Theme Quotes

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Ultimately, your theme will find you. You don't have to go looking for it.
Richard Russo
All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes -- characters even -- caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.
Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale)
Once the others were below, Hazel and Leo faced each other awkwardly. They were alone except for Coach Hedge, who was back on the quarterdeck singing the Pokémon theme song. The coach had changed the words to: Gotta Kill ’Em All, and Leo really didn’t want to know why.
Rick Riordan (The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3))
At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.
Vincent van Gogh
If there is a God, he is within. You don't ask God to give you things, you depend on God for your inner theme.
Bruce Lee
NEVER BE AFRAID TO DART AROUND IN PUBLIC, HUMMING THE MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE THEME SONG. —T-SHIRT
Darynda Jones (Second Grave on the Left (Charley Davidson, #2))
If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.
William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead
Caitlin Moran
But that was life: Nobody got a guided tour to their own theme park. You had to hop on the rides as they presented themselves, never knowing whether you would like the one you were in line for...or if the bastard was going to make you throw up your corn dog and your cotton candy all over the place.
J.R. Ward (Crave (Fallen Angels, #2))
Because with Charlie, nothing was ever easy. Everything was windswept and octagonal and finger-combed. Everything was difficult and odd, and the theme songs all had minor chords.
A.S. King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz)
There are only a few notes. Just variations on a theme.
John Lennon
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. Night, sleep, and the stars.
Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
I foresee no possibility of venturing into themes showing a closer view of reality for a long time to come. The public itself will not have it. What it wants is a gun and a girl.
D.W. Griffith
A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
Stanley Kubrick
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
Herman Melville
His understanding of the theme of the book made me hot. Right then and there, I wanted to toss him down on the floor, crawl on top of him like the Jane Austen reader I was.
Ilsa Madden-Mills (Dirty English (English, #1))
And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Silmarillion)
If we shadows have offended, Know but this and all is mended. That you have but slumbered here, While these visions did appear, And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding, but a dream.
William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
It is remarkable how a man cannot summarize his thoughts in even the most general sort of way without betraying himself completely, without putting his whole self into it, quite unawares, presenting as if in allegory the basic themes and problems of his life.
Thomas Mann (The Magic Mountain)
If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.
Richard Yates
Above all, mine is a love story. Unlike most love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma. It began with a coin toss. The coin came up tails. I was heads. Had it gone my way, there might not be a story at all. Just a chapter, or a sentence in a book whose greater theme had yet to be determined. Maybe this chapter would've had the faintest whisper of love about it. But maybe not. Sometimes, a girl needs to lose.
Gabrielle Zevin (Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac)
Fine, but if you get yourself killed I reserve the right to flush your ashes down the toilet while I sing the theme from Titanic.
Quinn Loftis (Elfin (The Elfin, #1))
The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.
Brennan Manning (Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging)
A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.
Caitlin Moran (Moranthology)
Give me one good reason why I shouldn't chop him into worthless-bastard-themed confetti. --Isabelle Lightwood
Cassandra Clare (City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4))
There are patterns which emerge in one's life, circling and returning anew, an endless variation of a theme
Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel's Chosen (Phèdre's Trilogy, #2))
My only experience with dances was what I had seen on TV, but it really wasn’t that far off. The theme appeared to be “Crepe Paper in the Gymnasium,” and they had mastered it perfectly.
Amanda Hocking (Switched (Trylle, #1))
I've never understood why people pick Noah's ark for a nursery theme anyway." Andrea said breezily... Really", I snorted. "I mean, who wants reminders of a natural disaster, literally of biblical portions, on their baby's walls? What are you supposed to say, 'Oh, drowning sinners, isn't that precious?
Molly Harper (Nice Girls Don't Live Forever (Jane Jameson, #3))
Sounds like someone's hit the terrible twos." "Threes actually," Quil corrected. "You missed the party. Princess theme. She made me wear a crown, and then Emily suggested they all try out her new play makeup on me." "Wow, I'm REALLY sorry I wasn't around to see that." Don't worry, Emily has pictures. Actually, I look pretty hot.
Stephenie Meyer (Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4))
Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations.
Aldous Huxley (Themes And Variations)
When you meet someone so different from yourself, in a good way, you don't even have to kiss to have fireworks go off. It's like fireworks in your heart all the time. I always wondered, do opposites really attract? Now I know for sure they do. I'd grown up going to the library as often as most people go to the grocery store. Jackson didn't need to read about exciting people or places. He went out and found them, or created excitement himself if there wasn't any to be found. The things I like are pretty simple. Burning CDs around themes, like Songs to Get You Groove On and Tunes to Fix a Broken Heart; watching movies; baking cookies; and swimming. It's like I was a salad with a light vinaigrette, and Jackson was a platter of seafood Cajun pasta. Alone, we were good. Together, we were fantastic.
Lisa Schroeder (I Heart You, You Haunt Me)
I know the outer world as well as you do, and I judge it. You know nothing of my inner world, and yet you presume to judge that world.
Aldous Huxley (Themes And Variations)
Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.
Lord Byron
A genius doesn't adjust his treatment of a theme to a tyrant's taste
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich)
In every bit of honest writing in the world, there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. KNOWING A MAN WELL NEVER LEADS TO HATE and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. TRY TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER!
John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men)
Lady gagas "hair" is my theme song.
Taylor Swift (Taylor Swift)
I have been happy, though in a dream. I have been happy-and I love the theme: Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Edgar Allan Poe
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.
Herman Melville (Moby-Dick or, the Whale)
I didn't want to tell the story of what makes two people come together, although that's a theme of great power and universality. I wanted to find out what it takes for two people to stay together for fifty years -- or more. I wanted to tell not the story of courtship, but the story of marriage.
Diana Gabaldon (The Outlandish Companion: Companion to Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn)
People need routines. It's like a theme in music. But it also restricts your thoughts and actions and limits your freedom. It structures your priorities and in some cases distorts your logic.
Haruki Murakami (1Q84 (1Q84 #1-3))
Truly, all that was missing was Mission Impossible theme music, and if I was being honest, it was playing in my head anyway.
Shelly Crane (Defiance (Significance, #3))
The central theme of Anna Karenina," he said, "is that a rural life of moral simplicity, despite its monotony, is the preferable personal narrative to a daring life of impulsive passion, which only leads to tragedy." "That is a very long theme," the scout said. "It's a very long book," Klaus replied. [...] "Or maybe a daring life of impulsive passion leads to something else," the scout said, and in some cases this mysterious person was right. A daring life of impulsive passion is an expression which refers to people who follow what is in their hearts, and like people who prefer to follow their head, or follow a mysterious man in a dark blue raincoat, people who lead a daring life of impulsive passion end up doing all sorts of things.
Lemony Snicket (The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #10))
Write about small, self-contained incidents that are still vivid in your memory. If you remember them, it's because they contain a larger truth that your readers will recognize in their own lives. Think small and you'll wind up finding the big themes in your family saga.
William Zinsser
...I tell myself it does not matter what one reads--favorite authors, particular themes--as long as we read something. It is not even important to own the books.
Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand)
The world is full of abandoned meanings. In the commonplace I find unexpected themes and intensities.
Don DeLillo (White Noise)
It is simply wrong to begin with a theme, symbol or other abstract unifying agent, and then try to force characters and events to conform to it.
Thomas Pynchon (Slow Learner: Early Stories)
Lots of people think things would be better some other way. That's why the world's lousy with theme parks. --Feeney in Naked in Death
J.D. Robb
Something brushed his leg, and he gazed down into the face of Pippi Tucker. The theme from Jaws raced through his head.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Match Me If You Can (Chicago Stars, #6))
It’s good.’ She chirps the last bit as if that were all to say about a book: It’s good or it’s bad. I liked it or I didn’t. No discussions of the writing, the themes, the nuances, the structure. Just good or bad. Like a hot dog.
Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
When men talk about the agony of being men, they can never quite get away from the recurrent theme of self-pity. And when women talk about being women, they can never quite get away from the recurrent theme of blaming men.
Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides)
Life is not a theme park, and if it is, the theme is death.
Russell Brand
What tale do you like best to hear?' 'Oh, I have not much choice! They generally run on the same theme - courtship; and promise to end in the same catastrophe - marriage.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practise the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterised by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anaemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practise the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This strange dichotomy, this agonising gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man's earthly pilgrimage.
Martin Luther King Jr. (Strength to Love)
Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes–characters even–caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you
Diane Setterfield (The Thirteenth Tale)
Attention is love, what we must give children, mothers, fathers, pets, our friends, the news, the woes of others. What we want to change we curse and then pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can with eyes and hands and tongue. If you can't bless it, get ready to make it new.
Marge Piercy (The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme)
If you write fiction you are, in a sense, corrupted. There's a tremendous corruptibility for the fiction writer because you're dealing mainly with sex and violence. These remain the basic themes, they're the basic themes of Shakespeare whether you like it or not.
Anthony Burgess
Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction - so easy to lapse into - that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.
Robert Macfarlane (Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit)
This doesn't make sense." "I know," Kylie said. "And that seems to be the theme song of my life right now. Not a damn thing makes sense.
C.C. Hunter (Chosen at Nightfall (Shadow Falls, #5))
I suppose all of my films have a common theme. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can’t people be happier together?
Akira Kurosawa
Every true writer is like a bird; he repeats the same song, the same theme, all his life. For me, this theme as always been revolt.
Alberto Moravia
Life is a symphony composed by God, played by us with preludes, themes, movements, passages...and wrong notes, so many wrong notes. Heaven is where we get to hear the music played perfectly for the first time.
Tiffany Reisz (The Saint (The Original Sinners: White Years #1))
All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt, is re-assimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality, in attractive and instantly appealing forms.
J.G. Ballard (The Atrocity Exhibition)
How to describe hell? Disembowelled landscape busy with suffering, incessant heat, permanent scarlet twilight, a swirling snowfall of ash, the stink of pain and the din of...if only, hell is two things: the absence of God and the presence of time. Infinite variations on that theme. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? Well, trust me.
