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Things that inspire me, or make me happy.

Current count: 862 quotes

“May flowers grow in the saddest parts of you.”

-Zainab Aamir, greeting card

“Perhaps we were friends first and lovers second. But then perhaps this is what lovers are.”

“The summer I’d hear a bird sing, smell a plant, or feel the mist rise from under my feet on warm sunny days and, because my senses were always on alert, would automatically find them rushing to him.”

-André Aciman, Call Me By Your Name, 2007

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

-Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, 1980

“He felt a vague, inexplicable nostalgia for what had not happened, and the lessons it might have taught him.“

-César Aira, An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, 2000

“I don’t speak with anyone for a week. I just sit on a stone by the sea.”

-Anna Akhmatova, Podorozhnik (Wayside grass/Plantain), 1921

“In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did and why you no longer need to feel it.”

-Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, 2003

“Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?”

-Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie, 1997

“Once you’ve taken a few punches and realize you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go.”

-Lexi Alexander, dir. Green Street Hooligans, 2005

“I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul. This world is so guarded and fearful. I appreciate rawness so much.”

“Do you think the universe fights for souls to be together? Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences.”

-Emery Allen, Become, 2010

“To whom it may concern: Today, I am alive.”

-Zaina Alsous, Lemon Effigies, 2017: ‘Train of Mercury Stations Direct’

“To burn the Witch is to admit that magic exists.”

-Erin Anastasia, To Burn the Witch, 2016

“The heart is a violent muscle; it opens & shuts.
The subject is death.
The subject is also laughter.”

“I'm going to think about death until my mouth runs. I'm going to look at death with a face terrible as his own.”

-Jon Anderson, Creative Writing 307, Poetry (June 1970)

“I fell in love with the idea that the mysterious thing you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive.”

-Laurie Anderson, Moby Dick program notes, 1999

“Rudeness is merely an expression of fear. People fear they won’t get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower.”

-Wes Anderson, dir. The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2014

“I’m a little wounded, but I am not slain; I will lay me down to bleed a while. Then I’ll rise and fight again.”

-Anonymous, The Ballad of Johnnie Armstrong, as cited by J. Roberts in A Collection of Old Ballads: Corrected from the Best and Most Ancient Copies Extant (x)

“I'm such an incredibly, stupidly sensitive person that everything that happens to me, I experience it really intensely. I feel everything very deeply. And when you feel things deeply and you think about things a lot and you think about how you feel, you learn a lot about yourself. And when you know yourself, you know life.”

-Fiona Apple, in an interview for MTV News, October 4, 1996 (x)

“I mean, I can remember — when you’re a smart kid, or you’re just a very sensitive kid, and you have a lot that you need to say that’s very important to you, people don’t really take you seriously — I can remember being so frustrated, just constantly to the point of tears. I think the thing that I said most in my life for the first ten years was ‘Just listen to me. Listen.’ And even when I say that now, I always have a little flashback from those years, because I had so much trouble being taken seriously. I can remember people saying, ‘You’re twelve, Fiona,’ and just disregarding everything I had to say. All of my very deep, intense, serious worries and fears and wonders were just kind of disregarded because I was a kid and I was crazy and I was weird.”

-Fiona Apple, in an interview for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 27, 1997

“The head may err, but never the blood.”

“Not once have I regretted the things that I did. I only ever regret the things that I did not do. I want no regrets.”

-Nakajima Atsushi, Light, Wind and Dreams, 1962

“Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word — musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.”

“When I was younger I used to think that if I could hug myself tight enough I could make myself smaller, because there was never enough room for me, at home or anywhere, but if I was smaller than I would fit in.”

-Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace, 1996

“My shadow said to me:
What is the matter?
Isn’t the moon warm
enough for you?
Why do you need
the blanket of another body?”

-Margaret Atwood, The Animals in That Country, 1968: ‘The Shadow Voice’

“When you're young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You're your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too — leave them behind. You don't yet know about the habit they have, of coming back. Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you've been.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin, 2000

“She doesn’t want to reveal jealousy or even interest, though she suddenly realizes that she feels both.”

-Margaret Atwood, Bodily Harm, 1981

“I avoid looking down at my body, not so much because it’s shameful or immodest but because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to look at something that determines me so completely.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, 1985

“’This is the wrong place for me to be.‘ She doesn’t mean my house. She means her body.”

-Margaret Atwood, Moral Disorder, 2006

“Because I was driven to it by some force outside my control. Because I was possessed. Because an angel dictated to me.”

-Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, 2002

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad, 2005

“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it's all a male fantasy: that you're strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren't catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you're unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”

-Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride, 1993

“Is it suffering or goodness
that makes them holy,
or can anyone tell the difference?”

-Margaret Atwood, ‘The Saints,’ The Iowa Review (1985)

“You are not my cure; nobody has that power.”

-Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems I: 1965-1975, 1987: ‘Is / Not’

“You would rather have gone on feeling nothing, emptiness and silence; the stagnant peace of the deepest sea, which is easier than the noise and flesh of the surface.”

-Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems II: 1976-1986, 1987: ‘Eurydice’

“How can I teach her
some way of being human
that won't destroy her?
I would like to tell her, Love
is enough, I would like to say,
Find shelter in another skin.
I would like to say, Dance
and be happy. Instead I will say
in my crone's voice, Be
ruthless when you have to, tell
the truth when you can,
when you can see it.”

-Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems II: 1976-1986, 1987: ‘Solstice Poem’

“The desire to be loved is the last illusion: Give it up and you will be free.”

-Margaret Atwood, Selected Poems II: 1976-1986, 1987: ‘A Sunday Drive’

“You dangle on the leash
of your own longing;
your need grows teeth.”

-Margaret Atwood, Speeches for Dr. Frankenstein, 1966

“Whose life am I living? Whose life am I failing to live?”

-Margaret Atwood, ‘The Tent,’ 2006

“Last year I abstained
this year I devour
without guilt
which is also an art.”

-Margaret Atwood, You Are Happy, 1974: ‘Circe/Mud Poems’

“Watch the course of the stars, as if you are running with them. Always keep in mind how the elements change into one another. The thoughts of these things will wash away the dirt of life.”

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations VII, c. 121-180 AD

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.”

-Jane Austen, Emma, 1815

“I was quiet, but I was not blind.”

-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

“Each found her greatest safety in silence.”

-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 1817

“I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.”

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

“We do not suffer by accident.”

-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813

“I can never fight for myself, but, for others, I can kill.”

-Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, 2009

“It doesn’t matter how many relationships we seem to have. We’re all alone.”

-Yukito Ayatsuji, Another, 2009

“If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.”

-Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, 1977

“You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.”

-James Baldwin, Conversations with James Baldwin, 1989

“When one begins to search for the crucial, the definitive moment, the moment which changed all others, one finds oneself pressing, in great pain, through a maze of false signals and abruptly locked doors.”

-James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room, 1956

“Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another’s happiness than in your own.”

-Honore de Balzac, Père Goriot

“People say ‘phase’ like impermanence means insignificance. Show me a permanent state of the self.”

-Alixandra Bamford (x)

“I hope that someday, somebody wants to hold you for twenty minutes straight, and that’s all they do. They don’t pull away. They don’t look at your face. They don’t try to kiss you. All they do is wrap you up in their arms, without an ounce of selfishness in it.”

-Sara Bareilles, Waitress

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

-J.M. Barrie, The Admirable Crichton

“Don’t ever put your happiness in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every time.”

-Christopher Barzak, One for Sorrow

“To love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it. When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs; when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this? Then you hold life like a face between your palms, a plain face, no charming smile, no violet eyes, and you say, yes, I will take you, I will love you, again.”

-Ellen Bass, The Thing Is

“One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters… But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose. But get drunk.”

-Charles Baudelaire, ‘Get Drunk’

“Do not search for my heart anymore; the beasts have eaten it.”

-Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal, 1857: Causerie

“I am the wound, and yet the blade!
The smack, and yet the cheek that takes it!
The limb, and yet the wheel that breaks it,
The torturer, and he who's flayed!”

-Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal, 1857: Heautontimoroumenos, translated by Roy Campbell

“Almost. It’s a big word for me. I feel it everywhere. Almost home. Almost happy. Almost changed. Almost, but not quite. Not yet. Soon, maybe.”

-John Bauer, Almost Home

“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in her strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself — on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.”

-Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949

“Our tears are sweet, our laughter venomous.
We’re pleased when sad, and sad when pleased.
We wash one hand in blood, the other we wash the blood off.
We cry as we laugh at the futility of both these acts.”

-Simin Behbahani, Our Tears Are Sweet

“Once, I kissed someone and I’m afraid it ruined the world. I’ve learned it’s not what you do with the knife — it’s how you hold it after. But how do you hold something like that? Something that never stops baring its teeth; a voiceless dog, all bite, no bark.”

-Yasmin Belkhyr, Bone Light, ‘Surah Al-Fatiha’

“The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we are doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.”

-David Benioff, dir. Troy, 2004

“What’s the worst thing I’ve stolen? Probably little pieces of other people’s lives. Where I’ve either wasted their time or hurt them in some way. That’s the worst thing you can steal, the time of other people. You just can’t get that back.”

-Chester Bennington (UNCONFIRMED)

“Remember that despair and joy are not incompatible. Despair is a consequence of understanding. Joy is a condition of the emotional mind. Despair is to acknowledge the truth of the present situation, but the sceptical mind knows that the only truth is shared imagination and shared projection. So do not be frightened by despair. It does not delimit the potential for joy. And joy is a condition for proving intellectual despair wrong.”

-Franco Berardi, Heroes: Mass Murder and Suicide, 2015

“One should hate very little, because it’s extremely fatiguing. One should despise much, forgive often, and never forget. Pardon does not bring with it forgetfulness; at least not for me.”

-Sarah Bernhardt, My Double Life, 1907

“Why hurt someone whose only intention was to love you?”

“Soon you'll realize that many people will love the idea of you but will lack the maturity to handle the reality of you.”

-Reyna Biddy (x)

“EDIBLE, adj. Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.”

-Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1906

“This is mine. This sequence of evicted possibilities. Displaced facts. Tricks of light. Reflections. Invention, legend, myth. What you will. The shifts and fluencies are infinite. The moving parts are marvelous.”

-Eavan Boland, An Origin Like Water: Collected Poems 1957-1987, ‘Listen. This Is the Noise of Myth’

“She is not myself anymore she is not even in my sky anymore and I am not myself.”

-Eaven Boland, New Collected Poems, ‘In Her Own Image’

“So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”

-Jorge Luis Borges, ‘After a While, You Learn’

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

-Jorge Luis Borges, Dreamtigers

“Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures. In one of them I am your enemy.”

-Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths

“Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits, lights of day, smells, textures of carpet.”

“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone - and finding that that’s ok with them.”

-Alain de Botton (x)

“The Night has a thousand eyes,
And the Day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.”

-Francis William Bourdillon, ‘The Night Has a Thousand Eyes’

“You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love. That is why geometrically speaking the circle is a one. Everything comes to you from the other. You have to be able to reach the other.”

-Louise Bourgeois, Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews, 1923-1997

“I just want someone to hear what I have to say. And maybe if I talk long enough, it’ll make sense.”

“How do you get so empty? Who takes it out of you?”

-Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

“Perhaps you stared into a river. There was somebody near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened. That is my name.”

-Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

“If your purpose in life is to be a healer, for example, then how you take care of your health right now matters because it affects your energy field and your ability to heal others. If your purpose in life is to express yourself in words, then speaking your truth right now is a way to stay aligned with your expression. If feeding the poor is your life task, then your relationship to food and nurturing is very important. What you do right now to nurture others is practice for your larger life task and affects it directly. How, what, and how much you eat right now matters. If your life task is to simply find pleasure in living, then how you approach your life in this very moment is a very important step in the task. If you see the glass as half empty now you are further from pleasure in living than if you see the glass as half full. If you feel deep inside that you are to be a great leader of many people, then how you act right now to those near you who have the least power matters a great deal. If you do not treat them with love and respect now, you will not get closer to your leadership. Your task now is to practice higher principles in the things that you do every moment. Your greater life task is actually just a result of your moment-to-moment practice of higher life principles. The real work is right now, wherever you are, whatever life brings.”

-Barabara Ann Brennan, Light Emerging: The Journey of Personal Healing

“Every child finds a day when they realize that adults can be weak and wrong just like everyone else. After that day, you are an adult. Like it or not.”

-Peter V. Brett, The Warded Man

“Ghost me. Fossil me. Resurrect me near dawn.”

-Traci Brimhall, Our Lady of the Ruins, ‘Become the Lion’

“He is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine; I am sure he is, I feel akin to him, I understand the language of his countenance and movements… I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.”

“Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.”

-Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“Half thinking, half dreaming, happier than words can express.”

“You say I killed you — haunt me, then!”

-Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

“You say ‘amateur’ as if it was a dirty word. ‘Amateur’ comes from the Latin word ‘amare’, which means to love. To do things for the love of it.”

-Adam Brooks, Mozart in the Jungle, 2014-2018: ‘It All Depends on You’

“It’s okay to say to people in your life, ‘I need you to love me a little louder today.’”

-Karamo Brown (x)

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

-Les Brown (x)

“Did you ever feel afraid of your own soul, as I have done?”

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in a letter to Robert Browning

“Sometimes it feels good to take the long way home.”

-Carol Rifka Brunt, Tell the Wolves I'm Home

“One faces the future with one’s past.”

-Pearl S. Buck, ‘China Faces the Future,’ 1943

“They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Carl W. Buehner, as cited by Richard Evans in Richard Evans' Quote Book, 1971

“We don’t even ask for happiness, just a little less pain.”

-Charles Bukowski, in a letter to William Packard

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”

-Charles Bukowski, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors have taken over the Ship

“You have to die a few times before you can really live.”

-Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers At Last: New Poems

“How can you say you love one person when there are ten thousand people in the world that you would love more if you ever met them? But you’ll never meet them. All right, so we do the best we can. Granted. But we must still realize that love is just the result of a chance encounter.”

-Charles Bukowski, Women

“My heart expands in celestial songs.”

