Tag Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

 

“No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.”

David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

David Foster Wallace is one of those towering figures of American literature whose legacy is as profound as his persona remains enigmatic, at least to many of us on the outside.

While he wrote both fiction and non-fiction – and with his non-fiction he wrote the gamut, from tennis and tornadoes to politics and pornography – today he is most widely remembered for his prose fiction, specifically Infinite Jest, which is seen by many as his magnum opus.

Set between an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy, Infinite Jest is a modern-day A Confederacy of Dunces, a reality where communists and pinkos and blockhead detectives are no longer the bad guys; it’s the entertainment industry as a whole, the shallow nature of television, and how “irony and ridicule are entertaining and effective, and that, at the same time, they are agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture…”

A man of many interests and proclivities, Wallace has been described as someone who “wanted to progress beyond the irony and the metafiction associated with postmodernism.” Early in his career he was compared to writers such as Thomas Pynchon and John Irving, but the list expanded as the years passed – as did the many authors whose careers he would influence.

According to his father, Wallace suffered from depression for at least two decades. Sadly, another part of Wallace’s life would be compared to that of John Kennedy Toole at the very end, when David Foster Wallace took his own life in 2008. He was 46.

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Quote of the Day

 

“Poetry is a voice that characterizes a nation. We should become a nation of poets rather than America-hater. It’s certainly more interesting.”

— Gord Downie, Canada’s rock-poet laureate

Canada is a nation in mourning. Tributes and farewells and love letters will continue to pour in, but we will never have him again. He has returned to that eternal and ethereal place among the stars where the brightest among us shine in perpetuity.

For reasons so many of us contemplated on nights filled with loud music, excessive drinking and cloud-filled rooms, the Hip never made it big in the States like Alanis Morissette, Rush, Shania Twain, Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne – the list goes on and on of Canadians who’ve made it mega-huge south of the border.

So why not The Tragically Hip? we asked on these now-fuzzy nights that memory has relegated to dark, hard-to-reach corners of our post-addled minds. How is there justice in this world if the Hip can’t be recognized for their talent and Gord Downie for his sheer brilliance?

That – not the current political climate – was all the proof we needed that something was awry not in Denmark, but across the 49th.

And then as we – and the Hip – grew older, we became more circumspect. We donned suits and ties, secured jobs and started families. We worried about mortgages and sicknesses. We quit smoking, drank less, and only smoked pot at get-togethers preceded by “10th” or “20th” or “25th.”

We didn’t listen to music as much. Hip album covers, which were once so reverentially  removed from the CD cover and read between friends, thick as thieves with this musical treatise in our hands, were bygone items replaced by screenshots and digital pics. We’d visit a website from time to time, read a thing or two about someone, but it wasn’t the same because we were alone when we did this. It just wasn’t the same as it used to be.

Today, so poetic that Gord has faded with the last of our season’s dying embers, we prepare for the cold, biting winds and relentless chill to the early mornings/late nights, and what feels like – to us Canadians, at least –  terminal darkness.

Or, as a contemporary of Gord Downie still sings so “full of grace”:

the winter here’s cold, and bitter

it’s chilled us to the bone

we haven’t seen the sun for weeks

too long too far from home

I feel just like I’m sinking

and I claw for solid ground

I’m pulled down by the undertow

I never thought I could feel so low

oh darkness I feel like letting go

But the darkness, of course, is not eternal. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it, and all. It will ebb and flow, and when we emerge on the other side, slightly worse for wear, we will still have him. That is our gift.

In short, Gord was right. We don’t need to be a nation of America-haters or begrudge their inability to venerate the Hip. We have them, all to ourselves, forevermore.

“The place of honor that Mr. Downie occupies in Canada’s national imagination has no parallel in the United States. Imagine Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Michael Stipe combined into one sensitive, oblique poet-philosopher, and you’re getting close.”

In the end, his poetry won out. That’s what we remember. That’s what we’ll take with us, as individuals and as a country, as we continue our journeys into the vast unknown, a place occupied by Wheat Kings and heavenly lyricists.

P.S. To read more of Gord Downie’s writing, check out Gord Downie Writing.

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Quote of the Day

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“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Rutger Hauer (as Roy Batty), Blade Runner

In light of the fact that I finally saw Blade Runner 2049 last night, I have to use one of my all-time favourite quotes for the QOTD, which comes from the first Blade Runner (2019). As one professor has been quoted as saying, it is “perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history.” Wow. Big words.

However, there’s a backstory to this (as there always is), and it has to do with the original scripted version (below) and the actor himself, Rutger Hauer. Not only were there changes made to the script before shooting, but Hauer is said to have improvised part of it in real-time. Wow again. If you don’t think they made the right decision to alter the words in this massive scene, check out the original:

“I have known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back…frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching the stars fight on the shoulder of Orion. I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it…felt it!”

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Quote of the Day

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer’s loss
Seems little, dear! on days like these.

Let misty autumn be our part!
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
Eludes a little time’s deceit.

Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream.

Beyond the pearled horizons lie
Winter and night: awaiting these
We garner this poor hour of ease,
Until love turn from us and die
Beneath the drear November trees.”
Ernest Dowson, The Poems and Prose of Ernest Dowson

Today, in honour of the first real autumn day here in Toronto, I thought it appropriate to make the QOTD something poetic and fall-like. Therefore, I chose a poem called “Autumnal.” It just made sense.

Ernest Dowson was a talented writer in all genres: fiction, short stories and poetry. He was also a dreamer, a romantic, and prone to bouts of blue and gloomy sadness. Considered part of the Deacadent movement, “a late 19th-century artistic and literary movement, centered in Western Europe, that followed an aesthetic ideology of excess and artificiality,” Dowson now holds the record for youngest author to drink himself to death according to my research, accomplishing this “feat” by age 32 after shit completely fell apart in his life and everyone around him seemed to be dying.

But let us not focus on the negative. Sometimes the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, as appears to be the case with young Mr. Dowson. In those years he did bequeath us pages and pages of literary nuggets, perhaps it’s best to remember him for the words that still resonate with us, the living, as autumn descends upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, and trees shed their spring/summer garments on their short-lived journey to becoming naked orphans once again.

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Quote of the Day

 

“Laughter is unfound prayer and the only time a person is completely unguarded.”

— Erin Harris

That’s me momz! Famous? Check. Gifted writer? You bet. Awesomeness factor? Off the charts.

This a real quote because (a) she said it, and (b) the time she did say these words – many, many moons ago, when tigers smoked – I actually wrote them down.

Today, when not coming up with magic like above, she gives of her time at the Older Women’s Network (OWN), a volunteer organization that has, among other things over the years:

•    worked for the expansion of opportunities for older women in the work force

•    pressed governments for economic security for older women, many of whom were left penniless after divorce

•    advocated for affordable housing

•    supported government initiatives to develop long-term care and aging-at-home projects

•    combated ageism and sexism in the media and in government programs

•    continued the process of consciousness-raising through the study of feminist literature and its application to the lives of women

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Quote of the Day

 

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Epicurus

What was it about those Greeks that made them so smart? Must have been all the Greek salads. (Groan.) Alls I know is that most of what them there dudes said is still Greek to me. (Ooooh…presently suffering from groin injury due to excessive groaning.)

In light of this, our season of giving thanks, I’ll dedicate today and tomorrow to this sense of gratitude we should all be more aware of on a daily basis. In line with this, I’m also linking one of my favourite YouTube videos, which basically echoes this theme, called “Meaning Of Life Animated.”

For those not familiar with the famed autodidact mentioned above, here’s a brief summary of Epicurus per his Wiki entry:

Epicurus (Greek: Ἐπίκουρος, Epikouros, “upon youth”; Samos, 341 BCE – Athens, 270 BCE; 72 years) was an ancient Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of philosophy called Epicureanism. Only a few fragments and letters remain of Epicurus’s 300 written works. Much of what is known about Epicurean philosophy derives from later followers and commentators.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by aponia, the absence of pain and fear, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and bad, that death is the end of the body and the soul and should therefore not be feared, that the gods do not reward or punish humans, that the universe is infinite and eternal, and that events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.

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Quote of the Day

 

“To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once.”

— Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere

I’m currently reading this exquisitely written novel with the rest of my fellow curlers and have been deeply moved by the pathos apparent at every turn of the page in Ms. Ng’s second literary fiction effort.

