“You've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”
“It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.”
“So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone’s older brother and someone’s older sister – they become our heroes too. We invent what we love and what we fear. There is always a brave lost brother – and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on: the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them… That’s what happens, like it or not. And because that’s what happens, this is what we need: we need a good, smart bear… Coach Bob knew it all along: you’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. You have to keep passing the open windows.”
“You take every opportunity given you in this world, even if you have too many opportunities. One day, the opportunities stop, you know.”
“Human beings are remarkable - at what we can learn to live with. If we couldn't get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can't have, then we couldn't ever get strong enough, could we? What else makes us strong?”
“Just when you begin thinking of yourself as memorable, you run into someone who can't even remember having met you”
“Safer than we are.” I told Franny. “Safer than love.” “let me tell ya kid,” Franny said to me, squeezing my hand. “Everything’s safer than love.”
“If we couldn't get strong from what we lose, and what we miss, and what we want and can't have, then we couldn't ever get strong enough.”
“And Father said, “There are no happy endings.” “Right!” cried Iowa Bob – an odd mixture of exuberance and stoicism in his cracked voice. “Death is horrible, final, and frequently premature,” Coach Bob declared. “So what?” my father said. “Right!” cried Iowa Bob. “That’s the point: So what?” Thus the family maxim was that an unhappy ending did not undermine a rich and energetic life. This was based on the belief that there were no happy endings.”
“But I felt certain that if the world would stop indulging wars and famines and other perils, it would be possible for human beings to embarrass each other to death. Our self-destruction might take a little longer that way, but I believe it would be no less complete.”
“Lilly was not crazy. She left a serious suicide note.
'Sorry,' said the note.
'Just not big enough.”
“Don’t you understand?” he would say, “You imagine the story better than I remember it.”
“Sell my old clothes - I'm off to heaven”
“So we dream on. Thus we invent our lives. We give ourselves a sainted mother, we make our father a hero; and someone’s older brother and someone’s older sister – they become our heroes too. We invent what we love and what we fear. There is always a brave lost brother – and a little lost sister, too. We dream on and on: the best hotel, the perfect family, the resort life. And our dreams escape us almost as vividly as we can imagine them.”
“Nothing moves at the Hotel New Hampshire! We're screwed down here-for life!”
“What she might have told him was that taxidermy, like sex, is a very personal subject; the manner in which we impose it on others should be discreet.”
“Some producer actually told Franny that profanity revealed a poor vocabulary and a lack of imagination. And Frank and Lilly and Father and I all loved to shout at Franny, then, and ask her what she had said to that. 'What an anal crock of shit, you dumb asshole!' she'd told the producer. 'Up yours - and in your ear, too!”
“But I often think that so-called glamorous people are just very busy people.”
“I felt certain that if the world would stop indulging wars and famines and other perils, it would still be possible for human beings to embarrass each other to death. Our self-destruction might take a little longer that way, but I believe it would be no less complete.”
“A terrorist, I think, is simply another kind of pornographer. The pornographer pretends he is disgusted by his work; the terrorist pretends he is uninterested in the means. The ends, they say, are what they care about. But they are both lying. Ernst loved his pornography; Ernst worshiped the means. It is never the ends that matter -- it is only the means that matter. The terrorist and the pornographer are in it for the means. The means is everything to them. The blast of the bomb, the elephant position, the Schlagobers and blood -- they love it all. Their intellectual detachment is a fraud; their indifference is feigned. They both tell lies about having ‘higher purposes.’ A terrorist is a pornographer.”
“Hang in there, Frank!' Freud called - to the entire lobby. 'Don't let anyone tell you you're queer! You're a prince, Frank!' Freud cried. 'You're better than Rudolf!' Freud yelled to Frank. 'You're more majestic than all the Hapsburgs, Frank!' Freud encouraged him. Frank couldn't speak, he was crying so hard.”
“Of course: because it was in one of the camps that he went blind. They had performed some failed experiment on his eyes in the camp.
‘No, not summer camp,’ Franny had to tell Lilly, who had always been afraid of being sent to summer camp, and was unsurprised to hear that they tortured the campers.”
“Franny’s Hollywood name, her acting name, is one you know. This is our family’s story, and it’s inappropriate for me to use Franny’s stage name – but I know that you know her. Franny is the one you always desire. She is the best one, even when she’s the villain; she always the real hero, even when she dies, even when she dies for love – or worse, for war. She’s the most beautiful, the most unapproachable, but the most vulnerable too, somehow – and the toughest. (She’s why you go to the movie, or why you stay.)”
“...the single ingredient in American literature that distinguishes it from other literatures of the world is a kind of giddy, illogical hopefulness. It is quite technically sophisticated while remaining ideologically naïve.”
“Doris Wales was a woman with straw-blond hair whose body appeared to have been dipped in corn oil; then she must have put her dress on, wet. The dress grabbed at all her parts, and plunged and sagged over the gaps in her body; a lover’s line of hickeys, or love bites – ‘love-sucks,’ Franny called them – dotted Doris’s chest and throat like a violent rash; the welts were like wounds from a whip. She wore plum-covered lipstick, some of which was on her teeth, and she said, to Sabrina Jones and me, ‘You want hot-dancin’ music, or slow-neckin’ music? Or both?’
‘Both,’ said Sabrina Jones, without missing a beat, but I felt certain that if the world would stop indulging wars and famines and other perils, it would still be possible for human beings to embarrass each other to death. Our self-destruction might take a little longer that way, but I believe it would be no less complete.”
“I made some fresh pasta with a neat machine Frank brought from New York; it flattens the dough in sheets and cuts the pasta into any shape you want. It’s important to have toys like that, if you live in Maine.”
“People are like that .... They need to make their own worst experiences universal. It gives them a kind of support.’ And who can blame them? It is just infuriating to argue with someone like that; because of an experience that has denied them their humanity, they go around denying another kind of humanity in others, which is the truth of human variety -- it stands alongside our sameness.”
“I walked all the way through the Heldenplatz – the Plaza of Heroes – and stood where thousands of cheering fascists had greeted Hitler, once. I thought that fanatics would always have an audience; all one might hope to influence was the size of the audience.”
“Time for bed.” I held my fist out. One by one, my flock stacked theirs on top, and then we headed up into the trees to sleep the sleep of the innocent. Well, okay, maybe not so innocent. But the sleep of the much less guilty than others, for sure.”
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”
“Fear is a good thing. It teaches you not to make the same mistake twice. You counter it with knowledge.
“Everybody gets jolted. You, me, before we die we’ll all get nailed, lots of times. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get turned into witches. You can’t avoid getting zapped, but you can avoid passing the mean energy on. That’s the interesting thing about witches, the challenge of them-- learning not to hit back, or hit somebody else, when they zap you. You can bury the zap, for instance, like the gods buried the Titans in the center of the earth. Or you can be like a river when a forest fire hits it--phshhhhhhhhhhhh! Just drown it, drown all the heat and let it wash away.”
“Statistics show that most mortals sell their souls for five reasons: sex, money, power, revenge, and love. In that order.”
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