-Julia de Burgos, Song of the Simple Truth, ‘Dream of Words’

“I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

-Augusten Burroughs, Magical Thinking

“The human mind is not a terribly logical or consistent place.”

-Jim Butcher, Turn Coat

“But I have been familiar with ruins too long to dislike desolation.”

-George Gordon Byron, in a letter to Thomas Moore

“If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

-George Gordon Byron, ‘The Bride of Abydos’

“It made me wonder how many times we forgive just because we don’t want to lose someone, even if they don’t deserve our forgiveness.”

-Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”

-Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey, 1991

“Overflow gently — don’t drown.”

-Albert Camus, in a diary entry

“He encouraged me; I shall never forget some of the things he said. He told me life isn’t easy, but it has consolations: religion, art, and the love one inspires in others. He often told me that the only mistake one makes in life is to cause others suffering.”

-Albert Camus, Caligula

“I have always loved everything about you. Even what I didn’t understand. And I have always known that, at heart, I would have you no different. But most people don’t know how to love. Nothing is enough for them. They must have their dreams. It’s the only thing they do well. Dreaming. They dream up obligations. New ones every day. They long for undiscovered countries, fresh demands, another call. While some of us are left with the knowledge that love can never wait. A shared bed, a hand in yours, that’s the only thing that matters. The worst thing of all is fear. The fear of being alone.”

-Albert Camus, The Misunderstanding

“I can feel this heart inside me and I conclude it exists. I can touch this world and I also conclude that it exists. All my knowledge ends at this point. The rest is hypothesis.”

-Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.”

-Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

“Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, ‘What road do I take?’ The cat asked, ‘Where do you want to go?’ ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it really doesn’t matter, does it?’”

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve change a few times since then.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

“A burning brightness brightens and is lost.”

-Hayden Carruth, Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995; ‘They Accuse Me of not Talking’

“‘You remember too much,’ my mother said to me recently. ‘Why hold onto all that?’ And I said, ‘Where can I put it down?’”

-Anne Carson, ‘The Glass Essay’

“Beauty makes me hopeless. I don’t care why anymore I just want to get away. When I look at the city of Paris I long to wrap my legs around it. When I watch you dancing there is a heartless immensity like a sailor in a dead calm sea. Desires as round as peaches bloom in me all night, I no longer gather what falls.”

-Anne Carson, Short Talks, On Hedonism

“The day broke around me like a cool dream. Sea; sand; a sky that melts into the sea — a landscape of misty pastels with a look about it being continuously on the point of melting.”

-Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber

“I feared a wound not of the body but the soul, an irreconcilable division between myself and the rest of humankind. I feared the proof of my own singularity.”

-Angela Carter, Nights At The Circus

“No matter how many people care about you, if you can’t be open with them about who you truly are, you’re still alone.“

-Diane Chamberlain, The Silent Sister

“The truth of the story: after us, there will be another, then another, then another.“

-Marianne Chan, Origin Story

“Godhood is just like girlhood: a begging to be believed.”

-Kristin Chang, Churching

“I’ve polished this anger and now it’s a knife.”

-Cathy Linh Che, Go Forget Your Father

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

-Anton Chekhov, in a letter to Alexander Chekhov

“Her blood is dancing, she wants to live, and there is no life here.”

-Anton Chekhov, In Exile

“I kept wishing I could just pluck out my heart, because it had become so heavy.”

-Anton Chekhov, The House with the Mezzanine

“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“He opened his mouth to say that he knew exactly what she meant, that he had felt the same things as she. But he stopped himself: for this was an empathy that separated rather than united them, and he couldn’t tell her that.”

-Ted Chiang, Division by Zero

“God is not just, God is not kind, God is not merciful, and understanding that is essential to true devotion.”

-Ted Chiang, Hell is the Absense of God

“My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don’t. The reality isn’t important: what’s important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.”

“What if the experience of knowing the future changed a person? What if it evoked a sense of urgency, a sense of obligation to act precisely as she knew she would?”

-Ted Chiang, Story of Your Life

“We live on the road to heaven; all the work that we do is to extend it further.”

-Ted Chiang, Tower of Babylon

“Pragmatism avails a savior far more than aestheticism.”

-Ted Chiang, Understand

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”

-Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War

“I wish I could throw off the thoughts which poison my happiness. And yet I take a kind of pleasure in indulging them.”

-Frédéric Chopin, as quoted by Arthur Hedley in Chopin

“Emptiness is a blessing: it can’t be owned if it doesn’t exist.”

-Lisa Ciccarello, A water woman has no body

“The truth has a strange way of following you, of coming up to you and making you listen to what it has to say.”

-Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories

“I’m doing a balancing act with a stack of fresh fruit in my basket. I love you. I want us both to eat well. We’re not allowed to buy blackberries anymore because they’re mean to their workers and you read left-wing news sites. Till when? I asked and you said nothing. So that’s one healthy food off the list. I’m still buying pineapples and you’re still eating them. I guess you’ve never seen the websites about those. Nobody in this supermarket knows that I am a puma. This morning our cat rolled on the floor showing me her belly which I leaned down and rubbed. Beneath a backyard pine tree the neighbor’s cat was eating one of our cat’s moles — at least the moles we rent from the landlord for her. It’s so complicated staying alive sometimes. The voices of the collection agencies on the answering machine sound menacing. They’re paid to sound that way and they’re not paid much more than the people they’re menacing, which can get you thinking if you’re the sort of person who likes to think about that sort of thing. Other people subscribe to adventure cycling magazines and read about men who rode across Turkey in the late 1800s before anything was happening in the world. Before cantaloupes probably existed. When you could get an honest wage for an honest day’s blackberries. When we loved like fierce mountain storms, with the blood of eagles in our hearts, exchanging grocery lists that just said you you you you all the way down.”

-Christopher Citro, Our Beautiful Life When It’s Filled with Shrieks, 2015

“Let yourself go! Let go of everything! Lose everything! Take to the air. Take to the open sea. Take to letters. Listen: nothing is found. Nothing is lost. Everything remains to be sought. Go, fly, swim, bound, descend, cross, love the unknown, love the uncertain, love what has not yet been seen, love no one, whom you are, whom you will be, leave yourself, shrug off the old lies, dare what you don’t dare, it is there that you will take pleasure, never make your here anywhere but there, and rejoice, rejoice in the terror, follow it where you’re afraid to go, go ahead, take the plunge, you’re on the right trail! Listen: you owe nothing to the past, you owe nothing to the law. Gain your freedom: get rid of everything, vomit up everything, give up everything. Give up absolutely everything, do you hear me? All of it! Give up your goods. Done? Don’t keep anything; whatever you value, give it up. Are you with me? Search yourself, seek out the shattered, the multiple I, that you will still be further on, and emerge from one self, shed the old body, shake off the Law. Let it fall with all its weight, and you, take off, don’t turn back: it’s not worth it, there’s nothing behind you, everything is yet to come.”

-Hélène Cixous, ‘Coming to Writing,’ 1986

“You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.”

-Hélène Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa

“People do not see you; they invent you and accuse you.”

-Hélène Cixous, The Perjured City

“One must be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”

“He smiled the way Lucifer might have smiled, moments before he fell from Heaven.”

-Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

“So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world.”

-John Clare, ‘November’

“I think it’s important to realize you can miss something, but not want it back.”

“Scars speak more loudly than the sword that caused them.”

-Paulo Coelho, Manuscript Found in Accra

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen, ‘Anthem’

“And it’s amazing how much noise people ignoring each other can make.”

-Eoin Colfer, Benny and Babe

“Do you still perform autopsies on conversations you had lives ago?"

-Donte Collins, Autopsy

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”

-Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

“Even though I had a lot left to say to you, I’d rather choke on my words in silence, then allow you to see me in any state of vulnerability.”

-Kirsten Corley, But Before You Leave

“Someone asked me what home was and all I could think of were the stars on the tip of your tongue, the flowers sprouting from your mouth, the roots entwined in the gaps between your fingers, the ocean echoing inside of your ribcage.”

-Elizabeth Corn, 23/04/2012

“Thank you for letting me find my role; to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

-César A. Cruz, Revenge of the Illegal Alien: A Mexican Takes on the Empire

“Dreams speak within us what no word is capable of saying.”

-Mia Couto, ‘Languages We Don’t Know We Know,’ 2008, translated by David Brookshaw

“One day I will tell you what I’ve been. It will scare you.”

-Yrsa Daley-Ward, Bone, ‘Revelation’

“You’ll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won’t matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You’ll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, and more importantly, shifts in you. Worse, you’ll realize it’s always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won’t understand why or how.”

-Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, 2000

“In the world I am
Always a stranger
I do not understand its language
It does not understand my silence.”

-Bei Dao, The August Sleepwalker, 1990

“Peace to the hint of sadness in your eyes.”

-Mahmoud Darwish, In the Presence of Absence

“I loved you head over handles
like my first bicycle accident—
before the mouthful of gravel and blood,
I swore we were flying.”

-Sierra DeMulder, The Bones Below, ‘Cycle of Abuse’

“‘Look,’ he said, ‘the point is there’s no way to be a hundred percent sure about anyone or anything. So you’re left with a choice. Either hope for the best or expect the worst.’
‘If you expect the worst, you’re never disappointed,’ I pointed out. ‘Yeah, but who lives like that?’”

-Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

“Holding people away from you, and denying yourself love, that doesn’t make you strong. If anything, it makes you weaker. Because you’re doing it out of fear.”

-Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby

“I like flaws. I think they make things interesting.”

-Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

“This is my knee, since she touches me there.
This is my throat, as defined by her reaching.
I am touched—I am.”

-Natalie Diaz, Isn't the Air Also a Body, Moving?, 2017

“I wish you a kinder sea.”

-Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Catherine May Scott c. August 1848

“And I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.”

-Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Elizabeth Holland c. 20 January 1856 (x)

“The ocean’s heart too smooth, too blue, to break for you.”

-Emily Dickinson, Shipwreck

“At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that.”

-Hilda Doolittle, Eurydice

“So if you love me, love me everywhere.”

-Hilda Doolittle, Collected Poems, 1912-1944, Sigel XV

“Right now I want a word that describes the feeling you get — a cold, sick feeling deep down inside — when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don’t want it to, but you can’t stop it. And you know, for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a was and a will be. And that you will never again be quite the person you were.”

-Jennifer Donnelly, A Northern Light

“‘I exist.’ In thousands of agonies — I exist. I’m tormented on the rack — but I exist! Though I sit alone in a pillar — I exist! I see the sun, and if I don’t see the sun, I know it’s there. And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“Which is better: cheap happiness or sublime suffering?”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

“I create entire romances in my dreams.”

-Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights, 1848

“If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.”

-Eleonora Duse, as quoted by Toby Cole and Helen Krich in Actors on Acting, 1970

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

-Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention

“With every drop you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea.”

-Sylvia Earle, as cited by the National Aquarium (x)

“We often have to explain to young people why study is useful. It’s pointless telling them that it’s for the sake of knowledge, if they don’t care about knowledge. Nor is there any point in telling them that an educated person gets through life better than an ignoramus, because they can always point to some genius who, from their standpoint, leads a wretched life. And so the only answer is that the exercise of knowledge creates relationships, continuity, and emotional attachments. It introduces us to parents other than our biological ones. It allows us to live longer, because we don’t just remember our own life but also those of others. It creates an unbroken thread that runs from our adolescence (and sometimes from infancy) to the present day. And all this is very beautiful.”

-Umberto Eco, On Literature

“Beauty is, in some way, boring. Even if its concept changes through the ages… a beautiful object must always follow certain rules. A beautiful nose shouldn’t be longer than that or shorter than that, on the contrary, an ugly nose can be as long as the one of Pinocchio, or as big as the trunk of an elephant, or like the beak of an eagle, and so ugliness is unpredictable, and offers an infinite range of possibility. Beauty is finite, ugliness is infinite like God.”

-Umberto Eco, On Ugliness

“I have a very childlike rage, and a very childlike loneliness.”

-Richey Edwards, (x)

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

-Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild, 1931

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

-Loren Eiseley, The Flow of the River

“The sea has many voices. Many Gods and many voices.”

-T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages

“In my end is my beginning.”

-T.S. Eliot, East Coker

“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

-T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

“Are you alive or not? Is there nothing in your head?”

-T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

“Is evil something you are, or something you do?”

-Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

“People also smile when they are miserable.”

-Paul Ekman, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage

“There is within all of us something that is too fragile not to break, too fragile or too inexpedient.”

-Rabbe Enckell, ‘O' Bridge of Interjections’

“Memory eats me alive.
Memory guts me,
unravels me, strews me
in the snow.”

-Aurora Engle-Pratt, White Out

“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit — all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

-Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices, 1996

“The word ‘naked’ is a translation of the Hebrew erom, which is used to describe a state of being stripped or vulnerable, and is without sexual connotation. Called out by God, Adam says: ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ His nakedness, erom, merely implies vulnerability. Perhaps Adam and Eve hid from God not because they were suddenly prudish, nor because their disobedience had been found out, but because they realised their fragility and insignificance. They were exposed, not as sexual beings but as mortal ones.”

-Anne Enright, The Genesis of Blame

“If you inherently long for something, become it first. If you want gardens, become the gardener. If you want love, embody love. If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation. If you want peace, exude calmness. If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint. If you want to be valued, respect your own time. If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself. This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.”

-Victoria Erickson, Rhythms and Roads

“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

-Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky, 1943

“I am overflowing with words I do not have.”

-Adam Falkner, ‘When It Matters’

“Oh God, my God, what have I done, in that place of secluded dark silence?”

-Forough Farrokhzad, Another Birth & Other Poems, ‘The Sin’

“I have cried an ocean for you but still your ship refuses to sail.”

-Michael Faudet, Bitter Sweet Love

“You cannot remove my scars or rewrite the past that haunts me. Just hold me tight and tell me everything is going to be okay.”

-Michael Faudet, Dirty Pretty Things

“Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

-Richard Feynman, Cargo Cult Science

“Sleep heavily and know that I am here with you now. The past is gone, and cannot harm you anymore. And while the future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first, and settles in as the gentle present. This now, this us, we can cope with that. We can do this together, you and I. Drowsily, but comfortably.”

-Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome to Night Vale, 2012: ‘The Candidate’

“I can’t exactly describe how I feel but it’s not quite right. And it leaves me cold.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Love of The Last Tycoon

“Well, let it pass; April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.”

“And in the end, we are all just humans… drunk on the idea that love, only love, can heal our brokenness.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Sensible Thing

“What is there to say? You know how much I have loved you.”

-Zelda Fitzgerald, in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, February 1935

“You are a curious case of strangeness and extraordinary loveliness.”

-Gustave Flaubert, in a letter to George Sand, c. November 1870

“She wanted to die, but she also wanted to live in Paris.”

“The future was a dark corridor, and at the far end the door was bolted.”

“‘Ah!’ she said, lifting her lovely tear-bright eyes to the ceiling. ‘If you knew all the dreams I’ve dreamed!’”

-Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

“A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.”

-Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects, 2006

“We live on the surface of our planet. Human life happens on a shell as thin, relative to the size of the earth, as an egg’s, or as thin as the paint on a wall. We have lifestyles on the surfaces of our lives: habits and culture, clothes, modes of transit, calendars, papers in wallets, ways of killing time, answers to the question ‘What do you do?’ We come home from long days of doing what we do and tuck ourselves under the thin sheets. We read stories printed on even thinner paper. Why, at the end of the day, do we read stories?

There are things, Schulz wrote, ‘that cannot ever occur with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them. And they quickly withdraw, fearing to lose their integrity in the frailty of realization.’ Our lives, the big and magnificent lives we can just barely make out beneath the mere facts of our lifestyles, are always trying to occur. But save for a few rare occasions — falling in love, the birth of a child, the death of a parent, a revelatory moment in nature — they don’t occur; the big magnificence is withdrawn. Stories rub at the facts of our lives. They give us access — if only for a few hours, if only in bed at the end of the day — to what’s beneath.”

-Jonathan Safran Foer, Beneath The Street of Crocodiles

“I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”

“‘Why do beautiful songs make you sad?’ ‘Because they aren’t true.’ ‘Never?’ ‘Nothing is beautiful and true.’”

“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

“Shyness is when you turn your head away from something you want. Shame is when you turn your head away from something you do not want.”

“I’m so afraid of losing something I love, that I refuse to love anything.”

-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“When I am with him, smoking or talking quietly ahead, or whatever it may be, I see, beyond my own happiness and intimacy, occasional glimpses of the happiness of 1000s of others whose names I shall never hear, and know that there is a great unrecorded history.”

-E. M. Forster, Selected Letters of E. M. Forster I: 1879-1920, 1983

“I wear the universe backwards. I imagine putting stars in my coffee, and sugar in the sky. I imagine going fishing in clouds, and watching the sun hide behind lakes. I’m too busy dancing with my imagination to even tip toe with reality for a second. They say I’m going mad. They’re right.”

-D. Antoinette Foy (x)

“The human heart beats approximately 4,000 times per hour and each pulse, each throb, each palpitation is a trophy engraved with the words ‘you are still alive.’ You are still alive. Act like it.”

-Rudy Francisco, Helium

“When you choose to be a poet,
when you choose to spill like this,
bleed like this, cry like this,
your pain becomes an exhibit.
A place for people to walk through
and then leave when they are ready.
No one ever asks a museum if it’s okay.”

-Rudy Francisco, Museum

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because the regret is stronger than gratitude.”

“What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.”

“Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy.”

-Anne Frank, in a diary entry

“I love you. I worry about you. I wonder whether I tell you enough how I love you and want you and need you and how I am diminished when you are not with me and how I am multiplied when you are here.”

-Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon

“What is to give light must endure burning.”

-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946

“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people.”

-Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

“I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.”

“I am not good at noticing when I’m happy, except in retrospect.”

-Tana French, In the Woods

“I used to think I was tough, but I've realized I wasn’t. I was fragile, and I wore thick fucking armor, and I hurt people so they couldn’t hurt me, and I thought that was what being tough was, but it isn’t.”

-James Frey, My Friend Leonard

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”

-Max Frisch, Sketchbook 1946-1949

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

-Robert Frost, as cited by Ray Josephs in The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1954 September 5 (x)

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

-Robert Frost, as cited by James Nelson in Wisdom: Conversations with the Elder Wise Men of Our Day

“O hushed October morning mild, begin the hours of this day slow. Make the day seem to us less brief.”

-Robert Frost, October

“The best way out is always through.”

-Robert Frost, A Servant to Servants

“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”

-Mary Elizabeth Frye, Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love.”

-Robert Fulghum, True Love, 1977

“Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.”

-Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

“I really don’t know what ‘I love you’ means. I think it means ‘Don’t leave me here alone.’”

-Neil Gaiman, Adventures in the Dream Trade

“It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be.”

“Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”

-Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“I want to see life. I want to hold it in my hands.”

-Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

“There was only a poem, which took flesh and walked and spread itself across the vastness of the known.”

-Neil Gaiman, How to Talk to Girls at Parties

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.”

“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

-Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

“I think hell is something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.”

-Neil Gaiman, Season of Mists

“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”

-Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“Not every girl survives the forest. Sometimes she becomes it.”

-Catherine Garbinsky, Even Curses End, 2019: ‘The Princess & the Thorns’

“In the story, you fall in love with a girl on another planet. She’s been dead for years, but through your telescope you watch her laugh, laughing too. You wave when she, remembering her smallness, remembers the stars.”

-Annelyse Gelman, Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, 2014: ‘Love Poem’

“I burned so long and so quiet, you must have wondered if I loved you back. I did, I did, I do.”

-Annelyse Gelman, Everyone I Love Is a Stranger to Someone, 2014: ‘The Pillowcase’

“If you ever ask me how many times you’ve crossed my mind, I would say once. Because you came, and never left.”

“The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.”

“Thanks to those who hated me, you made me a stronger person. Thanks to those who loved me, you made my heart grow fonder. Thanks to those who envied me, you made my self-esteem increase. Thanks to those who cared, you made me feel important. Thanks to those who entered my life, you made me who I am today. Thanks to those who left, you showed me that nothing lasts forever. Thanks to those who stayed, you showed me the true meaning of friendship.”

“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.”

“Positivity is not just expecting the best to happen, but also accepting that whatever happens is for the best.”

“The human brain is amazing. It functions 24 hours a day from the time we were born, and only stops when we take an exam or when we are in love.”

“It is during the worst times of your life that you will get to see the true colors of the people who say they care for you.”

“I hope you never forget that there is someone who’s always by your side and he’ll always love you, always wants you, and always cares about you no matter what.”

-Ritu Ghatourey, greeting cards

“Improbable is not the opposite of probable, but rather an inflexion of it, a gradient in a continuum of probability. But what does probability — a mathematical idea — have to do with fiction? The answer is: everything. For, as Ian Hacking, a prominent historian of the concept, puts it, probability is a ‘manner of conceiving the world constituted without our being aware of it.’”

-Amitav Ghosh, Writing the Unimaginable

“God said ‘love your enemy’ and I obeyed Him and loved myself.”

-Khalil Gibran, The Broken Wings

“Travel and tell no one, live a true love story and tell no one, live happily and tell no one, people ruin beautiful things.”

-Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

“Just to be clear,
I don’t want to get out,
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life,
so shattered,
there’s gonna have to be,
a thousand separate heavens,
for all of my separate parts.”

-Andrea Gibson, ‘Royal Heart’

“I said to the sun, ‘Tell me about the big bang.’ The sun said, ‘it hurts to become.’”

-Andrea Gibson, ‘I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power's Out’

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

-Andre Gide, Autumn Leaves, 1950

“Some people are born with tornadoes in their lives, but constellations in their eyes. Other people are born with stars at their feet, but their souls are lost at sea.”

-Nikita Gill, ‘Perspectives’

“If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to others, then you deserve a love deeper than the ocean itself.”

-Nikita Gill (x)

“The night isn’t dark; the world is dark. Stay with me a little longer.”

-Louise Glück, Poems 1962-2012, Departure

“There is no other immortality:
in the cold spring, the purple violets open.”

-Louise Glück, Poems 1962-2012, Hyacinth

“Like the poets, are you stimulated by despair? Does grief move you to reveal your nature?”

-Louise Glück, The Wild Iris, ‘Vespers’

“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

-Seth Godin (x)

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

“When I have a terrible need of ― shall I say the word ― religion, then I go out and paint the stars.”

“But you must love with a high, serious intimate sympathy, with a will, with intelligence, and you must always seek to know more thoroughly, better, and more.”

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”

“I put my heart and my soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process.”

-Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to Theo van Gogh

“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again or what the world will be like when we do. We may both have seen many horrible things. But I will think of you every time I need to be reminded that there is beauty and goodness in the world.”

-Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha, 2005

“We all have hidden secrets, some funny, sweet, kind or even dirty. Mine though, is obvious. It’s there, it always has been. You just haven’t noticed. It’s you.”

-Isabelle Gough (x)

“The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.”

-Graham Greene, in an interview (x)

“Hate was just a failure of the imagination.”

-Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

“Time can be slowed if you live deliberately. If you stop and watch sunsets. If you spend time sitting on porches listening to the woods. If you give in to the reality of the seasons.”

-Thomas Christopher Greene, I’ll Never Be Long Gone

“No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.”

-Matt Haig, The Humans

“I’m having an argument with myself. And I’m losing.”

-Cynthia Hand, Hallowed, 2012

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness

“The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. It’s all I can offer. It’s all that will help him in the end. If you are alone, you cannot escape addiction. If you are loved, you have a chance. For a hundred years we have been singing war songs about addicts. All along, we should have been singing love songs to them.”

-Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, 2007

“I don’t want to be pitied and I don’t know how to be loved. I only know how to love. All I can do is hope I’m doing the right thing.”

-Keith Haring, in a diary entry

“I’ve never been good at emotional stuff. Except anger. Anger, I’m good at.”

-Hannah Harrington, Saving June

“Playing house can reconstruct the world.”

-Nanae Haruno, Pietà, 2000

“If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.”

-Andrew Harvey, A Journey in Ladakh

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”

-Stephen Hawking, ‘A Brief History of Mine’ (70th birthday lecture) January 8, 2012

“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise. We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god. No one created our universe, and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization: there is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.”

-Stephen Hawking, Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?

“Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.”

-Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversation, 1971

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway (UNCONFIRMED)

“The first and final thing you have to do in this world is last in it and not be smashed by it.”

-Ernest Hemingway, in a letter to Maxwell Perkins, c. April 1932

“The way to learn whether a person is trustworthy is to trust them.”

-Ernest Hemingway, as cited by A. E. Hotchner in Papa Hemingway, 1966

“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

-Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929

“We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.”

-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast, 1964

“Man is not made for defeat.”

-Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952

“The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.”

-O. Henry, The Green Door

“He is sad. He sleeps for days on end. Neither good nor evil attract him. When he walks down the street, you see distinctly the motion of his rosy wings of lungs.”

-Zbigniew Herbert, ‘Anything Rather Than an Angel,’ translated by Czeslaw Milosz

“You were holding whole kingdoms
but your palms were made of sand.”

-Elizabeth Hewer, Obituary for the Princess Who Forgot to Be Fairytale

“How fragile we are, between the few good moments.”

-Jane Hirshfield, Come, Thief: Poems, Vinegar and Oil

Desire, to know why, and how, CURIOSITY; such as is in no living creature but Man; so that Man is distinguished, not only by his Reason; but also by this singular Passion from other Animals; in whom the appetite of food, and other pleasures of Sense, by predominance, take away the care of knowing causes; which is a Lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of Knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal Pleasure.”

-Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651

“It's no fun watching people wound themselves so that they can hole up, nurse themselves back to health and then repeat the cycle. They don't know what else to do”.

-Jenny Holzer, The Living Series, 1980

“I did not like to be touched, but it was a strange dislike. I did not like to be touched because I craved it too much. I wanted to be held very tight so I would not break.”

“The fear is not of fat. The fear is of need, of hunger, of any desire, of life itself. The fear is of being human, and as such, imperfect, and as such, just mortal. Just a body, like everyone else.”

-Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Identity is a series of ads for a product that doesn’t exist… To put that tritely: The best way to be yourself is to not be anybody in particular but to just be.

-Rob Horning, Social Media is Not Self-Expression, 2014

“I know you can and will destroy me, yet I don’t care… That’s the true beauty of our love.”

-Ryan P. Hughes (x)

“You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain. Keep your mind serene as you keep your life clear.”

-Victor Hugo, Villemain

“Half gods are worshiped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.”

-Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

-Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

-Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays, 1959: A Case of Voluntary Ignorance

“I continuously brooded on the problems of existence — free-will and determinism, the whence and why and whither of man, the origin of evil, the immortality of the soul, the futility of life, etc., and made myself very miserable over such questions.”

-George Du Maurier, Peter Ibbetson

“You wish to reform the world? Reform yourself, otherwise your efforts will be in vain.”

-St. Ignatius of Loyola, as cited by Daniello Bartoli in History of the Life and Institute of St. Ignatius De Loyola, Vol. 4

“Time is heavy. The world dense. The years brief. The seconds slow.”

“It’s reality that makes us beautiful.”

“Every voice echoes ours. Everything corresponds. We take each other by the hand. There is space, but no distance.”

“The sparrows grew strong again in our hands, the flowers never faded.”

“All the acacia trees are aglow. Their blossoms are bursting open and shooting up to the sky. The full-blown moon is flooding the Heavens with light, a living planet. The Milky Way is like creamy fire. Honeycombs, countless galaxies, comets’ tails, celestial ribbons, rivers of molten silver, and brooks, lakes and oceans of palpable light… Sheaves of blossoming snow, trees in the sky, gardens and meadows… domes and cupolas… columns and temples… And space, space, infinite space!”

-Eugène Ionesco, Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It, translated by Donald Watson

“The tragic character does not change, he is crushed; he is himself, he is real. Comic characers, fools, are people who do not exist.

-Eugène Ionesco, ‘The Tragedy of Language: How an English Primer Became My First Play,’ translated by Jack Undank

“Someone who can’t sacrifice anything can never change anything. In order to overcome a monster, you must be willing to throw aside your humanity.”

“I just want the weak who do get swept along with the flow to be considered human too.”

-Hajime Isayama, Shingeki no Kyojin

“There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.”

