Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Quotes | Fiction | "Only Assholes Use Quotes"

“As well as the opening to Moby Dick, which I believe I referenced recently, Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines is notable in having a middle section which is made up of quotations supporting or exploring his central thesis, along with a couple of personal anecdotes which are formatted in exactly the same way as the quotations; i.e., they appear to be themselves quotations, they appear to carry all of the moral, celebrity and aphoristic weight that is borne in a quotation.”

Jon Ware

“It is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks.”

Anatole France

“Both Chatwin and Melville indulge the habit of interweaving fiction (or lies, if you prefer) with truth in order to better conceal the fiction. We are aware that some of Melville’s facts about whales are true, so we believe the rest implicitly. We know that a quotation cannot be a lie – because, surely, we tell ourselves, nobody would dare to invent a quotation. And so Chatwin’s camouflaged anecdotes are more palatable than larger, stand-alone lies; compare this to the very fictional elements of Van Der Post’s travel book The Lost World Of The Kalahari.”

Phil Brown

“You cannot travel on the path before you have become the Path itself.”

Gautama Buddha

“Indeed, is the epigraphical method itself not a form of Zen? We see the famous quotation and the text that accompanies it, and no matter how meaningless or unconnected the two may be, we will instinctively assume there must be a connection and a meaning, and seek both of them out.”

James J Harringman

“The quotation is by nature aphoristic. It attempts to imprison the truth within a pair of speech marks.”

Sam Kinchin-Smith.

“The only quotation that contains meaning is the quotation that belongs to somebody you’re certain you should have heard of. And, since every quotation includes its owner’s name at the very end, like a very impressive and climactic full stop, this means that every quotation contains meaning.”

John F. Arnold

“The implication is that the truth comes from without – that the truth is contained nearly as much in the words that are spoken as in the name of a great philosopher. A great name. How do fans of modern literary theory feel about this? That the truth, in fact, is in us and our interpretation of the words, but that we can only access it through deceiving ourselves into thinking that the truth comes from outside, that some words are more equal than others?”

Jon Ware

“In post-modern thought, everything is a quotation; there is no reality, only echoes of the previous originality.”

Giles Coren

“The idea that ‘found poems’- poems stitched together, collage-style, from existing sources, can be just as meaningful as poems created by the poet themselves, is intriguing. But is the opposite true as well? Are they more real, because they’re quoted?”

Ted Kennedy

“The entire nature of the quotation reminds me above all of the attitudes shown by some US citizens (particularly recently in several widely publicised news stories) who believe that to say something is “unconstitutional” is the same as to say that it’s “evil.” The regarding of words as holy and irrefutable not for their inherent worth but by association.”

Barack Obama (via email)

“Our actions are like set rhymes: anyone can fit them in to mean what he likes.”

La Rochefoucauld

“The quotation itself being an act of transference, the summoning of a higher being – by citing Shakespeare, our work is assumed to have the depth of Shakespeare. It is only when a work is so patently unworthy of that association (although a great deal of this depend on the snobbishness of the reader – some, for example, might believe that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows explores the theme of death with fully enough insight to deserve its opening quotations from Aeschylus and William Penn) that the spell is broken, and the effect lost.”

“Go away from me and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has deceived repays a teacher badly if one remains a had not yet sought yourselves when you found me.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“The gaps in a quotation are...the most important parts. They enable us to tell...what the quoter wishes us to...ignore...and how he will take a whole...tear it to pieces...constructing his own...whole out of it to make it his meaning...and not the original.”

Jon Ware

“The obvious truth is that quotations are only used by an insecure writer who doesn’t trust what he is writing enough to let it stand alone – quotations are his way of shoring up his truth with the ‘greater’ truths of others. The more intriguing, paradoxical truth is that perhaps a work made up entirely of quotations may succeed in being more ‘real’, more truthful, than any of them. Such a collage work contains three intents – the author’s, the ‘first’ author’s, and the reader’s. There’s a sort of purity to that; a clearing of the classic exchange. The reader is no longer being lectured by a single mind who uses quotations as star witnesses; he’s engaging in an act of meditation with an infinite number of opinions and interpretations. A narrative that explores because it has a thousand heads, rather than a narrative that ‘explores’ with a few straw-men subplots contrasting with its main drive.”

Eric Prydz

“We like to open our books with a quotation – but how much more final is a quotation, how much more ultimate, how much more deserving of being at the end rather than at the beginning!”

Bruce Chatwin

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