Librarian of Alexandria


J.R.R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt Fuji.

—Terry Pratchett

Conventional futurists are the Michael Bays of the intellectual world: what they produce can be spectacular and amusing, but is ultimately hollow and depressing.

—Jamais Cascio

Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit—all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It's the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.

—Brian Eno

My old cat is dead / Who would butt me with his head. / He had the sleekest fur, / He had the blackest purr, / Always gentle with us / Was this black puss, / But when I found him today / Stiff and cold where he lay, / His look was a lion's, / Full of rage, defiance: / O! he would not pretend / That what came was a friend / But met it in pure hate. / Well died, my old cat.

—Hal Summers, "My Old Cat"

...there is no escape from [the gods] into sleep or madness, for they can pursue you into them with dreams. Indeed, you are then most at their mercy. The nearest thing we have to a defence against them (but there is no real defence) is to be very wide awake and sober and hard at work, to hear no music, never to look at earth or sky, and (above all) to love no one.

—C.S. Lewis

Oh, darling, you will be good to me, won't you? Because we're going to have a strange life.

—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

It's 2011, and I have no idea what anything is or does anymore.

—Tom Taylor

I am not pessimistic. Nothing is going to happen. For the simple reason that man is a good-for-nothing, not even capable of destroying himself. Personally, I would find the idea of an all-encompassing plague, produced by man, rather marvellous. It would be the proof that he had managed to do something with his own hands and head, without divine or natural intervention.

—Jacques Lacan

But I didn't understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.

—Haruki Murakami

Not far from here, by a white sun, behind a green star, lived the Steelypips, illustrious, industrious, and they hadn't a care; no spats in their vats, no rules, no schools, no gloom, no evil influence of the moon, no trouble from matter or antimatter—for they had a machine, a dream of a machine, with springs and gears and perfect in every respect.

—Stanisław Lem's The Cyberiad

Very occasionally, if you really pay attention, life doesn't suck.

—Joss Whedon

It was better, he thought, to fail in attempting exquisite things than to succeed in the department of the utterly contemptible.

—Arthur Machen

Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.

—Karl Lagerfeld

One's view of the world and one's technique are indivisible.

—Hayao Miyazaki

I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.

—Friederich Nietzsche

The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think. The problem is that Johnny doesn't know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.

—Thomas Sowell

Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That's why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It's as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.

—Andrew Plotkin

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader's ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn't there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn't possible, & if it was the results wouldn't be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder's victim, & makes us very afraid.

—M. John Harrison

Contact with deformity has given modern sublimity something greater, more sublime than ancient beauty.

—Umberto Eco

From another side: is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or the Iliad with the printing press, not to mention the printing machine? Do not the song and saga of the muse necessarily come to an end with the printer's bar, hence do not the necessary conditions of epic poetry vanish?

—Karl Marx

"Would you like something? Tea? Cakes? We have everything except hope. There is no hope. We are shadows stumbling through the endless freezing dark of existence. Empire biscuits? All is futile. We try to impose meaning on the chaos of being, but there is no meaning. Fairy cakes? We cultivate a pointless optimism as our bodies decay and disintegrate towards the grave. We hope for the future, but in the end we come to dust. In the end, even the stars are extinguished and entropy reduces everything to a valueless nullity. We cannot win. We cannot break even. We cannot even stay out of the game. There is no hope. There is no escape. We are alone with this endless horror."

"That's okay. I like it here."

—Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol

Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring.

—Honoré de Balzac soon as we renounce fiction and illusion, we lose reality itself; the moment we subtract fictions from reality, reality itself loses its discursive-logical consistency.

—Slavoj Žižek

There is no web site that has a UI that comes close to the lamest newsreader in the world....they don't even let you do basic things like "don't show me messages I've already read". It's a continual source of amazement to me (though it shouldn't be) what people will settle for.

—Jamie "jwz" Zawinski

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

—W.C. Fields

I don't like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell—you see, I have friends in both places.

—Mark Twain

I had always loved beautiful and artistic things, though before leaving America I had had a very little chance of seeing any.

—Emma Albani

The scientist has marched in and taken the place of the poet. But one day somebody will find the solution to the problems of the world and remember, it will be a poet, not a scientist.

—Frank Lloyd Wright

People believe those who sell lotions that make lost hair grow back. They sense instinctively that the salesman is putting together truths that don't go together, that he's not being logical, that he's not speaking in good faith. But they've been told that God is mysterious, unfathomable, so to them incoherence is the closest thing to God. The farfetched is the closest thing to a miracle.

—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Advertising reaches out to touch the fantasy part of people's lives. And, you know, most people's fantasies are pretty sad.

—Frederik Pohl

Tremendous productivity gains can be realized with Java, particularly when the work was previously done with small reptiles or amphibians.


The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

—Carl Sagan

Modern education is like being taken to the world's greatest restaurant & being forced to eat the menu.

—Murray Gell-Mann

If you wind up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT.

—Frank Zappa

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.

—Matsuo Basho (attributed)

The utterance is like a spasm, naked contact with all influences at once. It does not want to get anywhere. It just takes place.

—D. H. Lawrence

— Everything written symbols can say has already passed by. They are like tracks left by animals.That is why the masters of meditation refuse to accept that writings are final. The aim is to reach true being by means of those tracks, those letters, those signs—but reality itself is not a sign, and it leaves no tracks. It doesn't come to us by way of letters or words. We can go toward it, by following those words and letters back to what they came from. But so long as we are preoccupied with symbols, theories and opinions, we will fail to reach the principle.

— But when we give up symbols and opinions, aren't we left in the utter nothingness of being?

— Yes.

—Kimura Kyūho, Kenjutsu Fushigi Hen

What Foucault says is that we can only avoid death and madness if we make existing into a "way", an "art".

—Gilles Deleuze

Of all those arts in which the wise excel, Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.

—André Breton

I was invited to give a talk at Google headquarters down in Mountain View last Tuesday. They sent somebody to fetch me (in a hybrid car, zowee!) from my hotel in San Francisco — as if I had any choice about catching a train down, right? Google HQ was a glass office park pod tucked into an inscrutable tangle of off-ramps, berms, manzanita clumps, and curb-cuts. But inside, it was all tricked out like a kindergarten. They had pool tables, and inflatable yoga balls, and $6000 electronic vibrating massage lounge chairs, and snack stations deployed at twenty-five step intervals, with lucite bins filled with chocolate raisins and granola. The employees dressed like children. There were two motifs: "skateboard rat" and "10th grade nerd." I suppose quite a few of them were millionaires. Many of the work cubicles were literally modular children's playhouses. I gave my spiel about the global oil problem and the unlikelihood that "alternative energy" would even fractionally replace it, and quite a few of the Googlers became incensed.

"Yo, Dude, you're so, like, wrong! We've got, like, technology!"

Yeah, well, they weren't interested in making a distinction between energy and technology (or, more precisely where Google is concerned, a massive web-based advertising scheme — because it is finally clear that all this talk about "connectivity" just leads to more commercial shilling, shucking, jiving, and generally fucking with your headspace in the interstices of whatever purposeful activity one may be struggling to enact on the internet).

—Jim Kunstler

Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.

—Stephen King

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

—Douglas Adams

There are few things more dull than the criticism which maintains that a thesis is untrue, and cannot understand that it is decorative.

—A.E. Waite

...Debugging-by-printf is a universal theme that transcends cultures and concrete syntaxes. This shit is Joseph Campbell, yo.

—Jason Reed

Once you've dressed and before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.

—Coco Chanel

What the hell is nostalgia doing in a science-fiction film? With the whole universe and all the future to play in, Lucas took his marvelous toys and crawled under the fringed cloth on the parlor table, back into a nice safe hideyhole, along with Flash Gordon and the Cowardly Lion and Huck Skywalker and the Flying Aces and the Hitler Jugend. If there's a message there, I don't think I want to hear it.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.

—Roland Barthes

There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

—John Swinton

You may say that it isn't necessary to read every last book. Well, it's also true that in war you don't have to kill every last soldier, but we still need every one of them.

—General Stumm von Bordwehr in Robert Musil's "The Man Without Qualities"

We think of ourselves as so fucking original, but we're like ants. Just a strand of fucking ants.

—Hunter S. Thompson

Anyone can say 'no'. It is the first word a child learns and often the first word he speaks. It is a cheap word because it requires no explanation, and many men and women have acquired a reputation for intelligence who know only this word and have used it in place of thought on every occasion.

—Chuck Jones

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

—Stewart Brand

The future is not google-able.

—William Gibson

The most dangerous thought you can have as a creative person is to think you know what you're doing.

—Bret Victor

No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.

—Frank Lloyd Wright

You're posting to a Scheme group. Around here, arguing that Java is better than C++ is like arguing that grasshoppers taste better than tree bark.

—Thant Tessman

The conspiracy theory of society...comes from abandoning God and then asking, "Who is in his place?"

—Karl Popper

I sometimes think that people's hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what's at the bottom. All you can do is guess from what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.

—Haruki Murakami

I don't really know if it's the right thing to do, making new life. Kids grow up, generations take their place. What does it all come to? More hills bulldozed and more ocean fronts filled in? Faster cars and more cats run over? Who needs it?

—Haruki Murakami

No, I ain't got a fax machine! I also ain't got an Apple IIc, polio, or a falcon.

—Ray Smuckles, Achewood

Don't worry about what anybody else is going to do. The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

—Alan Kay

Enamorarse es crear una religión cuyo dios es falible.
To fall in love is to create a religion whose god is fallible.

—Jorge Luis Borges

It is all very well to keep silence, but one has also to consider the kind of silence one keeps.

—Samuel Beckett

It makes me uncomfortable to talk about meanings and things. It is better not to know so much about what things mean. Because the meaning, it's a very personal thing and the meaning for me is different than the meaning for someone else.

—David Lynch

I would be content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

—Anna Quindlen

It's too late for the government to train me to be a weapon. For someone to approach me on the street, and to tell me I match a certain profile. I probably won't even learn another language well enough to speak it fluently. Giant crazed attack dogs won't ever suddenly act like scared puppies when they see me. I won't ever be a grandmaster of chess, either. I don't think at this stage I can even reasonably expect to make Expert. There are some things I regret as I get older, I guess. There are a ton of traditional ways to be bad-ass, and I missed the boat. But that's okay. It just means I have to be more creative. And then later that creativity will make people think I was an evil genius, instead of just so desperate for a world with monsters that I didn't mind becoming one myself. What I'm saying is - I stole an ice cream cone yesterday from the 7-11 and I have no regrets at all.

—Joey Comeau

We only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban... novel... a cheap novel.

