Some quotations that speak to me, compiled together from LiveJournal, text files stored on old Unix accounts, .signature files, .plan files, FirstClass resumés, old versions of my web site, and old random .signature files.
One-liners | Lyrics | Longer
-- Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
--Sarah Vowell, "The Nerd Voice" (in The Partly Cloudy Patriot)
-- Alice Venable Middleton (quoted in William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways)
-- Margaret Cho, "The Notorious C.H.O."
-- William Gibson
-- Larissa Ranbom
-- Marianne Terrot
-- Woody Allen
-- Brian Hayes, "The Semicolon Wars" (in American Scientist)
-- Albert Lai (on #haskell)
-- Dorothy Allison, Skin: Talking About Sex, Class And Literature
--Anne Sayre, Rosalind Franklin and DNA
-- Roseanne Barr
-- Sean "Teki" Dobbs
-- Adam Carr
-- Tom Robbins, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas
-- Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All
-- anonymous, "Real Programmers Don't Eat Quiche"
-- Jason Reed
-- Simon Peyton Jones, "Wearing the hair shirt: A retrospective on Haskell"
-- John Meacham (lambdabot quotations page)
-- Bill Gates (as quoted in Freiberger and Swaine, Fire in the Valley)
-- Howard Rheingold, The Virtual Community
-- Robin Williams, Jargon: An Informal Dictionary of Computer Terms
-- Steve Jobs, quoted in Wired magazine: "Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing", Gary Wolf, Issue 4.02, February 1996
-- Edsger Dijkstra
-- Paul Graham, "Revenge of the Nerds"
-- Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love
-- Simon Peyton Jones and Simon Marlow, "Secrets of the Glasgow Haskell Compiler inliner"
-- Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind
-- Douglas Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas
-- A.S. Byatt, The Virgin in the Garden
-- Larry Wall, Usenet article <1994Nov12.email@example.com> (1994)
-- Donald Knuth
-- Margaret Cho
-- Dan Savage
-- Dan Savage
-- Dan Savage
-- Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant
-- Patrick Califia, Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex
-- Patrick Califia, Macho Sluts
-- Robert Hass, "Santa Lucia" (in Praise)
-- Gore Vidal
-- Lynda Barry, Big Ideas
-- Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon
--Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
-- Juli Mallett, on Satanism and Wicca
-- Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2
-- Robert Graves
-- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
-- John Maynard Keynes
-- Tom Magliozzi
-- Mike Myers
-- Daniel Aaron
-- Ben Marcus, Notable American Women
-- D.M. (paraphrased)
-- Anne Lamott, Hard Laughter
-- Sheree Schrager
-- Larissa Ranbom
-- Cormac McCarthy, "Dreams"
So much to do and so much time to do it
I try hard to concentrate, I try hard to think
I got a new oven that cooks food in twelve seconds
Now I'm eating so quick, I've got hours to drink
Time's unpredictable, just when you think that you've
learned how to save it, you spend all day on hold
I need someone who can show me the difference
Between using it wisely and just growing old
-- Dom Leone, "Buck Tempo"
-- Ferron, "Misty Mountain"
-- Ferron, "Sunken City"
--Bob Dylan, "Silvio"
-- Trout Fishing in America, "Dreaming"
-- Steven Page, "What a Good Boy"
-- Nerissa Nields, "I'll Meet You in the Sky"
-- Jenny Reynolds, "Whisper"
Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people and I want to see life
Driving in your car, oh, please don't drop me home
Because it's not my home, it's their home, and I'm welcome no more
And if a double-decker bus crashes into us
To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die
And if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us
To die by your side, well, the pleasure - the privilege is mine
-- Morrissey, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
-- Ani DiFranco, "Hell Yeah"
-- Ani DiFranco, "Willing to Fight"
-- Ani DiFranco, "What If No One's Watching"
-- Ani DiFranco, "Talk to Me Now"
-- Ani DiFranco, "Used to You"
-- They Might Be Giants, "Don't Let's Start"
-- Tegan and Sara, "Divided"
-- Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body
-- Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys
-- John Irving, The World According To Garp
-- Eddie Kohler, "Statement of Purpose"
-- Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
-- The Glorious Glasgow Haskell Compilation System User's Guide
-- Vladimir Nabokov, Strong Opinions
--Katha Pollitt, "Sex and the Stepford Wife", in Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time
But it won't be me,' she continued. 'I don't care what the others will think; I care what I'll think, what I'll feel like. I can't manage to regard myself as a woman and a physicist, so one of them's got to go. And I suppose being a physicist is more important to me, so goodbye, sex. Men don't have to make the choice, but we do. For us it's either-or.'
--Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
A male in our society receives his exaggerated social valuation with the application of the pronoun "he" before he can even smile over it. A female receives her concomitant devaluation with the pronoun "she" well before she can protest.
Again: The system is not neutral. For every situation, verbal or nonverbal, that even approaches the sexual, the easy way to describe it, the comfortable way to respond to it, the normal way to act in it, the way that will draw the least attention to yourself -- if you are male -- is the sexist way. The same goes for women, with the difference that you are not quite so comfortable. Sexism is not primarily an active hostility in men towards women. It is a set of unquestioned social habits. Men become hostile when these habits are questioned as people become hostile when anything they are comfortable doing is suddenly branded as pernicious. ("But I didn't intend to hurt anyone; I was just doing what I always...")
A good many women have decided, finally, that the pain that accrues to them from everyone else's acceptance of the "acceptable" way is just not worth the reward of invisibility.
"I have never made a sexist editorial decision in my life."
There are no sexist decisions to be made.
There are antisexist decisions to be made. And they require tremendous energy and self-scrutiny, as well as moral stamina in the face of the basic embarrassment campaign which is the tactic of those assured of their politically superior position. ("Don't you think you're being rather silly offering your pain as evidence that something I do so automatically and easily is wrong? Why, I bet it doesn't hurt half as much as you say. Perhaps it only hurts because you're struggling...?" This sort of political mystification, turning the logical arrows around inside verbal structures to render them empirically empty, and therefore useless ["It hurts because you don't like it", rather than "You don't like it because it hurts."] is just another version of the "my slave/my master" game.)
There are no sexist decisions to be made: they were all made a long time ago!
--Samuel R. Delany, "Shadows", in Longer Views: Extended Essays
--Seymour Papert, Mindstorms
-- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
-- Sarah Barton
--David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
-- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night
Samuel R. Delany, "Some Notes for the Intermediate and Advanced Creative Writing Student", in About Writing
--Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
-- Wendell Berry, "Standing by Words"
I would like to enter a woman the way any man can, and to be entered--to leave and to be left--to be hot and hard and soft all at the same time in the cause of our loving. I would like to drive forward and at other times rest or be driven. When I sit and play in the waters of my bath I love to feel the deep inside parts of me, sliding and folded and tender and deep. Other times I like to fantasize the core of it, my pearl, a protruding part of me, hard and sensitive and vulnerable in a different way.
-- Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
--Judy Roitman, on being a woman mathematician
-- Michael Chabon, "The Mysteries of Berkeley"
--Polly Armstrong, quoted in the Berkeley Daily Planet
-- Florynce R. "Flo" Kennedy
-- Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
-- Samuel Delany (writing about The Bluest Eye), from "Letter to Q--" in About Writing
-- Lawrence Lessig, Code
-- Katha Pollitt, "Let's Not Devalue Ourselves", in Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time
-- E.B. White, "Daylight and Darkness", in The Second Tree from the Corner
Hillman: Passing on what you love can also mean taking action---political action, civil disobedience, even if you know you're going to lose. Because the memory of actions taken is an important way that things get passed from generation to generation.
