27+ quotes from Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon

Quotes from Against the Day

Thomas Pynchon ·  1085 pages

Rating: (5.6K votes)


“Laboring through a world every day more stultified, which expected salvation in codes and governments, ever more willing to settle for suburban narratives and diminished payoffs--what were the chances of finding anyone else seeking to transcend that, and not even particularly aware of it?”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“There are stories, like maps that agree... too consistent among too many languages and histories to be only wishful thinking.... It is always a hidden place, the way into it is not obvious, the geography is as much spiritual as physical. If you should happen upon it, your strongest certainty is not that you have discovered it but returned to it. In a single great episode of light, you remember everything.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Explosion without an objective', declared Miles Blundell, 'is politics in its purest form'.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“But a few choosing to venture deeper into the painful corridors of their affliction, found after a while that they could now grind and polish ever more exotic surfaces, hyperboloidial and even stranger, eventually including what we must term ‘imaginary’ shapes (which some preferred to term invisible).”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Time is never wasted if you remember to bring along something to read.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“A weapon based on Time . . ." mused Viktor Mulciber. "Well, why not? The one force no one knows how to defeat, resist, or reverse. It kills all forms of life sooner or later. With a Time-weapon you could become the most feared person in history."
"I'd rather be loved," said Root.
Mulciber shrugged. "You're young.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“As the day light left the city that night, the streetlamps were not up to anything like their usual candle-power. It was difficult to make anything out clearly. Ordinary social restraints were apt to be defective or not there at all. The screaming that went on all night, ignored as background murmur during the day, now, absent the clamor of street traffic, had taken on urgency and despair – a chorale of pain just about to pass from its realm of the invisible into something that might actually have to be dealt with. Figures which late at night appeared only in levels of grey were now seen to possess color, not the fashionable shades of daytime but blood reds, morgue yellows, and poison greens.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“And when Franz Ferdinand pays, everybody pays!”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“So the city became the material expression of a particular loss of innocence – not sexual or political innocence but somehow a shared dream of what a city might at its best prove to be – its inhabitants became, and have remained, an embittered and amnesiac race, wounded but unable to connect through memory to the moment of injury, unable to summon the face of their violator.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Too many of us have to sit foolishly by while something comes out of the dark, strikes, returns to wherever it came from, as if we are too fragile for a world of happy families, whose untroubled destinies require that the rest of us be sacrificed.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“For me, Shambhala, you see, turned out to be not a goal but an absence. Not the discovery of a place but the act of leaving the futureless place where I was. And in the process I arrived at Constantinople.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Damn you all. You have no idea what you're heading into. This world you take to be 'the' world will die, and descend into Hell, and all history after that will belong properly to the history of Hell.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“It went on for a month. Those who had taken it for a cosmic sign cringed beneath the sky each nightfall, imagining ever more extravagant disasters. Others, for whom orange did not seem an appropriately apocalyptic shade, sat outdoors on public benches, reading calmly, growing used to the curious pallor. As nights went on and nothing happened and the phenomenon slowly faded to the accustomed deeper violets again, most had difficulty remembering the earlier rise of heart, the sense of overture and possibility and went back once again to seeking only orgasm, hallucination, stupor, sleep, to fetch them through the night and prepare them against the day.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Remember, God didn't say, 'I'm gonna make light now,' he said, 'Let there be light.' His first act was to allow light in to what had been Nothing. Like God, you also have to always work with the light, make it do only what you want it to do.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Yet I’ve noticed the same thing when your band plays — the most amazing social coherence, as if you all shared the same brain."
"Sure," agreed ‘Dope’, "but you can’t call that organization."
"What do you call it?"
"Jass.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Explosion without an objective,” declared Miles Blundell, “is politics in its purest form.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“... failing to look inscrutable to any but the habitually dismissive ...”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Out of that night and day of unconditional wrath, folks would've expected to see any city, if it survived, all newly reborn, purified by flame, taken clear beyond greed, real-estate speculating, local politics--instead of which, here was this weeping widow, some one-woman grievance committee in black, who would go on and save up and lovlingly record and mercilessly begrudge every goddamn single tear she ever had to cry, and over the years to come would make up for them all by developing into the meanest, cruelest bitch of a city, even among cities not notable for their kindness.