Glen Duncan (I, Lucifer)
I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained.
John Hawkes
She loved airports. She loved the smell, she loved the noise, and she loved the whole atmosphere as people walked around happily tugging their luggage, looking forward to going on their holidays or heading back home. She loved to see people arriving and being greeted with a big cheer by their families and she loved to watch them all giving each other emotional hugs. It was a perfect place for people-spotting. The airport always gave her a feeling of anticipation in the pit of her stomach as though she were about to do something special and amazing. Queuing at the boarding gate, she felt like she was waiting to go on a roller coaster ride at a theme park, like an excited little child.
Cecelia Ahern
Her face ... was a one-of-a-kind, a surprising variation on a familiar theme - a variation that made observers think, Yes - that would be another very nice way for people to look. What Beatrice had done with her face, actually, was what any plain girl could do. She overlaid it with dignity, suffering, intelligence, and a piquant dash of bitchiness.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (The Sirens of Titan)
They say great themes make great novels.. but what these young writers don't understand is that there is no greater theme than men and women.
John O'Hara
A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later?" Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick
Of course, from one point of view the unhappy events of our own century might be regarded as, say, demonstration ballets on the theme 'Hydrocarbon Synthesis' with strong audience participation.
J.G. Ballard (The Atrocity Exhibition)
I’m beginning to sense a theme,” Mircea said, tossing his suit coat over a buckskin-covered chair. A moose head with huge, outspread antlers loomed over it, its bright glass eyes looking oddly lifelike in the low light. Mircea took in the room, his expression slightly repulsed yet fascinated. “I believe there is only one thing to say at this point.” What’s that?” Yee haw,” he said gravely, and took me down like a rodeo calf.
Karen Chance (Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, #4))
She knew with suddeness and ease that this moment would be with her always, within hand's reach of memory. She doubted if they all sensed it - they had seen the world - but even George was silent for a minute as they looked, and the scene, the smell, even the sound of the band playing a faintly recognisable movie theme, was locked forever in her, and she was at peace.
Stephen King (Carrie)
Yet if we would know God and for other's sake tell what we know we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.
A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy)
If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn't act the way we want God to, and why I don't act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.
Philip Yancey
Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a self-starter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don't waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail.
Og Mandino
My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing certainly except the past—were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark’s, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning.
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited)
The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and simplification help us to understand - but help us, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our comprehension may be only of the abbreviator's neatly formulated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted.
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited)
Whatever question arose, a swarm of these drones, without having finished their buzzing on a previous theme, flew over to the new one and by their hum drowned and obscured the voices of those who were disputing honestly.
Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)
If there is one ‘constant’ in the structure and theme of the wonder tale, it is transformation.
Jack D. Zipes (The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales)
And I realize now that the two main themes of my novels were stated by my siblings: 'Here I am, cleaning shit off of practically everything' and 'No pain.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Welcome to the Monkey House)
Reasons we should get married: Because I love you. We both look good in black boots. I spent some time without you, and I didn’t like it. You make me happy. I make you laugh. I like the way you fight. You see through my masks. I really love you. You love me, too. (Though you’ve mostly said this while yelling, so perhaps I should have double-checked.) Army of tiny vigilantes. (I have name ideas.) Various political reasons that make sense but don’t fit with the theme of this list. I’m holding your handwriting hostage. You can have it back when you say yes.
Jodi Meadows (The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen, #2))
You know it’s a bad sign when the theme song from Titanic describes your relationship.
Julia Spencer-Fleming (All Mortal Flesh (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #5))
The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve.
Cheryl Strayed (Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar)
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Yeah, that was a good song. My theme song. But really I thought it was everybody’s theme song.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante, #1))
At least twice a week, I pause in the rush of work and have a meeting with myself. (If I were part of a team, I’d call a team meeting.) I ask myself, again, of the project: “What is this damn thing about?” Keep refining your understanding of the theme; keep narrowing it down.
Steven Pressfield (Do the Work)
Most of the Bible is a history told by people living in lands occupied by conquering superpowers. It is a book written from the underside of power. It’s an oppression narrative. The majority of the Bible was written by a minority people living under the rule and reign of massive, mighty empires, from the Egyptian Empire to the Babylonian Empire to the Persian Empire to the Assyrian Empire to the Roman Empire. This can make the Bible a very difficult book to understand if you are reading it as a citizen of the the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Without careful study and reflection, and humility, it may even be possible to miss central themes of the Scriptures.
Rob Bell (Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile)
Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that's dynamic and expressivee--that's what's good for you if you're at all serious in your aims. William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. "In the time of your life--live!" That time is short and it doesn't return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.
Tennessee Williams
Humming the Star Wars theme to encourage myself, I wobbled onto my feet. Sometimes a girl's gotta provide her own trumpet-heavy heroic soundtrack.
Shannon Hale (Dangerous)
On the island of kindness, freedom is as wide as the sky and prosperity and happiness are evident everywhere. We must reach for the radiant theme of pristine and pure colors.
The Philosopher Hakim Orod Bozorg Khorasani
Ryan stared at me as I pulled my phone out to see who was calling at this late hour. “You have the Fraggle Rock theme song as your ring tone,” he said, with a bemused look on his face. “You are so weird.
Diana Rowland (Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian, #1))
When people dis fantasy—mainstream readers and SF readers alike—they are almost always talking about one sub-genre of fantastic literature. They are talking about Tolkien, and Tolkien's innumerable heirs. Call it 'epic', or 'high', or 'genre' fantasy, this is what fantasy has come to mean. Which is misleading as well as unfortunate. Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature. His oeuvre is massive and contagious—you can't ignore it, so don't even try. The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil. And there's a lot to dislike—his cod-Wagnerian pomposity, his boys-own-adventure glorying in war, his small-minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status-quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity. Tolkien's clichés—elves 'n' dwarfs 'n' magic rings—have spread like viruses. He wrote that the function of fantasy was 'consolation', thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader. That is a revolting idea, and one, thankfully, that plenty of fantasists have ignored. From the Surrealists through the pulps—via Mervyn Peake and Mikhael Bulgakov and Stefan Grabiński and Bruno Schulz and Michael Moorcock and M. John Harrison and I could go on—the best writers have used the fantastic aesthetic precisely to challenge, to alienate, to subvert and undermine expectations. Of course I'm not saying that any fan of Tolkien is no friend of mine—that would cut my social circle considerably. Nor would I claim that it's impossible to write a good fantasy book with elves and dwarfs in it—Michael Swanwick's superb Iron Dragon's Daughter gives the lie to that. But given that the pleasure of fantasy is supposed to be in its limitless creativity, why not try to come up with some different themes, as well as unconventional monsters? Why not use fantasy to challenge social and aesthetic lies? Thankfully, the alternative tradition of fantasy has never died. And it's getting stronger. Chris Wooding, Michael Swanwick, Mary Gentle, Paul di Filippo, Jeff VanderMeer, and many others, are all producing works based on fantasy's radicalism. Where traditional fantasy has been rural and bucolic, this is often urban, and frequently brutal. Characters are more than cardboard cutouts, and they're not defined by race or sex. Things are gritty and tricky, just as in real life. This is fantasy not as comfort-food, but as challenge. The critic Gabe Chouinard has said that we're entering a new period, a renaissance in the creative radicalism of fantasy that hasn't been seen since the New Wave of the sixties and seventies, and in echo of which he has christened the Next Wave. I don't know if he's right, but I'm excited. This is a radical literature. It's the literature we most deserve.
China Miéville
Well, I’ve been a musician my whole life. When I was two, I would sing the theme from Star Wars in my crib; my mom taped it for proof. Then, when I was five, I asked for a violin. No one knew why I would want one, but my wish was granted and I ended up a classically trained fiddler by age 12. The only problem with that was, when you’re a classical violinist, everybody expects you to be satisfied with playing Tchaikovsky for the rest of your life, and saying you want to play jazz, rock, write songs, sing your songs, hook up your fiddle to a guitar amp, sleep with your 4-track recorder, mess around with synths, dress like Tinkerbell in combat boots, AND play Tchaikovsky is equivalent to spitting on the Pope.
Emilie Autumn
If Gone With the Wind has a theme it is that of survival. What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong, and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don't. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.' So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn't.
Margaret Mitchell (Gone with the Wind)
Democracy is, among other things, the ability to say 'no' to the boss. But a man cannot say 'no' to the boss, unless he is sure of being able to eat when the boss's favour has been withdrawn.
Aldous Huxley (Themes And Variations)
I always tell my students, about the biggest baddest things in life you must try to write small and light, save the big writing for the unexpected tiny thing that always makes or breaks a story.
Pam Houston
Before I start a project, I always ask myself the following question. Why is this book worth a year of my life? There needs to be something about the theme, the technique, or the research that makes the time spent on it worthwhile.
David Morrell
When did you first feel like a grown woman and not a girl?” We wrote down our answers and shared them, first in pairs, then in larger groups. The group of women was racially and economically diverse, but the answers had a very similar theme. Almost everyone first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them. “I was walking home from ballet and a guy in a car yelled, ‘Lick me!’” “I was babysitting my younger cousins when a guy drove by and yelled, ‘Nice ass.’” There were pretty much zero examples like “I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out to dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team.” It was mostly men yelling shit from cars. Are they a patrol sent out to let girls know they’ve crossed into puberty? If so, it’s working.
Tina Fey
Strong themes and styles have to be broken down before literature can come into being. It is this breaking down that is called “writing.” Writing is more about destroying than creating.
Karl Ove Knausgård (My Struggle: Book 1)
Her dad’s coming,” she said, voice shrill. “What?” we all said in unison. Tristan, Ayden and the fairy looked at me and said, “What?” “What?” I repeated, panicked and irritated at my lack of control in responding to a fairy I wasn’t supposed to see or hear. “What?” came their reply. “What?” I continued the theme of repetition because I lacked any form of explanation. Ayden held up a hand for silence. “Why are you ‘whatting’?” “What?” The hand again. “Okay, stop that,” Ayden said.