-Kazuo Ishiguro, as cited in Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro, 2008

“May those who accept their fate be granted happiness. May those who defy their fate be granted glory.”

“All of my feelings belong to me. All feelings are precious to whom they belong. And I am nobody’s marionette.”

-Ikuko Itoh, Princess Tutu, 2002-2003

“What I want is the soul of something buried deep inside me before it became these words.”

-Richard Jackson, Retreivals, ‘Abandoned’

“And remember this, that if you’ve been hated, you’ve also been loved.”

-Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

“You cannot shame a woman who owns everything about herself. You cannot weaponize the truth against her.”

-T. James (x)

“The universe has no center. No center, no limits. We live in the midst of infinity.”

-Kristopher Jansma, Why We Came to the City

“God is not death, God is what survives.”

-Mark Jarman, Unholy Sonnets

“We can never be gods, after all; but we can become something less than human with frightening ease.”

-N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, 2010

“The first and foremost instinct of humans is neither sex nor aggression. It is to seek contact and comforting connection.”

-Sue Johnson, Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships

“Finally, in a low whisper, he said, ‘I think I might be a terrible person.’ For a split second I believed him — I thought he was about to confess a crime, maybe a murder. Then I realized that we all think we might be terrible people. But we only reveal this before asking someone to love us. It is a kind of undressing.”

-Miranda July, The First Bad Man

“What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real.”

-Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”

-C.G. Jung, On Christianity

“I hate the fact that I don’t hate you, not even a little.”

-Gil Junger, 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999

“I aim to be
but my
hands still
and my voice
isn’t quite

-Michelle K., Earning Your Roar

“My poor mother
begged for a sheep
but raised a wolf.”

-Michelle K., Four Rhythms

“The little things? The little moments? — They aren’t little.”

-Jon Kabat-Zinn (UNCONFIRMED)

“What do you say when you’re not enough to make someone stay?”

-Katie Kacvinsky, First Comes Love

“I cannot force my way into the world, but lie quietly, receive, spread out within me what I have received, and then step calmly forth.”

“Why couldn’t one set oneself afire and be destroyed in the flames? Or obey, even if one hears no command? Or sit on a chair in the middle of one’s empty room and look at the floor?”

“I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person.”

-Franz Kafka, in a diary entry

“When dealing with myself I am powerless.”

“You are free and that is why you are lost.”

-Franz Kafka, in a letter to Felice Bauer

“I usually solve problems by letting them devour me.”

-Franz Kafka, in a letter to Max Brod

“You are the knife I turn inside myself; that is love. That, my dear, is love.”

-Franz Kafka, in a letter to Milena Jesenská

“You misinterpret everything, even the silence.”

-Franz Kafka, The Castle

“I cannot rid myself of the feeling that I’m not in the right place.”

-Franz Kafka, Description of a Struggle

“None sing as purely as those in deepest Hell; it is their singing that we take for the singing of angels.”

-Franz Kafka, Fragments

“Blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks to almost black, it echoes grief that is hardly human.”

-Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art

“What I sometimes mistake for ecstasy is simply the absence of grief.”

-Sarah Kane, Crave, 1998

“I am trying to write a poem in which I am neither a monster nor a martyr.”

-Kevin Kantor, ‘You are Not Just Anything’

“People who didn’t live pre-Internet can’t grasp how devoid of ideas life in my hometown was. The only bookstores sold Bibles the size of coffee tables and dashboard Virgin Marys that glowed in the dark. I stopped in the middle of the SAT to memorize a poem, because I thought, This is a great work of art and I’ll never see it again.”

-Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir No. 1

“Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”

-Yousuf Karsh, as cited by Time magazine (x)

“I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you. I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself.”

-Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

“I’ve never seen grief like it. Grief like that, it’s like an animal. She’s not eating. She’s not sleeping. She’s whimpering. She’s sluggish. She’s not herself.”

-Jackie Kay, Wish I Was Here, Blinds

“Straight off and away into the dreamy dark.
I’ve never had so much peace in my life.
And silence. Silence and more silence. Thick like snow.”

-Jackie Kay, Wish I Was Here, The Silence

“I think many people kill themselves simply to stop the debate about whether they will or they won’t.”

-Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted

“I’m a wretch. But I love, love.”

-Jack Kerouac, Little Motel: Satori In Paris, 1966

“People often ask me questions that I cannot very well answer in words, and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.”

-Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Complete Sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan, 1978

“Are you accidental—Temporary?
Does the moon sink
in your skin; are the daffodils
talking again?”

-S.A. Khanum, ‘Rome Falls’

“We need falsifications to make the past inhabitable.”

-Frans Kellendonk, Het Complete Werk, 1992

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another.”

-James Keller (UNCONFIRMED)

“Do it or don’t do it — you will regret both.”

“I have only one confidant, and that is the silence of night.”

-Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”

-Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

“It’s all about falling in love with yourself and sharing that love with someone who appreciates you, rather than looking for love to compensate for a self love deficit.”

-Eartha Kitt, as cited in All by Myself: The Eartha Kitt Story, 1982

“Love isn’t soft, like those poets say. Love has teeth which bite and the wounds never close.”

-Stephen King, The Body

“When it came to the dark fuckery of the human heart, there seemed to be no limit.”

-Stephen King, Full Dark, No Stars

“You think ‘Okay, I get it, I’m prepared for the worst’, but you hold out that small hope, see, and that’s what fucks you up. That’s what kills you.”

“It’s hard to let go. Even when what you’re holding onto is full of thorns, it’s hard to let go. Maybe especially then.”

-Stephen King, Joyland

“Sometimes real love is silent as well as blind.”

-Stephen King, The Stand

“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.”

-Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

“Destruction can be beautiful to some people. Don’t ask me why. It just is. And if they can’t find anything to destroy, they destroy themselves.”

-John Knowles (UNCONFIRMED)

“I need to be alone for certain periods of time or I violate my own rhythm.”

-Lee Krasner, as cited by Cindy Nemser in Art Talk: Conversations With 15 Women Artists

“She believed a great happiness awaited her somewhere, and for this reason she remained calm as the days flew by.”

-Gyula Krúdy, Sunflower

“Repeating the same action but expecting new results is a sign of madness. It's also a sign that you are human.”

-Kumobius, Duet

“I think I am a better ghost than I am a human being.”

-Mikko Kuorinki, Wall Piece with 200 Letters

“Either you don’t communicate enough and remain concealed from other people, or you risk rejection by exposing too much altogether: the minor and major hurts, the tedious obsessions, the abscesses and cataracts of need and shame and longing.”

-Olivia Laing, The Lonely City, 2016

“We have a far greater connection to the fictional characters we know and love than the random people we pass on the street.”

-Sam Lake, Alan Wake, 2010

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”

-Danielle LaPorte, White Hot Truth

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.”

-Philip Larkin, This Be the Verse

“Which do you want: the pain of staying where you are, or the pain of growth?”

-Judith Hanson Lasater, A Year of Living Your Yoga: Daily Practices to Shape Your Life

“Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.”

-Mark Lawrence, Prince of Thorns

“Always loving, always judging, always destroying.”

-Violette Leduc, La Bâtarde, translated by Derek Coltman

“Let desert sand harden your feet. Let the arch of your feet be the mountains. Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps and the ways you go be the lines of your palms. May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words. May you smell food cooking you have not eaten. May the spring of a foreign river be your navel. May your soul be at home where there are no houses.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home, 1985

“If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the knownothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, ‘Escape Routes,’ 1974

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven, 1971

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

“Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive.”

“The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right kind of joy; it will not do; it is fearful and it is trivial.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, 1973

“Morality and grammar are related. Human beings live by the word. Socrates said, ‘The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.’ I’ve had that sentence pinned up over my desk for a long time… But Socrates wasn’t talking about correctness. Correct usage is not ‘right,’ or incorrectness ‘wrong,’ morally. Correctness isn’t a moral issue but a social and political one, often a definition of social class. Correct usage is defined by a group of those who speak and write English a certain way, and used as a test or shibboleth to form an in-group of those who speak and write English that way and an out-group of those who don’t. And guess which group has the power?”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft, 1998

“We all have forests on our minds. Forests unexplored, unending. Each one of us gets lost in the forest, every night, alone.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind's Twelve Quarters, 1975

“Sympathy’s easy. You have sympathy for starving children swatting at flies on the late-night commercials. Sympathy is easy because it comes from a position of power. Empathy is getting down on your knees and looking someone else in the eye and realizing you could be them, and that all that separates you is luck.”

-Dennis Lehane, 2004 Commencement Address to Eckerd College

“Answerless questions can destroy you. Move on.”

“This is what love does: it makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be.”

“Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.”

-David Levithan, Every Day

“Let’s always love each other, and never be in love with each other.”

-David Levithan, Every You, Every Me

“I am not ready to see what happens next. Because it’s possible that nothing will happen, and that might break me.”

-David Levithan, Invisibility

“There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.”

“Even when I detach, I care. You can be separate from a thing and still care about it.”

-David Levithan, The Lover's Dictionary

“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“To be eaten and to be married to the god might not be so different.”

“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”

-C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

“I feel like a time traveler:
June, July, August.
Summer dissolves in my mouth
and I can’t remember what it tasted like.”

-Zoë Lianne, ‘Erasure’

“When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking – the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.

The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, ‘Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.’

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.”

-Astrid Lindgren, 1978 Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

“Isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

-Richard Linklater, Before Sunrise, 1995

“And so she had lain on the earth, resting her entire body until she was absorbed by God.”

-Clarice Lispector, An Apprenticeship, or, The Book of Delights, 1973

“It’s uncomfortable being two: me for me and me for others.”

“I think we have to do forbidden things — otherwise we suffocate.”

-Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life, 1978

“I am troubled and harsh and hopeless. Though I have love inside me. But I don’t know how to use love. Sometimes it scratches like barbs.”

“She knows what she wants: she wants to remain standing still in the sea. And so she remains. The woman neither receives nor transmits. She does not need to communicate. She knows that she is gleaming from the water, the salt and the sun. In some obscure way her dripping hair is like that of a shipwrecked person.”

-Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, 1973

“I am always remote from myself, I am unreachable to myself just as a star is unreachable for me. I contort myself to be able to touch the present time that surrounds me, but I remain remote in relation to this very instant itself. The future, God help me, is closer to me than the present instant.”

-Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H., 1964

“We think we know a few things about the way memory works. We think that memories of things that actually happened, such as what you ate for dinner, things that could have happened but didn’t, such as the smart retort that came to mind too late, and things that simply could not have happened, such as the way sunlight might reflect from an angel’s eyes, are encoded the same way at the level of neurons. To distinguish between them requires logic and reason, and a level of indirection. This is troublesome to some people in so far as they believe that our construction of reality is based on memories. If you cannot tell these kinds of memories apart, then it seems that you can be made to believe anything. The consolation of philosophy and religion both was that they helped men classify the types of memories and keep their hold on the fragile authenticity of their waking lives.”

“Because she couldn’t tell an iamb apart from the Lamb; because she smelled of soap and sunlight; because when she told him she would go look at stars with him she really meant it; because when he made fun of people who said ‘irregardless,’ she made him look it up in a dictionary so that he learned that it really was a word; because he knew that he could always tell when she would laugh a fraction of a second before she did.”

-Ken Liu, Single-Bit Error

“I had another feeling, that the earth is like a vibrant living thing. The vessels we’ve clearly seen on it looked like the blood and veins of human beings. I said to myself: this is the place we live, it’s really magical.”

-Yang Liu, as cited by David B. Yaden in The Overview Effect: Awe and Self-Transcendent Experience in Space Flight

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale, 1849

“A thousand butterfly skeletons sleep within my walls.”

-Federico García Lorca, ‘Hour of Stars’

“All in this world has broken. All that’s left is silence. (Leave me in this field weeping.)”

-Federico García Lorca, Lorca: Selected Poems, ‘La Soleá’

“The jasmine is a water without blood, and the girl a nocturnal branch across the pavement, infinitely dark.”

-Federico García Lorca, ‘Qasida of the Dream of Open Air’

“I used to think rewatching and rereading were embarrassingly boring pastimes. But there is something to be said for how comforting it is to already know what happens. There is no such luxury in real life.”

-Emery Lord, The Start of Me and You

“You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.”

-Audre Lorde (UNCONFIRMED)

“Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

-Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

“What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence?”

-Audre Lorde, I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde, ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

-Audre Lorde, ‘New Year's Day’

“As soon as a challenge was overcome, it ceased to be a challenge, becoming the expected and ordinary rather than something I had achieved with difficulty, and could, therefore, be justly proud of. I could not own my own triumphs, nor give myself credit for them.”

-Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

“Jessica has a forehead scar from the deep end of a pool. I ask Jessica what drowning feels like and she says not everything feels like something else.”

-Angie Sijun Lou, Jessica gives me a chill pill

“Sadly, it’s much easier to create a desert than a forest.”

-James Lovelock, Gaia: Medicine for an Ailing Planet

“You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done but simply because you are.”

-Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times

What I also mean to say is that I recognize the focus. The impulse to know someone else before you reveal yourself. The impulse to know someone else because you have never been asked to reveal yourself. The impulse to know someone else because otherwise, you do not know yourself. The impulse to know someone else because you are self-conscious of your whole self, the one that fills up too many rooms, so much space. The impulse to hide how much space you need. The impulse to hide what you need.

-Yanyi Luo, Dependence, 2019

“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it too. That’s what scares you the most.”

-Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass

“It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them.”

-Rose Macaulay (UNCONFIRMED)

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.”

-George Macdonald, The Marquis of Lossie, 1877

“Yes, for myself alone I bloom, in isolation!”

-Stéphane Mallarmé, Collected Poems and Other Verse, ‘The Nurse and Herodias’

“There is not enough of me left for myself.”

-Osip Mandelstam, ‘The Horseshoe Finder’

“Oh, I could weep like a child because there are so many flowers and my lap is so small and all must be carried home…”

-Katherine Mansfield, in a letter to John Middleton Murry

“A lie is more comfortable than doubt, more useful than love, more lasting than truth.”

-Gabriel García Márquez, The Autumn of the Patriarch, 1996

“There is no shame in fear… what matters is how we face it.”

