall suffer Calamities still more wasting and Distresses yet more dreadfull. If this is to be the Case, it will have this good Effect, at least: it will inspire Us with many Virtues, which We have not, and correct many Errors, Follies, and Vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonour, and destroy Us.

Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

The Rich

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

A man gets older, he said

via Pexels

A man gets older, he said, he finds they’s lots of things he can do jest as well without and so he don’t have to worry about this and that the way a young feller will. I worked near all my life and never had nothin. Seems like a old man’d be allowed his rest but then he comes to find they’s things you have to do on account of nobody else wants to attend to em… Most ever man loves peace, he said, and none better than a old man.”

Cormac McCarthy, The Orchard Keeper

Old Men with Faces Like Lost Battles

Man’s face in grayscale via PickRepo

Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town. Once, very long ago, it was the choice residential district of the city, and there are still standing a few of the jigsaw Gothic mansions with wide porches and walls covered with round-end shingles and full corner bay windows with spindle turrets. They are all rooming houses now, their parquetry floors are scratched and worn through the once glossy finish and the wide sweeping staircases are dark with time and with cheap varnish laid on over generations of dirt. In the tall rooms haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide cool front porches, reaching their cracked shoes into the sun, and staring at nothing, sit the old men with faces like lost battles.

The High Window by Raymond Chandler

I would like to write down what happened

I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen. I need to bear witness to an uncertain event. I feel it roaring inside me – this thing that may not have taken place. I don’t even know what name to put on it. I think you might call it a crime of the flesh, but the flesh is long fallen away and I am not sure what hurt may linger in the bones.

First line of The Gathering, by Anne Enright

Being powerful

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

Margaret Thatcher

It takes something

It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Talk, talk, talk

Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words.

William Faulkner

The Past

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

William Faulkner

Antifragile

If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. This, simply, as a rule, tells you why things that have been around for a long time are not “aging” like persons, but “aging” in reverse. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy. This is an indicator of some robustness. The robustness of an item is proportional to its life!

Nassim Taleb, Antifragile

What seemed delicacy

What seemed delicacy in him was usually a way of avoiding trouble; what seemed like sympathy was the instinct to prevent trouble before it started. It was hard to see what growing older would mean to such a person. His emotions, from lack of exercise, had disappeared almost altogether. Adaptability and curiosity, he had found, did just as well.

Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookshop

I think you should write biographies

On the whole, I think you should write biographies of those you admire and respect, and novels about human beings who you think are sadly mistaken.

Penelope Fitzgerald

What they call you

What they call you is one thing. What you answer to is something else.

Lucille Clifton

Disasters

All natural disasters are comforting because they reaffirm our impotence, in which, otherwise, we might stop believing. At times it is strangely sedative to know the extent of your own powerlessness.

Erica Jong

The Book Burners

The book burners were inspired by the bookish. Who else would know which books to burn?

Cynthia Ozick

We were the people

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

When I finally walked

When I finally walked into Adolf Hitler’s salon in the Kaiserhof Hotel, I was convinced that I was meeting the future dictator of Germany,” [Dorothy Parker wrote]. “In something less than fifty seconds I was quite sure that I was not. … He is formless, almost faceless: a man whose countenance is a caricature; a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones. He is inconsequential and voluble, ill-poised, insecure—the very prototype of the Little Man.

Dorothy Parker