A. Kirk (Demons at Deadnight (Divinicus Nex Chronicles, #1))
Oh, come on Em." He stopped walking and looked me in the eyes. His own were dark and shiny. "You know how I feel about you," he muttered. "I do?" He stepped closer and whispered, "When you're around, music plays in my head." My eyes welled. "Music," I repeated softly. "Well, you know." He grinned. "It's the Jaws theme. Da dum. Da dum.
Jennifer Jabaley
But once an original book has been written-and no more than one or two appear in a century-men of letters imitate it, in other words, they copy it so that hundreds of thousands of books are published on exactly the same theme, with slightly different titles and modified phraseology. This should be able to be achieved by apes, who are essentially imitators, provided, of course, that they are able to make use of language.
Pierre Boulle (Planet of the Apes)
She looked like she was going to a party where the theme was Most Sparkly Evening Gown, or maybe Quickest Way to Blind Someone.
Julie Kagawa (Summer's Crossing (Iron Fey, #3.5))
I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
Repeat the good. And the bad. Do it all...and pile on the years.
Natsuki Takaya (Fruits Basket, Vol. 23)
The Russian yearning for the meaning of life is the major theme of our literature, and this is the real point of our intelligentsia's existence.
Nikolai A. Berdyaev
Human life is fiction's only theme.
Eudora Welty (On Writing)
Ma’am.” The officer was already tired of the haughtiness of Ms. Headstrom. “You specifically sought out this particular group of people, who all had a particular criterion of being in the press for unfavorable reasons. Is that correct?” “Well, not all of them were for unfavorable reasons,” she tried to rationalize. “Some were associated with an unfavorable reason. It was a themed party. That was the theme. That was the only reason. Why else would I have brought them all to the house for a dinner?” “Exactly.
Kathleen Lopez (Thirteen for Dinner)
Do me a favor?” he whispered. Beth's hold tightened on his hand. ”Anything, what do you need?” ”Hum the Jeopardy theme.” There was a pause.Then Beth burst out laughing and swatted his shoulder. ”Wrath-” ”Actually,take your clothes off and hum it while doing some belly grooves.” As his shellan bent down and kissed his forehead, he looked up at her through his wraparounds. ”You think I'm kidding? Come on, we both need the distraction. And I promise I'll tip well” "You never carry cash." He extended his tongue and swept it over his upper lip. "I plan on working it off.
J.R. Ward (Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #7))
My needs were simple. I didn't bother much with themes or felicitous phrases and skipped fine descriptions of weather, landscapes and interiors. I wanted characters I could believe in and I wanted to be made curious about what was to happen to them.
Ian McEwan (Sweet Tooth)
Everyone who lived in high-up, magical places must feel the same way. You come down into the world and you mingle, but all the while there's something calling you back.
Arjum Hasan
SOMETIMES, YOU JUST need a badass theme song to get you through the day.
Ilsa Madden-Mills (Very Bad Things (Briarcrest Academy, #1))
What are you going to do with it?” “Open a chain of beach-themed restaurants.” “It was too much to hope that achieving that much power would give you a sense of dignity.
Sarah J. Maas (House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1))
A literary creation can appeal to us in all sorts of ways-by its theme, subject, situations, characters. But above all it appeals to us by the presence in it of art. It is the presence of art in Crime and Punishment that moves us deeply rather than the story of Raskolnikov's crime.
Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)
What moved me was the theme of the harmony which is born only of sacrifice, the twofold experience of love. It's not a question of mutual love: what nobody seems to understand is that love can only be one-sided, that no other love exists, that in any other form it is not love. If it involves less than total giving, it is not love. It is impotent; for the moment, it is nothing.
Andrei Tarkovsky (Sculpting in Time)
William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. "In the time of your life--live!" That time is short and it doesn't return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.
Tennessee Williams
Our dreams and stories may contain implicit aspects of our lives even without our awareness. In fact, storytelling may be a primary way in which we can linguistically communicate to others—as well as to ourselves—the sometimes hidden contents of our implicitly remembering minds. Stories make available perspectives on the emotional themes of our implicit memory that may otherwise be consciously unavailable to us. This may be one reason why journal writing and intimate communication with others, which are so often narrative processes, have such powerful organizing effects on the mind: They allow us to modulate our emotions and make sense of the world.
Daniel J. Siegel (The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are)
Its hard to stay up. Its been a long long day And you've got the sandman at your door. But hang on, leave the TV on and lets do it anyway. Its ok. You can always sleep through work tomorrow. Ok? Hey, Hey, Tomorrow's just your future yesterday. Tell the clock on the wall, "Forget the wake up call." Cause the night's not nearly through. Wipe the sleep from your eyes. Give yourself a surprise. Let your worries wait another day. And if you stay too late at the bar, At least you made it out this far. So make up your mind and say, "Let's do it anyway!" Its Ok You can always sleep through work tomorrow, ok? Hey, Hey, Tomorrow's just your future yesterday. Life's too short to worry about the things that you can live without And I regret to say, the morning light is hours away. The world can be such a fright, But it belongs to us tonight. What's the point of going to bed? You look so lovely when your eyes are red. Tomorrow's just your future yesterday.
Craig Ferguson
I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme.
John Hawkes
Look, then, into thine heart, and write! Yes, into Life's deep stream! All forms of sorrow and delight, All solemn Voices of the Night, That can soothe thee, or affright, - Be these henceforth thy theme. (excerpt from "Voices of the Night")
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Silmarillion)
The theme of the dance was "Great Romances," or some such nonsense. There were projections of supposedly great couples from the past on the walls of the gym. Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Hermione and Ron, Bonnie and Clyde, etc.
Gabrielle Zevin (All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1))
I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, of persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one’s work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again—not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life.
Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts)
Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world - the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine. It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for headache, it infallibly prevented hair from turning gray, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
When I was growing up, I didn't really know much about being popular or cliques or anything like that. In elementary school and middle school, you start to kind of realize what it's all about. There are cool kids, and then there's you, and you're just trying to figure out where you fit in.I learned a lot about acceptance and rejection,Those are the themes that you'll find spread throughout my music and weaved in throughout all of the lyrics. I really know what it's like to be accepted, and I also know what it's like to be rejected. And those are lessons I learned in Wyomissing.
Taylor Swift
Maybe that's when bad scripts are written, when you choose the theme first. I consider that I've something to say when I've thought of a person, a moment, a single beat of the heart, that I think is true and interesting, and therefore should be seen.
Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale)
Positive. In other news, Marcie's throwing a Halloween party here at the farmhouse." Patch smiled. "Grey - Millar family drama?" "The theme is famous couples from history. Could she be any less original? Worse, she's roped my mom into this. They went shopping for decorations today. For three whole hours. It's like they're suddenly best friends." I picked up another apple slice and made a face at it. "Marcie is ruining everything. I wanted Scott to go with Vee, but Marcie already convinced him to go with her." Patch's smile widened. I aimed my best sulky look at him. "This isn't funny. Marcie is destroying my life. Whose side are you on anyway?" Patch raised his hands in surrender. "I'm staying out of this.
Becca Fitzpatrick (Finale (Hush, Hush, #4))
There are times when I long to sweep away half the things I am expected to learn; for the overtaxed mind cannot enjoy the treasure it has secured at the greatest cost. ... When one reads hurriedly and nervously, having in mind written tests and examinations, one's brain becomes encumbered with a lot of bric-a-brac for which there seems to be little use. At the present time my mind is so full of heterogeneous matter that I almost despair of ever being able to put it in order. Whenever I enter the region of my mind I feel like the proverbial bull in the china shop. A thousand odds and ends of knowledge come crashing about my head like hailstones, and when I try to escape them, theme goblins and college nixies of all sorts pursue me, until I wish – oh, may I be forgiven the wicked wish! – that I might smash the idols I came to worship.
Helen Keller (The Story of My Life: With Her Letters (1887 1901) and a Supplementary Account of Her Education Including Passages from the Reports and Letters of Her Teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan by John Albert Macy)
Your move!
Kazuki Takahashi
Rules?" said Roark. "Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn't borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn't borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it.
Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead)
It is as true for the writer as for the reader that any novel worth its ink should be an experience first and foremost—not an essay, not a statement, not an orderly rollout of themes and propositions. All of which is to say: stories, too, are wild things.
David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)
And before long there will be no more milk in bottles delivered to the doorstep or sleepy rural pubs, and the countryside will be mostly shopping centers and theme parks. Forgive me. I don't mean to get upset. But you are taking my world away from me, piece by little piece, and sometimes it just pisses me off. Sorry.
Bill Bryson (The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America)
My needs were simple I didn't bother much with themes or felicitous phrases and skipped fine descriptions of weather, landscapes and interiors. I wanted characters I could believe in, and I wanted to be made curious about what was to happen to them. Generally, I preferred people to be falling in and out of love, but I didn't mind so much if they tried their hand at something else. It was vulgar to want it, but I liked someone to say 'Marry me' by the end.
Ian McEwan (Sweet Tooth)
I'll wait. By the way, sex-me-up shoes?" "I was following a theme." "Well." Reo turned her ankles, looked down. "They are pretty fabulous." "They are," Mira agreed. "I was going to say the same about yours. What a terrific color." "Could we not talk about shoes in the box that still smells of evildoer?" "You started it," Reo reminded her before she turned back to Mira.
J.D. Robb (Delusion in Death (In Death, #35))
They will blow it, she thought. Each will cling to a sad little story of hurt and sorrow—some long-ago trouble and pain life dumped on their pure and innocent selves. And each one will rewrite that story forever, knowing the plot, guessing the theme, inventing its meaning and dismissing its origin.
Toni Morrison (God Help the Child)
As Louis Cozolino Ph. D., observes, a consistent theme of adult psychotherapy clients is that they had parents who were not curious about who they were but, instead, told them who they should be. What Cozolino explains, is that the child creates a "persona" for her parents but doesn't learn to know herself. What happens is that "the authentic self"--the part of us open to feelings, experinces, and intimicy--remains underdeveloped.