“When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”

“Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.”

“A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.”

“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.”

“Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.”

“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it's served up.”

“So many vows… they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It's too much. No matter what you do, you're forsaking one vow or the other.”

“Tears… The woman's weapon, my lady mother used to call them. The man's weapon is a sword. And that tells us all you need to know, doesn't it?”

-George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

“Words are like arrows. Once loosed, you cannot call them back.”

-George R.R. Martin, A Feast for Crows

“‘Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave.’”

“If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”

“A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.”

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

“Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities.”

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

“We all need to be mocked from time to time, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously.”

“There are no heroes… In life, the monsters win.”

-George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

“All men are fools, if truth be told, but the ones in motley are more amusing than ones with crowns.”

“One voice may speak you false, but in many there is always truth to be found.”

“In the world as I have seen it, no man grows rich by kindness.”

“It seems to me that a queen who trusts no one is as foolish as a queen who trusts everyone.”

“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”

-George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

“When I look back upon my path, I realize my one consistent motif in my work was my obsession for small things. I feel joy when I discover seemingly insignificant things that may be easily overlooked.”

-Yamamoto Masao, Small Things in Silence

“You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”

-Abraham Maslow (UNCONFIRMED)

“Once my mother said to me,
she said: ‘you’re going to fall for men like your father;
I’m sorry—’

and I wanted to ask her if that meant I would fall for a fighter
and a hard fist and a fast car,
boys on motorcycles,
people who ran from their problems,
midnight phone calls from the beds of other women,
slippery mouths with tongues that twisted truth like cherry stems

or if that meant I might just be comfortable with absence.”

-Trista Mateer, I Am A Runner

“A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption.”

-Guy de Maupassant, Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques

“I still make the sign
of the cross when
I hear your name.”

-J. McCann, Unholy

“Leaving is not enough; you must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are papier mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses. You make him call before he visits. You take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

-Marty McConnell, Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell

“There is an ugly name for those who do things the hard way.”

-American McGee, American McGee's Alice

“When the storm rips you to pieces, you get to decide how to put yourself back together again.”

-Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

“Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God; for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice and mediocrity and materialism and selfishness that have chilled his faith.”

-Thomas Merton, My Argument With the Gestapo, 1968

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”

-Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, 1963

“All through the dark the wind looks for the grief it belongs to.”

-W.S. Merwin, ‘Night Wind’

“And later, when I began to write down the events of my childhood in a language foreign to their happening, it was a revelation. English could protect me; an alphabet without memory.”

-Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

“A song from another time survived with me. It follows me wherever I go.”

-Dunta Mikhail, The Iraqi Nights, ‘Song from Another Time’

“We sit in each other’s souls.”

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, in a letter to Witter Bynner

“Nobody speaks to me. People fall in love with me, and annoy me and distress me and flatter me and excite me and all that sort of thing. But no one speaks to me. I sometimes think that no one can. Can you?”

-Edna St. Vincent Millay, as cited by Daniel Mark Epstein in What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

“I used to believe in forever, but forever’s too good to be true.”

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

“Forever isn’t long at all, as long as I’m with you.”

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”

-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“It’s not that anyone else has isolated me, but I have happily isolated myself. When I am alone, I feel natural, truthful, and at ease. Still, I feel I am not isolated enough, so I want to film more pure states of isolation. Perhaps true isolation is true freedom.”

-Tsai Ming-Liang, in an interview (x)

Roger Ebert: [I told Miyazaki I love the ‘gratuitous motion’ in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.]

Hiyao Miyazaki: We have a word for that in Japanese. It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.

Roger Ebert: Is that like the ‘pillow words’ that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

Hiyao Miyazaki: I don’t think it’s like the pillow word. [He clapped his hands three or four times.] The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb. The people who make the movies are scared of silence, so they want to paper and plaster it over. They’re worried that the audience will get bored. They might go up and get some popcorn. But just because it’s 80 percent intense all the time doesn’t mean the kids are going to bless you with their concentration. What really matters is the underlying emotions — that you never let go of those. (x)

“They say you don’t get over someone until you find someone or something better. As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness. Any empty space must be filled. Immediately. The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place. A single moment with that empty spot causes excruciating pain. That’s why we run from distraction to distraction and from attachment to attachment.”

-Yasmin Mogahed, Fall in Love with the Real Thing

“And I dream too much
and I don’t write enough
and I’m trying to find God everywhere.”

-Anis Mojgai, ‘For Those Who Can Still Ride in an Airplane For the First Time’

“‘Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.’”

-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“I thought she was sleeping until I heard her call out from across the room, ‘Will you bring me a glass of water?’ I did. Then in her always-sleepy tone and drawl she said, ‘Do you remember when you were a little girl and you would ask your mama to bring you a glass of water?’ Yeah. ‘You know how half the time you weren’t even thirsty. You just wanted that hand that was attached to that glass that was attached to that person you just wanted to stay there until you fell asleep.’ She took the glass of water that I brought her and just sat it down full on the table next to her. Wow, I thought. What am I gonna do with love like this.”

-Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

“You are beautiful because you let yourself feel, and that is a brave thing indeed.”

-Shinji Moon, The Anatomy of Being

“There is a face beneath this mask, but it isn’t me. I am no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath that.”

-Steve Moore, V for Vendetta

“At 19, I read a sentence that re-terraformed my head: ‘The level of matter in the universe has been constant since the Big Bang.’ In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing — not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over. Each baby, then, is a unique collision — a cocktail, a remix — of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms. When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes — we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely face of our existences. The honour of being alive. They will never be able to make you again. Don’t you dare waste a second of it thinking something better will happen when it ends. Don’t you dare.”

-Caitlin Moran, Caitlin Moran's theory of the afterlife

“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece, after all.”

-Nathan W. Morris (UNCONFIRMED)

“I touched her thigh and death smiled.”

-Jim Morrison, An American Prayer

“It’s funny, in a human kind of way, how we can convince ourselves that we’re in control at the very moment we are beginning to lose it.”

-William C. Moyers, Broken: My Story of Addiction and Redemption, 2007

“But this body
is home, my childhood
is buried here, my sleep
rises and sets inside,
crested and wore itself thin
between these bones -
I live here.”

-Lisel Mueller, A Nude by Edward Hopper, July 1967

“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.”

-Edvard Munch, as cited by William Thompson and Kim Sorvig in Sustainable Landscape Construction: A Guide to Green Building Outdoors

“In a sense, I’m the one who ruined me. I did it myself.”

“Violence does not always take visible form, and not all wounds gush blood.”

“You can keep as quiet as you like, but one of these days somebody is going to find you.”

“We cannot simply sit and stare at our wounds forever.”

-Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

“I used to think the years would go by in order, that you get older one year at a time. But it’s not like that. It happens overnight.”

-Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

“My point is: in this whole wide world the only person you can depend on is you.”

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

“I’m not totally mad at you. I’m just sad. You’re all locked up in that little world of yours, and when I try knocking on the door, you just sort of look up for a second and go right back inside.”

“I have a million things to talk to you about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”

“We’re all kind of weird and twisted and drowning.”

“I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”

-Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

“Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.”

-Haruki Murakami, Pinball, 1973

“What really hurts, though, is that I want to tell you everything — absolutely everything — but I just can’t do it. I can’t tell you exactly how I feel.”

-Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

“I do not care who I was before I came to be myself. I am no one but myself. That is the only truth.”

-Shūkō Murase, Ergo Proxy, 2006

“I just can’t live an ordinary life, I can’t pass the time. I can’t organise myself, I don’t have ordinary motives anymore. I can’t even manage my body, when I go to bed I don’t know where to put my arms.“

-Iris Murdoch, The Green Knight

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.”

-Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

“You can only fight the way you practice.”

-Miyamoto Musashi, Dokkōdō

“I dreamt of you last night — as if I was playing the piano and you were turning the pages for me.”

-Vladimir Nabokov, in a letter to Véra Nabokov, 12 January 1924

“In my dreams the world would come alive, becoming so captivatingly majestic, free and ethereal, that afterwards it would be oppressive to breathe the dust of this painted life.”

-Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading

“She was all rose and honey.”

-Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“Loneliness as a situation can be corrected, but as a state of mind it is an incurable illness.”

-Vladimir Nabokov, The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov

“The only way to truly escape the mundane is for you to constantly be evolving.”

-Ryōgo Narita, Durarara!!, 2004-2014

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.”

-Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place, 2005

“Any fixed claim on realness, especially when it is tied to an identity, has a finger in psychosis.”

-Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts, 2015

“But my words become stained with your love. You occupy everything, you occupy everything.”

“The sea is working, working in my silence.”

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

-Pablo Neruda, Collected Poetry

“Life is boring, except for flowers, sunshine, your perfect legs. A glass of cold water when you are really thirsty. The way bodies fit together. Fresh and young and sweet. Coffee in the morning. These are just moments. I struggle with the in-betweens. I just want to never stop loving like there is nothing else to do, because what else is there to do?”

-Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, 1924

“When they were together like that, they had been their own private universe, bounded just by themselves, a population of two. They were the world, and the world was them.”

-Patrick Ness, More Than This

“‘If I don’t want it – power – then
it won’t hurt when I can’t have it.’
But you can have it. Don’t you feel it?
Some repressed ambition stirring
nauseously inside you. The piece
of Eve’s apple that won’t digest.
The slow monstering of you
when you have to remind
yourself to smile and be nice.
The tiger hinging on its hind legs.
Don’t be grateful. Be ungrateful.
Be on your last nerve. Get ready.”

-Mindy Nettifee, For Young Women Who Don't Consider Themselves Feminists

“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

-Isaac Newton, in a letter to Robert Hooke

“‘Just kidding’ was exactly what people wrote when they meant every word.”

-David Nicholls, One Day

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”

-Reinhold Niebuhr, The Serenity Prayer, c. 1942

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”

“Our greatest experiences are our quiet moments.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche (UNCONFIRMED)

“People like me love only ghosts. If I ever loved a human being — I would soon go to ruin.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, in a letter to Franz Overbeck

“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche (1911)

“Look there: how she approaches impatiently over the sea. Do you not feel the thirst and the hot breath of her love? She would suck at the sea and drink its depth into her heights; and the sea’s desire rises toward her with a thousand breasts. It wants to be kissed and sucked by the thirst of the sun; it wants to become air and height and a footpath of light, and itself light.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Sammlung

“The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“I don’t know who I am anymore.
The previous sentence is a lie.
The previous sentence is a lie.”

-Jackson Nieuwland, Compulsive Liar

“She answered, ‘I don’t want worship. I want understanding.’”

-Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin: Vol. 1, 1931-1934

“You cannot save people, you can only love them.”

-Anaïs Nin, The Diary Of Anaïs Nin: Vol. 2, 1934-1939

“I'm restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.”

-Anaïs Nin, Fire: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1934–1937)

“He cries, ‘Tell me, tell me what you feel.’ And I cannot. There is blood in my eyes, in my head. Words are drowned.”

“I am again devouring myself.”

-Anaïs Nin, Henry and June: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1931–1932)

“I have no longer the strength to act what I do not feel.”

“My whole being calls for an act of violence, but I still use velvet gloves.”

-Anaïs Nin, Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1939-1947

“My God, does love ever die? I ask, and will die asking.”

-Anaïs Nin, Nearer the Moon: From a Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin (1937–1939)

“Does the walker choose the path or the path the walker?”

-Garth Nix, Sabriel, 1995

“We all lie to ourselves to be happy.”

-Christopher Nolan, Memento, 2000

“Don’t assume your dreams are just fantasy. If you can imagine a world, believe in it… and dive in.”

-Tetsuya Nomura, Kingdom Hearts III

“Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

-Marsha Norman, The Fortune Teller, 1987

“You have to really be broken in order to be a poet. It’s a very bad thing to tell a young person, but it’s true. Poetry comes out of all the place where you break.”

-Alice Notley, in an interview conducted c. October 2015

“I will search for you after your death, to confront you.
I will pose to you your timelessness and lack of fixity. I will say you have now never won.
I will search for you across heaven, for you marked me when I was indistinct, when I was loving, I say.”

“I don't have a plan. I have a voice.”

-Alice Notley, In the Pines, ‘The Black Trailor (A Noir Fiction)’

“The child is the first artist. Out of the material around him he creates a world of his own. His play is his expression. He creates; and he is able to merge himself in the thing created. In his play he loses all consciousness of self… Then comes a change. Imagination surrenders to the intellect; emotion gives place to knowledge. Gradually the material world shuts in about us until it becomes for us a hard, inert thing, and no longer a living, changing presence, instinct with infinite possibilities of experience and feeling… It happens, unfortunately for our enjoyment of life, that we get used to things. Little by little we come to accept them, to take them for granted, and they cease to mean anything to us… Unless the world is new-created every day… Unless each new day is a gift and new opportunity, then we cannot interpret the meaning of life nor read the riddle of art. For we cannot truly appreciate art except as we learn to appreciate life.”

-Carleton Noyes, The Gate of Appreciation

“After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: if anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately. Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this. I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used — she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been canceled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late. Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother until we got on the plane and would ride next to her — Southwest. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies. And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers — non-alcoholic — and the two little girls from our flight, one African American, one Mexican American — ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade, and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped — has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”

-Naomi Shihab Nye, Gate A-4, 1952

“Occasionally, however, a woman writer is told gravely, ‘You write like a man.’ Since this is the highest accolade, presented as a judgment from above and closed to any further discussion, it would be impolite to ask, ‘Which man? Any man? You?’”

-Joyce Carol Oates, Why Is Your Writing So Violent?

“What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no beginning and no end…”

-Tim O'Brien The Things They Carried

“When it was dark, you always carried the sun in your hand for me.”

-Seán O’Casey, Red Roses for Me

“When you bring a weapon into this world, you have to take responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re the one who pulls the trigger; they still have the power to hurt someone. And that someone could be a person you love.”

-Eiichiro Oda, One Piece

“The Manicheans believed the world was filled with imprisoned light, fragments of a God who destroyed himself because he no longer wished to exist. This light could be found trapped inside man and animals and plants, and the Manichean mission was to try to release it.”

-Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

“Yesterday seems years ago — even this morning seems years ago.”

-Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter to Alfred Stieglitz

“I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again.”

-Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter to Russel Vernon Hunter

“Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again…”

-Lauren Oliver, Vanishing Girls

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.”

-Mary Oliver, ‘Wild Geese’

“And yet I swear
I love this earth
that scars and scalds,
that burns my feet.

And even hell is holy.”

-Gregory Orr, The Caged Owl: New and Selected Poems, ‘Tin Cup’

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”

-George Orwell, 1984

“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals.”

-George Orwell, Animal Farm

“I’ve always thought of writing as the opposite of suicide; that writing was about immortality. Defeating death, or at least forestalling it.”

-Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

“Never beg for anything. Earn it. Demand it. Seek it. Never beg for it.”

-Geraldine Page, as cited by James Grissom in Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog

“I have acid rain in my brain and it’s killing the flowers in my heart.”

-Marianna Paige (x)

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will.”

“Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It's all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.”

-Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

“She’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing, so she won’t commit to anything.”

“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

-Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

“Never lose the childlike wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us.”

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

-Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

“Somewhere in the middle:
a girl falls in love with an angel.
Wings tipped gold and prayers
in their blood-stained kisses.
Even God is laughing now.”

-M.J. Pearl, Piety

“Tonight’s more apricots
and longing, a yellow so red

an orange inflamed
with warming, oh, to swallow
all that waning sun.”

-Emily Pérez, House of Sugar, House of Stone, 2016: ‘Raveling Round the Lake’

“I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself?”

-Stephanie Perkins, Isla and the Happily Ever After, 2015

“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”

-Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

“You don’t need water to feel like you’re drowning, do you?”

-Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”

“I desire the things which will destroy me in the end.”

“November night. Brief note to self: Time to take myself in hand. To build into myself, to give myself backbone, however much I fail.”

-Sylvia Plath, in a diary entry

“I need a father, I need a mother, I need some older, wiser being to cry to. I talk to God, but the sky is empty.”

-Sylvia Plath, in a letter to Richard Sassoon

“All the noise and music can not cover up the emptiness that lies beneath.”

-Sylvia Plath, in a letter to Hans-Joachim Neupert, c. January 1950

“I am glad the rain is coming down hard. It’s the way I feel inside.”

-Sylvia Plath, in a letter to Aurelia Plath, c. November 1950

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“I am myself. That is not enough.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Jailer

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.”

-Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus, 1965

“There is something about the achingly bright expanse of blue that makes me feel infinitely placid, infinitely calm, infinitely spacious. Something there is about the ceaseless, unperturbed ebb and flow, about the vast masses of green-blue water, that heals all my uneasy questionings and self-searchings.”

-Sylvia Plath, The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume 1: 1940-1956

“The sea… it keeps washing you up like an old bone. And I, on the sky-mirroring, bland sands, find you over and over, lipped like a skate and smiling, with the sound of the sea in your mouth. Angel of coldness, surely it is not I you want so badly.”

-Sylvia Plath, ‘The Rival,’ 1961

“It is the exception that interests the devil.”

-Sylvia Plath, Three Women

“I wasn’t insane until someone touched my heart.”

“All suffering originates from craving, from attachment, from desire.”

-Edgar Allan Poe (UNCONFIRMED)

“We loved with a love that was more than love.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, ‘Annabel Lee’

“Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Hardest Part

“I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies.”

-Edgar Allan Poe, Silence (Siope) — A Fable

“I know what I have given you… I do not know what you have received.”

-Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.”

-Terry Pratchett, Diggers

“You couldn’t say, ‘I had orders.’ You couldn’t say, ‘It’s not fair.’ No one was listening. There were no words. You owned yourself.”

-Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

“Always remember that the crowd that applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show.”

-Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

-Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

“Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.”

-Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

“She heard him mutter, ‘Can you take away this grief?’
‘I'm sorry,’ she replied. ‘Everyone asks me. And I would not do so even if I knew how. It belongs to you. Only time and tears take away grief; that is what they are for.’”

“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.”

-Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight

“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.”

-Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”

-Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

“What have I always believed? That on the whole, and by and large, if a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.”

-Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

“It is vital to remember who you really are. It’s very important. It isn’t a good idea to rely on other people or things to do it for you, you see. They always get it wrong.”

-Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

“You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage.”

-Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”

“Evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction. It is ultimately negative, and therefore encompasses its downfall even at its moments of apparent triumph. No matter how grandiose, how well-planned, how apparently foolproof an evil plan, the inherent sinfulness will by definition rebound upon its instigators. No matter how apparently successful it may seem upon the way, at the end it will wreck itself. It will founder upon the rocks of iniquity and sink headfirst to vanish without a trace into the seas of oblivion.”

“She was beautiful, but she was beautiful in the way a forest fire was beautiful: something to be admired from a distance, not up close.“

“I don’t see why it matters what is written. Not when it’s about people. It can always be crossed out.“

-Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

“Love is a reciprocal torture.”

-Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time / Remembrance of Things Past Vol II: Within a Budding Grove, 1919

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the power of the mind.”

-Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time / Remembrance of Things Past Vol. VII: The Past Recaptured, 1927

“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.”

-Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“If it weren’t for the tears on your cheeks, I’d say you were a monster like me.”

-H.C.R., 52 Writings, #2

“All this time I drank you like the cure, when maybe, you were the poison.”

-Clementine Von Radics, Home, ‘All This Time’

“We are not in love. Not the way I’ve been told being in love feels like. But we have been sleeping beside each other for so many nights and I am the most beautiful doormat you have ever walked over.”

-Clementine Von Radics, Home, ‘This Is How We Lose Ourselves’

“I found the rooms between the violence of comets. I threw myself into anything’s path. Even the sky bent around me. How lonely to be something that nothing wants to kill.”

-Jeremy Radin, So I Locked Myself Inside a Star for Twenty Years

“I think, in the poems, we must continually mine what it is we think we can’t say, what it is we think might get us killed. Because it actually might be the thing that keeps us alive, that gives us life. Taking that risk.”

-Roger Reeves, in an interview (x)

“The day that I lost all feeling
I was both a Fool and a Goddess.”

-Pam Rehm, Acts of Vexation

“The sea is a dangerous place because it makes you believe in forever.”

-Beth Revis, The Body Electric

“I hate trying to sleep because it’s so silent.
I hate the silence because it makes me think.
I hate thinking because then, I’ll start overthinking.
I hate overthinking because it makes me anxious and nervous.
And I’d end up crying because of the fear.
But I like crying.
Because it exhausts me, and eventually I’ll cry myself to sleep.
And I like sleeping.
Because it feels like dying for a few hours.”

-Lea Reyes (x)

“So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide.”

-Shonda Rhimes, Grey's Anatomy, 2013: ‘Seal Our Fate’

“The world changes, we do not, therein lies the irony that kills us.”

“Do you know what it means to have Death know your name?”

-Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

-Anne Rice, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony and Other Stories [Forward]

“I am composing on the typewriter late at night, thinking of today. How well we all spoke. A language is a map of our failures. Frederick Douglass wrote an English purer than Milton’s. People suffer highly in poverty. There are methods but we do not use them. Joan, who could not read, spoke some peasant form of French. Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor’s language.”

-Adrienne Rich, The Burning of Paper Instead of Children

“I want to call this, life.
But I can’t call it life until we start to move
beyond this secret circle of fire
where our bodies are giant shadows flung on a wall
where the night becomes our inner darkness, and sleeps
like a dumb beast, head on her paws, in the corner.”

-Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language, 1978: Origins and History of Consciousness

“A thinking woman sleeps with monsters.”

-Adrienne Rich, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law

“To write as if your life depended on it: to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public words you have dredged, sieved up from dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence — words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist.”

-Adrienne Rich, What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, 1993: ‘As if Your Life Depended on It’

“Our task is to take this earth so deeply and wholly into ourselves that it will resurrect within our being.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, in a letter to Witold Hulewicz

“I love the dark hours of my being. My mind deepens into them.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, The Dark Hours of My Being

“You needed your whole self: you went and broke yourself, in pieces, out of its control, painfully, out, because you needed yourself.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems, ‘Requiem for a Friend’

“The trees you planted in childhood have grown too heavy. You cannot bring them along. Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, IV

“And from then on I bathed in the Poem Of the Sea, infused with stars and lactescent, devouring the azure verses;”

-Arthur Rimbaud, The Drunken Boat

“A thousand dreams within me softly burn.”

-Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Evening Prayer’

“My heart has been stabbed by grace.”

-Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell

“Never forget that softness is strength, unflinching against the knife, and it is also the knife.”

-Jess Rizkallah, The Magic My Body Becomes: Poems, ‘Ghada says’

“Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.”

“The gods do not limit men. Men limit men.”

“I don’t want salvation, I want life, all of life, the miserable as well as the superb.”

“And it is divine authority, is it not, that insists that we must die? That grants us consciousness for a few decades, then, no matter how gloriously we have used it, snatches it away? Surely the human race committed some heinous atavistic crime for the gods to inflict it with mortality, as they have; and isn’t it a worsening of our crime, a compounding of our guilt, to try to escape our just punishment?”

“The universe does not have laws. It has habits. And habits can be broken.”

“Maybe it is that I long not for the perfect but for the complete, and there is something incomplete about a life that is dedicated to escape from life.”

“The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.”

“If you lack the iron and fizz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense.”

“Here they teach that much of existence amounts only to misery; that misery is caused by desire; therefore, if desire is eliminated, then misery will be eliminated. Now, that is true enough, as far as it goes. There is plenty of misery in the world, all right, but there is ample pleasure, as well. If a person forswears pleasure in order to avoid misery, what has he gained? A life with neither misery nor pleasure is an empty, neutral existence, and, indeed, it is the nothingness of the void that is the lamas' final objective. To actively seek nothingness is worse than defeat; why, it is surrender; craven, chickenhearted, dishonorable surrender. Poor little babies are so afraid of pain that they spurn the myriad sweet wonders of life so that they might protect themselves from hurt. How can you respect that sort of weakness, how can you admire a human who consciously embraces the bland, the mediocre, and the safe rather than risk the suffering that disappointments can bring?”

“A sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised.”

“Perhaps the most terrible thing that can happen to an imaginative youth, aside from the curse of imagination itself, is to be exposed without preparation to the life outside his or her own sphere — the sudden revelation that there is a there out there.”

“To eliminate the agitation and disappointment of desire, we need but awaken to the fact that we have everything we want and need right now.”

“Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.”

“She needed help, but God was in a meeting whenever she rang.”

“To diminish the worth of women, men had to diminish the worth of the moon. They had to drive a wedge between human beings and the trees and the beasts and the waters, because trees and beasts and waters are as loyal to the moon as to the sun. They had to drive a wedge between thought and feeling, between the lamplight by which they count the day’s earnings and the dark to which our Pan is ever connected. At first they used Apollo as the wedge, and the abstract logic of Apollo made a mighty wedge, indeed, but Apollo the artist maintained a love for women, not the open, unrestrained lust that Pan has, but a controlled longing that undermined the patriarchal ambition. When Christ came along, Christ, who slept with no female, neither two-legged nor four, Christ, who played no musical instrument, recited no poetry, and never kicked up his heels by moonlight, this Christ was the perfect wedge. Christianity is merely a system for turning priestesses into handmaidens, queens into concubines, and goddesses into muses.”

“Birth and death were easy. It was life that was hard.”

“There is a comfort in conformity, a security in control, that is appealing. There is a thrill in domination, and we are all of us secretly attracted to violence.”

“A mask has but one expression, frozen and eternal, yet it is always and ever the essential expression, and to hide one’s telltale flesh behind the external skeleton of the mask is to display the universal identity of the inner being in place of the outer identity that is transitory and corrupt. The freedom of the mask is not the vulgar political freedom of the successful revolutionary, but the magical freedom of the Divine, beyond politics and beyond success. A mask, any mask, whether horned like a beast or feathered like an angel, is the face of immortality.”

“The immortals are gone. Now we are the immortals.”

-Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

-Fred Rogers, as cited in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, 2004

“I know you’ll never love me, but maybe you’ll stay for a little while.”

-Henry Rollins, Solipsist

“Since I was young, I have always known this: life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: we can be mended. We mend each other.”

-Veronica Roth, Allegiant, 2013

“I just want to break that song into pieces and love them all to death.”

-Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park, 2012

“If you’re happy in a dream… does that count? The happiness – does it count?”

-Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

“But listen to me: for one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”

-Rumi, as cited in The Essential Rumi, 1995, translated by Coleman Barks

“Sleep. Those little slices of death. How I loathe them.”

-Chuck Russel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, 1987 (misattributed to Edgar Allan Poe)

“I think too much. I think ahead. I think behind. I think sideways. I think it all. If it exists, I’ve fucking thought of it.”

-Winona Ryder, in an interview (x)

“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”

-Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

“The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

-Carl Sagan, Contact

“The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.”

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”

“Every star may be a sun to someone.”

-Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

“We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.”

-Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

“After the earth dies, some 5 billion years from now, after it’s burned to a crisp, or even swallowed by the Sun, there will be other worlds and stars and galaxies coming into being – and they will know nothing of a place once called Earth.”

-Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

“It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

“I had this feeling suddenly. I get this feeling a lot, but I don’t know if there’s one word for it. It’s not nervous or sad or even lonely. It’s all of that, and then a bit more.

The feeling is I don’t belong here. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know how long I can stay before everyone else realizes that I am an imposter. I am a fraud.

I’ve gotten this feeling nearly everywhere I have ever been in my life. There’s nothing you can do about it except drink some water and hope that it subsides. Or you can leave.”

-Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life

“I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.”

-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.”


“There are books in which the footnotes or comments scrawled by some reader’s hand in the margin are more interesting than the text. The world is one of these books.”

-George Santayana, Marginalia, A Critical Selection

“their heart grew cold
they let their wings down.”

-Sappho, fragment 42, translated by Anne Carson

“for the man who is beautiful is beautiful to see
but the good man will at once also beautiful be.”

-Sappho, fragment 50, translated by Anne Carson

“not one girl I think
who looks on the light of the sun
will ever
have wisdom
like this.”

-Sappho, fragment 56, translated by Anne Carson

“In the crooks of your body, I find my religion.”

