“No point in wasting time with false vanity when you possess the real thing.”
“I wanted to cry.
I also wanted to go to my laboratory and prepare an enormous batch of nitrogen triiodide with which to blow up, in a spectacular mushroom cloud of purple vapor, the world and everyone in it.”
“Was sorrow, in the end, a private thing? A closed container? Something that, like a bucket of water, could be borne only on a single pair of shoulders?”
“I was the eighth dwarf. Sneaky.”
“There's an unwritten law of the universe which assures that the thing you seek will always be found in the last place you look. It applies to everything in life from lost socks to misplaced poisons. . .”
“IT WAS ONE OF those glorious days in March when the air was so fresh that you worshipped every whiff of it; that each breath of the intoxicating stuff created such new universes in your lungs and brain you were certain you were about to explode with sheer joy; one of those blustery days of scudding clouds and piddling showers and gum boots and wind-blown brollies that made you know you were truly alive.”
“I was learning that the best conversations consisted of keeping quiet and listening, and speaking, when one spoke at all, in words of a single syllable.”
“I had found by experience that putting things down on paper helped to clear the mind in precisely the same way, as Mrs. Mullet had taught me, that an eggshell clarifies the consommé or the coffee, which, of course, is a simple matter of chemistry. The albumin contained in the eggshell has the property of collecting and binding the rubbish that floats in the dark liquid, which can then be removed and discarded in a single reeking clot: a perfect description of the writing process.”
“As was your mother, you have been given the fatal gift of genius. Because of it, your life will not be an easy one - nor must you expect it to be. You must remember always that great gifts come at great cost.”
“The word “actually,” like its cousin “frankly,” should, by itself, be a tip-off to most people that what is to follow is a blatant lie— but it isn’t.”
“Ordinarily, anyone who made such a remark to my face would go to the top of my short list for strychnine.”
“Why do people always quote hamlet when they want to seem clever?”
“Could it be that goodness waxes and wanes like the moon, and that only evil is constant?”
“We Three Kings of Leicester Square,
Selling ladies’ underwear,
So fantastic, no elastic,
Only tuppence a pair.”
“Revenge is a dish best eaten cold. The reason for this, of course, is that while you're gleefully anticipating the event, the victim has plenty of time to worry about when, where, and how you're going to strike.”
“The best thing for soothing a disappointed mind is oxygen. A couple of deep inhalations of the old “O” rejuvenates every cell in the body.”
“The press was ruthless, but then so was the church.
Flavia de Luce”
“History is like the kitchen sink,” Adam answered. “Everything goes round and round until eventually, sooner or later, most of it goes down the waste pipe. Things are forgotten. Things are mislaid. Things are covered up. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of neglect.”
“There had fallen between us what Dogger once referred to as "a companionable silence," a little parcel of time during which neither of us felt any particular need to talk.”
“Whenever I’m a little blue I think about cyanide, whose color so perfectly reflects my mood. It is pleasant to think that the manioc plant, which grows in Brazil, contains enormous quantities of the stuff in its thirty-pound roots, all of which, unfortunately, is washed away before the residue is used to make our daily tapioca.”
“I dwelt there by choice in privacy and peace.”
“I flipped on the switch marked "Shuddering Sobs," but nothing came.
Damnation! I used to be a dab hand at water on demand. What on earth was happening to me? Was I becoming hardened? Was this what being twelve was going to be like?”
“Lobsters, snails, crabs, clams, squids, slugs, and members of the European royal families, by contrast, have blue blood, due to the fact that it’s based on copper rather than iron.”
“You can pray in the churchyard," the sergeant said. "The Lord has large ears.”
“There are things that are worse than glass and crocodiles.”
“I had once remarked to Feely that, because of the oxygen, breathing fresh air was like breathing God, but she had slapped my face and told me I was being blasphemous.”
“I did not elaborate, nor did I need to. The human imagination is capable of anything when left on its own to fill in the blanks.”
“Even after five hundred years?” “A seed is a remarkable vessel,” he told me. “Our one true time machine. Each of them is capable of bringing the past, alive, into the present. Think of that!”
“Love’s feet are always pleased to step on ashes.”
“Grief is a hone to a hard mind.”
“You say you were lucky that in the critical years between 100 and 800 C.E. Christianity went forward, and we were unlucky that during the same years Judaism went backward. Don’t you see that the real question is forward to what, backward to what?” Cullinane reflected for a moment and said, “By God, I do! That’s what’s been bugging me without my knowing it, because I hadn’t even formulated the question.” “My thought is that in those critical years Judaism went back to the basic religious precepts by which men can live together in a society, whereas Christianity rushed forward to a magnificent personal religion which never in ten thousand years will teach men how to live together. You Christians will have beauty, passionate intercourse with God, magnificent buildings, frenzied worship and exaltation of the spirit. But you will never have that close organization of society, family life and the little community that is possible under Judaism. Cullinane, let me ask you this: Could a group of rabbis, founding their decisions on Torah and Talmud, possibly have come up with an invention like the Inquisition—an essentially anti-social concept?”
“And this story, having no beginning, will have no end.”
“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the "brain" of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of "other people," which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that--well, lucky you.”
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