Peg Streep (Mean Mothers: Overcoming the Legacy of Hurt)
The nature of life is change and the nature of people is to resist change.” It was a paraphrase of something he’d read that had resonated with him both personally and as a therapist, he told me, because it was a theme that informed nearly every person’s struggles.
Lori Gottlieb (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed)
Q.Do you have any positive message, in your opinion? A.Indeed I do think that I do. Q.Such as what? A.The crying, almost screaming, need of a great worldwide human effort to know ourselves and each other a great deal better, well enough to concede that no man has a monopoly on right or virtue any more than any man has a corner on duplicity and evil and so forth. If people, and races and nations, would start with that self-manifest truth, then I think that the world could sidestep the sort of corruption which I have involuntarily chosen as the basic, allegorical theme of my plays as a whole.
Tennessee Williams
To begin... To begin... How to start? I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That's a good muffin.
Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation [screenplay])
Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashipn the theme of Iluvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Silmarillion)
She glanced across to where Tilly and her brand new husband were posing for photographs, Tilly fluttering a fan coquettishly in front of her face. 'Unfortunately I didn't realise there was a French Revolutionary theme.' 'The Marie-Antoinette thing?' said Dexter. 'Well at least we know there'll be cake.
David Nicholls (One Day)
...we're in English class, which for most of us is an excruciating exercise in staying awake through the great classics of literature. These works-- groundbreaking, incendiary, timeless-- have been pureed by the curriculum monsters into a digestible pabulum of themes and factoids we can spew back on a test. Scoring well on tests is the sort of happy thing that gets the school district the greenbacks they crave. Understanding and appreciating the material are secondary.
Libba Bray (Going Bovine)
We take it for granted that Jesus was not interested in political life: his mission was purely religious. Indeed we have witnessed . . . the 'iconization' of the life of Jesus: 'This is a Jesus of hieratic, stereotyped gestures, all representing theological themes. In this way, the life of Jesus is no longer a human life, submerged in history, but a theological life -- an icon.
Gustavo Gutiérrez (A Theology of Liberation)
Such movies are always a danger...falling in love is something most adults have actually experienced...The theme is universal and encourages...unhealthy comparisons...why can't our lives be like that? It's a box left unopened, and its avoidance explains the continued popularity of vampire epics and martial-arts extravaganzas.
David Sedaris (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)
Generally speaking, though, Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment. Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today. But...we seem to like it. Alarming statistics back this observation up, showing that many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes. Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure). Americans don't really know how to do NOTHING. This is the cause of that great sad American stereotype-the overstressed executive who goes on vacation but who cannot relax.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
I don't mean to sound like a spoiled brat. I know that into every sunny life a little rain must fall and all that, but in my case, the crisis-level hysteria is an all-too-recurring theme. The voices inside my head, which I used to think were just passing through, seem to have taken up residence And I've been on these goddamn pills for years.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
He knew that the very memory of the piano falsified still further the perspective in which he saw the elements of music, that the field open to the musician is not a miserable stave of seven notes, but an immeasurable keyboard (still almost entirely unknown) on which, here and there only, separated by the thick darkness of its unexplored tracts, some few among the millions of keys of tenderness, of passion, of courage, of serenity, which compose it, each one differing from all the rest as one universe differs from another, have been discovered by a few great artists who do us the service, when they awaken in us the emotion corresponding to the theme they have discovered, of showing us what richness, what variety lies hidden, unknown to us, in that vast, unfathomed and forbidding night of our soul which we take to be an impenetrable void.
Marcel Proust (Swann's Way)
I don't know how to choose work that illuminates what my life is about. I don't know what my life is about and don't examine it. My life will define itself as I live it. The movies will define themselves as I make them. As long as the theme is something I care about at the moment, it's enough for me to start work. Maybe work itself is what my life is about.
Sidney Lumet (Making Movies)
BELIZE: Louis, I’d even pray for you.      He was a terrible person. He died a hard death. So maybe . . . A queen can forgive her vanquished foe. It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet. Peace, at least. Isn’t that what the Kaddish asks for?
Tony Kushner (Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised and Complete Edition)
As I travel through life, I gather experiences that lie imprinted on the deepest strata of memory, and there they ferment, are transformed, and sometimes rise to the surface and sprout like strange plants from other worlds. What is the fertile humus of the subconscious composed of? Why are certain images converted into recurrent themes in nightmares or writing?
Isabel Allende (La suma de los días)
It was the pivotal teaching of Pluthero Quexos, the most celebrated dramatist of the Second Dominion, that in any fiction, no matter how ambitious its scope or profound its theme, there was only ever room for three players. Between warring kings, a peacemaker; between adoring spouses, a seducer or a child. Between twins, the spirit of the womb. Between lovers, Death. Greater numbers might drift through the drama, of course -- thousands in fact -- but they could only ever be phantoms, agents, or, on rare occasions, reflections of the three real and self-willed beings who stood at the center. And even this essential trio would not remain intact; or so he taught. It would steadily diminish as the story unfolded, three becoming two, two becoming one, until the stage was left deserted.
Clive Barker (Imajica)
Thus she returned to the theme of ‘before,’ but in a different way than she had at first. She said that we didn’t know anything, either as children or now, that we were therefore not in a position to understand anything, that everything in the neighborhood, every stone or piece of wood, everything, anything you could name, was already there before us, but we had grown up without realizing it, without ever even thinking about it. Not just us. Her father pretended that there had been nothing before. Her mother did the same, my mother, my father, even Rino… <…> They didn’t know anything, they wouldn’t talk about anything. Not Fascism, not the king. No injustice, no oppression, no exploitation … And they thought that what had happened before was past and, in order to live quietly, they placed a stone on top of it, and so, without knowing it, they continued it, they were immersed in the things of before, and we kept them inside us, too.
Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend (L'amica geniale #1))
The theme of the diary is always the personal, but it does not mean only a personal story: it means a personal relationship to all things and people. The personal, if it is deep enough, becomes universal, mythical, symbolic; I never generalize, intellectualise. I see, I hear, I feel. These are my primitive elements of discovery. Music, dance, poetry and painting are the channels for emotion. It is through them that experience penetrates our bloodstream.
Anaïs Nin (The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947)
Consider how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down in the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair and confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us - when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature
Virginia Woolf (On Being Ill)
Never try to change the narrative structure of someone else's story, though you will certainly be tempted to, as you watch those poor souls in school, in life, heading unwittingly down dangerous tangents, fatal digressions from which they will unlikely be able to emerge. Resist the temptation. Spend your energies on your story. Reworking it. Making it better. Increasing the scale, the depth of content, the universal themes. And I don't care what those themes are- they're yours to uncover and stand behind-so long as, at the very least, there is courage.
Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics)
So this is supposed to be about the how, and when, and why, and what of reading -- about the way that, when reading is going well, one book leads to another and to another, a paper trail of theme and meaning; and how, when it's going badly, when books don't stick or take, when your mood and the mood of the book are fighting like cats, you'd rather do anything but attempt the next paragraph, or reread the last one for the tenth time.
Nick Hornby (The Polysyllabic Spree)
Want something else more than success. Success is a lovely thing, but your desire to say something, your worth, and your identity shouldn’t rely on it, because it’s not guaranteed and it’s not permanent and it’s not sufficient. So work hard, fall in love with the writing—the characters, the story, the words, the themes—and make sure that you are who you are regardless of your life circumstances. That way, when the good things come, they don’t warp you, and when the bad things hit you, you don’t fall apart.
Veronica Roth
Whatever I am, or have since become, I know now that slipperiness isn’t all of it. I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, of persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one’s work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again—not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life.
Maggie Nelson (The Argonauts)
[On Female Attraction to Men in Uniform] That male military persona feeds a subconscious, passive-aggressive female desire to dominate the warrior as he is perceived an iconic example of masculinity (particularly amongst traditionally warlike cultures). The damsel in distress theme always struck me as embodying this: the hapless, innocently beautiful woman unwittingly enraptures the heroic male so completely that he would risk all to submit to her at his own peril, and quite in spite of it.
Tiffany Madison
Stories are the collective wisdom of everyone who has ever lived. Your job as a storyteller is not simply to entertain. Nor is it to be noticed for the way you turn a phrase. You have a very important job--one of the most important. Your job is to let people know that everyone shares their feelings--and that these feelings bind us. Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility. Let people know they are not alone. You must make people understand that we are all the same.
Brian McDonald (The Golden Theme: How to Make Your Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator)
Depressions and melancholy are often a cover for tremendous greed. At the beginning of an analysis there is often a depressed state of resignation-life has no meaning, there is no feeling of being in life. An exaggerated state can develop into complete lameness. Quite young people give the impression of having the resignation of a bitter old man or woman. When you dig into such a black mood you find that behind it there is overwhelming greed-for being loved, for being very rich, for having the right partner, for being the top dog, etc. Behind such a melancholic resignation you will often discover in the darkness a recurring theme which makes things very difficult, namely if you give such people one bit of hope, the lion opens its mouth and you have to withdraw, and then they put the lid on again, and so it goes on, back and forth.
Marie-Louise von Franz (The Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairytales (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 2))
In my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past Lingers in the present, all my writings after night, including those that deal with biblical, Talmudic, or Hasidic themes, profoundly bear it's stamp, and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works. Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of the madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?
Elie Wiesel (Night (The Night Trilogy, #1))
One thing which even the most seasoned and discerning masters of the art of choice do not and cannot choose, is the society to be born into - and so we are all in travel, whether we like it or not. We have not been asked about our feelings anyway. Thrown into a vast open sea with no navigation charts and all the marker buoys sunk and barely visible, we have only two choices left: we may rejoice in the breath-taking vistas of new discoveries - or we may tremble out of fear of drowning. One option not really realistic is to claim sanctuary in a safe harbour; one could bet that what seems to be a tranquil haven today will be soon modernized, and a theme park, amusement promenade or crowded marina will replace the sedate boat sheds. The third option not thus being available, which of the two other options will be chosen or become the lot of the sailor depends in no small measure on the ship's quality and the navigation skills of the sailors. Not all ships are seaworthy, however. And so the larger the expanse of free sailing, the more the sailor's fate tends to be polarized and the deeper the chasm between the poles. A pleasurable adventure for the well-equipped yacht may prove a dangerous trap for a tattered dinghy. In the last account, the difference between the two is that between life and death.