-Sappho, fragment 94, translated by Figroot Press

“but I am not someone who likes to wound
rather I have a quiet mind.”

-Sappho, fragment 120, translated by Anne Carson

“someone will remember us
I say
even in another time.”

-Sappho, fragment 147, translated by Anne Carson

“wealth without virtue is no harmless neighbor
but a mixture of both attains the height of happiness.”

-Sappho, fragment 148, translated by Anne Carson

“I do not know what makes a writer, but it probably isn’t happiness.”

-William Saroyan, The Bicycle Rider In Beverly Hills, 1952

“It’s strange. I felt less lonely when I didn’t know you.”

-Jean-Paul Sartre, The Flies

“Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”

-Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Temps modernes

“As for me, I am mean: that means that I need the suffering of others to exist. A flame. A flame in their hearts. When I am all alone, I am extinguished.”

“Ha! to forget. How childish! I feel you in my bones. Your silence screams in my ears. You may nail your mouth shut, you may cut out your tongue, but can you keep yourself from existing? Can you stop your thoughts?”

“One always dies too soon — or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.”

“I will take it all: tongs, molten lead, prongs, garrotes, all that burns, all that tears, I want to truly suffer. Better one hundred bites, better the whip, vitriol, than this suffering in the head, this ghost of suffering which grazes and caresses and never hurts enough.”

“Don’t you feel the same way? When I cannot see myself, even though I touch myself, I wonder if I really exist.”

“So that is what hell is. I would never have believed it. You remember: the fire and brimstone, the torture. Ah! the farce. There is no need for torture: Hell is other people.”

-Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

“We can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable. Once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it.”

“Once again, I arrived at my usual conclusion: One must educate oneself.”

-Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

“Have you ever sat in complete darkness with someone? Somehow the words feel heavier and the phrases deeper, and all of a sudden the room is no longer just in darkness but quietly lit with the light of their soul. You can see it bare. Without it’s shell. Defenseless. There’s too much the light hides.”

-Jenn Satsune (x)

“And then one student said that happiness is what happens when you go to bed on the hottest night of the summer, a night so hot you can’t even wear a tee-shirt and you sleep on top of the sheets instead of under them, although try to sleep is probably more accurate. And then at some point late, late, late at night, say just a bit before dawn, the heat finally breaks and the night turns into cool and when you briefly wake up, you notice that you’re almost chilly, and in your groggy, half-consciousness, you reach over and pull the sheet around you and just that flimsy sheet makes it warm enough and you drift back off into a deep sleep. And it’s that reaching, that gesture, that reflex we have to pull what’s warm – whether it’s something or someone – toward us, that feeling we get when we do that, that feeling of being safe in the world and ready for sleep, that’s happiness.”

-Paul Schmidtberger, Design Flaws of the Human Condition, 2007

“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”

-Ridley Scott, dir. Blade Runner, 1982

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

-Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

“Everyone is asleep
There is nothing to come between
The moon and me.”

-Enomoto Seifu-jo, Everyone Is Asleep

“A woman who writes feels too much…
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I️ am that girl.”

-Anne Sexton, The Black Art

“I am torn in two but I will conquer myself.”

-Anne Sexton, ‘The Civil War’

“I feel unspeakably lonely. And I feel — drained. It is a blank state of mind and soul I cannot describe to you as I think it would not make any difference. Also it is a very private feeling I have — that of melting into a perpetual nervous breakdown. I am often questioning myself what I further want to do, who I further wish to be; which parts of me, exactly, are still functioning properly. No answers, darling. At all.”

-Anne Sexton, A Self-Portrait in Letters

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

-William Shakespeare, The Tempest

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

-Robin Sharma (x)

“My dear: in this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.”

-George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple

“I am unstable, sometimes melancholy, and have been called on some occasions imperious; but I never did an ungenerous act in my life. I sympathise warmly with others, and have wasted my heart in their love and service.”

-Mary Shelley, in a diary entry

“My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed — my dearest pleasure when free.”

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“Thou demandest what is love? It is that powerful attraction towards all that we conceive, or fear, or hope beyond ourselves, when we find within our own thoughts the chasm of an insufficient void, and seek to awaken in all things that are, a community with what we experience within ourselves. If we reason, we would be understood; if we imagine, we would that the airy children of our brain were born anew within another’s; if we feel, we would that another’s nerves should vibrate to our own, that the beams of their eyes should kindle at once and mix and melt into our own, that lips of motionless ice should not reply to lips quivering and burning with the heart’s best blood. This is Love. This is the bond and the sanction which connects not only man with man, but with everything which exists. We are born into the world, and there is something within us which, from the instant that we live, more and more thirsts after its likeness.”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays, ‘On Love’

“Somebody asked me if I was looking for something. I am looking for everything.”

-Sam Sheridan, A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting, 2008

“Even if I now saw you, only once, I would long for you through worlds. Worlds.”

-Izumi Shikibu, as cited in The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems, 1990, translated by Jane Hirshfield

“I cannot wait for the stars to align any longer. It is time to paint my own cosmos.”

-Noor Shirazie (x)

“I’m sorry you were not truly loved and that it made you cruel.”

-Warsan Shire (x)

“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”

-Warsan Shire (x)

“Not everyone is okay with living like an open wound. But the thing about open wounds is that, well, you aren’t ignoring it, you’re healing. The fresh air can get to it. It’s honest. You aren’t hiding who you are. You aren’t rotting. People can give you advice on how to heal without scarring badly.”

-Warsan Shire, Her Blue Body

“Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women; kitchen of lust,
bedroom of grief, bathroom of apathy.
Sometimes the men - they come with keys,
and sometimes, the men - they come with hammers.”

-Warsan Shire, The House, 2014

“I am a lover without a lover. I am lovely and lonely and I belong deeply to myself.”

-Warsan Shire, ‘Thirty Four Excuses for Why We Failed at Love’

“The beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning. Well then, let us begin again. And to each, their own tale.”

-Kyou Shirodaira, Zetsuen no Tempest

“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”

-Takeshi Shudo, dir. Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, 1998

“A sword is a tool designed to inflict pain or death on a fellow human. Often spiritualised and glorified, they also serve as a physical metaphor for humanity’s eternal, savage thirst for destruction!”

“I continue to turn my face upwards, measuring the same temperature, the same humidity, radiation, and thousands of other variables. But now a new metric has been added. The number of angels I have seen is ‘one’. And I will keep watch for more.”

“You are stronger than you were this morning. Even if it does not feel that way. And you will become stronger still. Strong enough to walk on your own. Show them you are not afraid.”

-Tom Siddell, Gunnerkrigg Court

“To the ones that have not loved you like you deserve,
may you forget their names.
May you remember your own, always.”

-Caitlyn Siehl, A Prayer

“If you walk into a room and notice what is missing from it, it’s still there, isn’t it?”

-Caitlyn Siehl, A Letter to Love

“Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, ’I am falling to the floor crying,’ but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.”

-Richard Siken (UNSOURCED)

“Wanna make a monster? Take the parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable — your weaknesses, bad thoughts, vanities, and hungers — and pretend they’re across the room. It’s too ugly to be human. It’s too ugly to be you. Children are afraid of the dark because they have nothing real to work with. Adults are afraid of themselves.”

“If the dead are watching, I want them to see us writing, dancing, singing, painting. I want them to see that we still reach out to each other.”

-Richard Siken, Black Telephone

“I couldn’t get the boy to kill me, but I wore his jacket for the longest time.”

-Richard Siken, Crush, ‘Little Beast’

“You're going to die in your best friend's arms. And you play along because it's funny, because it's written down, you've memorized it, it's all you know. I say the phrases that keep it all going, and everybody plays along. Imagine: Someone's pulling a gun, and you're jumping into the middle of it. You didn't think you'd feel this way.”

-Richard Siken, Crush, ‘Planet of Love’

“Hold onto your voice. Hold onto your breath. Don’t make a noise, don’t leave the room until I come back from the dead for you. I will come back from the dead for you.”

-Richard Siken, Crush, ‘You Are Jeff’

“How much can you change and get away with it, before you turn into someone else, before it’s some kind of murder?”

-Richard Siken, War of the Foxes, ‘Portrait of Fryderyk in Shifting Light’

“At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.”

-Brad Silberling, dir. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, 2004

“They say opposites attract. So I guess I’m stuck with you. I still haven’t decided if this is a blessing or a curse. All I know is that you are my heaven and my hell… And somehow I find myself both loving and hating you for it.”

“People change and life moves on; what a beautifully terrifying thought.”

-Lynette Simeone (x)

“I think some people are just inexplicably bonded. Drawn by forces beyond their own comprehension, they have no choice but to gravitate toward one another. Destined by fate to keep crossing paths until they finally get it right.”

-L.B. Simmons, The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller

“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.”

-Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone, 1992

“I think our experience of the universe has value. Even if it disappears forever.”

-Jonathan Sims, The Magnus Archives, 2019: ‘Big Picture’

“As the image of myself becomes sharper in my brain & more precious, I feel less afraid that someone else will erase me by denying me love.”

-Jenny Slate (x)

“I recommend learning how to write a very good thank you note. A child who can write a nice thank you note can turn into a cocaine dealer five years later and be remembered as the child who wrote nice thank you notes.”

-Lemony Snicket (x)

“The sea is nothing but a library of all the tears in history.”

-Lemony Snicket, The End

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.”

-Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator

“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.”

“One of the remarkable things about love is that, despite very irritating people writing poems and songs about how pleasant it is, it really is quite pleasant.”

“It is so rare in this world to meet a trustworthy person who truly wants to help you, and finding such a person can make you feel warm and safe, even if you are in the middle of a windy valley high up in the mountains.”

-Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

“The sad truth is, the truth is sad.”

-Lemony Snicket, The Hostile Hospital

“Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”

-Lemony Snicket, When Did You See Her Last?

“Knowing that something is wrong and doing it anyway happens very often in life, and I doubt I will ever know why.”

-Lemony Snicket, Who Could That Be at This Hour?

“Do I live in a dream on another planet?”

-Edith Södergran, Love & Solitude: Poems (1916 - 1923), ‘Fragment’

“Archaeologists have yet to discover an early stage of human existence when we possessed no art. In the twilight preceding the dawn of mankind we received it from hands which we did not have a chance to see clearly. Neither had we time to ask: Why this gift for us? How should we treat it?

All those prognosticators of the decay, degeneration, and death of art were wrong and will always be wrong. It shall be we who die; art will remain. And shall we even comprehend before our passing all of its aspects and the entirety of its purposes?”

-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Beauty Will Save the World

“I vulgarize my feelings by speaking of them too readily to others.”

“A thought occurred to me today – so obvious, so always obvious! It was absurd to suddenly comprehend it for the first time – I felt rather giddy, a little hysterical: – There is nothing, nothing that stops me from doing anything except myself… What is to prevent me from just picking up and taking off?”

-Susan Sontag, in a diary entry

“How far from the beginning are we? When did we first start to feel the wound?”

“Always this feeling of being ‘too much’ for them — a creature from another planet — so I would try to scale myself down to size, so that I could be apprehendable by (lovable by) them.”

-Susan Sontag, Unguided Tour

“Do you ever wonder why things have to turn out the way they do?”

-Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember

“I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.”

-Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus

“It is an easy mistake to think that non-talkers are non-feelers.”

-Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose, 1971

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“I pray anyway: how beautiful, the hawks circling the inner rim of loss.”

-Melissa Studdard, The Sudden Violence of Light

“The world is created with sound. And it will probably end in silence. So until then, I say keep dancing and singing and laughing.”

-Sufjan Stevens, at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans: May 9, 2015

“You go on by doing the best you can. You go on by being generous. You go on by being true. You go on by offering comfort to others who can't go on. You go on by allowing the unbearable days to pass and allowing the pleasure in other days. You go on by finding a channel for your love and another for your rage.

-Cherlyn Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, 2012

“From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.”

-A.C. Swinburne, The Garden of Proserpine

“Mama said, ‘you are a girl’ and no I told her, I am not. I am a verb. A noun does not own me. I am a boundless motion: the revolt.”

-Valerie T., Bloodless revolution

“What do you want to tell me? the woman asks.
The snake pauses.
Nothing, he says. You are a poet. You will find it all out
soon enough.”

-Kira Tang, Persuasion

“There are a few things in life so beautiful they hurt: swimming in the ocean while it rains, reading alone in empty libraries, the sea of stars that appear when you’re miles away from the neon lights of the city, bars after 2am, walking in the wilderness, all the phases of the moon, the things we do not know about the universe, and you.”

-Beau Taplin, Worlds of You: Poetry & Prose, ‘And You’

“One day, whether you
are 14, 28, or 65
you will stumble upon
someone who will start
a fire in you that cannot die.
However, the saddest,
most awful truth
you will ever come to find —
is they are not always
with whom we spend our lives.”

-Beau Taplin, Worlds of You: Poetry & Prose, ‘The Awful Truth’

“In a certain sense the past is far more real, or at any rate more stable, more resilient than the present. The present slips and vanishes like sand between the fingers, acquiring material weight, only in its recollection.”

-Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema

“Why did I obsess over people like this? Was it normal to fixate on strangers in this particular vivid, fevered way? I didn’t think so. It was impossible to imagine some random passer-by on the street forming quite such an interest in me… I was fascinated by strangers, wanted to know what food they ate and what dishes they ate it from, what movies they watched and what music they listened to, wanted to look under they beds and in their secret drawers and night tables and inside the pockets of their coats.”

“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”

“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”

“Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe.”

“Stay away from the ones you love too much. Those are the ones who will kill you.”

-Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

“I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.”

“And I know I said earlier that he was perfect but he wasn’t perfect, far from it; he could be silly and vain and remote and often cruel and still we loved him, in spite of, because.”

“It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially.”

“I liked the idea of living in a city — any city, especially a strange one — liked the thought of traffic and crowds, of working in a bookstore, waiting tables in a coffee shop, who knew what kind of odd, solitary life I might slip into? Meals alone, walking the dogs in the evenings; and nobody knowing who I was.”

“It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from all the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one’s burned tongues and skinned knees, that one’s aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow older, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think?”

“Beauty is rarely soft or consolatory. Quite the contrary. Genuine beauty is always quite alarming.”

