Quotes from Apex Hides the Hurt

Colson Whitehead ·  224 pages

Rating: (1.7K votes)


“Isn't it great when you're a kid and the world is full of anonymous things? Everything is bright and mysterious until you know what it is called and then all the light goes out of it...Once we knew the name of it, how could we ever come to love it?...For things had true natures, and they hid behind false names, beneath the skin we gave them.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“Colored, Negro, Afro-American, African American. ... Every couple of years someone came up with something that got us an inch closer to the truth. Bit by bit we crept along. As if that thing we believed to be approaching actually existed.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“He imagined a town called A. Around the communal fire they’re shaping arrowheads and carving tributes o the god of the hunt. One day some guys with spears come over the ridge, perform all kinds of meanness, take over, and the new guys rename the town B. Whereupon they hang around the communal fire sharpening arrowheads and carving tributes to the god of the hunt. Some climatic tragedy occurs — not carving the correct tributary figurines probably — and the people of B move farther south, where word is there’s good fishing, at least according to those who wander to B just before being cooked for dinner. Another tribe of unlucky souls stops for the night in the emptied village, looks around at the natural defenses provided by the landscape, and decides to stay awhile. It’s a while lot better than their last digs — what with the lack of roving tigers and such — plus it comes with all the original fixtures. they call the place C, after their elder, who has learned that pretending to talk to spirits is a fun gag that gets you stuff. Time passes. More invasions, more recaptures, D, E, F, and G. H stands as it is for a while. That ridge provides some protection from the spring floods, and if you keep a sentry up there you can see the enemy coming for miles. Who wouldn’t want to park themselves in that real estate? The citizens of H leave behind cool totems eventually toppled by the people of I, whose lack of aesthetic sense if made up for by military acumen. J, K, L, adventures in thatched roofing, some guys with funny religions from the eastern plains, long-haired freaks from colder climes, the town is burned to the ground and rebuilt by still more fugitives. This is the march of history. And conquest and false hope. M falls to plague, N to natural disaster — same climatic tragedy as before, apparently it’s cyclical. Mineral wealth makes it happen for the O people, and the P people are renowned for their basket weaving. No one ever — ever — mentions Q. The dictator names the city after himself; his name starts with the letter R. When the socialists come to power they spend a lot of time painting over his face, which is everywhere. They don’t last. Nobody lasts because there’s always somebody else. They all thought they owned it because they named it and that was their undoing. They should have kept the place nameless. They should have been glad for their good fortune, and left it at that. X, Y, Z.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“All he felt now was envy. These people had expectations. Of the world, of the future, it didn't matter--expectation was such an innovative concept to him that he couldn't help but be a bit moved by what they were saying. Whatever that was.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“His legs remembered the correct position for squatting down with toys. He played. He fit the round male studs into the round female grooves. He got some thinking done as he hunkered down on his fallen-sleep legs.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt



“Later he decided the specifics were not important, that the true lesson of accidents is not the how or the why, but the taken-for-granted world they exile you from.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“Tipple sold his success much more effectively than he did. How to get excited about, take pride in something that came so naturally? It was like being honored for breathing.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


“Nature is a strong brand name. Everybody knew that. First thing, Nomenclature 101. Slap Natural on the package, you were golden. Those words on the package promise ease from metropolitan care, modern worries. And out here, if you opened things up, underneath the cellophane, what did you find inside? That fruit has splendid packaging, it has solid consumer awareness and is an animal favorite. Its seeds will be deposited in spoor miles away and its market dominance will increase. Splendid and beautiful petals are great advertising--the insects buzz and hop from all points every weekend to hit this flower-bed mall. Natural selection was market forces. In business, in the woods: what is necessary to the world will last.”
― Colson Whitehead, quote from Apex Hides the Hurt


About the author

Colson Whitehead
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
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