Zygmunt Bauman (Globalization: The Human Consequences)
Body', 'soul', and 'spirit' may designate phenomenal domains which can be detached as themes for definite investigations; within certain limits their ontological indefiniteness may not be important. When, however, we come to the question of man's Being, this is not something we can simply compute by adding together those kinds of Being which body, soul, and spirit respectively possess--kinds of being whose nature has not as yet been determined. And even if we should attempt such an ontological procedure, some idea of the Being of the whole must be presupposed.
Martin Heidegger (Being and Time)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
The song of Lúthien before Mandos was the song most fair that ever in words was woven, and the song most sorrowful that ever the world shall hear. Unchanged, imperishable, it is sung still in Valinor beyond the hearing of the world, and listening the Valar are grieved. For Lúthien wove two themes of words, of the sorrow of the Eldar and the grief of Men, of the Two Kindreds that were made by Ilúvatar to dwell in Arda, the Kingdom of Earth amid the innumerable stars. And as she knelt before him her tears fell upon his feet like rain upon stones; and Mandos was moved to pity, who never before was so moved, nor has been since.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Silmarillion)
I remember sitting in the Beth Shalom synagogue in Cambridge on the night of Kol Nidre. Peter Lipton, a friend and an atheist philosopher, was giving a sermon on the theme of “atonement:” “If we treat another person as essentially bad, we dehumanize him or her. If we take the view that every human being has some good in them, even if it is only 0.1 percent of their makeup, then by focusing on their good part, we humanize them. By acknowledging and attending to and rewarding their good part, we allow it to grow, like a small flower in a desert.
Simon Baron-Cohen (Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty)
A paradox of the soul is that it is incapable of satisfying itself, but it is also incapable of living without satisfaction. You were made for soul-satisfaction, but you will only ever find it in God. The soul craves to be secure. The soul craves to be loved. The soul craves to be significant, and we find these only in God in a form that can satisfy us. That’s why the psalmist says to God, “Because your love is better than life . . . my soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” Soul and appetite and satisfaction are dominant themes in the Bible — the soul craves because it is meant for God. “My soul, find rest in God.
John Ortberg (Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You)
There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book. In adult literary fiction, stories are there on sufferance. Other things are felt to be more important: technique, style, literary knowingness… The present-day would-be George Eliots take up their stories as if with a pair of tongs. They’re embarrassed by them. If they could write novels without stories in them, they would. Sometimes they do. We need stories so much that we’re even willing to read bad books to get them, if the good books won’t supply them. We all need stories, but children are more frank about it.
Philip Pullman
I gladly come back to the theme of the absurdity of our education: its end has not been to make us good and wise, but learned. And it has succeeded. It has not taught us to seek virtue and to embrace wisdom: it has impressed upon us their derivation and their etymology … We readily inquire, ‘Does he know Greek or Latin?’ ‘Can he write poetry and prose?’ But what matters most is what we put last: ‘Has he become better and wiser?’ We ought to find out not who understands most but who understands best. We work merely to fill the memory, leaving the understanding and the sense of right and wrong empty.
Alain de Botton (The Consolations of Philosophy)
Mr. O'Donnell was at the library counter, performing the sort of grim rituals librarians perform with index cards and stumpy pencils and those rubber stamps with columns of rotating numbers. "Ms. Auerbach! What will it be today? Camus? Cervantes?" "Actually I'm looking for a book of poetry by Emily Dickinson" He paused somberly, toying with the twirled tip of his mustache. No matter how seriously librarians are engaged in their work, they are always glad to be interrupted when the theme is books. It makes no difference to them how simple the search is or how behind on time either of you might be running - they consider all queries scrupulously. They love to have their knowledge tested. They lie in wait, they will not be rushed.
Hilary Thayer Hamann (Anthropology of an American Girl)
I review my three boyfriends, the three men I slept with in my twenties, searching for a common thread. Nothing. No consistent features, coloring, stature, personality. But one theme does emerge: they all picked me. And then dumped me. I played the passive role. Waiting for Hunter and then settling for Joey. Waiting to feel more for Nate. Then waiting to feel less. Waiting for Alec to go away and leave me in peace. And now Dex. My number four. And I am still waiting. For all of this to blow over. For his September wedding. For someone who gives me that tingly feeling as I watch him sleeping in...
Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed (Darcy & Rachel, #1))
The theme of invisibility has haunted me for many years, since earliest girlhood. A woman often feels ‘invisible’ in a public sense precisely because her physical being - her ‘visibility’ - figures so prominently in her identity. She is judged as a body, she is ‘attractive’ or ‘unattractive’, while knowing that her deepest self is inward, and secret: knowing, hoping that her spiritual essence is a great deal more complex than the casual eye of the observer will allow… it might be argued that all persons, defined to themselves rather more as what they think and dream than what they do, are ‘invisible’.
Joyce Carol Oates
I've always felt that the performance of a raag resembles a novel - or at least the kind of novel I'm attempting to write. You know,' he continued, extemporizing as he went along, 'first you take one note and explore it for a while, then another to discover its possibilities, then perhaps you get to the dominant, and pause for a bit, and it's only gradually that the phrases begin to form and the tabla joins in with the beat...and then the more brilliant improvisations and diversions begin, with the main theme returning from time to time, and finally it all speeds up, and the excitement increases to a climax.
Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy (A Bridge of Leaves, #1))
The novel’s not dead, it’s not even seriously injured, but I do think we’re working in the margins, working in the shadows of the novel’s greatness and influence. There’s plenty of impressive talent around, and there’s strong evidence that younger writers are moving into history, finding broader themes. But when we talk about the novel we have to consider the culture in which it operates. Everything in the culture argues against the novel, particularly the novel that tries to be equal to the complexities and excesses of the culture. This is why books such as JR and Harlot’s Ghost and Gravity’s Rainbow and The Public Burning are important—to name just four. They offer many pleasures without making concessions to the middle-range reader, and they absorb and incorporate the culture instead of catering to it. And there’s the work of Robert Stone and Joan Didion, who are both writers of conscience and painstaking workers of the sentence and paragraph. I don’t want to list names because lists are a form of cultural hysteria, but I have to mention Blood Meridian for its beauty and its honor. These books and writers show us that the novel is still spacious enough and brave enough to encompass enormous areas of experience. We have a rich literature. But sometimes it’s a literature too ready to be neutralized, to be incorporated into the ambient noise. This is why we need the writer in opposition, the novelist who writes against power, who writes against the corporation or the state or the whole apparatus of assimilation. We’re all one beat away from becoming elevator music.
Don DeLillo
She will be busy writing novels. As soon as she had has gotten far enough away from this frighteningly puritanical country, her mind will be set free, and she will be able to turn all of her observations in richly drawn characters and intricately themed stories.” “But what will she eat, dear Grass?” Barnard leaned against the wall, his arms crossing his chest skeptically. “Baguette and red wine, pure art, filthy air. Look at her, she is made of rose petals, and the world will take good care of her. And if it does not, we will have our hearts moved by such an exquisitely gorgeous tragedy.
Anna Godbersen (Splendor (Luxe, #4))
Perhaps the greatest strike against philosophical pessimism is that its only theme is human suffering. This is the last item on the list of our species’ obsessions and detracts from everything that matters to us, such as the Good, the Beautiful, and a Sparking Clean Toilet Bowl. For the pessimist, everything considered in isolation from human suffering or any cognition that does not have as its motive the origins, nature, and elimination of human suffering is at base recreational, whether it takes the form of conceptual probing or physical action in the world—for example, delving into game theory or traveling in outer space, respectively. And by “human suffering,” the pessimist is not thinking of particular sufferings and their relief, but of suffering itself. Remedies may be discovered for certain diseases and sociopolitical barbarities may be amended. But those are only stopgaps. Human suffering will remain insoluble as long as human beings exist. The one truly effective solution for suffering is that spoken of in Zapffe’s “Last Messiah.” It may not be a welcome solution for a stopgap world, but it would forever put an end to suffering, should we ever care to do so. The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone. Although our selves may be illusory creations of consciousness, our pain is nonetheless real.
Thomas Ligotti (The Conspiracy Against the Human Race)
Is the beauty of the Whole really enhanced by our agony? And is the Whole really beautiful? And what is beauty? Throughout all his existence man has been striving to hear the music of the spheres, and has seemed to himself once and again to catch some phrase of it, or even a hint of the whole form of it. Yet he can never be sure that he has truly heard it, nor even that there is any such perfect music at all to be heard. Inevitably so, for if it exists, it is not for him in his littleness. But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts, and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is man.
Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men)
Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes, Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise; My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream. Thou stock dove whose echo resounds thro' the glen, Ye wild whistly blackbirds in yon thorny den, Thou green crested lapwing thy screaming forbear, I charge you, disturb not my slumbering fair. How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighboring hills, Far mark'd with the courses of clear winding rills; There daily I wander as noon rises high, My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye. How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below, Where, wild in the woodlands, the primroses blow; There oft, as mild evening weeps over the lea, The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me. Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides, And winds by the cot where my Mary resides; How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave, As, gathering sweet flowerets, she stems thy clear wave. Flow gently, sweet Afton, amang thy green braes, Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays; My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream, Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dreams.
Robert Burns
But first the past. Lily and Keith broke up because Lily wanted to act like a boy. That was the heart of the matter, really: girls acting like boys was in the air, and Lily wanted to try it out. So they had their first big row (its theme, ridiculously, was religion), and Lily announced *a trial separation*. The words came at him like a jolt of compressed air: such trials, he knew, were almost always a complete success. After two days of earnest misery, in his terrible room in the terrible flat in Earls Court, after two days of *desolation*, he phoned her and they met up, and tears were shed--on both side of the café table. She told him to be evolved about it.