I’ll save my final thoughts on the book as a whole once I’m done, but so far me likes very, very muchly.

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Quote of the Day

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“Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.”
Ann Patchett, State of Wonder   

Well, I think we all know who packaged joy as a package of doom — Zeus! That otherworldly dude always had package issues. And what was Epimetheus doing when he went against the advice of his bro of bros, Prometheus, and allowed his bride, Pandora, to accept this wedding gift? Folly, I say! Wedding gifts are bound to cause friction at some point in a relationship.

But back to Ann Patchett, author of numerous works of wonder, including my favourite, Bel Canto, one of the very few books I gave five stars to on Goodreads. If you’re unfamiliar with the PEN/Faulkner Award and Orange Prize for Fiction recipient, make sure you check her out. Both her fiction and non-fiction are equally as great.

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Quote of the Day

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“You are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.

And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.

You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it. Sometimes you’re going through something. Sometimes life has happened. Life! Remember life? Yeah, it teaches you things and sometimes makes you go the long way around for your biggest lessons.

You don’t get to control everything. You can wake up at 5 a.m. every day until you’re tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don’t want to come to fruition, they won’t. You can show up every day to your best intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s just not the fucking time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.”

— Jamie Varon

As people who know me well know very well, my mouth is somewhat akin to that of a sailor on most days. Because I don’t shave regularly? No. Because I have salt in my mouth from my (slight) addiction to the NEW Ruffles Salt & Vinegar chips? Not exactly.

Because I can swear ’em up as good and goodly as anyone out there.

However, I’m very selective about using foul language in writing, as it almost has a more powerful effect than using it verbally. My rule, by and large, is to use it only (a) in dialogue, (b) sparingly for effect in narrative, or (c) whenever the hell you want if you’re writing a blog.

I enjoy coming across people online who aren’t famous but who have a point of view, or at the very least an interesting way of writing about the world. Jamie Varon is one such person. On top of running her own site, called Jamie Varon: Writer of All the Feelings, she’s also the author of a couple of books.

I came across today’s QOTD, loved it from the get-go, and hope you get something out of it, too.

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Quote of the Day

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“Who is John Galt?”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

In the pop culture of modern fiction, there is perhaps no other opening line to a book that is so famous and yet so perfectly captures the true-to-life meaning behind it. “Who is John Galt” is almost like an inside joke that certain readers have among themselves, something akin to the secret handshake or password for fraternity/sorority members.

Ayn Rand is a towering literary figure of the 20th century, Atlas Shrugged remains one of the century’s most enduring novels, and “Who is John Galt” has today become one of the most quoted lines from literature.

If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged, then you know that John Galt is a “real” character, the inventor and businessman who formed a utopia of like-minded individuals in the booming metropolis of Ouray, Colorado. With the intention to “stop the motor of the world,” Galt organizes a strike of the world’s most important and influential creative thinkers.

First published in 1957, at the height of the Cold War, Atlas Shrugged is still one of the most divisive works of literary fiction. This leads to an important question: Does that line about John Galt – and Ms. Rand’s book as a whole – continue to have any relevance in today’s world?

As Mr. FIRST NAME Wiki, LAST NAME Pedia has written, “The book’s opening line, ‘Who is John Galt?,’ becomes an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of the novel’s fictionalized world.”

If that’s the simplepedia answer to what the fork John Galt is, then the answer to the previous question is a resounding YES!

As Steve Paikin wondered aloud last night in an interview with Ramesh Srinivasan (@rameshmedia), author of Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World, “Is the world going to hell in a handcart?”

Events over the last year or so would certainly lead one to at least consider this as a possibility, which I think makes the opening to Atlas Shrugged as timely and poignant today as it was 60 years ago. Ironically enough, Ayn Rand – founder of the Objectivist movement, staunch anti-communist and anti-Soviet (just read We the Living for one of the more depressing endings you’ll see in literature) – feared what communism could do to creativity and mankind in general if it survived long enough, and lo and behold China is set to become the world’s largest economy and global superpower within the next decade according to many experts.

Perhaps our own real-life John Galt will soon come along and save us from the perils we seem to be so successfully heaping onto ourselves. One can still hope.

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