“If we are strong enough in our souls we can rip away the veil and look that naked, terrible beauty right in the face; let God consume us, devour us, unstring our bones. Then spit us out reborn.”

“I looked at him. There was so much I wanted to ask him, so much I wanted to say; but somehow I knew there wasn’t time and even if there was, that it was all, somehow, beside the point.”

-Donna Tartt, The Secret History

“I understand that nobody understands me, but I can’t be someone I’m not.”

-Audrey Tautou, in an interview (x)

“Do not depend too much on anyone in this world, because even your shadow leaves you when you are in darkness.”

-Ibn Taymiyyah (UNCONFIRMED)

“Then when G-d asks [Cain], ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ he arrogantly responds, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ In essence, the entire Bible is written as an affirmative response to this question.”

-Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, 1991

“I want to stop writing about fire, but I trust I will not.”

-Terrell Jamal Terry, Untitled (1)

“I still love the people I’ve loved, even if I cross the street to avoid them.”

-Uma Thurman, in an interview for W Magazine

“I know there was something before you. I just can’t remember what it was.”

-Iain Thomas, I Wrote This for You, ‘The Forgotten Feeling’

“There are some people you’ll never see again. At least, not in the same way.”

-Iain Thomas, I Wrote This for You: Just the Words

“I love you not as something private and personal, which is my own, but as something universal and worthy of love, which I have found.”

-Henry David Thoreau (UNCONFIRMED)

“There’s some good on this world — and it’s worth fighting for.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

“You are the universe, expressing itself as human for a little while.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening Your Life's Purpose

“I hope you find love, but more importantly I hope you’re strong enough to walk away from what love isn’t.”

-Tiffany Tomiko, The Missing Light on Shorter Days

“I think love is the greatest force in the universe. It’s shapeless like water. It only takes the shape of things it becomes.”

-Guillermo del Toro, in an interview (x)

“But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?”

-Mark Twain, The Autobiography of Mark Twain

“If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories aren’t finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal and change and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are still going, you and I. We are stories still going.”

-Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped for, 2015

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”

-Neil DeGrasse Tyson (x)

“When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty, there arises the recognition of ugliness. When they all know good as good, there arises the recognition of evil.”

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

“Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.”

“Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her.”

“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“1. You must let the pain visit.
2. You must allow it teach you.
3. You must not allow it overstay.”

-Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

“I love the rain. I love how it softens the outlines of things. The world becomes softly blurred, and I feel like I melt right into it.”

-Chica Umino, Honey and Clover

“The more stubborn people become and insist that they’re right, the further away happiness gets.”

“Don’t forget. Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you. As long as you remember her, you are not alone.”

-Gen Urobuchi, Puella Magi Madoka Magica

“I called out your name three times,
only to look back,
Revelation, revelation:
until the day you stopped running after me.”

-Barbara Valentina, Letters I Mailed to the Bottom of the River

“You may not have loved him well,
but at least you loved him halfway whole.
Me? I would have kissed
the broken teeth from his mouth
and kept them all for myself.
I would have cracked open his crème brûlée chest
and eaten out the insides —
hung up his twisted x-rays on my walls
so I could never forget the look of a ruined heart.
I don’t break them myself, you see.
I just go collecting in the aftermath.
Grave robber for the still alive:
I may not kill anyone,
but I have never been afraid
to take what I need
to survive.”

-Ashe Vernon, Bad Habits

“Isn’t all that rage so ugly?
And isn’t it mine, still?
Good god, isn’t it mine?”

-Ashe Vernon, Not a Girl, ‘Buried’ (x)

“Don’t you dare, for one minute,
believe that my kindness makes me
anything but insurmountable.
I did not unzip my chest to every kind of hurt,
and stagger back, wounded and alive,
just to hear you call me weak for trying.”

-Ashe Vernon, Softness

“I left home and took the fall of Troy with me.
My bones took up arms at the battle of Thermopylae.
I was Artemis. I was Ares.
And the warfare in my blood
does not end in silence.
Olympus falls, but the temples
go on beating,
and I am the patron saint of my own survival,
and I have sacrificed everything
except my own heartbeat.”

-Ashe Vernon, Winged Sandals

“My notebooks. So sadly full, this one with impotence, the other with empty, pointless waiting. The most difficult of waits, the most painful: the wait for oneself. If I were to write something in it, it would be the confession that I too have been waiting for myself for a long time, and I haven’t turned up.”

-Josefina Vicens, The Empty Book

“When I say ‘become water’ I mean become a flow; don′t remain stagnant. Move, and move like water. Lao Tzu says: The way of the Tao is a watercourse way. It moves like water. What is the movement of water? or of a river? The movement has a few beautiful things about it. One, it always moves towards the depth, it always searches for the lowest ground. It is non-ambitious; it never hankers to be the first, it wants to be the last. Remember, Jesus says: Those who are the last here will be the first in my kingdom of God. He is talking about the watercourse way of Tao — not mentioning it, but talking about it. Be the last, be non-ambitious. Ambition means going uphill. Water goes down, it searches for the lowest ground, it wants to be a nonentity. It does not want to declare itself unique, exceptional, extraordinary. It has no ego idea.”

-Osho Viha, Take it Easy

“Everything you say should be true, but not everything true should be said.”

“May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.”

“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”


“I’ve wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life.”

“We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good; we do the best we know.”

“Alas! it was love; love, the comfort of the human species; love, the preserver of the universe; the soul of all sensible beings; love! tender love!”

-Voltaire, Candide, ou l'Optimisme

“If there were no God, it would have been necessary to invent him.”

-Voltaire, Épître à l'Auteur du Livre des Trois Imposteurs

“One owes respect to the living: To the dead one owes only the truth.”

-Voltaire, Letters on the English

“I still catch myself feeling blue about things that don’t matter anymore.”

“‘So when people I like do something terrible,’ I said, ‘I just flense them and forgive them.’
‘Flense?’ he said. ‘What’s flense?’
‘It’s what whalers used to do to whale carcasses when they got them on board,’ I said. ‘They would strip off the skin and blubber and meat right down to the skeleton. I do that in my head to people — get rid of all the meat so I can see nothing but their souls. Then I forgive them.’”

-Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard: A Novel

“Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.
Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.
Say autumn despite the green
in your eyes. Beauty despite
daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn
mounting in your throat.
My thrashing beneath you
like a sparrow stunned
with falling.”

“Don’t we touch each other just to prove we are still here?”

-Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

“The most beautiful part of your body is where it's headed. & remember, loneliness is still time spent with the world.”

-Ocean Vuong, Someday I'll Love Ocean Vuong, 2015

“Suppose you do change your life.
& the body is more than
a portion of night — sealed
with bruises. Suppose you woke
& found your shadow replaced
by a black wolf. The boy, beautiful
& gone. So you take the knife to the wall
instead. You carve & carve
until a coin of light appears
& you get to look in, at last,
on happiness. The eye
staring back from the other side —

-Ocean Vuong, Torso of Air

“I think, from all I can learn, that heaven has the better climate, but hell has the better company.”

-Benjamin Wade, as cited by Arthur MacArthur in Proceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction, at the Twelfth Annual Session Held in Washington, D.C., June 4-10, 1885, 1885

“Not only do I not have a very firm grasp on reality, but I have sort of a loose grip on my fantasies, too.”

-Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

“When you meet that person. A person. One of your soulmates. Let the connection, relationship be what it is. It may be five minutes. Five hours. Five days. Five months. Five years. A lifetime. Let it manifest itself, the way it is meant to. It has an organic destiny. This way if it stays or if it leaves, you will be softer from having been loved this authentically. Souls come into, return, open, and sweep through your life for a myriad of reasons, let them be who and what they are meant to be.”

-Nayyirah Waheed, salt.

“I took what used to be my hand and let it rest on what used to be my stomach. Imagine you are nothing. I did not have to imagine.”

-Claire Wahmanholm, Relaxation Tapes

“This is an apology letter to the both of us for how long it took me to let things go. It was not my intention to make such a production of the emptiness between us.”

-Buddy Wakefield, Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars

“How odd, I can have all this inside me, and to you it’s just words.”

-David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

“Sometimes I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present.”

-Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

“Oh how wrong we were to think that immortality meant never dying.”

-Gerard Way, ‘Our Lady of Sorrow’

“I kneel into a dream where I am good & loved. I am good. I am loved. My hands have made some good mistakes. They can always make better ones.”

-Natalie Wee, Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines, 2016: ‘Least of All’

“How can I make this problem my ally?”

-Susun S. Weed, Healing Wise

“In Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, it takes us to a place where we ache to go again.”

-Matthew Weiner, Mad Men, 2007: ‘The Wheel’

“Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.”


“I’m addicted to silence and privacy; I wallow in it.”

-Valorie Wesley, Playing My Mother's Blues

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”


“Did you ever notice how in the Bible, whenever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?”

-Gregory Widen, The Prophecy, 1995

“The heart was made to be broken.”

-Oscar Wilde, A House of Pomegranates

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

-Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

-Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

-Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

-Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

“I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.”

-Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

“‘What are you?’ ‘To define is to limit.’”

-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”

-Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man, and Prison Writings

“In all these years, you never believed I loved you. And I did. I did so much. I did love you. I even loved your hate and your hardness.”

-Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

“Because your sighs have fermented my blood, I need no wine.”

-Lawrence Winkler, Between the Cartwheels

“She wishes she could treat pain like a coin purse — something spare, sparse, to be exchanged for something else.”

-Emily Paige Wilson, Hypochondria, Least Powerful of the Greek Gods, pts ii & iv

“Ask any woman & she’ll tell you why Eve bit into that apple. Why she chose the universe instead of you.”

-Topaz Winters, Witch in Red

“‘Do you fall in love often?’
Yes, often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all.”

-Jeanette Winterson, Gut Symmetries, 1997

“The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious you might never come home, like all the men who now live with mermaids at the bottom of the sea.”

-Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, 1985

“What do I want? When I’m dreaming I want a home and a lover and some children, but it won't work. Who’d want to live with a monster? I may not look like a monster any more but I couldn’t hide it for long. I’d break out, spliting my dress, throwing the dishes at the milkman if he leered at me and said, ‘Hello, darling.’ The truth is I’ve lost patience with this hypocritical stinking world. I can’t take it any more. I can’t flatter, lie, cajole or even smile very much. What is there to smile about?”

-Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry, 1989

“Living with life is very hard. Mostly we do our best to stifle life — to be tame or to be wanton. To be tranquillised or raging. Extremes have the same effect; they insulate us from the intensity of life. And extremes – whether of dullness or fury — successfully prevent feeling. I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies – unconscious strategies – to keep those feelings away. We do a feelings-swap, where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead. It can work the other way, too – sometimes you do need to feel angry, not inadequate; sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life. It takes courage to feel the feeling – and not trade it on the feelings-exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person.”

-Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, 2011

“‘You’ll get over it…’ It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it’ is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?”

-Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body, 1992

“I’m drawn to the peace in feeling nothing, but I’m also afraid of feeling nothing.”

-Chelsea Wolfe (x)

“It’s not about the words. It’s about the memories lost inside the words.”

-Virginia Woolf, Congenial Spirits: Selected Letters

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

-Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“How many times have people used a pen or paintbrush because they couldn’t pull the trigger?”

-Virginia Woolf, Selected Essays

“Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

-Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting

“I am made and remade continually.”

“I am not here. I have no face. Other people have faces. Their world is the real world. The things they lift are heavy. They say yes, they say no, whereas I shift and change and am seen through in a second. They know what to say if spoken to. They laugh really; they get angry really; while I have to look first and do whatever other people do when they have done it.”

“Happiness is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent.”

“I am never stagnant; I rise from my worst disasters, I turn, I change.”

-Virginia Woolf, The Waves

“I'm a ghost that everyone can see.”

-Franz Wright, ‘Empty Stage’

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

-Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”

-Andrew Wyeth, ‘I've Actually Created My Own Little World’

“I’ve grown lean from eating only the past.”

-Jenny Xie, Eye Level: Poems, ‘Corfu’

“Dirty, stained, withered, broken things seem beautiful to me.”

-Yohji Yamamoto, Talking to Myself

“Rock bottom is everything they say it is.
Like heaven or hell, it is not a place,
but a language you cannot understand
until you have nothing.”

-Lauren Yates, ‘The Therapist Speaks on Mania’

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

-W.B. Yeats, in an interview (x)

“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”

-Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star, 2016

“Look for the unimaginable inside the ordinary. Go to places you would not ordinarily go alone — riverbanks. Deep woods. The part of the ocean shore where peoples’ gazes disappear. Wade in all waters. Let your imagination change what you know.”

-Lidia Yukanavitch, The Chronology of Water, 2011

“The wolf runs.
It runs three legged, like all damaged creatures, across the snow.
She thinks: this is true.
She thinks: this is a life.
She thinks: I do not want to die, but my life will always be like this — wounded and animal, lurching against white.”

-Lidia Yuknavitch, The Small Backs of Children, 2015

“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.”

-Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living, 1937

“Tell me every terrible thing you ever did, and let me love you anyway.”

-Sade Andria Zabala, Coffee and Cigarettes

“My flower beds were trampled down during the night by nymphs and fauns and they braided my most beautiful flowers into their hair.”

-Herbert Zand, ‘The Gardener’

“Wounds are like water set to boil — they heal best left unwatched.”

-Gabrielle Zevin, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac

“My literature classes didn’t help. My professors stressed the importance of approaching a text with detachment, with a critical gaze rather than an emotional one. There wasn’t a place in academia for gushing or ranting. There wasn’t room to simply say, ‘I loved this and I don’t know why.’ One had to use academic jargon. One had to be methodical and thorough. It was like listening to a song and wanting so badly to get up and dance, but instead of dancing, you have to sit there and think about why those sounds made you want to dance and consider the exact mechanics behind the formula of a danceable song. And I didn’t want to fucking do that. I just wanted to dance. I just wanted to read. I just wanted to write. I didn’t want to deconstruct lines of poetry or do a close reading of Faulkner’s usage of semicolons.”

-Jenny Zhang, The Quiet Importance of Angsty Art

“I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result.”

“Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out.”

-Markus Zusak, The Book Thief