--Jose Saramago, Blindness
You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it's time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hands, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.
--Jose Saramago, Blindness
That's how life is, what it gives with one hand one day, it takes away with the other.
--Jose Saramago, Death with Interruptions
The letter said that they were two feet high, and green., and shaped like plumber's friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm. The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions. They pitied Earthlings for being able to see only three. They had many wonderful things to teach Earthlings, especially about time. Billy promised to tell what some of those wonderful things were in his next letter.
Billy was working on his second letter when the first letter was published. The second letter started out like this:
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes."
--Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Everyone struggles against despair, but it always wins in the end. It has to. It's the thing that lets us say goodbye.
--Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
The nuns taught us there are two ways through life: the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end. I will be true to you. Whatever comes.
--"The Tree Of Life", 2011
One can show no greater respect than to weep for a stranger.
--Jose Saramago, Seeing
I am...sad and angry. Why is my spirit so sad and angry? I look back at my life and all I can remember is rage and rage and rage.
--Chris Adrian, The Children's Hospital
Thinking of a kid who doesn’t want to say he’s still
using heroin. He’s six minutes old and the cut
below his eye’s on fire just beneath
the visible wavelengths. I suspect
he’ll drop out of college and washing his clothes.
He’ll go to New York, which is my favorite actor,
how tall it stands and green in the middle
of murder or love, and then Africa,
because getting around is like practicing death,
the unknown cliffs and call to prayer in the morning
in a city he can’t speak to. Were I a sailor,
I’d cut my ship loose one night and miss it
the rest of my life, go looking in ports
with my eyes closed. I sense wandering in him
on a suicidal scale, like he’ll pick a fight
with the ocean. When I came into Heraklion,
I spent hours on the concrete blocks
along the shore, they’re shaped like jacks, those
we scooped as tots while a ball bounced,
and three times as big as a man. People
and sunlight went by and that was enough for me,
but this kid, I fear he wants a bullet in every second,
for time to be furious and piercing
and will make it so by putting his face
through a windshield each day. There are so many
round things, like an O in the arm, the O of poets,
that gasping sound, that syllable of praise
we offer in lieu of sense. How romantic,
the poem he’s writing in his skin, this kid
who doesn’t know what he’s trying to let go
and so throws everything in.
When all is said and done, what is clear is that all lives end before their time.
--Jose Saramago, Blindness
A knowledge of how to live was a knowledge of how to die.
--Richard Wright, Native Son
I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people's eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.
--Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
'You're nice,' Cushie told him, squeezing his hand. 'And you're my oldest friend.' But they both must have known that you can know someone all your life and never quite be friends.
--John Irving, The World According To Garp
There is time, and there is beyond time. History belongs to time, but truth belongs to what is beyond time. In writing of things as they should have been, you are letting truth into history. You are the word of God.
--Philip Pullman, The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ
Even now, as I write this, I can still feel that tightness. And I want you to feel it--the wind coming off the river, the waves, the silence, the wooded frontier. You're at the bow of a boat on the Rainy River. You're twenty-one years old, you're scared, and there's a hard squeezing pressure in your chest.
What would you do?
Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think about your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry, as I did?
--Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
Nothing commonplace about The Common Place.