-- James Hillman and Michael Ventura, We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse
Few people end up totally cold and icelike and removed from their own feelings of self-accusation, but it is a type we strive for and it is a model to which we often gruesomely aspire. It is this, that we should strive with all our hearts to find such desert regions, that appears to me most frightening and most horrible.
-- Jonathan Kozol, The Night Is Dark and I Am Far from Home
-- Tom Robbins
-- Alice Miller, For Your Own Good
-- Julian Barnes
--Louise Glück, "Formaggio"
-- James Baldwin (quoted in Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality, p. 105)
- When the keystone of a life structure that you have erected turns out to be a falsity falsely fixed, the whole does not necessarily collapse to the concrete in a cloud of steel, masonry, and glass. Too many microstructures have been set in place to support things, so that the initial keystone bears no present condition for any reality it might once have sustained.-- Samuel Delany, Dark Reflections
- "That's the way it works in movies," said Suzanne. "Something happens that has an impact on someone's life, and based on that impact, his life shifts course. Well, that's not how it happens in life. Something has an impact on you, and then your life stays the same, and you think, 'Well, what about the impact?' You have epiphanies all the time. They just don't have any effect."-- Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge
- "We none of us know why we have come to this great vale of tears. But it's no excuse for not getting on with the job, is it?"
I explained that this was precisely the reason for not getting on with the job, the irrefutable justification for accidie, excess of black bile, Melancholicke Disease, call it what you will. Some of us arrive in the vale of tears and feel disinherited by Fate; others---I leave you to guess---immediately get out their daypack, fill their waterbottle, check their supply of Kendal mint cake, and stride off up the first footpath they see, ignorant of where it leads, yet convinced that they are somehow "getting on with the job," and confident that a pair of waterproof trousers will be protection enough against earthquake, forest fire, and carnivorous raptor.-- Julian Barnes, Love, Etc.
- Of course, it may be that the art of photography and the art of writing are antithetical. The hope and aim of a word-handler is that he may communicate a thought or an impression to his reader without the reader's realizing that he has been dragged through a series of hazardous and grotesque syntactical situations. In photography, the goal seems to be to prove beyond a doubt that the cameraman, in his great moment of creation, was either hanging by his heels from the rafters or was wedged under the floor with his lens at a knothole.-- E.B. White, "Peaks in Journalism", in The Second Tree from the Corner
- Now turn for a moment to your correspondent. The thought of writing hangs over our mind like an ugly cloud, making us apprehensive and depressed, as before a summer storm, so that we begin the day by subsiding after breakfast, or by going away, often to seedy and inconclusive destinations: the nearest zoo, or to a branch post office to buy a few stamped envelopes. Our professional life has been a long, shameless exercise in avoidance. Our home is designed for the maximum of interruption, our office is the place where we never are. ... It has occurred to us that perhaps we are not a writer at all but merely a bright clerk who persists in crowding his destiny. Yet the record is there. Not even lying down and closing the blinds stops us from writing; not even our family, and our preoccupation with same, stops us.-- E.B. White, "Writers at Work", in The Second Tree from the Corner
- I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another's brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves.-- John Updike
- "Your attitude measures up to the two requirements of love. You want to go to bed with her and can't, and you don't know her very well. Ignorance of the other person topped up with deprivation, Jim. You fit the formula all right, and what's more you want to go on fitting it."-- Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim
- ...My conclusion was this: that as you go on living with someone, you slowly lose the power to make them happy, while your capacity to hurt them remains undiminished. And vice versa, of course.