Martin Amis (The Pregnant Widow)
When strangers on a train or a plane ask what I do for a living, I say, "I kill people." This response makes for a short conversation. No eye contact and no sudden movement from my seat-mate. Only peace and quiet. Rare is the fellow passenger who asks why I do it. I suppose I got tired hanging out in a book all day waiting for a story to begin. I write the kind of novels I want to read. And why the theme of solving murders? Violent death is larger than life and it's the great equalizer. By law, every victim is entitled to a paladin and a chase, else life would be cheapened. And the real reason I do this? My brain is simply bent this way. There is nothing else I would rather do. This neatly chains into my theory of the writing life. If you scratch an artist, under the skin you will find a bum who cannot hold down a real job. Conversely, if you scratch a bum... but I have never done that. The heart of my theory has puritan roots: if you love what you do, you cannot call it honest work.
Carol O'Connell
Truth changes with the season of our emotions. It is the shadow that moves with the phases of our inner sun. When the nights falls, only our perception can guess where it hides in the dark. Within every solar system of the soul lies a plan of what truth is--- the design God has created, in our own unique story. This is as varying as the constellations, and as turning as the tide. It is not one truth we live to, but many. If we ever hope to determine if there is such a thing as truth, apart from cultural and personal preferences, we must acknowledge that we are then aiming to discover something greater than ourselves, something that transcends culture and individual inclinations. Some say that we must look beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves. However, we don’t need to look farther than what is already in each other. If there was any great plan from a higher power it is a simplistic, repetitious theme found in all religions; the basic core importance to unity comes from shared theological and humanistic virtues. Beyond the synagogue, mosques, temples, churches, missionary work, church positions and religious rituals comes a simple “message of truth” found in all of us, that binds theology---holistic virtues combined with purpose is the foundation of spiritual evolution. The diversity among us all is not divided truth, but the opportunity for unity through these shared values. Truth is the framework and roadmap of positive virtues. It unifies diversity when we choose to see it and use it. It is simple message often lost among the rituals, cultural traditions and socializing that goes on behind the chapel doors of any religion or spiritual theology. As we fight among ourselves about what religion, culture or race is right, we often lose site of the simple message any great orator has whispered through time----a simplistic story explaining the importance of virtues, which magically reemphasizes the importance of loving one another through service.
Shannon L. Alder
In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men's lives; some such account as he would send to his kindred from a distant land; for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been in a distant land to me. Perhaps these pages are more particularly addressed to poor students. As for the rest of my readers, they will accept such portions as apply to them. I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
It's a misery peculiar to would-be writers. Your theme is good, as are your sentences. Your characters are so ruddy with life they practically need birth certificates. The plot you've mapped out for them is grand, simple and gripping. You've done your research, gathering the facts; historical, social, climatic culinary, that will give your story its feel of authenticity. The dialogue zips along, crackling with tension. The descriptions burst with color, contrast and telling detail. Really, your story can only be great. But it all adds up to nothing. In spite the obvious, shining promise of it, there comes a moment when you realize that the whisper that has been pestering you all along from the back of your mind is speaking the flat, awful truth: IT WON'T WORK. An element is missing, that spark that brings to life in a real story, regardless of whether the history or the food is right. Your story is emotionally dead, that's the crux of it. The discovery is something soul-destroying, I tell you. It leaves you with an aching hunger.
Yann Martel
Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress... Actually, when you think about it, not many novels in the Spare tradition are terribly cheerful. Jokes you can usually pluck out whole, by the roots, so if you're doing some heavy-duty prose-weeding, they're the first to go. And there's some stuff about the whole winnowing process I just don't get. Why does it always stop when the work in question has been reduced to sixty or seventy thousand words--entirely coincidentally, I'm sure, the minimum length for a publishable novel? I'm sure you could get it down to twenty or thirty if you tried hard enough. In fact, why stop at twenty or thirty? Why write at all? Why not just jot the plot and a couple of themes down on the back of an envelope and leave it at that? The truth is, there's nothing very utilitarian about fiction or its creation, and I suspect that people are desperate to make it sound manly, back-breaking labor because it's such a wussy thing to do in the first place. The obsession with austerity is an attempt to compensate, to make writing resemble a real job, like farming, or logging. (It's also why people who work in advertising put in twenty-hour days.) Go on, young writers--treat yourself to a joke, or an adverb! Spoil yourself! Readers won't mind!
Nick Hornby (The Polysyllabic Spree)
From the earliest days of man there has endured the conviction that there is an order of existence which is entirely strange to him. It does indeed seem that the strict order of the visible world is only a semblance, one providing certain gross materials which become the basis for subtle improvisations of invisible powers. Hence, it may appear to some that a leafless tree is not a tree but a signpost to another realm; that an old house is not a house but a thing possessing a will of its own; that the dead may throw off that heavy blanket of earth to walk in their sleep, and in ours. And these are merely a few of the infinite variations on the themes of the natural order as it is usually conceived. But is there really a strange world? Of course. Are there, then, two worlds? Not at all. There is only our own world and it alone is alien to us, intrinsically so by virtue of its lack of mysteries. If only it actually were deranged by invisible powers, if only it were susceptible to real strangeness, perhaps it would seem more like a home to us, and less like an empty room filled with the echoes of this dreadful improvising. To think that we might have found comfort in a world suited to our nature, only to end up in one so resoundingly strange!
Thomas Ligotti (The Nightmare Factory)
The cultural situation in America today (and indeed in all Western societies) is determined by the cultural earthquake of the nineteen-sixties, the consequences of which are very much in evidence. What began as a counter-culture only some thirty years ago has achieved dominance in elite culture and, from the bastions of the latter (in the educational system, the media, the higher reaches of the law, and key positions within government bureaucracy), has penetrated both popular culture and the corporate world. It is characterized by an amalgam of both sentiments and beliefs that cannot be easily catalogued, though terms like 'progressive,' 'emancipators or 'liberationist' serve to describe it. Intellectually, this new culture is legitimated by a number of loosely connected ideologies— leftover Marxism, feminism and other sexual identity doctrines, racial and ethnic separatism, various brands of therapeutic gospels and of environmentalism. An underlying theme is antagonism toward Western culture in general and American culture in particular. A prevailing spirit is one of intolerance and a grim orthodoxy, precisely caught in the phrase "political correctness.
Peter L. Berger
In the words of Mr Thierry Coup of Warner Bros: 'We are taking the most iconic and powerful moments of the stories and putting them in an immersive environment. It is taking the theme park experience to a new level.' And of course I wish Thierry and his colleagues every possible luck, and I am sure it will be wonderful. But I cannot conceal my feelings; and the more I think of those millions of beaming kids waving their wands and scampering the Styrofoam turrets of Hogwartse_STmk, and the more I think of those millions of poor put-upon parents who must now pay to fly to Orlando and pay to buy wizard hats and wizard cloaks and wizard burgers washed down with wizard meade_STmk, the more I grind my teeth in jealous irritation. Because the fact is that Harry Potter is not American. He is British. Where is Diagon Alley, where they buy wands and stuff? It is in London, and if you want to get into the Ministry of Magic you disappear down a London telephone box. The train for Hogwarts goes from King's Cross, not Grand Central Station, and what is Harry Potter all about? It is about the ritual and intrigue and dorm-feast excitement of a British boarding school of a kind that you just don't find in America. Hogwarts is a place where children occasionally get cross with each other—not 'mad'—and where the situation is usually saved by a good old British sense of HUMOUR. WITH A U. RIGHT? NOT HUMOR. GOTTIT?
Boris Johnson
The days are passing so quickly. This is the only time of year when I want to slow time down. I spend the entire year trying to get here as fast as I can, then once I'm here I want to slam on the brakes. I'm beginning to have those moments when the feel of autumn is so strong it drowns out everything else. Lately it's been making me think about the perfect soundtrack for a Halloween party. The top of any Halloween music list as to be the theme song from the movie Halloween; right on its heels is "Pet Sematary" by the Ramones. For some reason I've always equated the old Van Morrison song "Moondance" with Halloween, too. I love that song. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus is an October classic, as well as anything by Type O Negative. And Midnight Syndicate. If you've never heard anything by Midnight Syndicate, look them up right this moment. If you distilled the raw essence of every spooky story you ever heard, you would have Midnight Syndicate. I have a friend who swears by them, believing them to be a vital element of any Halloween party. To finish off the list you must have "The Lyre of Orpheus" by Nick Cave and "I Feel Alright" by Steve Earle.
Damien Echols (Life After Death)
The cases described in this section (The Fear of Being) may seem extreme, but I have become convinced that they are not as uncommon as one would think. Beneath the seemingly rational exterior of our lives is a fear of insanity. We dare not question the values by which we live or rebel against the roles we play for fear of putting our sanity into doubt. We are like the inmates of a mental institution who must accept its inhumanity and insensitivity as caring and knowledgeableness if they hope to be regarded as sane enough to leave. The question who is sane and who is crazy was the theme of the novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The question, what is sanity? was clearly asked in the play Equus. The idea that much of what we do is insane and that if we want to be sane, we must let ourselves go crazy has been strongly advanced by R.D. Laing. In the preface to the Pelican edition of his book The Divided Self, Laing writes: "In the context of our present pervasive madness that we call normality, sanity, freedom, all of our frames of reference are ambiguous and equivocal." And in the same preface: "Thus I would wish to emphasize that our 'normal' 'adjusted' state is too often the abdication of ecstasy, the betrayal of our true potentialities; that many of us are only too successful in acquiring a false self to adapt to false realities." Wilhelm Reich had a somewhat similar view of present-day human behavior. Thus Reich says, "Homo normalis blocks off entirely the perception of basic orgonotic functioning by means of rigid armoring; in the schizophrenic, on the other hand, the armoring practically breaks down and thus the biosystem is flooded with deep experiences from the biophysical core with which it cannot cope." The "deep experiences" to which Reich refers are the pleasurable streaming sensations associated with intense excitation that is mainly sexual in nature. The schizophrenic cannot cope with these sensations because his body is too contracted to tolerate the charge. Unable to "block" the excitation or reduce it as a neurotic can, and unable to "stand" the charge, the schizophrenic is literally "driven crazy." But the neurotic does not escape so easily either. He avoids insanity by blocking the excitation, that is, by reducing it to a point where there is no danger of explosion, or bursting. In effect the neurotic undergoes a psychological castration. However, the potential for explosive release is still present in his body, although it is rigidly guarded as if it were a bomb. The neurotic is on guard against himself, terrified to let go of his defenses and allow his feelings free expression. Having become, as Reich calls him, "homo normalis," having bartered his freedom and ecstasy for the security of being "well adjusted," he sees the alternative as "crazy." And in a sense he is right. Without going "crazy," without becoming "mad," so mad that he could kill, it is impossible to give up the defenses that protect him in the same way that a mental institution protects its inmates from self-destruction and the destruction of others.