To all appearance resolute, adventurous, manly, the city would not shake that terrible all-night rape, when "he" was forced to submit, surrending, inadmissably, blindly feminine, into the Hellfire embrace of "her" beloved. He spent the years afterward forgetting and fabulating and trying to get back some self-respect. But inwardly, deep inside, "he" remained the catamite of Hell, the punk at the disposal of all the denizens thereof, the bitch in men's clothing.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“But there I was, surrendering to a most extraordinary call from the grave, the mass-grave-to-be of Europe, as if somewhere ahead lay an iron gateway, slightly ajar, leading to a low and sombre country, with an incalculable crowd on sides eager to pass into it, and bearing me along.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“[...] little Belgium once again busy at what she does best, tamely offering her battlefield-ready lowlands to boots, hooves, iron wheels, waiting to be first to go under before a future no one in Europe has the clairvoyance to imagine as anything more than an exercise for clerks.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Nobody in this band was a musician when they joined up, but everybody was in some kind of trouble. Play con entusiasmo, as loudly as you can, and trust the good will and bad ear of the gringo hellraiser.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“The now-famous yearly Candlebrow Conferences, like the institution itself, were subsidized out of the vast fortune of Mr. Gideon Candlebrow of Grossdale, Illinois, who had made his bundle back during the great Lard Scandal of the '80s, in which, before Congress put an end to the practice, countless adulterated tons of that comestible were exported to Great Britain, compromising further an already debased national cuisine, giving rise throughout the island, for example, to a Christmas-pudding controversy over which to this day families remain divided, often violently so. In the consequent scramble to develop more legal sources of profit, one of Mr. Candlebrow's laboratory hands happened to invent "Smegmo," an artificial substitute for everything in the edible-fat category, including margarine, which many felt wasn't that real to begin with. An eminent Rabbi of world hog capital Cincinnati, Ohio, was moved to declare the product kosher, adding that "the Hebrew people have been waiting four thousand years for this. Smegmo is the Messiah of kitchen fats." [...]

Miles, locating the patriotically colored Smegmo crock among the salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, sugar and molasses, opened and sniffed quizzically at the contents. "Say, what is this stuff?"

"Goes with everything!" advised a student at a nearby table. "Stir it in your soup, spread it on your bread, mash it into your turnips! My doormates comb their hair with it! There's a million uses for Smegmo!”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“One glance at any government budget anywhere in the world tells the story—the money is always in place, already allocated, the motive everywhere is fear, the more immediate the fear, the higher the multiples.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“It was the U.S.A., after all, and fear was in the air.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“As the landscape turned increasingly chaotic and murderous, the streams of refugees swelled. Another headlong, fearful escape of the kind that in collective dreams, in legends, would be misremembered and reimagined into pilgrimage or crusade ... the dark terror behind transmuted to a bright hope ahead, the bright hope becoming a popular, perhaps someday a national, delusion. Embedded invisibly in it would remain the ancient darkness, too awful to face, thriving, emerging in disguise, vigorous, evil, destructive, inextricable.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“At no point in this did Frank think he was dreaming, probably because he seldom remembered dreams, or paid attention to them even if he did. And though this all had the alert immediacy of daytime Mexico in its ongoing dispute with its history, it would someday be relegated as well to the register of experiences he had been unable to find any use for.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


“Out of that night and day of unconditional wrath, folks would’ve expected to see any city, if it survived, all newly reborn, purified by flame, taken clear beyond greed, real-estate speculating, local politics—instead of which, here was this weeping widow, some one-woman grievance committee in black, who would go on to save up and lovingly record and mercilessly begrudge every goddamn single tear she ever had to cry, and over the years to come would make up for them all by developing into the meanest, cruelest bitch of a city, even among cities not notable for their kindness.”
― Thomas Pynchon, quote from Against the Day


About the author

Thomas Pynchon
Born place: in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, The United States
Born date May 8, 1937
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