Not an optimistic view? But one only has a duty to be optimistic in the eyes of others, not for oneself. Ah, you will say--Oliver would certainly say it--that was just with Gordon, he just ground you down, it was not a fair trial, give it another go, love. Well, it is not just from living with Gordon that I decided this: I have eyes for other marriages. And I till you this in all honesty. There are certain truths which you can live with if they have been demonstrated to you only once. That way they do not oppress you, there is room for an interrogation mark beside them. But if such a truth is demonstrated twice, it will oppress and suffocate.-- Julian Barnes, Talking It Over
- I do not have a problem being pals with a fine babe. If you have to hang out with someone, they might as well be fine, so you can stare at something nice while they're talking, unless you're in love with them, and there's no hope, and they're breaking your heart, and every moment in their presence splinters it a little more. You gotta keep the antinuclear shield up around the heart. No, you gotta strap your heart to a nuke like Dr. Strangelove, so it's whooping and yelling and waving its hat, missile whistling toward its fiery end.-- Lynn Breedlove, Godspeed
- If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.-- W.H. Auden, "The More Loving One"
- But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.-- Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud-Time"
- I was synthesizing obscure and disparate bytes of memory now at incredible speed, and all at once my aimless scribbling of the last two years fell into place in an orgasm of intellect. A thesis, a central idea, the heretofore-missing core of my dissertation, took shape in my mind. Seizing the nearest paper--a scrap of newsprint torn from the previous day's sports page--I recorded like a fanatic scribe each spasm of inspiration. I wrote until I was spent. For safekeeping, I folded the paper and slipped it in the first volume of Doctor Syntax, which happened to be lying nearby. Modern critical brilliancies I had produced, one after the other, like a frogwife laying her eggs. From such prodigious ova would my reputation as a scholar hatch.-- Michael Petracca, Doctor Syntax
- But grumble though it might over the start of the academic year, the university world became more positive and purposeful. Here was a new year, a fresh morning in which to forget the terrifying nightmare shared by the town's collective unconscious: that the research won't pan out, or worse, that it won't matter a hoot if it does; that one's lifework is just so much mental onanism in the night. September brought the light of day, chased the nightmare away. No, no, it is important work, it does matter.--Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
- It is not that I wanted to know a great deal, in order to acquire what is now called expertise, and which enables one to become an expert-tease to people who don't know as much as you do about the tiny corner you have made your own. I hoped for a bigger fish; I wanted nothing less than Wisdom. In a modern university if you ask for knowledge they will provide it in almost any form--though if you ask for out-of-fashion things they may say, like the people in shops, 'Sorry, there's no call for it.' But if you ask for Wisdom--God save us all! What a show of modesty, what disclaimers from the men and women from whose eyes intelligence shines forth like a lighthouse. Intelligence, yes, but of Wisdom not so much as the gleam of a single candle.-- Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels
'I love you because you are very clever,' he elaborated, to show her that he now knew it.
'I love you because you can write.'
'Are those good reasons?'
'Well, novels would say not. People in novels don't love each other because they can both see that Racine is -- is what he is. Like maths, really, only I can't do maths, I was going to say sensual but it isn't, or at least, the sensual pleasure is geometry, not sex. Actually, I don't know much about sex, I shouldn't talk. What was I saying? Oh yes, if we were in a novel it would be most suspect and doomed to sit here drily discussing metre.'
'If we were in a novel they'd cut this dialogue because of artifice. You can have sex, in a novel, but not Racine's metre, however impassioned you may be about it.'-- A.S. Byatt, The Virgin in the Garden
'Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?'
'So easily that, to tell the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.'-- Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night
- 'From what you tell me, Brother John, not many people seem to be your kind."
'I'm not impossibly choosy: I just ask for a high level of intelligence and honesty about things that really matter.'