Alexander Lowen (Fear of Life)
It is obvious that the concept of truth has become suspect. Of course it is correct that is has been much abused. Intolerance and cruelty have occurred in the name of truth. To that extent people are afraid when someone says, "This is the truth", or even "I have the truth". We never have it, at best is has us. No one will dispute that one must be careful and cautious in claiming the truth. But simply to dismiss it as unattainable is really destructive. (...) We must have the courage to dare to say: Yes, man must seek the truth; he is capable of truth. It goes without saying that truth requires criteria for verification and falsification. It must always be accompanied by tolerance, also. But then truth also points out to us those constant values which have made mankind great. That is why the humility to recognize the truth and to accept it as a standard has to be relearned and practiced again. The truth comes to rule, not through violence, but rather through its own power; this is the central theme of John's Gospel: When brought before Pilate, Jesus professes that he himself is The Truth and the witness to the truth. He does not defend the truth with legions but rather makes it visible through his Passion and thereby also implements it.
Benedict XVI (Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times - A Conversation with Peter Seewald)
The triviality of American popular culture, its emptiness and gossip, accelerates this destruction of critical thought. It expands the void, the mindlessness that makes the magic, mythology, and irrationality of the Christian Right palatable. Television, the movement’s primary medium, allows viewers to preoccupy themselves with context-free information. The homogenized empty chatter on the airwaves, the banal amusement and clichés, the bizarre doublespeak endlessly repeated on cable news channels and the huge spectacles in sports stadiums have replaced America’s political, social and moral life, indeed replaced community itself. Television lends itself perfectly to this world of signs and wonders, to the narcissism of national and religious self-exaltation. Television discourages real communication. Its rapid frames and movements, its constant use of emotional images, its sudden shifts from one theme to an unrelated theme, banish logic and reason with dizzying perplexity. It, too, makes us feel good. It, too, promises to protect and serve us. It, too, promises to life us up and thrill us. The televangelists have built their movement on these commercial precepts. The totalitarian creed of the Religious Right has found in television the perfect medium. Its leaders know how television can be used to seduce and encourage us to walk away from dwindling, less exciting collectives that protect and nurture us. They have mastered television’s imperceptible, slowly induced hypnosis. And they understand the enticement of credo quia absurdum—I believe because it is absurb.
Chris Hedges (American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America)
The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern 'knowledge' is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. 'If I am the wisest man,' said Socrates, 'it is because I alone know that I know nothing.' The implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal. Alas, none of this was new to me. (There is very little that is new to me; I wish my correspondents would realize this.) This particular theme was addressed to me a quarter of a century ago by John Campbell, who specialized in irritating me. He also told me that all theories are proven wrong in time. My answer to him was, 'John, when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.
Isaac Asimov (The Relativity of Wrong)
But where will this mania for entertainment end? What will people do when they get tired of television? When they get tired of movies? We already know the answer—they go into participatory activities: sports, theme parks, amusement rides, roller coasters. Structured fun, planned thrills. And what will they do when they tire of theme parks and planned thrills? Sooner or later, the artifice becomes too noticeable. They begin to realize that an amusement park is really a kind of jail, in which you pay to be an inmate. ‘This artifice will drive them to seek authenticity. Authenticity will be the buzzword of the twenty-first century. And what is authentic? Anything that is not devised and structured to make a profit. Anything that is not controlled by corporations. Anything that exists for its own sake and assumes its own shape. But of course, nothing in the modern world is allowed to assume its own shape. The modern world is the corporate equivalent of a formal garden, where everything is planted and arranged for effect. Where nothing is untouched, where nothing is authentic.
Michael Crichton (Timeline)
My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life--for we possess nothing certainly except the past--were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark's, theywere everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder or pecking a broken biscuit from between my lips; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning. These memories are the memorials and pledges of the vital hours of a lifetime. These hours of afflatus in the human spirit, the springs of art, are, in their mystery, akin to the epochs of history, when a race which for centuries has lived content, unknown, behind its own frontiers, digging, eating, sleeping, begetting, doing what was requisite for survival and nothing else, will, for a generation or two, stupefy the world; commit all manner of crimes, perhaps; follow the wildest chimeras, go down in the end in agony, but leave behind a record of new heights scaled and new rewards won for all mankind; the vision fades, the soul sickens, and the routine of survival starts again. The human soul enjoys these rare, classic periods, but, apart from them, we are seldom single or unique; we keep company in this world with a hoard of abstractions and reflections and counterfeits of ourselves -- the sensual man, the economic man, the man of reason, the beast, the machine and the sleep-walker, and heaven knows what besides, all in our own image, indistinguishable from ourselves to the outward eye. We get borne along, out of sight in the press, unresisting, till we get the chance to drop behind unnoticed, or to dodge down a side street, pause, breathe freely and take our bearings, or to push ahead, out-distance our shadows, lead them a dance, so that when at length they catch up with us, they look at one another askance, knowing we have a secret we shall never share.
Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited)
I is for immortality, which for some poets is a necessary compensation. Presumably miserable in this life, they will be remembered when the rest of us are long forgotten. None of them asks about the quality of that remembrance--what it will be like to crouch in the dim hallways of somebody's mind until the moment of recollection occurs, or to be lifted off suddenly and forever into the pastures of obscurity. Most poets know better than to concern themselves with such things. They know the chances are better than good that their poems will die when they do and never be heard of again, that they'll be replaced by poems sporting a new look in a language more current. They also know that even if individual poems die, though in some cases slowly, poetry will continue: that its subjects, it constant themes, are less liable to change than fashions in language, and that this is where an alternate, less lustrous immortality might be. We all know that a poem can influence other poems, remain alive in them, just as previous poems are alive in it. Could we not say, therefore, that individual poems succeed most by encouraging revisions of themselves and inducing their own erasure? Yes, but is this immortality, or simply a purposeful way of being dead?
Mark Strand (The Weather of Words: Poetic Inventions)
Then, unprompted, Henry says into the stretching stillness, “Return of the Jedi.” A beat. “What?” “To answer your question,” Henry says. “Yes, I do like Star Wars, and my favorite is Return of the Jedi.” “Oh,” Alex says. “Wow, you’re wrong.” Henry huffs out the tiniest, most poshly indignant puff of air. It smells minty. Alex resists the urge to throw another elbow. “How can I be wrong about my own favorite? It’s a personal truth.” “It’s a personal truth that is wrong and bad.” “Which do you prefer, then? Please show me the error of my ways.” “Okay, Empire.” Henry sniffs. “So dark, though.” “Yeah, which is what makes it good,” Alex says. “It’s the most thematically complex. It’s got the Han and Leia kiss in it, you meet Yoda, Han is at the top of his game, fucking Lando Calrissian, and the best twist in cinematic history. What does Jedi have? Fuckin’ Ewoks.” “Ewoks are iconic.” “Ewoks are stupid.” “But Endor.” “But Hoth. There’s a reason people always call the best, grittiest installment of a trilogy the Empire of the series.” “And I can appreciate that. But isn’t there something to be valued in a happy ending as well?” “Spoken like a true Prince Charming.” “I’m only saying, I like the resolution of Jedi. It ties everything up nicely. And the overall theme you’re intended to take away from the films is hope and love and … er, you know, all that. Which is what Jedi leaves you with a sense of most of all.
Casey McQuiston (Red, White & Royal Blue)
There was no Disney World then, just rows of orange trees. Millions of them. Stretching for miles And somewhere near the middle was the Citrus Tower, which the tourists climbed to see even more orange trees. Every month an eighty-year-old couple became lost in the groves, driving up and down identical rows for days until they were spotted by helicopter or another tourist on top of the Citrus Tower. They had lived on nothing but oranges and come out of the trees drilled on vitamin C and checked into the honeymoon suite at the nearest bed-and-breakfast. "The Miami Seaquarium put in a monorail and rockets started going off at Cape Canaveral, making us feel like we were on the frontier of the future. Disney bought up everything north of Lake Okeechobee, preparing to shove the future down our throats sideways. "Things evolved rapidly! Missile silos in Cuba. Bales on the beach. Alligators are almost extinct and then they aren't. Juntas hanging shingles in Boca Raton. Richard Nixon and Bebe Rebozo skinny-dipping off Key Biscayne. We atone for atrocities against the INdians by playing Bingo. Shark fetuses in formaldehyde jars, roadside gecko farms, tourists waddling around waffle houses like flocks of flightless birds. And before we know it, we have The New Florida, underplanned, overbuilt and ripe for a killer hurricane that'll knock that giant geodesic dome at Epcot down the trunpike like a golf ball, a solid one-wood by Buckminster Fuller. "I am the native and this is my home. Faded pastels, and Spanish tiles constantly slipping off roofs, shattering on the sidewalk. Dogs with mange and skateboard punks with mange roaming through yards, knocking over garbage cans. Lunatics wandering the streets at night, talking about spaceships. Bail bondsmen wake me up at three A.M. looking for the last tenant. Next door, a mail-order bride is clubbed by a smelly ma in a mechanic's shirt. Cats violently mate under my windows and rats break-dance in the drop ceiling. And I'm lying in bed with a broken air conditioner, sweating and sipping lemonade through a straw. And I'm thinking, geez, this used to be a great state. "You wanna come to Florida? You get a discount on theme-park tickets and find out you just bough a time share. Or maybe you end up at Cape Canaveral, sitting in a field for a week as a space shuttle launch is canceled six times. And suddenly vacation is over, you have to catch a plane, and you see the shuttle take off on TV at the airport. But you keep coming back, year after year, and one day you find you're eighty years old driving through an orange grove.
