Quotes from Andrew's Brain

E.L. Doctorow ·  200 pages

Rating: (3.9K votes)


“I asked this question: How can I think about my brain when it’s my brain doing the thinking? So is this brain pretending to be me thinking about it?”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“Where most people live, most of us, imagining it to be the real sunlit world when it is only a cave lit by the flickering fires of illusion.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“One evening he appeared with an infant in his arms at the door of his ex-wife, Martha. Because Briony, his lovely young wife after Martha, had died. Of what? We’ll get to that. I can’t do this alone, Andrew said, as Martha stared at him from the open doorway. It happened to have been snowing that night, and Martha was transfixed by the soft creature-like snowflakes alighting on Andrew’s NY Yankees hat brim. Martha was like that, enrapt by the peripheral things as if setting them to music. Even in ordinary times, she was slow to respond, looking at you with her large dark rolling protuberant eyes. Then the smile would come, or the nod, or the shake of the head. Meanwhile the heat from her home drifted through the open door and fogged up Andrew’s eyeglasses. He stood there behind his foggy lenses like a blind man in the snowfall and was without volition when at last she reached out, gently took the swaddled infant from him, stepped back, and closed the door in his face.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“Happiness consists of living in the dailyness of life and not knowing how happy you are. True happiness comes of not knowing you’re happy, it’s an animal serenity, something between contentment and joy, a steadiness of the belonged self in the world.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“It’s a kind of jail, the brain’s mind. We’ve got these mysterious three-pound brains and they jail us.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain



“Consciousness without world is impossible, just as there is no sight without the light to see by. Is that your objection,”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“Happiness consists of living in the dailiness of life and not knowing how happy you are. True happiness comes of not knowing you're happy.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“We have to be wary of our brains. They make our decisions before we make them. They lead us to still waters. They renounceth free will. And it gets weirder: If you slice a brain down the middle, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere will operate self-sufficiently and not know what the other is doing.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“It was as if the wars they were conducting were to be symbolized in their own relationships. I thought how contention makes us human. How every form of it is practiced religiously, from gentlemanly debate to rape and pillage, from dirty political attacks to assassinations. Our nighttime street fights outside of bars, our slapping arguments in plush bedrooms, our murderous mutterings in the divorce courts. We had parents who beat their children, schoolyard bullies, career-climbing killers in ties and suits, drivers cutting one another off, people pushing one another through the subway doors, nations making war, dropping bombs, swarming onto beaches, the daily military coups, the endless disappearances, the dispossessed dying in their tent camps, the ethnic cleansing crusades, drug wars, terrorist murders, and all violence in every form countenanced somewhere by some religion or other … and for its entertainment politicidal, genocidal, suicidal humanity attending its beloved kick-boxing matches, and cockfights, or losing its paychecks on the blackjack felt and then going back to work undercutting the competition, scamming, ponzi-ing, poisoning … and the impassioned lovers of their times contending in their own little universe of sex, one turgidly wanting it, the other wincingly refusing it.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


“truth is, I just shrug and soldier on. As kind as I am, as well-meaning and helpful as I try to be, I have no feelings finally, for good or ill. In the depths of my being, no matter what happens, I am left cold, impenetrable to remorse, to grief, to happiness, though I can pretend well enough even to the point of fooling myself. I am trying to say I am finally, terribly, unfeeling. My soul resides in a still, deep, beautiful, emotionless, calm cold pond of silence.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain



“The genome of every human cell has memory. You know what that means? As evolved beings we have in our genes memories of the far past, of long-ago generations, memories of experiences not our own.”
― E.L. Doctorow, quote from Andrew's Brain


About the author

E.L. Doctorow
Born place: in Bronx, New York City, New York, The United States
Born date January 6, 1931
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