'That's choosy enough to exclude most of us.'"-- Robertson Davies, The Rebel Angels
- The miracle of life is that, despite the best grip we can get on reality, it continuously manages to surprise us. The beauty of science is that, notwithstanding all our tacit assumptions, these surprises can get through.-- Evelyn Fox Keller, A Feeling for the Organism
- "Security?" I marvel to myself "what is that? Something negative, undead, suspicious and suspecting; an avarice and an avoidance; a self-surrendering meanness of withdrawal; a numerable complacency and an innumerable cowardice. Who would be 'secure'? Every and any slave. No free spirit ever dreamed of 'security'--or, if he did, he laughed; and lived to shame his dream. No whole sinless sinful sleeping waking breathing human creature ever was (or could be) bought by, and sold for, 'security.' How monstrous and how feeble seems some unworld which would rather have its too than eat its cake!"-- E.E. Cummings, "i & self-discovery: nonlecture three" (i: six nonlectures)
- Only the action that is moved by love for the good at hand has the hope of being responsible and generous. Desire for the future produces words that cannot be stood by. But love makes language exact, because one loves only what one knows. One cannot love the future or anything in it, for nothing is known there. And one cannot unselfishly make a future for someone else. Love for the future is self-love---love for the present self, projected and magnified into the future, and it is an irremediable loneliness.-- Wendell Berry, "Standing By Words"
- I couldn't understand why he was so forgiving. Only gradually did it occur to me what a strange sight I must have presented -- a middle-aged man with a rucksack, visiting a place like Weston out of season for no evident reason, fetching up at their hotel and bellowing and stomping about over a trifling inconvenience. He must have thought I was mad, an escaped lunatic perhaps, and that this was the safest way to approach me. Either that, or he was just an extremely nice person. In either case, I salute him now.-- Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island
- "If I seem to be raising my voice," Mohole said in a calm tone, "it's only because I recognize your right to correct me. I wouldn't be yelling if I didn't respect you. Yelling is a bond between people who respect each other despite invalid corrections. We yell and scold as a way of paying homage to each other's views. This is the burden of friendship between extremely high-strung individuals. If we didn't accept the burden, we'd be sworn enemies. Friendship is exasperating at best. But think of the alternative."-- Don DeLillo, Ratner's Star
- it's what we all want, in the end,
to be held, merely to be held,
to be kissed (not necessarily with the lips,
for every touching is a kind of kiss).
-- Alden Nowlan, "He Sits Down on the Floor of a School for the Retarded"
- since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;-- E.E. Cummings
- Graphics blind the eyes.
Audio files deafen the ear.
Mouse clicks numb the fingers.
Heuristics weaken the mind.
Options wither the heart.
The Guru observes the net
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is as open as the ether.-- Unix fortune file
- There once was a girl from Dundee,
Who never programmed in C.
She felt that destruction
Lacked the seduction
Of referential transparency.
-- Torben Mogensen
- Data and procedures and the values they amass,
Higher-order functions to combine and mix and match,
Objects with their local state, the messages they pass,
A property, a package, a control point for a catch--
In the Lambda Order they are all first-class.
One Thing to name them all, One Thing to define them,
One Thing to place them in environments and bind them,
In the Lambda Order they are all first-class.--Abstract for the Revised^4 Report on the Algorithmic Language Scheme, MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab Memo 848b, November 1991
- This program posts news articles to thousands of machines throughout the entire civilized world. Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere. Please be sure you know what you are doing. Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? [ny]-- warning message, trn and tin newsreaders, c. 1995
- 18.104.22.168) I have a stupid question about computers. Is this a good place to ask it?
There are no such things as stupid questions. There are only questions that let anyone even mildly knowledgable realize that the person who asked them has zero clue and a negative chance of ever getting any. Questions that make the reader realize that it unfortunate for all involved that the questioner was ever allowed within twenty--no, fifty-- feet of a computer. Questions that make the average tech support person want to track down the person posting the question and engrave the answer on the querant's body a million times with a soldering iron.
This is not a good place to ask questions like that.
[Thanks to Jake (ST102315@brownvm.brown.edu) for that rather lengthy but totally correct discourse.]
NOTE: *Any* question becomes a stupid question if you ask it enough times. This applies to proto-bobs as well as lusers. If you are privileged enough to be given information, retain it.
NOTE2: 'Enough' can frequently mean '2'.
22.214.171.124) That's a bit of a rude attitude, isn't it?
- My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights -- or very early mornings -- when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour ... booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end ... but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: no doubt at all about that.-- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas