29+ quotes from Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Quotes from Anathem

Neal Stephenson ·  937 pages

Rating: (52.5K votes)


“Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bombs," I said. "We have a protractor.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defense against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Boredom is a mask frustration wears.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“I always tend to assume there's an infinite amount of money out there."
There might as well be, "Arsibalt said, "but most of it gets spent on pornography, sugar water and bombs. There is only so much that can be scraped together for particle accelerators.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“The full cosmos consists of the physical stuff and consciousness. Take away consciousness and it's only dust; add consciousness and you get things, ideas, and time.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“It is what you don't expect... that most needs looking for.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“That's funny because if anyone actually did prove the existence of God we'd just tell him 'nice proof, Fraa Bly' and start believing in God.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Our opponent is an alien starship packed with atomic bomc,' I said. 'We have a protractor.'
Okay, I'll go home and see if I can scrounge up a ruler and a piece of string.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“And it happened all the time that the compromise between two perfectly rational alternatives was something that made no sense at all.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“They knew many things but had no idea why. And strangely this made them more, rather than less, certain that they were right.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“... when I saw any of those kinds of beauty I knew I was alive, and not just in the sense that when I hit my thumb with a hammer I knew I was alive, but rather in the sense that I was partaking of something--something was passing through me that it was in my nature to be a part of.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Technically, of course, he was right. Socially, he was annoying us.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“the difference between poets and mystics . . . The mystic nails a symbol to one meaning that was true for a moment but soon becomes false. The poet, on the other hand, sees that truth while it's true but understands that symbols are always in flux and that their meanings are fleeting.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“An old market had stood there until I'd been about six years old, when the authorities had renamed it the Olde Market, destroyed it, and built a new market devoted to selling T-shirts and other objects with pictures of the old market. Meanwhile, the people who had operated the little stalls in the old market had gone elsewhere and set up a thing on the edge of town that was now called the New Market even though it was actually the old market.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Jad said, "The leakage was forcing choices, the making of which in no way improved matters."

Okay. So we were, in effect, locked in a room with a madman sorcerer. That clarified things a little.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“So, you're worried that a pink dragon will fly over the concent and fart nerve gas on us?”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“The people who'd made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day's end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“So I looked with fascination at those people in their mobes, and tried to fathom what it would be like. Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were interchangeable parts. All of the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this: not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who'd made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day's end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn't live without story had been driven into the concents or into jobs like Yul's. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why Sæculars were so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part? We avout had it ready-made because we were a part of this project of learning new things. Even if it didn't always move fast enough for people like Jesry, it did move. You could tell where you were and what you were doing in that story. Yul got all of this for free by living his stories from day to day, and the only drawback was that the world held his stories to be of small account. Perhaps that was why he felt such a compulsion to tell them, not just about his own exploits in the wilderness, but those of his mentors.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“... you should not believe a thing only because you like to believe it. We call that 'Diax's Rake' ...”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“If you sincerely believed in God, how could you form one thought, speak one sentence, without mentioning Him?”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“As soon as you're sure you're right, there's no point in your being here.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Topology is destiny,' he said, and put the drawers on. One leg at a time.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Just aiming a speely input device, or a Farspark chambre, or whatever you call it... a speelycaptor... at something doesn't collect what is meaningful to me. I need someone to gather it in with all their senses, mix it round in their head, and make it over into words.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“But your way isn't just that set of rules,” Cord said. “It's who you are — you follow that way for bigger reasons. And as long as you stay true to that, the confusion you’re talking about will sort itself out eventually.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“But what little I’d heard had left me amazed by how clever people were at finding ways to make each other crazy and miserable.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“The same thrust, pushing against a greatly reduced burden, would then yield acceleration that Lio had cheerfully described as 'near-fatal.' 'But it's okay,' he'd said, 'you'll black out before anything really bad happens to you.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“The biggest machines, in those days, were already pushing the limits of what could be constructed on Arbre with reasonable amounts of money."

"I hadn't known that," I said. "I always tend to assume there's an infinite amount of money out there."

"There might as well be," Arsibalt said, "but most of it gets spent on pornography, sugar water, and bombs. There is only so much that can be scraped together for particle accelerators.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“Cord followed up with, “I like it here, but it’s beginning to feel creepy. Does anyone else think it’s creepy?”

“You’re talking to a bunch of guys,” Yul said. “No one here is going to validate your feelings.” She tossed sand at him.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


“That is the kind of beauty I was trying to get you to see,” Orolo told me. “Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defense against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.”
― Neal Stephenson, quote from Anathem


About the author

Neal Stephenson
Born place: in Fort Meade, MD, The United States
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