“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.”
“That's the duty of the old,' said the Librarian, 'to be anxious on the behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.'
They sat for a while longer, and then parted, for it was late, and they were old and anxious.”
“You speak of destiny as if it was fixed.”
“We are all subject to the fates. But we must act as if we are not, or die of despair.”
“When he'd sworn at her and been sworn at in return, they became great friends.”
“So Lyra and her daemon turned away from the world they were born in, and looked toward the sun, and walked into the sky.”
“Human beings can't see anything without wanting to destroy it. That's original sin. And I'm going to destroy it. Death is going to die.”
“That’s the duty of the old, to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.”
“Being a practiced liar doesn't mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it's that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.”
“The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst. But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else.”
“Lonely? I don't know. They tell me this is cold. I don't know what cold is, because I don't freeze. So I don't know what lonely means either. Bears are made to be solitary.”
“We feel cold, but we don't mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn't feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It's worth being cold for that.”
“We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not, or die of despair...death will sweep through all the worlds; it will be the triumph of despair, forever. The universes will all become nothing more than interlocking machines, blind and empty of thought, feeling, life...”
“When you live for many hundreds of years, you know that every opportunity will come again.”
“If a coin comes down heads, that means that the possibility of its coming down tails has collapsed. Until that moment the two possibilities were equal.
But on another world, it does come down tails. And when that happens, the two worlds split apart.”
“But think of Adam and Eve like an imaginary number, like the square root of minus one: you can never see any concrete proof that it exists, but if you include it in your equations, you can calculate all manner of things that couldn't be imagined without it.”
“If a witch needs something, another witch will give it to her. If there is war to be fought, we don't consider cost one of the factors in deciding whether or not it is right to fight. Nor do we have any notion of honor. An insult to a bear is a deadly thing. To us...inconceivable. How could you insult a witch? What would it matter if you did?”
“One moment several things are possible, the next moment only one happens, and the rest don't exist. Except that other worlds have sprung into being, on which the did happen.”
“When you choose one way out of many, all the ways you don't take are snuffed out like candles, as if they'd never existed. At that moment all Will's choices existed at once. But to keep them all in existence meant doing nothing. He had to choose, after all.”
“Symbols and emblems were everywhere. Buildings and pictures were designed to be read like books. Everything stood for something else; if you had the right dictionary, you could read Nature itself. It was hardly surprising to find philosophers using the symbolism of their time to interpret knowledge that came from a mysterious source.”
“But suppose your dæmon settles in a shape you don't like?
Well, then, you're discontented, en't you? There's plenty of folk as'd like to have a lion as a dæmon and they end up with a poodle. And till they learn to be satisfied with what they are, they're going to be fretful about it. Waste of feeling, that is.
But it didn't seem to Lyra that she would ever grow up.”
“Men and women are moved by tides much fiercer than you can imagine, and they sweep us all up into the current.”
“Men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave, proud, beautiful, and clever.”
“If there is a war to be fought, we don’t consider cost one of the factors in deciding whether or not to fight.”
“And then Serafina understood something for which the witches had no word: it was the idea of pilgrimage. She understood why these beings would wait for thousands of years and travel vast distances in order to be close to something important, and how they would feel differently for the rest of time, having been briefly in its presence. That was how these creatures looked now, these beautiful pilgrims of rarefied light, standing around the girl with the dirty-face and the tartan skirt and the boy with the wounded hand who was frowning in his sleep.”
“Men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave, proud, beautiful, clever; and they die almost at once. They die so soon that our hearts are continually wracked with pain. ”
“There is a correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm! The stars are alive, child! Did you know that? Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purpose abroad! The universe is full of intentions, you know. Everything happens for a purpose.”
“She found out that having something to do prevented you from feeling seasick, and that even a job like scrubbing a deck could be satisfying, if it was done in a seamanlike way. She was very taken with this notion, and later on she folded the blankets on her bunk in a seamanlike way, and put her possessions in the closet in a seamanlike way, and used 'stow' instead of 'tidy' for the process of doing so. After two days at sea, Lyra decided that this was the life for her.”
“The Four Horsemen whose Ride presages the end of the world are known to be Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence. But even less significant events have their own Horsemen. For example, the Four Horsemen of the Common Cold are Sniffles, Chesty, Nostril, and Lack of Tissues; the Four Horsemen whose appearance foreshadows any public holiday are Storm, Gales, Sleet, and Contra-flow.”
“Thinkers aren't limited by what they know, because they can always increase what they know. Rather they're limited by what puzzles them, because there's no way to become curious about something that doesn't puzzle you.”
“friends are like stars. You do not see all the time, but you know they are there”
“You know Chad’s definition of the New Poor? People who are too far behind with time-payments on next year’s model to make the down-payment on the one for the year after?”
“People can have nicknames. Body parts should not.”
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