Tim Dorsey (Florida Roadkill (Serge Storms, #1))
Why do I think these particular books have been popular? Two reasons. First, I think it is because they involve no harsh, garish violence at all. They involve game playing, really. No one is burned or cut or hurt. Certainly no one is killed. Indeed the whole sadomasochistic predicament is presented as a glorified game played out in luxurious rooms and with very attractive people, and involving very attractive slaves. There are endless motifs offered for dominance and submission, for surrender and love. It’s like a theme park of dominance and submission, a place to go to enjoy the fantasy of being overpowered by a beautiful man or woman and delightfully compelled to surrender and feel keening pleasure, without the slightest serious harm. I think it’s authentic to the way many who share this kind of fantasy really feel. I think what makes it work for people is the combination of the very graphic and unsparing sexual details mixed with the elegant fairy-tale world. Unfortunately a lot of hackwork pornography is written by those who don’t share the fantasy, and they slip into hideous violence and ugliness, thinking the market wants all that, when the market never really did. Second, this is shamelessly erotic. It pulls no punches at being what it is. It’s excessive and it is erotica. Before these books, a lot of women read what were called “women’s romances” where they had to mark the few “hot pages” in the book. I said, well, look, try this. Maybe this is what you really want, and you don’t have to mark the hot pages because every page is hot. Every page is about sexual fulfillment. Every page is meant to give you pleasure. There are no boring parts. Yet it’s very “romantic.” And well, I think this worked.
A.N. Roquelaure (The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty)
I first met Winston Churchill in the early summer of 1906 at a dinner party to which I went as a very young girl. Our hostess was Lady Wemyss and I remember that Arthur Balfour, George Wyndman, Hilaire Belloc and Charles Whibley were among the guests… I found myself sitting next to this young man who seemed to me quite different from any other young man I had ever met. For a long time he seemed sunk in abstraction. Then he appeared to become suddenly aware of my existence. He turned on me a lowering gaze and asked me abruptly how old I was. I replied that I was nineteen. “And I,” he said despairingly, “am thirty-two already. Younger than anyone else who counts, though, “he added, as if to comfort himself. Then savagely: “Curse ruthless time! Curse our mortality. How cruelly short is this allotted span for all we must cram into it!” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life, the immensity of possible human accomplishment—a theme so well exploited by the poets, prophets, and philosophers of all ages that it might seem difficult to invest it with new and startling significance. Yet for me he did so, in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow worm.” By this time I was convinced of it—and my conviction remained unshaken throughout the years that followed. Later he asked me whether I thought that words had a magic and music quite independent of their meaning. I said I certainly thought so, and I quoted as a classic though familiar instance the first lines that came into my head. Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. His eyes blazed with excitement. “Say that again,” he said, “say it again—it is marvelous!” “But I objected, “You know these lines. You know the ‘Ode to a Nightengale.’ ” He had apparently never read or heard of it before (I must, however, add that next time I met him he had not learned not merely this but all of the odes to Keats by heart—and he recited them quite mercilessly from start to finish, not sparing me a syllable). Finding that he liked poetry, I quoted to him from one of my own favorite poets, Blake. He listened avidly, repeating some lines to himself with varying emphases and stresses, then added meditatively: “I never knew that old Admiral had found so much time to write such good poetry.” I was astounded that he, with his acute susceptibility to words and power of using them, should have left such tracts of English literature entirely unexplored. But however it happened he had lost nothing by it, when he approached books it was “with a hungry, empty mind and with fairly srong jaws, and what I got I *bit*.” And his ear for the beauty of language needed no tuning fork. Until the end of dinner I listened to him spellbound. I can remember thinking: This is what people mean when they talk of seeing stars. That is what I am doing now. I do not to this day know who was on my other side. Good manners, social obligation, duty—all had gone with the wind. I was transfixed, transported into a new element. I knew only that I had seen a great light. I recognized it as the light of genius… I cannot attempt to analyze, still less transmit, the light of genius. But I will try to set down, as I remember them, some of the differences which struck me between him and all the others, young and old, whom I have known. First and foremost he was incalculable. He ran true to no form. There lurked in his every thought and world the ambush of the unexpected. I felt also that the impact of life, ideas and even words upon his mind, was not only vivid and immediate, but direct. Between him and them there was no shock absorber of vicarious thought or precedent gleaned either from books or other minds. His relationship wit
Violet Bonham Carter
To the extent that propaganda is based on current news, it cannot permit time for thought or reflection. A man caught up in the news must remain on the surface of the event; be is carried along in the current, and can at no time take a respite to judge and appreciate; he can never stop to reflect. There is never any awareness -- of himself, of his condition, of his society -- for the man who lives by current events. Such a man never stops to investigate any one point, any more than he will tie together a series of news events. We already have mentioned man's inability to consider several facts or events simultaneously and to make a synthesis of them in order to face or to oppose them. One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones. Under these conditions there can be no thought. And, in fact, modern man does not think about current problems; he feels them. He reacts, but be does not understand them any more than he takes responsibility for them. He is even less capable of spotting any inconsistency between successive facts; man's capacity to forget is unlimited. This is one of the most important and useful points for the propagandist, who can always be sure that a particular propaganda theme, statement, or event will be forgotten within a few weeks. Moreover, there is a spontaneous defensive reaction in the individual against an excess of information and -- to the extent that he clings (unconsciously) to the unity of his own person -- against inconsistencies. The best defense here is to forget the preceding event. In so doing, man denies his own continuity; to the same extent that he lives on the surface of events and makes today's events his life by obliterating yesterday's news, he refuses to see the contradictions in his own life and condemns himself to a life of successive moments, discontinuous and fragmented. This situation makes the "current-events man" a ready target for propaganda. Indeed, such a man is highly sensitive to the influence of present-day currents; lacking landmarks, he follows all currents. He is unstable because he runs after what happened today; he relates to the event, and therefore cannot resist any impulse coming from that event. Because he is immersed in current affairs, this man has a psychological weakness that puts him at the mercy of the propagandist. No confrontation ever occurs between the event and the truth; no relationship ever exists between the event and the person. Real information never concerns such a person. What could be more striking, more distressing, more decisive than the splitting of the atom, apart from the bomb itself? And yet this great development is kept in the background, behind the fleeting and spectacular result of some catastrophe or sports event because that is the superficial news the average man wants. Propaganda addresses itself to that man; like him, it can relate only to the most superficial aspect of a spectacular event, which alone can interest man and lead him to make a certain decision or adopt a certain attitude. But here we must make an important qualification. The news event may be a real fact, existing objectively, or it may be only an item of information, the dissemination of a supposed fact. What makes it news is its dissemination, not its objective reality.
Jacques Ellul (Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes)
People spoke to foreigners with an averted gaze, and everybody seemed to know somebody who had just vanished. The rumors of what had happened to them were fantastic and bizarre though, as it turned out, they were only an understatement of the real thing. Before going to see General Videla […], I went to […] check in with Los Madres: the black-draped mothers who paraded, every week, with pictures of their missing loved ones in the Plaza Mayo. (‘Todo mi familia!’ as one elderly lady kept telling me imploringly, as she flourished their photographs. ‘Todo mi familia!’) From these and from other relatives and friends I got a line of questioning to put to the general. I would be told by him, they forewarned me, that people ‘disappeared’ all the time, either because of traffic accidents and family quarrels or, in the dire civil-war circumstances of Argentina, because of the wish to drop out of a gang and the need to avoid one’s former associates. But this was a cover story. Most of those who disappeared were openly taken away in the unmarked Ford Falcon cars of the Buenos Aires military police. I should inquire of the general what precisely had happened to Claudia Inez Grumberg, a paraplegic who was unable to move on her own but who had last been seen in the hands of his ever-vigilant armed forces [….] I possess a picture of the encounter that still makes me want to spew: there stands the killer and torturer and rape-profiteer, as if to illustrate some seminar on the banality of evil. Bony-thin and mediocre in appearance, with a scrubby moustache, he looks for all the world like a cretin impersonating a toothbrush. I am gripping his hand in a much too unctuous manner and smiling as if genuinely delighted at the introduction. Aching to expunge this humiliation, I waited while he went almost pedantically through the predicted script, waving away the rumored but doubtless regrettable dematerializations that were said to be afflicting his fellow Argentines. And then I asked him about Senorita Grumberg. He replied that if what I had said was true, then I should remember that ‘terrorism is not just killing with a bomb, but activating ideas. Maybe that’s why she’s detained.’ I expressed astonishment at this reply and, evidently thinking that I hadn’t understood him the first time, Videla enlarged on the theme. ‘We consider it a great crime to work against the Western and Christian style of life: it is not just the bomber but the ideologist who is the danger.’ Behind him, I could see one or two of his brighter staff officers looking at me with stark hostility as they realized that the general—El Presidente—had made a mistake by speaking so candidly. […] In response to a follow-up question, Videla crassly denied—‘rotondamente’: ‘roundly’ denied—holding Jacobo Timerman ‘as either a journalist or a Jew.’ While we were having this surreal exchange, here is what Timerman was being told by his taunting tormentors: Argentina has three main enemies: Karl Marx, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of society; Sigmund Freud, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of the family; and Albert Einstein, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of time and space. […] We later discovered what happened to the majority of those who had been held and tortured in the secret prisons of the regime. According to a Navy captain named Adolfo Scilingo, who published a book of confessions, these broken victims were often destroyed as ‘evidence’ by being flown out way over the wastes of the South Atlantic and flung from airplanes into the freezing water below. Imagine the fun element when there’s the surprise bonus of a Jewish female prisoner in a wheelchair to be disposed of… we slide open the door and get ready to roll her and then it’s one, two, three… go!
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)