—Werner Herzog

Donald Rumsfeld declared the looting in Iraq following "liberation" to be the consequence of "the pent-up feelings that result from decades of oppression". We await his wisdom on New Orleans.

—Chris Mazeika

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means...

—Umberto Eco, The Name of The Rose

That people do not learn very much from history is the most important of all the lessons history has to teach.

—Aldous Huxley

True learning must not be content with ideas, which are, in fact, signs, but must discover things in their individual truth.

—Umberto Eco, The Name of The Rose

Cat, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.

—Ambrose Bierce

Re graphics: A picture is worth 10K words - but only those to describe the picture. Hardly any sets of 10K words can be adequately described with pictures.

—Alan Perlis

I don't want your love unless you know I am repulsive, and love me even as you know it.

—Georges Bataille

I do not write about nice people. I am not nice people.

—Dorothy Allison

Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.

—Werner Herzog




Finally, I desired that, if there is to be talk about philosophy, there should be less trifling with the label "atheism" (which reminds one of children, assuring everyone who is ready to listen to them that they are not afraid of the bogy man), and that instead the content of philosophy should be brought to the people. Voilà tout.

—Karl Marx

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

—Hunter S. Thompson

When you correct someone's grammar, try to remember those rules are like the stars you see through a telescope, just pretty echoes of the long dead.

—Joey Comeau

Being really good at C++ is like being really good at using rocks to sharpen sticks.

—Thant Tessman

(Charlie Stross warned us about this. It’s William Gibson’s future, but we still need to clean up after it.)

—Mike Hoye

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.

—Johann Sebastian Bach

Every technology has a prejudice. Like language itself, it predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments. In a culture without writing, human memory is of the greatest importance, as are the proverbs, sayings and songs which contain the accumulated oral wisdom of centuries. That is why Solomon was thought to be the wisest of men. In Kings I we are told he knew 3,000 proverbs. But in a culture with writing, such feats of memory are considered a waste of time, and proverbs are merely irrelevant fancies. The writing person favors logical organization and systematic analysis, not proverbs. The telegraphic person values speed, not introspection. The television person values immediacy, not history...

Every technology has a philosophy which is given expression in how the technology makes people use their minds, in what it makes us do with our bodies, in how it codifies the world, in which of our senses it amplifies, in which of our emotional and intellectual tendencies it disregards. This idea is the sum and substance of what the great Catholic prophet, Marshall McLuhan meant when he coined the famous sentence, “The medium is the message.”

—Neil Postman

I have no plans to learn UML before I die. I'm sure they'll be teaching it in hell.

—David Barbour

I was never afraid of dead folk. You know that? They never hurt you. So many things in this town can hurt you, but the dead don't hurt hurt you. Living people hurt you. They hurt you so bad.

—Neil Gaiman

The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.

—Neil Gaiman

But what else results from this? Whoever acknowledges effective action in the thick of history as his essential task cannot prefer artistic action. Art acts poorly and little. It is clear that if Marx had followed the dreams of his youth and written the most beautiful novels in the world, he would have enchanted the world, but he would not have shaken it. Thus it is Capital that must be written and not War and Peace. We must not depict the murder of Caesar; we must be Brutus. These associations, these comparisons will appear absurd to contemplative minds. But as soon as art measures itself against action, immediate and pressing action can only put it in the wrong. It suffices to remember what Hölderlin wrote—Hölderlin about whom it would not be enough to say that his fate was linked to poetry’s, for he had no existence at all except in and for poetry. And yet, in 1799, speaking of the revolution which he saw imperiled, he wrote to his brother,

And if the kingdom of darkness erupts after all in full force, then let us throw our pens under the table and go in God’s name where the need is greatest and our presence the most useful.

Artistic activity, for him indeed who has chosen it, proves insufficient at the decisive hours—those hours that ring every hour—when “the poet must complete his message by renouncing himself.”

—Maurice Blanchot

Amy glances out the window; her hair, skin, and clothes take on a pronounced reddish tinge from Doppler effect as she drops out of the conversation at relativistic velocity.

—Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon

You are not compelled to form any opinion about this matter before you, nor to disturb your peace of mind at all. Things in themselves have no power to extort a verdict from you.

—Marcus Aurelius

For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.

—Ray Bradbury

Innovation for holders of conventional wisdom is not novelty but annihilation.

—Marshall McLuhan

Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.

—Kurt Vonnegut

Albert Camus, a great humanist and existentialist voice, pointed out that to commit to a just cause with no hope of success is absurd. But then he also noted that not committing to a just cause is equally absurd. But only one choice offers the possibility for dignity. And dignity matters.

—David Simon

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

—Bertrand Russell

Computer science is good because it has two words and I like both of them. I also like "butt" and "futz" but you have no degree in futz butt.

—Eddie Kohler

The tendency to believe that things never change, the inertia of daily existence, is a staple of living. It has always been a delusion.

—David A. Wollheim

Don't tell me what I'm doing. I don't want to know.

—Federico Fellini

hotan etetnshanshope hmpovoein ov pe tetnaaf

—The Gospel of Thomas

(Paraphrased) questions to ask of a new technology:

  • What is the problem to which this technology is the solution?
  • Whose problem is it?
  • What new problems might result from solving this problem?
  • Which people and institutions might be harmed by this solution?
  • How does the new technology change our language, and what are the implications of that?
  • What people and institutions gain economic or politcal power because of the technological change?

—Neil Postman

Idealists have it easy. Their reality is uniformly populated by appearances or phenomena, structured by linguistic representations or social conventions, so they can feel safe to engage in metaphysical speculation knowing that the contents of their world have been settled in advance. Realists, on the other hand, are committed to assert the autonomy of reality from the human mind, but then must struggle to define what inhabits that reality.

—Manuel de Landa long as steampunk is nothing more than what happens when goths discover brown.

—Charlie Stross

Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.

—Jorge Luis Borges

There is no point in waiting. The train stopped running years ago. All the schedules, the brochures, the bright-colored posters full of lies, promise rides to a distant country that no longer exists.

—William E. H. Lecky

Peace means something different from 'not fighting'. Those aren't peace advocates, they're 'stop fighting' advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.

—Jo Walton

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

—Bertrand Russell

Thompson, if he is to be believed, has sampled the entire rainbow of legal and illegal drugs in heroic efforts to feel better than he does. As for the truth about his health: I have asked around about it. I am told that he appears to be strong and rosy, and steadily sane. But we will be doing what he wants us to do, I think, if we consider his exterior a sort of Dorian Gray facade. Inwardly, he is being eaten alive by tinhorn politicians. The disease is fatal. There is no known cure. The most we can do for the poor devil, it seems to me, is to name his disease in his honor. From this moment on, let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson's disease. I don't have it this morning. It comes and goes. This morning I don't have Hunter Thompson's disease.

—Kurt Vonnegut

Java is like a variant of the game of Tetris in which none of the pieces can fill gaps created by the other pieces, so all you can do is pile them up endlessly.

—Steve Yegge

One morning Amparo and I were driving along the coast after having attended a seminar on the class structure of the lumpenproletariat. I saw some votive offerings on the beach, little candles, white garlands. Amparo told me they were offerings to Yemanjá, goddess of the waters. We stopped, and she got out and walked demurely onto the sand, stood a few moments in silence. I asked her if she believed in this. She retorted angrily: How could I think such a thing? Then she added, "My grandmother used to bring me to the beach here, and she would pray to the goddess to make me grow up beautiful and good and happy. Who was that Italian philosopher who made that comment about black cats and coral horns? 'It's not true, but I believe in it'? Well, I don't believe in it, but it's true."

—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Night time is really the best time to work. All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.

—Catherine O'Hara

True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.

—Abdal-Hakim Murad

Consumers are distressingly, disappointingly obtuse when it comes to their own personal privacy.

—Esther Dyson

Relationships are for the young and criminally insane.

—Ryan North

'Atheism' is a miserable, pathetic stance of those who long for God but cannot find him (or who 'rebel against God'). A true atheist does not choose atheism: for him, the question itself is irrelevant.

—Slavoj Žižek

Being able to read a warning on a pill bottle or write about a summer vacation is not literacy and our society should not treat it so.

—Alan Kay

"Regular people have sealed off the interior ocean that used to be in every man," Rimrock said. "They closed the ocean and ground up its monsters for fertilizer. That is why we so often enter into peoples' dreams. We take the place of the monsters they have lost."

—R.A. Lafferty

It is important to use your hands. This is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.

—Paul Rand

Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.

—Wallace Sayre

Having an object that symbolizes freedom might make a person happier than actually getting the freedom it represents.

—Haruki Murakami

The future is an inherently good thing, and we move into it one winter at a time. Things get better one winter at a time. So if you're going to celebrate something, then have a drink on this: the world is, generally and on balance, a better place to live this year than it was last year. For instance, I didn't have this gun last year.

—Spider Jerusalem Warren Ellis's "Transmetropolitan"

The fact that 'there are only a handful of bad cops' cuts no ice with me. If 'only a handful of McDonald's are spitting in your food,' you're not going to McDonald's.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates

Incredulity doesn't kill curiosity; it encourages it. Though distrustful of logical chains of ideas, I loved the polyphony of ideas. As long as you don't believe in them, the collision of two ideas — both false — can create a pleasing interval, a kind of diabolus in musica. I had no respect for some ideas people were willing to stake their lives on, but two or three ideas that I did not respect might still make a nice melody. Or have a good beat, and if it was jazz, all the better.

—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Relatively speaking, there are right views and wrong views. But if we look more deeply we see that all views are wrong.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

[Plan 9] did not become the successor to Unix, but the ideas within it are reinvented, in a debased and half-considered form, about once an hour in the open source community.

—Paul Ford

I don't pray because I don't want to bore God.

—Orson Welles

Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.

—Vincent van Gogh

People look at us and see the poor and the mad, but they're looking at us through the bars of their cages. There's a palace in your head, boy. Learn to live in it always.

—Mad Tom, Grant Morrison's The Invisibles

Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.

—Gertrude Stein

OO is like the Bible in that which scripture is to be interpreted metaphorically, and which is to be interpreted literally, is entirely a function of the religious agenda of the commentator. My own advice is to keep in mind that the stuff of computer programs is nothing but metaphor.

—Thant Tessman

All significant programming languages are expressively, conceptually, and aesthetically equivalent to Fortran and assembly language.

—Richard P. Gabriel

The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.

—Miyamoto Musashi

A narrator should not supply interpretations of his work; otherwise he would not have written a novel, which is a machine for generating interpretations.

—Umberto Eco

my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world—unless you're not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.
Does this sound dismal? It isn't.
It's the most wonderful life on earth.
Or so I feel.

—E.E. Cummings

Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole cover and die.

—Mel Brooks

Man is a god, in ruins

—Ralph Waldo Emerson may second their fortune, but cannot oppose it; that they may weave its warp, but cannot break it. Yet they should never give up, because there is always hope, though they know not the end and move towards it along roads which cross one another and as yet are unexplored; and since there is hope, they should not despair, no matter what fortune brings or in what travail they find themselves.

—Niccolo Machiavelli

America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.

—Claire Wolfe

If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.

—John Cage

I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent.

—Antonio Gramsci

Never apply a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem.

—supposedly seen on a bulletin board at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that I am a friend to the creatures of the earth when I am not busy eating them or wearing them.

—John Hodgman

Love, for me, is not sentimental love. True love is cold love. True love is cold without mercy.

—Slavoj Žižek

All the best people in life seem to like Linux.

—Steve Wozniak

Python keeps trying to shed its functional skin, only to reveal its acid wash jeans underneath. Ironed and starched and pegged.

—why the lucky stiff

Just as playing Dungeons & Dragons doesn't turn a kid into a wizard, pretending to be a homicidal maniac online doesn't make a man a killer. But determining what it does make him is one of the biggest ethical dilemmas facing modern society.

—Rita Ferrandino

I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive. Where have we heard it before? Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us—then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls. The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.

—Carl Sagan

I feel in Borges a curious implication: the unrealities of physical science and the senseless repetitions of history have made the world outside the library an uninhabitable vacuum. Just as physical man, in his cities, has manufactured an environment whose scope and challenge and hostility eclipse that of the natural world, so literate man has heaped up a counterfeit universe capable of supporting life.

—John Updike

It was then that [she] noticed that she had absent-mindedly transformed into a hundred and eleven perfect, tiny multicoloured fish. Each fish sang a different song.

—Neil Gaiman's Sandman

Haskell is faster than C++, more concise than Perl, more regular than Python, more flexible than Ruby, more typeful than C#, more robust than Java, and has absolutely nothing in common with PHP.

—Autrijus Tang

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.

—Buckminster Fuller

An ad that pretends to be art is — at absolute best — like somebody who smiles warmly at you only because he wants something from you. This is dishonest, but what's sinister is the cumulative effect that such dishonesty has on us: since it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill's real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defenses even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.

—David Foster Wallace

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.

—Tim O'Brien

La crisi consiste appunto nel fatto che il vecchio muore e il nuovo non può nascere: in questo interregno si verificano i fenomeni morbosi piú svariati.

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

—Antonio Gramsci

Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.

—Roland Barthes

For while there is clearly a mask, there is nothing behind it; it is a surface which conceals nothing but itself, and yet in so far as it suggests there is something behind it, prevents us from considering it as surface.

—J. L. Baudry

I don’t think there’s any other reason we have art than to save us, the way our liver is there to keep us alive. I have come to regard the arts as external organs. They have always been as critical to me as my kidneys are. It’s like a dialysis machine you draw yourself.

—Lynda Barry

There's no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons.

—Gilles Deleuze

In video and in photography when we make reproductions we always lose colour compared to the original because we are so afraid of making white skin look sickly. That's why colour is removed technically, and now we're used to the fact that there's less colour in video. I merely return the colour that technology has stolen.

—Pipilotti Rist

All life is conflict. Every breath that you draw represents a victory in the struggle of the whole Universe.

—Aleister Crowley

The 'west' — what curse has fallen upon it that at the term of its trajectory it produces only these businessmen, these shopkeepers, these racketeers with their blank stares and atrophied smiles... is it with such vermin as this that a civilization so delicate and so complex must come to an end?

—Emil Cioran

It's a cardboard universe, Jamis, and if you lean too hard against it you fall through, but god knows into what.

—Philip K. Dick

I will have an undergraduate class, let’s say a young white male student, politically-correct, who will say: “I am only a bourgeois white male, I can’t speak.” … I say to them: “Why not develop a certain degree of rage against the history that has written such an abject script for you that you are silenced?” Then you begin to investigate what it is that silences you, rather than take this very determinist position-since my skin colour is this, since my sex is this, I cannot speak… From this position, then, I say you will of course not speak in the same way about the Third World material, but if you make it your task not only to learn what is going on there through language, through specific programmes of study, but also at the same time through a historical critique of your position as the investigating person, then you will have earned the right to criticize, you be heard. When you take the position of not doing your homework- “I will not criticize because of my accident of birth, the historical accident” - that is the much more pernicious position.

—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.

—Jack Brown

Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out, but that's not why we're doing it.

—Richard Feynman

We're deathly afraid of that stabbing word 'pretentious,' the word that students use to curse each other's ambition. It's a young person's word, a shortcut-to-thinking word. I'm a big fan of pretension. It means 'an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment.' It doesn't mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.

—Warren Ellis

I believe in clear-cut positions. I think that the most arrogant position is this apparent, multidisciplinary modesty of "what I am saying now is not unconditional, it is just a hypothesis," and so on. It really is a most arrogant position. I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.

—Slavoj Žižek

Needless to say, this vision of what computing science is about is not universally applauded. On the contrary, it has met widespread—and sometimes even violent—opposition from ... the subculture of the compulsive programmer, whose ethics prescribe that one silly idea and a month of frantic coding should suffice to make him a life-long millionaire.

—E.W. Dijkstra

We can't be silent, 'cause they might be giants, and what are we going to do unless they are?

—They Might Be Giants

One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves.

—Carl Jung

No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.

—They Might Be Giants, "Don't Let's Start"

Surrealism aims at the total transformation of the mind and all that resembles it.

—André Breton

We're driving faster and faster into the future, trying to steer by using only the rear-view mirror.

—Marshall McLuhan

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

—John Rogers

Kill superheroes! Tell your own dreams.

—Alejandro Jodorowsky

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.

—Groucho Marx

There are books in which the footnotes, or the comments scrawled by some reader's hand in the margin, are more interesting than the text. The world is one of those books.

—George Santayana

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much closer to the truth. The basis of growth of modern invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intellectual curiosity.

—Alfred N. Whitehead

All men are guilty. They're born innocent, but it doesn't last.

—Le Cercle Rouge

You want to make your way in the CS field? Simple. Calculate rough time of amnesia (hell, 10 years is plenty, probably 10 months is plenty), go to the dusty archives, dig out something fun, and go for it. It's worked for many people, and it can work for you.

—Ron Minnich

Yeah, because I'm extremely romantic here. You know what is my fear? This postmodern, permissive, pragmatic etiquette towards sex. It's horrible. They claim sex is healthy; it's good for the heart, for blood circulation, it relaxes you. They even go into how kissing is also good because it develops the muscles here—this is horrible, my God! It's no longer that absolute passion. I like this idea of sex as part of love, you know: 'I'm ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever.' There is something nice, transcendent, about it. I remain incurably romantic.

—Slavoj Žižek

Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. (Roy Ascott's phrase.) That solves a lot of problems: we don't have to argue whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre's bricks or Andrew Serranos's piss or Little Richard's 'Long Tall Sally' are art, because we say, 'Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.' ... [W]hat makes a work of art 'good' for you is not something that is already 'inside' it, but something that happens inside you — so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art.

—Brian Eno

We are clearly on a slide-trough to destruction.

Watergate, the energy crisis, apartheid, holy ward, venality, vigilantism, apathy, corruption, fanaticism, racism, the deification of stupidity… none of these would be so terrifyingly prophetic of our rush to the grave were it not for the capabilities we possess to do ourselves in so efficiently and swiftly. The great lizards owned the planet for something like 130,000,000 years, but they didn't have slant-well drilling, pesticides, pollution, fast breeders, defoliants, demagogues, thermonuclear warheads, non-biodegradable plastics, The Pentagon, The Kremlin, The General Staff of the Peoples' Army, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and the FBI.

Poor lizards. What joys they missed. Had they not been so culturally deprived, they might have sunk into the swamps in a mere three thousand years.

If it sounds as though I still care, disabuse yourself of the idea. I've done too many college lectures. I've seen too many classrooms filled with no-neck children of parents whose motivation in life was, "My kid's gonna have the education I dint have." I've seen too many of those kids nodding off between Chaucer and Suckling, and I have grown disenchanted. You've let it ride too long, troops. You've frittered and fiddled and enshrined the hypocrites and slaughtered the dreamers, and now you can only get five gallons in your gas tank.

And if I've learned a lesson from that terrible time of fire and blood, it is that most reformers in the pure sense are clowns, shouting into the wind, balming their own guilts and making no ripple whatever. For every Gandhi or Nader or Bertrand Russell or Thoreau, there are a hundred thousand Nixons to stifle freedom of expression, joy of living, and preservation of the past. (My self-disillusionment in this area shows itself in the story "Silent in Gehenna," included in this collection.)

As for the future, wel, I'm brought in mind of a quote by Albert Camus:

"Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present."

And the present is being ripped-off and screwed-over by the omnipresent philosophy of I'm all right, Jack, which is a working-class Englishman's term for screw you, baby, I've got mine. It's your future, and you don' tseem to give a royal damn what happens to it.

So the Ellison who writes this is a little more calloused and tougher than the one who went to Selma with King in March of 1965, less hopeful and prone to sweeping gardyloos. The Ellison sitting here now is an older version of the kid from Painesville who stopped triyng to buck the tide of bigotry and stupidity and merely cut out to find the rest of the world.

Had I done this book in 1970, as originally planned, you'd find in this space a clarion call to revolution, a resounding challenge to the future. But it's four years later, Nixon time, and I've seen you sitting on your asses mumbling about impeachment. I've gone through ten years waiting for you to recognize how evil the war in the Nam was. I've watched you loaf and lumber through college and business and middle-class complacency, pursuing the twin goals of "happiness" and "security."

What fools you are. Happy, secure corpses you'll be.

You're approaching obligion, and you know it, and you won't do a thing to save yourselves.

As for me and you in this literary liason, well, I've paid my dues. Now I'm going to merely sit here on the side and laugh my ass off at how you sink into the quagmire like the triceratops. I'm going to laugh and jeer and wiggle my ears at your death throes. And how will I do that? By writing my stories. That's how I get my fix. You can OD on religion or dope or war or toadburgers, for all I care. I'm over here, watching you, and giggling, and saying, "This is what tomorrow looks like, dummy."

And if you hear me sobbing once in a while, it's only because you've killed me, too, you fuckers.

—Harlan Ellison

People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues. Sophocles' Oedipus Rex being a great example. Oedipus is drawn into tragedy not because of laziness or stupidity, but because of his courage and honesty. So an inevitable irony results.

—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of the pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our daily creative skill. All other work but this is worthless; it is slaves' work — mere toiling to live, that we may live to toil.

—William Morris

...semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie.

—Umberto Eco

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized.

—Bruce Schneier

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.

—Philip K. Dick

Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change.

—Frank Lloyd Wright

People think of good and bad teachers as engaged in the same activity, as if education was a substance, and that bad teachers supply a little of the substance, and good teachers supply a lot. This makes it difficult to understand that education can be a destructive process, and that bad teachers are wrecking talent, and that good and bad teachers are engaged in opposite activities.

—Keith Johnstone

Whenever I do things because I want to do it and because it seems fun or interesting and so on and so forth, it almost always works. And it almost always winds up more than paying for itself. Whenever I do things for the money, not only does it prove a headache and a pain in the neck and come with all sorts of awful things attached, but I normally don't wind up getting the money, either. So, after a while, you do sort of start to learn [to] just forget about the things where people come to you and dangle huge wads of cash in front of you. Go for the one that seems interesting because, even if it all falls apart, you've got something interesting out of it. Whereas, the other way, you normally wind up getting absolutely nothing out of it.

—Neil Gaiman

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

—Buckminster Fuller

She has her console and her random access memory. I have my nitwit piece of paper. But I want something to pass between us.

—Don Delillo

If you can’t express something in an interesting fashion via the language of game mechanics, then you shouldn’t be making a game. Instead, you should be expressing those ideas via some other medium.

—Juan Carlo

Beware of "the real world". A speaker's appeal to it is always an invitation not to challenge his tacit assumptions.

—Edsger Dijkstra

Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.

—Haruki Murakami

I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase "In these days of political correctness..." talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, "That's not actually anything to do with 'political correctness'. That's just treating other people with respect."

Which made me oddly happy. I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase "politically correct" wherever we could with "treating other people with respect", and it made me smile.

You should try it. It's peculiarly enlightening.

I know what you're thinking now. You're thinking "Oh my god, that's treating other people with respect gone mad!"

—Neil Gaiman

Bourgeois ideology is an ideology which refuses to allow itself to be identified as an ideology by presenting itself as neutral, impartial, universal, objective and value-free.

—Roland Barthes

Just say "here" and we'll consider the word "here" to be short for "Here I am, rock you like a hurricane."


There are people who barely feel poetry, and they are generally dedicated to teaching it.

—Jorge Luis Borges

Some cynical people think that every activity must revolve around the mighty dollar, and that anyone saying otherwise is just attempting to delude the public. I will probably never be able to convice them that that isn't always the case, but I do have the satisfaction of knowing that I live in a less dingy world than they do.

—John Carmack

Facebook's very premise—and promise—is that it makes our friendship circles visible. There they are, my friends, all in the same place. Except, of course, they're not in the same place, or, rather, they're not my friends. They're simulacra of my friends, little dehydrated packets of images and information, no more my friends than a set of baseball cards is the New York Mets.

—William Deresiewicz

It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.

—Frank Herbert

I don't miss my youth. I'm glad I had one, but I wouldn't like to start over.

—Umberto Eco

I don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't a fish.

—Marshall McLuhan

Q. "Do you think everything works out for the best?"
A. "Maybe not the best, but everything works out to something."

—John Cage

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

The internet's completely over. ...all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you.


It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money, so long as you have got it.

—Edwin Way Teale, quoted by Carl Sagan

I do not want that the man conquers space
In the ships of NASA
These concentration camps of the spirit
These gigantic freezers vomiting the imperialism
These slaughters of plundering and plunder
This arrogance of bronze and thirst
This eunuchoid science
Not the dribble of transistorised and riveted hulks
The divine one
The delirious one
The superb one
I want magical entities, vibrating vehicles
To prolong to be to it abyss
Like fish of a timeless ocean. I want
Jewels, mechanics as perfect as the heart
Womb-ships anterooms
Rebirth into other dimensions
I want whore-ships driven
By the sperm of passionate ejaculations
In an engine of flesh
I want rockets complex and secret,
Humming-bird ornithopters,
Sipping the thousand-year-old nectar of dwarf stars...

—Alejandro Jodorowsky

Java seems to have been designed to strike a careful balance between making the type system as obstructive as possible while minimizing any actual guarantees of correctness.

—Casey McCann

I am so used to plunging into the unknown that any other surroundings and form of existence strike me as exotic and unsuitable for human beings.

—Werner Herzog

There is not sufficient love and goodness in the world to permit us to give some of it away to imaginary beings.

—Friederich Nietzsche

The only emotion which doesn't decieve is anxiety. All other emotions are fake.

—Slavoj Žižek

That is the problem with this rich and anguished generation. Somewhere a long time ago they fell in love with the idea that politicians—even the slickest and brightest presidential candidates—were real heroes and truly exciting people. That is wrong on its face. They are mainly dull people with corrupt instincts and criminal children.

—Hunter S. Thompson

Things. They came up. That's what things do. They come up. I can't be expected to keep track of them all.

—Spider, from Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys

A functor F takes each type T and maps it to a new type FT. A burrito is like a functor: it takes a type, like meat or beans, and turns it into a new type, like beef burrito or bean burrito.

—Mark Dominus

"You're no help," he told the lime. This was unfair. It was only a lime; there was nothing special about it at all. It was doing the best it could.

—Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys

Things are set up as contraries that are not even in the same category. Listen to me: the opposite of radical is superficial; the opposite of liberal is stingy; the opposite of conservative is destructive. Thus I will describe myself as a radical conservative liberal; but certain of the tainted red fish will swear that there can be no such fish as that. Beware of those who use words to mean their opposites. At the same time have pity on them, for usually this trick is their only stock in trade.

—R.A. Lafferty

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

—Richard Feynman

I see no reason to make a distinction, because I’m not some sort of taxonomy psycho. Honestly, when I think of the question "what is poetry" I picture Linnaeus and David Lehman absolutely making out, hands up each other’s shirts, while everyone who participates in modern American poetry watches.

—Patricia Lockwood

If you sincerely desire a truly well-rounded education, you must study the extremists, the obscure and "nutty". You need the balance! Your poor brain is already being impregnated with middle-of-the-road crap, twenty-four hours a day, no matter what. Network TV, newspapers, radio, magazines at the supermarket... even if you never watch, read, listen, or leave your house, even if you are deaf and blind, the telepathic pressure alone of the uncountable normals surrounding you will insure that you are automatically well-grounded in consensus reality.

—Rev. Ivan Stang High Weirdness By Mail

... that power of accurate observation which is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

We're more of the love, blood and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

—Tom Stoppard

The object of life is to make sure you die a weird death. To make sure that, however it finds you, it finds you under very weird circumstances.

—Thomas Pynchon

I cannot afford to waste my time making money.

—Jean Louis Agassiz

But I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything.

—Charles Darwin

The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it—I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it is rotten. This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics is hopeless.

—Hayao Miyazaki

That God of the clergymen, He is for me as dead as a doornail. But am I an atheist for all that? The clergymen consider me as such—be it so; but I love, and how could I feel love if I did not live, and if others did not live, and then, if we live, there is something mysterious in that. Now call that God, or human nature or whatever you like, but there is something which I cannot define systematically, though it is very much alive and very real, and see, that is God, or as good as God. To believe in God for me is to feel that there is a God, not a dead one, or a stuffed one, but a living one, who with irresistible force urges us toward aimer encore; that is my opinion.

—Vincent van Gogh

The technology industry sees itself as in rebellion against corporate America: not corrupt, not buttoned-up, not empty. In fact, a tech company can be as corrupt, soulless, and empty as any corporation, but being unprofessional helps us maintain the belief that we are somehow different from Wall Street.

—Shanley Kane

Part of the appeal of the fantastic is taking ridiculous ideas very seriously and pretending they're not absurd.

—China Míeville

Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.

—Italo Calvino

The essence of XML is this: the problem it solves is not hard, and it does not solve the problem well.

—Phil Wadler

A person who was exposed to machines and doesn't hate them is either an idiot or is completely devoid of soul! Step back, the child of Satan!

—Yossi Kreinin

I'd just like to take this moment to point out that C has all the expressive power of two dixie cups and a string.

—Jamie "jwz" Zawinski, xkeycaps source

In 1974, computers were oppressive devices in far-off airconditioned places. Now you can be oppressed by computers in your own living room.

—Ted Nelson

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.

—Thomas Pynchon

Java is the most distressing thing to happen to computing since MS-DOS.

—Alan Kay

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.

—John le Carré

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.


When I was young there were beatniks. Hippies. Punks. Gangsters. Now you’re a hacktivist. Which I would probably be if I was 20. Shuttin’ down MasterCard. But there’s no look to that lifestyle! Besides just wearing a bad outfit with bad posture. Has WikiLeaks caused a look? No! I’m mad about that. If your kid comes out of the bedroom and says he just shut down the government, it seems to me he should at least have an outfit for that.

—John Waters

I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.

—Humphrey Bogart

I recommend the linux people to call it "GNU / Linux" instead of "GNU/Linux". never hurts to distance yourself from GNU.


The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, new programs, new films, new items, but always the same meaning.

—Roland Barthes

It's not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it's yours, and then be willing to let it go.

—Neil Gaiman

SQL, Lisp, and Haskell are the only programming languages that I've seen where one spends more time thinking than typing.

—Philip Greenspun

If only there were evil people somewhere committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I am not human. I am a monster, I claim. It's not that I have a mask of a theoretician, and beneath I am a more human person: I like chocolate cake, I like this, I like that, and so on, which makes me human. I rather prefer myself as somebody who, not to offend others, pretends, plays that he is human.

—Slavoj Žižek

Not a single star will be left in the night. The night will not be left. I will die and, with me, the weight of the intolerable universe. I shall erase the pyramids, the medallions, the continents and faces. I shall erase the accumulated past. I shall make dust of history, dust of dust. Now I am looking on the final sunset. I am hearing the last bird. I bequeath nothingness to no one.

—Jorge Luis Borges

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

—George Orwell

There is no line between the 'real world' and 'world of myth and symbol.' Objects, sensations, hit with the impact of hallucination.

—William S. Burroughs

Otherwise, I know I'm often wasting my breath and electronic ink saying this, but the "real-world" is a pretty weird place where lots of inexplicable things happen all the time, and I like to catch the flavor of that too. It just seems more modern and authentic to me as a storyteller. The "real world" doesn't come with the neat thee-act structures and resolutions we love to impose on it, and if repeated doses of movie and TV-storytelling have convinced anyone that it does, it's time to get out and about a bit. The real world is filled with ghost stories, non sequiturs, inexplicable mysteries, dead ends and absurdities, and I think it's cool to season our comfortable fictions with at least a little taste of what actual reality is like.

—Grant Morrison

I am the only man living who understands human nature; God has put me in charge of this branch office; when I retire there will be no-one to take my place. I shall keep on doing my duty, for when I get over on the other side, I shall use my influence to have the human race drowned again, and this time drowned good. No omissions. No Ark.

—Mark Twain

Fantasy is true, of course. It isn't factual, but it is true. Children know that. Adults know it too, and that is precisely why many of them are afraid of fantasy. They know that its truth challenges, even threatens, all that is false, all that is phony, unnecessary, and trivial... They are afraid of dragons, because they are afraid of freedom.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.

—Michel Foucault

the other perfect thing would be if the Internet could be hand written. If I ever get a time machine, I'm going to go back and smash the Gutenberg press so that when the Internet arrives, it'll be transcribed by monks the way GOD INTENDED.

—why the lucky stiff

I am very interested in words, and what we have words for and what we haven't got words for. For instance, the word "paranoia." It always seems very strange to me that we have this word which means, in effect, that someone feels that he is being persecuted when the people who are persecuting him don't think that he is. But we haven't got a word for the condition in which you are persecuting someone without realizing it, which I would have thought is as serious a condition as the other, and certainly no less common.

—R. D. Laing

Well, if identity is only a game, if it is only a procedure to have relations, social and sexual-pleasure relationships that create new friendships, it is useful. But if identity becomes the problem of sexual existence, and if people think that they have to ‘uncover’ their ‘own identity,’ and that their own identity has to become the law, the principle, the code of their existence; if the perennial question they ask is 'Does this thing conform to my identity?’ then, I think, they will turn back to a kind of ethics very close to the old heterosexual virility. If we are asked to relate to the question of identity, it must be an identity to our unique selves. But the relationships we have to have with ourselves are not ones of identity, rather, they must be relationships of differentiation, of creation, of innovation. To be the same is really boring. We must not exclude identity if people find their pleasure through this identity, but we must not think of this identity as an ethical universal rule.

—Michel Foucault

...mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man.

—Jorge Luis Borges

In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.

—John von Neumann

...the data of one narrative line are radically impoverished by their rewriting according to the paradigm of another narrative, which is taken as the former's masture code or ur-narrative and proposed as the ultimate hidden or unconscious meaning of the first one.

—Jameson (1981)

Dance like you’re stamping on a human face forever, love like you’ve been in a serious car crash that minced the front of your brain, stab like no one can arrest you, and live like there’s no such thing as God.

—Warren Ellis

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must have been caused by an incompetent grad student.

—Andrew Plotkin

So, Kafka was a realist after all.

—G. Lukács

Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.

—Isaac Newton

Comparing a computer language to a human language is like comparing an operating system kernel to a popcorn kernel.


Monsters are meaning machines. They can represent gender, race, nationality, class, and sexuality in one body. And even within these divisions of identity, the monster can still be broken down. Dracula, for example, can be read as aristocrat, a symbol of the masses; he is predator and yet feminine, he is consumer and producer, he is parasite and host, he is homosexual and heterosexual, he is even a lesbian. Monsters and the Gothic fiction that creates them are therefore technologies, narrative technologies that produce the perfect figure for negative identity. Monsters have to be everything the human is not and, in producing the negative of human, these novels make way for the invention of human as white, male, middle class, and heterosexual.

—Jack Halberstam

The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

geek culture is so fascinating, it's like a contest of who can cram more pieces of popular media into the gaping void where a personality should be


I always tell my students that Scheme is my second favorite programming language. After they recover from this statement, they naturally always ask what my favorite language is, to which I respond with "I am still working on it." That is, really experienced programmers always try to improve on their major mode of thought.

—Matthias Felleisen

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.

—Carl Jung

That’s the best thing about language: every time you use a word you are summoning so many other things—all the times that word has ever been used. I know this sounds a little psychedelic, but maybe I have an ancestor one hundred years ago who used this word that I choose to write now. What does it mean that everything that we are writing is recycled? Words are full of ghosts. Poetry is full of ghosts.

—Morgan Parker

Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.

—Teresa Nielsen Hayden

In the mode, perhaps, of Stewart Brand stating that we are as gods and might as well get good at it, we are building our own spirit world, summoning the mysterium tremendum as the condition we want to live in. The spirit world as big and scary thing, the inhuman continuum in which we operate. Lots of people view the spectre of non-biological intelligence as the Devil. Everyone from Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking is trembling at its prospect. But the Devil is a story. A fiction. No more than a made-up name for a thing that is inside us, just as the "angels" Aleister Crowley conversed with bore his secret true name for elements of his own subconscious. No more than code.

—Warren Ellis

...It's in words that the magic is—Abracadabra, Open Sesame, and the rest—but the real magic words in one story aren't magical in the next. The real magic is to understand which words work, and when, and for what; the trick is to learn the trick. ...And those words are made from the letters of our alphabet: a couple-dozen squiggles we can draw with the pen. This is the key! And the treasure, too, if we can only get our hands on it! It's as if—as if the key to the treasure is the treasure!

—John Barth

As my mother once said: The boys throw stones at the frogs in jest.

But the frogs die in earnest.

—Joanna Russ

  1. I have done my share of semantics.
  2. I am doing my share of systems building.
  3. And I really wish that I could say 1 and 2 are related.

—Matthias Felleisen

this is my workbench, dammit, it's not a pretty box to impress people with graphics and sounds. when I work at this system up to 12 hours a day, I'm profoundly uninterested in what user interface a novice user would prefer.

—Erik Naggum

People do have a right to put their code under whatever license they like. Now, I won't use the stuff I don't have a source for unless I have exceptionally good reason to believe that authors of that stuff are among the few percents of programmers who can find their arse without outside help. But that has nothing to do with licensing or any moral considerations and everything to the fact that I know what kind of crap most of the software is.


I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.

—Albert Einstein

Every man is a revolutionist concerning the thing he understands. For example, every person who has mastered a profession is a sceptic concerning it, and consequently a revolutionist. Every genuine religious person is a heretic and therefore a revolutionist.

—John Tanner G.B. Shaw's "Man and Superman"

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind — mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the instant translation of science and technology into popular imagery, the increasing blurring and intermingling of identities within the realm of consumer goods, the preempting of any free or original imaginative response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. For the writer in particular it is less and less necessary for him to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent the reality.

—J.G. Ballard

Tragedy is restful, and the reason is that hope, that foul, deceitful thing, has no part in it.

—Jean Anouilh

The glory of becoming a transcendent being is the only reason for living.

—Lao Russell

All we who write put me in mind of sailors hastily making rafts upon doomed ships. When we break up under the heavy years and go down into eternity with all that is ours our thoughts like small lost rafts float on awhile upon Oblivion's sea. They will not carry much over those tides, our names and a phrase or two and little else.

—Lord Dunsany

"Still, all's well that ends well."

"This didn't end well."

"That makes my remark irrelevant, not false."

—Terror Island

There are people out there so heavily specialized in wearable technology that they call shirts with networked devices built into them 'wearable shirts.' They're so deep into their own silo futurism that they've forgotten how shirts work.

—Warren Ellis

They call you heartless: but you have a heart, and I love you for being ashamed to show it.

—Friederich Nietzsche

Google has facts. Cities have secrets.

—Kevin Slavin

Ignore everybody. The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.

—Hugh MacLeod

Beauty in music is too often confused with something that lets the ears lie back in an easy chair.

—Charles Ives

What I like to do is take that video of David Lynch talking about the horror of watching films "on your fucking telephone" and watch it on my fucking telephone, and then I think about things like why, in Britain, we call the television the telly but we call the telephone the phone, and that maybe we should have called the television the vision, except of course that they were once called televisors, so we could have called it the visor, which is actually kind of nice, and in Spain they're still called televisors so why the fuck not, and also it occurs to me that once upon a time people could listen to concerts over the telephone, and now we can make phone calls through our televisions, and given that "film," "television" and "phone" are now words that denote spaces around things rather than the things they originally defined, I think I'll watch a film on anything I like and all devices are now called "scopes" until further notice.

—Warren Ellis

Since the world drifts into delirium, we must adopt a delirious point of view.

—Jean Baudrillard

Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.

—Autolycus, Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.

—Jean Baudrillard

In the Languedoc there is a vineyard that teaches us an important lesson about textbook learning and its application to the world. In the early Seventies it was bought by a wealthy couple, who consulted professors Emile Peynaud and Henri Enjalbert, the world’s leading academic oenologist and oenological geologist respectively. Between them these men convinced the couple that their new vineyard had a theoretically ideal microclimate for wine-making. When planted with theoretically ideal vines whose fruits would be processed in the optimal way according to the up-to-date science of oenology, this vineyard had the potential to produce wine to match the great first growths of Bordeaux. The received wisdom that great wine was the product of an inscrutable (and untransferable) tradition was quite mistaken, the professors said: it could be done with hard work and a fanatical attention to detail. The couple, who had no experience of wine-making but much faith in professorial expertise, took a deep breath and went ahead.

If life were reliably like novels, their experiment would have been a disaster. In fact Aimé and Véronique Guibert have met with a success so unsullied that it would make a stupefying novel (it has already been the subject of a comatogenic work of non-fiction). The first vintage they declared (in 1978) was described by Gault Millau as ‘Château Lafite du Languedoc’; others have been praised to the heights by the likes of Hugh Johnson and Robert Parker. The wine is now on the list at the Tour d’Argent and the 1986 vintage retails at the vineyard for £65 a bottle. The sole shadow on the lives of these millionaires is cast by the odd hailstorm.

No one to whom I have begun recounting the story believes it will end well. Most people are extremely unwilling to grant that faith in textbook knowledge should ever be crowned with success. We have a very strong narrative bias against such stories. It is a bias we forget once our children fall sick or we have to travel in an aeroplane, but so long as we are in storytelling mode we simply deny that systematic textbook reasoning can make headway against whimsy and serendipity. Apart from anything else, it is deeply unfair that it should.

—Paul Seabright

Lynch scholarship is still very much dominated by Slavoj Žižek, and under this Lacanian rubric his films are held to be all about dreams, the play between fantasy and reality; the point, as Žižek puts it, is ‘to discern in [the film] the part of (symbolic) reality and the part of fantasy hallucination.’ Less scholarly critics are also fond of this line – describe a film as ‘dreamlike,’ and you’re suddenly under no obligation to make any sense of it whatsoever. This is nonsense. A film is fantasy throughout, there’s no point in trying to identify which part of it contains the ‘real’ narrative and which does not; it’s as stupid as trying to work out whether Tony Soprano dies at the end, as if he were ever alive. Lynch’s films aren’t about dreams, they’re about media, infinite layers of image and representation. The camera in the Mystery Man’s hand, the tape mailed to your house, the video you watch from your seat until you find yourself, suddenly, within it. Reducing the Lynchian vertigo to oneirocriticism is actually deeply boring. Dreams are just a rearrangement of reality, but if you fold the process of representation you get mise en abyme, the image emerging from the void.

—Sam Kriss

My thing is to work more than the others to show them how useless they are.

—Karl Lagerfeld

Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.

—Vincent van Gogh

i know it might feel galling and ludicrous to put the word 'art' anywhere near banksy's latest Mickey Mouse Firing a Kalashnikov Rifle into A Crowd piece, or this week's Big Jaw Man Grunts Angrily videogame, but that's exactly why we should do it. remind them that this sort of thing has a history, we have standards and expectations for it, and in the face of all prior human accomplishment, all the beauty we've ever created, all the emotions we've poured into creative work, they freely chose to make the big jaw man do the angry grunt again


Zaphod, whatever happens from now on, I just want you to know, I respect you. Only not very much.

—Douglas Adams

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.

—Alan Perlis

Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it. For a house that was final, one that stood in symmetrical relation to the house we were born in, would lead to thoughts—serious, sad thoughts—and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.

—Gaston Bachelard

Smalltalk was deeply inspired by LISP. Everything was deeply inspired by LISP, because it's so fundamental. People either learned it, and were inspired, or refused to learn it, and reinvented it in half-assed form.

—Paul Ford

It is not that uncommon for the cost of an abstraction to outweigh the benefit it delivers. Kill one today!

—John Carmack

Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire—it tells you how to desire.

—Slavoj Žižek

The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought.

—Sir Thomas Beecham

For what purpose humanity is there should not even concern us: why you are there, that you should ask yourself: and if you have no ready answer, then set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them! I know of no better life purpose than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible...

—Friederich Nietzsche, unpublished note a story the actors of course take part in the action, but the actors are the embodiment of the actants, which might be described as the narrative roles through which the actors can pass, perhaps changing their function in the plot structure.

—Umberto Eco

the difference between video games and pornography is ... that one is a highly commercial medium of highly disputed (and disputable) artistic merit which is largely dominated by male power fantasies and characterized by shoddy acting, laughable dialogue, and two-dimensional plots that many people simply skip past to get to the action and which is perpetually at the center of a media shitstorm for its graphic and often outright puerile content, and in which women always have unfeasibly massive hooters quivering beneath bizarre and scanty costumes, but which is rabidly defended by a massive fanbase who range from the fairly reasonable to the clearly deranged who loyally purchase tickets to conventions at which they awkwardly photograph themselves crooking their arms around real human women wearing aforementioned bizarre and scanty costumes with a minimum of self-awareness or -reflection

whereas the other is my horse, who i have named "pornography" for reasons i shall reveal to neither man nor god. PORNOGRAPHY AWAY


You are not noble in reason, infinite in faculty, like an angel in your actions, or especially moving in your form. However, you are a real piece of work.


[He] reveals that he has never had Recipe Cake. This is a delicious cake whose batter is made out of the best cake recipes (if you use pie recipes, it won't taste nearly as good). The best results are had if the recipes are printed in French, in Baskerville Roman. A preponderance of accents aigus lends a deliciously piquant aroma to the cake.

—Douglas Hofstatder

Men develop a strong loyalty to violence. Men must come to terms with violence because it is the prime component of male identity. Institutionalized in sports, the military, acculturated sexuality, the history and mythology of heroism, it is taught to boys until they become its advocates-men, not women. Men become advocates of that which they most fear. In mastery of fear they experience freedom. Men transform their fear of male violence into a metaphysical commitment to male violence. Violence itself becomes the central definition of any experience that is profound and significant.

—Andrea Dworkin

People don't complete us. We complete ourselves. If we haven't the power to complete ourselves, the search for love becomes a search for self-annihilation, and then we try to convince ourselves that self-annihilation is love.

—Erica Jong

Nerds do not redefine adulthood. They waste it.

—Pictures for Sad Children

"Recursion: see 'Recursion'" is a very old joke. It's also a stinking lie. The correct definition is: Recursion: If you know what recursion is, just remember the answer. Otherwise, locate someone who is standing closer to Douglas Hofstadter than you are, and ask him/her what recursion is.

—Andrew Plotkin

One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Everyone's looking for someone to blame. Society. Culture. Hollywood. Predators. Looking everywhere but the right place. Children are very simple, Mr. Jerusalem. Very easy devices to break, or assemble wrong. You want to know who did this to these kids? Only their parents. That's the thing no one wants to hear. Every time you stop thinking about how you're treating your kid, you make one of these. It really is as simple as that. It's got nothing to do with the failure of the society or any of that. It's got everything to do with the responsibility of making a human.

—Warren Ellis

The kinds of landscape I try to find in my films... exist only in our dreams. For me a true landscape is not just a representation of a desert or a forest. It shows an inner state of mind, literally inner landscapes, and it is the human soul that is visible through the landscapes presented in my films.

—Werner Herzog

Coffee should be hot as hell, black as death, and gulped greatly from a cadaver-hued earthenware mug while listening to nightmarish glitch techno through big fuck-off headphones and staring out the window at fall-colored ash leaves shuddering in low-horizon sunlight as window drafts under your ugly desk refrigerate your feet.

—Turkish proverb

The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted and intelligent. The machine easily masters the grim and dumb.

—Marshall McLuhan

The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.

—Bertrand Russell

What if, however, humans exceed animals in their capacity for violence precisely because they speak? As Hegel was already well aware, there is something violent in the very symbolisation of a thing, which equals its mortification. This violence operates at multiple levels. Language simplifies the designated thing, reducing it to a single feature. It dismembers the thing, destroying its organic unity, treating its parts and properties as autonomous. It inserts the thing into a field of meaning which is ultimately external to it. When we name gold "gold," we violently extract a metal from its natural texture, investing into it our dreams of wealth, power, spiritual purity, and so on, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the immediate reality of gold.

—Slavoj Žižek

"Cultivate   in   yourself           a   grand   similarity       with   the   chaos   of   the   surrounding   ether.                       Unloose           your   mind           and   set   your   spirit           free.                              Be   still           as   if   you   had   no   soul."

—John Cage

...but the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.

—Rudyard Kipling

Some people have very sensitive corns, and the only way to live with them is to step on those corns until they are used to it.

—Wolfgang Pauli

It's why supporting freedom of speech so often involves defending the indefensible, and is, often uncomfortably, the right thing to do.

—Neil Gaiman

The famous mathematical sociologist Paul Lazarfeld once said, "You never understand a phenomenon unless you can make it go away." We might add, "or unless you can reverse its direction."

Psychologist William McGuire (1983, 1989) suggested as one of many ways to develop new hypotheses that you can take some seemingly obvious relationship and imagine conditions where its opposite would hold.

—Robert P. Abelson, Statistics as Principles Argument

La mia praticità consiste in questo: nel sapere che a battere la testa contro il muro è la testa a rompersi e non il muro.

My practicality consists of this: in the knowledge that if you beat your head against the wall, it is your head that breaks and not the wall.

—Antonio Gramsci

My relationship towards tulips is inherently Lynchian. I think they are disgusting. Just imagine. Aren't these some kind of, how do you call it, vagina dentata, dental vaginas threatening to swallow you? I think that flowers are something inherently disgusting. I mean, are people aware what a horrible thing these flowers are? I mean, basically it's an open invitation to all insects and bees, "Come and screw me," you know? I think that flowers should be forbidden to children.

—Slavoj Žižek

You know... I think there's a thing. When you've gone as far as you dare. And if you go any further, you wouldn't be you anymore? You'd be the person who'd done that? The places you just can't go... I think that happened to me tonight.

—Neil Gaiman, "How To Talk To Girls At Parties"

I don't believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there's one thing that's dangerous for an artist, it's precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and the rest of it.

—Federico Fellini

All software sucks, be it open-source [or] proprietary. The only question is what can be done with particular instance of suckage, and that's where having the source matters.


Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don’t read Shakespeare. Read Webster’s revenge plays. Don’t read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he’s off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. If you want to read about myth don’t read Joseph Campbell, read about convulsive religion, read about voodoo and the Millerites and the Munster Anabaptists. There are hundreds of years of extremities, there are vast legacies of mutants. There have always been geeks. There will always be geeks. Become the apotheosis of geek. Learn who your spiritual ancestors were. You didn’t come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable.

—Bruce Sterling

A true revelation, it seems to me, will only emerge from stubborn concentration on a solitary problem. I am not in league with inventors or adventurers, nor with travelers to exotic destinations. The surest—also the quickest—way to awake the sense of wonder in ourselves is to look intently, undeterred, at a single object. Sudenly, miraculously, it will reveal itself as something we have never seen before.

—Cesare Pavese, Dialoghi con Leucò

Leave the possible to those who love it.

—Georges Bataille

Yes, being an adult is a drag, but the orgasms are terrific.

—Matt Groening

I haven't been very clear, this isn't really how I had thought of it... but before my thoughts can turn into spoken words they have to go through an empty space and they come out false.

—Italo Calvino

We don't know much about Masks in this culture ... because this culture is usually hostile to trance states. We distrust spontaneity, and try to replace it by reason: the Mask was driven out of theatre in the same way that improvisation was driven out of music. ... Education itself might be seen as primarily an anti-trance activity.

I see the Mask as something that is continually flaring up in this culture, only to be almost immediately snuffed out. No sooner have I established a tradition of Mask work somewhere than the students start getting taught the 'correct' movements, just as they learn a phoney 'Commedia dell' Arte' technique.

—Keith Johnstone

This, precisely, is the line of reasoning we should reject; let us take the extreme case, a mortal and violent struggle against a Fascist enemy. Should we show respect for the abyss of the radical Otherness of Hitler's personality beneath all his evil acts? It is here that we should apply Christ's famous words about how he has come to bring the sword and division, not unity and peace: out of our very love for humanity, including (whatever remains of) the humanity of the Nazis themselves, we should fight them in an absolutely ruthless and disrespectful way. In short, the Jewish saying often quoted apropos of the Holocaust ('When somebody saves one man from death, he saves the whole of humanity') should be supplemented with: 'When somebody kills just one true enemy of humanity, he (not not kills, but saves) the whole of humanity.' The true ethical test is not only the readiness to save victims, but also—even more, perhaps—the ruthless dedication to annihilating those who made them victims.

—Slavoj Žižek

As for us regular people: love, peace, happiness. Pick one.

—Numair Faraz

Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia. Everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated. Admittedly, there is the primal shock of the deserts and the dazzle of California, but when this is gone, the secondary brilliance of the journey begins, that of the excessive, pitiless distance, the infinity of anonymous faces and distances, or of certain miraculous geological formations, which ultimately testify to no human will, while keeping intact an image of upheaval. This form of travel admits of no exceptions: when it runs up against a known face, a familiar landscape, or some decipherable message, the spell is broken: the amnesic, ascetic, asymptotic charm of disappearance succumbs to affect and worldly semiology.

—Jean Baudrillard

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think you are fucked.

—Philip Greenspun

Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treausre of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

—Umberto Eco, The Name of The Rose

I have been a working film director (REPO MAN, WALKER, etc) for twenty-odd years, and copyright law has never worked in my favour - only in the favour of massive corporations such as Universal / Vivendi, which seize even the "so-called inalienable rights of authors." Patent and copyright laws are a fraud perpetrated by corporations and governments against the actual producers of creative work. The independent filmmaker's rule of thumb is always, if Jack Valenti's in favour of it, I'm against it.

—Alex Cox

He knows that there are in the soul tints more bewildering, more numberless and more nameless, than the colours of an autumn forest... Yet he seriously believes that these things can every one of them, in all their tones and semi-tones, in all their blends and unions, be accurately represented by an arbitrary system of grunts and squeals. He believes that an ordinary civilised stockbroker can really produce out of his own inside, noises which denote all the mysteries of memory and all the agonies of desire.

—G.K. Chesterton

Maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found out a way to live out there where the real winds blow - to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whiskey and ride fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested... Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.

—Hunter S. Thompson

Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.

—Arnold Edinborough

The only solution to this deadlock is to posit a kind of pre-ontological perturbation/inversion/disturbance within nirvana itself—that is to say, prior to the split between nirvana and false appearance—so that the Absolute itself (the cosmic Force, or whatever it is called) gets radically perverted. The traces of this inversion are discernible even in pop-cultural New Age icons like Darth Vader from Star Wars: in the idea that the truly evil people are those who have gained access to the Force that enables us to reach the true realm beyond false material reality, but then perverted/misused this Force, employing it for bad, evil ends. What, however, if this fall into perversion is original, the original monstrous cut/excess, and the opposition between nirvana and desire for false appearances is there to conceal this monstrosity?

—Slavoj Žižek

So you can write Java code that's object-oriented but C-like using arrays, vectors, linked lists, hashtables, and a minimal sprinkling of classes. Or you can spend years creating mountains of class hierarchies and volumes of UML in a heroic effort to tell people stories about all the great code you're going to write someday.

—Steve Yegge

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape...

—Pablo Picasso

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.

—Tom Robbins

I know that Bertrand Russell must, seeing that he is such a featherhead, be wrong about everything, but as I have no mathematics I cannot prove it.

—William Butler Yeats

If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question?

—Lily Tomlin

Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.

—Werner Herzog

Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness is a story.

—Haruki Murakami, paraphrasing Tolstoy

Que el cielo exista, aunque mi lugar sea el infierno.

May heaven exist, even if my place is hell.

—Jorge Luis Borges

My first week as an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student I asked a professor for help with a problem. He talked to me for a bit and then said "You're having trouble with this problem because you don't know anything and you're not working very hard."

—Phil Greenspun

Only reason can convince of those three fundamental truths without a recognition of which there can be no effective liberty: that what we believe is not necessarily true; that what we like is not necessarily good; and that all questions are open.

—Clive Bell

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

—Edgar Allen Poe

Since childhood I’ve been faithful to monsters. I’ve been saved and absolved by them because monsters are the patron saints of our blissful imperfections.

—Guillermo del Toro

Then the Lord himself spoke and said: "If you can grasp what is meant by this, you will be delivered from the fear of Endings. So do not cease from searching. Yet, remember this; when you find that for which you are looking, you will at first be struck with horror and amazement. But after the horror will come understanding; and in the end you will find yourself to be set apart, and honoured above them all."

—The Gospel of Thomas

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.

—Flannery O'Connor

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

—Charles Darwin

And there you have several miracles, first among them the wonder of a three-dimensional volume where black squiggles on white paper create worlds.

—Melvin Jules Bukiet

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

—Carl Sagan

I have been a deliberate half-century-fused inciter of a cool-headed, natural, gestation-rate-paced revolution, armed with physically demonstrable livingry levers with which altogether to elevate all humanity to realization of an inherently sustainable, satisfactory-to-all, ever higher standard of living. Critical threshold-crossing of the inevitable revolution is already underway.

—Buckminster Fuller

Yes my little snail climb up the fujiyama but slowly slowly

—Kobayashi Issa, translated by R.H. Blythe

My idea of rich is that you can buy every book you ever want without looking at the price and you’re never around assholes. That’s the two things to really fight for in life.

—John Waters

Whenever the C++ language designers had two competing ideas as to how they should solve some problem, they said, "OK, we'll do them both". So the language is too baroque for my taste.

—Donald Knuth

A language that doesn't affect the way you think about programming, is not worth knowing.

—Alan Perlis

You're bound to be unhappy if you optimize everything.

—Donald Knuth

Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

—G.K. Chesterton

That immense framework and planking of concepts to which the needy man clings his whole life long in order to preserve himself is nothing but a scaffolding and toy for the most audacious feats of the liberated intellect. And when it smashes this framework to pieces, throws it into confusion, and puts it back together in an ironic fashion, pairing the most alien things and separating the closest, it is demonstrating that he has no need of these makeshifts of indigence and that it will not be guided by intuitions rather than by concepts. There is no regular path which leads from these intutions into the land of ghostly schemata, the land of abstractions. There exists no word for these intuitions; when man sees them he grows dumb, or else he speaks only in forbidden metaphors and in unheard-of combinations of concepts. He does this so that by shattering and mocking the old conceptual barriers he may at least correspond creatively to the impression of the powerful present intuition.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

Writing doesn't actually take that long. It's the long stretches of procrastinating that take up most of your time.

—Mark Pilgrim

World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.

—Marshall McLuhan

I'm concerned about today's kids. These kids should be out drinking beer and seeing films and having panty raids and losing virginities and writhing to suggestive music, not making up long, sad, convoluted stories.

—David Foster Wallace

Did you ever want to set someone's head on fire, just to see what it looked like? Did you ever stand in the street and think to yourself, I could make that nun go blind just by giving her a kiss? Did you ever lay out plans for stitching babies and stray cats into a Perfect New Human? Did you ever stand naked surrounded by people who want your gleaming sperm, squirting frankincense, soma and testosterone from every pore? If so, then you're the bastard who stole my drugs Friday night. And I'll find you. Oh, yes.

—Warren Ellis's "Transmetropolitan"

We fear 1984 while living Brave New World.


But I want no part in [photographs]. I don't want to stare at some photo of me at 21 when I'm 50 and contemplate everything I was, or could have been. I don't want to have to drown in partial truths, grasping at a falling memory to paint in details. I'd rather either remember, or not. Rather know, or forget. I'd rather be able to molt my life as it goes, letting the useless bits drop away as the important becomes more dear.

When I reach backwards into my life, I want to know what I find to have been defining. To have been something I couldn't shake, couldn't let go of. I want to forget the pointless birthday parties, and the group shots at the bars where so-and-so is making that face she makes, and I'm half-drunk, and look that's what's his face that guy who dated whoever that is. I want to reach and find the things I couldn't photograph: the moments I knew, the moments we forgot; the street sign all lit up with sun as our car drove towards home; the view of the skyline when I left; the dodge balls as they barreled towards me; the way it felt to run in the rain, drunk and mad, screeching towards the bar like a five-year old on a sugar high.

I'd rather be able to forget, so that I can remember.

—Jack Shedd

The major attraction of the modern elixirs is that they relieve their consumers from the obligation of being precise by presenting an interface too fuzzy to be precise in: by suppressing the symptoms of impotence they create an illusion of power.

—E.W. Dijkstra

What I give form to in daylight is only one per cent of what I have seen in darkness.

—M. C. Escher

Libertarianism strikes me as if someone (let's call her "Ayn Rand") sat down to create the Un-Communism.

—Mark Rosenfelder

There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either.

—Robert Graves

There is scarcely an occurrence in nature which, happening at a certain time, is not looked upon by some persons as a prognosticator either of good or evil. The latter are in the greatest number, so much more ingenious are we in tormenting ourselves than in discovering reasons for enjoyment in the things that surround us.

—Charles Mackay

"Come on, Homer. Japan will be fun! You liked Rashomon." "That's not how I remember it!"

—The Simpsons

I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things.

—Henri Matisse

A libertarian is just a Republican who takes drugs.

—Bob Black

We don't actually think about our institutions. We think through them. We take for granted the institutions that surround us, and they frame the ways we think about the world.

—Kieran Egan

Never believe that a smooth space will suffice to save us.

—Gilles Deleuze

I don't like drawing from life. Things are always in the wrong place.

—Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli

Society does not need more children; but it does need more loved children. Quite literally, we cannot afford unloved children—but we pay heavily for them every day. There should not be the slightest communal concern when a woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not wanted is about to be born.

—Garrett Hardin

Latent structure is master of obvious structure.


And, yeah, by the way, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Google et al, they are all the blood brothers of Huawei in China—because they are intelligence assets posing as commercial operations. They are surveillance marketers. They give you free stuff in order to spy on you and pass that info along the value chain. Personal computers can have users, but social media has livestock.

—Bruce Sterling

"What is it, a temple? What's it called?"
"Nothing. It's by the village, behind the reservation."
"Will they let me in?"
"What do I need to do to get in?"
"You have to pray."
"Knock on the wall?"
"Knock and repeat the words."
"What words?"
"'Let me out of here.' You say it many times."
"Is that it?"
"That's it. We have only one prayer."

—Konstantin Lopushansky's Visitor to a Museum

Let us not mince words... the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact, only the marvelous is beautiful.

—André Breton

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

In the study of ideas, it is necessary to remember that insistence on hard-headed clarity issues from sentimental feeling, as it were a mist, cloaking the perplexities of fact. Insistence on clarity at all costs is based on sheer superstition as the mode in which human intelligence functions. Our reasonings grasp at straws for premises and float on gossamers for deduction.

—Alfred North Whitehead

After I’m gone, some of you will seclude yourselves in the forests and mountains to meditate, while others may drink rice wine and enjoy the company of women. Both kinds of Zen are fine, but if some become professional clerics, babbling about "Zen as the Way," they are my enemies.


Don't act so superior — language is just a mask.

—Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli

Machines which ape people are tending to encroach on every aspect of people's lives, and that such machines force people to behave like machines. The new electronic devices do indeed have the power to force people to "communicate" with them and with each other on the terms of the machine. Whatever structurally does not fit the logic of machines is effectively filtered from a culture dominated by their use.

The machine-like behaviour of people chained to electronics constitutes a degradation of their well-being and of their dignity which, for most people in the long run, becomes intolerable. Observations of the sickening effect of programmed environments show that people in them become indolent, impotent, narcissistic and apolitical. The political process breaks down, because people cease to be able to govern themselves; they demand to be managed.

—Ivan Illich

The truth is that we are only potentially homo sapiens. We are set apart from the animals precisely by the fact that we are born without any clear guide as to how to deal adequately with the problems of our human condition. The great marvel and misery of humanity is this capacity for bewilderment. This is not, of course, to deny that human being have instincts; it is to affirm the fact that each of us is required to find our own non-instinctual answers to the problems of life, free and happiness (instinct is silent in the face of all the above questions). The sum total of answers we give to the problem of our relationship with the universe, we call religion.

—David Edwards

please destroy nerds. it's not difficult. be smarter or stronger or more graceful or more kind. be more able to love. the next time that you feel called upon to defend video games as an art form do literally anything else instead. do not say awesome or epic or otherwise engage with the vacuous shorthand of the nerd tribe. please understand that it is not immediately the best thing you have ever seen when two cultural references that you understand are forced into proximity: batman and the predator. star wars and minecraft. mario and grindhouse films.

reject nerds and flex on nerdfighters. do not allow a person to infect hiphop with their vile chiptunes. do not abide the nerd who holds up his consumerist fantasias as valid cultural icons. do not allow the nerds to cluster or they will eventually spore subreddits. suffer not the nerd to "fap". creepshame a nerd, imo.

reestablish the distinction between "nerdy" and "smart" through harsh words and hard work.


help me destroy nerds


The conversation of what is and isn’t a game is often, intentionally or not, used to assign value to already established gaming conventions that benefit the established system and marginalize works that do not look like it, and therefore threaten it.

—Mattie Brice

[Hand]writing does not just contain semantic information. It also contains aesthetic information (when seen as a shape or image) and emotional information (such as a graphologist would analyze.)

—Tim Gaze

Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.

—Jorge Luis Borges

There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.

—C.A.R. Hoare

A machine is as distinctively and brilliantly and expressively human as a violin sonata or a theorem in Euclid.

—Gregory Vlastos

To be good is to be lonesome.

—Mark Twain

He'd noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: It fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination—but at the end of the day they'd settle quite happily for egg and chips, if it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.

—Terry Pratchett

We must remember that Galileo merely said that the language of nature is written in mathematics. He did not say everything is. And even the truth about nature need not be expressed in mathematics. For most of human history, the language of nature has been the language of myth and ritual. These forms, one might add, had the virtues of leaving nature unthreatened and of encouraging the belief that human beings are part of it. It hardly befits a people who stand ready to blow up the planet to praise themselves too vigorously for having found the true way to talk about nature.

—Neil Postman

What if the way we perceive a problem is already part of the problem?

—Slavoj Žižek

Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than that which we possess ourselves.

—J.R.R. Tolkien

Okay, you know how some Christians believe there's a thing called the Rapture where God will sweep them up into a magical place where everything is beautiful and they will live forever? The Singularity is sort of like that, except that you replace "God" in the above sentence with "Siri."

—Warren Ellis

As my wife once remarked to Vice President Al Gore, the "haves and havenots" of the future will not be caused so much by being connected or not to the Internet, since most important content is already available in public libraries, free and open to all. the real haves and have-nots are those who have or have not acquired the discernment to search for and make use of high content wherever it may be found.

—Alan Kay

The solution of philosophical problems can be compared with a gift in a fairy tale: in the magic castle it appears enchanted and if you look at it outside in daylight it is nothing but an ordinary bit of iron.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

since feeling is first who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you;

—E.E. Cummings

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

—Hanlon's Razor

"Il giorno in cui conoscerò tutti gli emblemi... riucirò a possedere il mio impero, finalmente?"

"Sire, non le credere; quel giorno sarai tu stesso emblema tra gli emblemi."

—Italo Calvino

I love religion. I could make up religions all day. I sort of think that in an ideal world I'd like to be a religion designer. I'd like people come up to me and say, "I need a religion." I'd go talk to them for awhile, and I'd design a religion for them. That would be a great job. There's a need for people like that. Fortunately, seeing that one can't actually do it, I get paid for sort of making them up anyway.

—Neil Gaiman

there is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening

—Marshall McLuhan

We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.

—Fyodor Dostoevsky

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

—Groucho Marx

...conspiracy theory, despite its infinite productivity, remains a failure of the imagination that corresponds to an inability to think, in the current instance, outside the horizons of capitalism.

—Mark Andrejevic

The miracle of the photograph, of that allegedly ‘objective’ image, is that through it, the world shows itself to be radically nonobjective.

—Jean Baudrillard

Any view of things that is not strange is false.

—Neil Gaiman

Please don't fall into the trap of believing that I am terribly dogmatical about [the goto statement]. I have the uncomfortable feeling that others are making a religion out of it, as if the conceptual problems of programming could be solved by a single trick, by a simple form of coding discipline!

—Edsger Dijkstra

I have always found America exciting; but, for better or worse, never exceptional. Its efforts at global domination seemed like a plot development in the narrative of European empire rather than a break from it. Even as the French lambasted secretary of state Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council, protesters in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, waved American flags and placards saying: "Bush please help Ivory Coast against French terrorism." There was precious little moral high ground to go round. Yet everyone, it seemed, was making a stake on it.

So it was with great bemusement that I found myself having to absorb abuse from white, rightwing Americans, who harked back to the Declaration of Independence of 1776 and the second world war to justify military aggression in Iraq. They badgered me as though their own reference points represented the sole prism through which global events could possibly be understood. As if the struggle for moral superiority between Europe and the US could have any relevance to someone whose ancestors were brought to the Americas as slaves and whose parents and grandparents lived through the war under European colonisation.

"If it wasn't for us, you would be speaking German," they would say. "No, if it wasn't for you," I would tell them, "I would probably be speaking Yoruba."

—Gary Younge

A former LAPD officer turned sociologist (Cooper 1991) observed that the overwhelming majority of those beaten by police turn out not to be guilty of any crime. “Cops don’t beat up burglars”, he observed. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to “define the situation.” If what I’ve been saying is true this is just what we’d expect. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state’s bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema, and its monopoly of coercive force, come together. It only makes sense then that bureaucratic violence should consist first and foremost of attacks on those who insist on alternative schemas or interpretations. At the same time, if one accepts Piaget’s famous definition of mature intelligence as the ability to coordinate between multiple perspectives (or possible perspectives) one can see, here, precisely how bureaucratic power, at the moment it turns to violence, becomes literally a form of infantile stupidity.

—David Graeber

First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.

—Abelson & Sussman, SICP

I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

In order to solve this differential equation you look at it until a solution occurs to you.

—Quoted by George Pólya

My belief is that "recluse" is a code word generated by journalists... meaning, "doesn't like to talk to reporters."

—Thomas Pynchon

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.

—Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam, Frank Herbert's Dune

One is capable of the greatest evil only when one believes one is acting for higher purposes.

—James M. Henle

Superman spent his childhood baling hay on a farm, he’s a working class hero and people don’t like that. Whereas Batman is a billionaire who sleeps until three in the afternoon, puts on a rubber suit and beats the shit out of poor people. Now that’s a wish fulfillment fantasy.

—Grant Morrison

The problem with educational policy is that it is hardly influenced by scientific considerations derived from the topics taught, and almost entirely determined by extra-scientific circumstances such as the combined expectations of the students, their parents and their future employers, and the prevailing view of the role of the university: is the stress on training its graduates for today's entry-level jobs or to providing its alumni with the intellectual bagage and attitudes that will last them another 50 years? Do we grudgingly grant the abstract sciences only a far-away corner on campus, or do we recognize them as the indispensable motor of the high-technology industry? Even if we do the latter, do we recognize a high-technology industry as such if its technology primarily belongs to formal mathematics? Do the universities provide for society the intellectual leadership it needs or only the training it asks for?

—E.W. Dijkstra

To keep these spoken systems from disturbing or embarassing us, there is no other solution than to inhabit one of them.

—Roland Barthes

I still get asked with appalling regularity "where my ideas come from."

Here's the deal. I flood my poor ageing head with information. Any information. Lots of it. And I let it all slosh around in the back of my brain, in the part normal people use for remembering bills, thinking about sex and making appointments to wash the dishes.

Eventually, you get a critical mass of information. Datum 1 plugs into Datum 3 which connects to Datum 3 and Data 4 and 5 stick to it and you've got a chain reaction. A bunch of stuff knits together and lights up and you've got what's called "an idea".

And for that brief moment where it's all flaring and welding together, you are Holy. You can't be touched. Something impossible and brilliant has happened and suddenly you understand what it would be like if Einstein's brain was placed into the body of a young tyrannosaur, stuffed full of amphetamines and suffused with Sex Radiation.

That is what has happened to me tonight. I am beaming Sex Rays across the world and my brain is all lit up with Holy Fire. If I felt like it, I could shag a million nuns and destroy their faith in Christ.

From my chair.

See, this is the good bit about writing. It's what keeps you going. It's the wild rush of "shit, did I think of that?" with all kinds of weird chemicals shunting around your brain and ideas and images and moments and storyforms all opening up snapsnapsnap in your mind, a mass of new and unrealised possibilities.

It's ten past two in the morning, and I'm completely wired, caught up in the new thing, shivering and laughing and glowing in the dark. Just as well it's the middle of the night. No-one would be safe from me right now. I could read their minds and take over their heartbeats with a glare.

Faster than the speed of anyone.

That's how it works.

—Warren Ellis

Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m'effraie.

—Blaise Pascal

A Witch is born out of the true hungers of her time. I am a child of the poisonous wind that copulated with the river on an oil-slick, garbage infested midnight. I turn about on my own parentage. I inoculate against those very biles that brought me to light. I am a serum born of venoms. I am the antibody of all time.

—Long After Midnight, Ray Bradbury

But tell me, is the fairy-tale not an eternal nostalgia with all of us—the eternal mourning song of advancing history, our most fruitful incentive for an image of the future Earth?

—Hermann Finsterlin

As a black programmer, I remember the cliche about problems and regular expressions in my head as "regular expressions are like calling the cops."

That's unfair to regular expressions, though, because I actually have seen them solve a problem before. Cops improving a situation? Never seen it.


I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone.

—Lord Byron

Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.

—Alan Moore

It's not because we hate the algorithms, or we hate databases, or we hate technological infrastructure or networks, that we are suspicious of Silicon Valley and the intrusions that they bring into how we think about the public or politics. It's because the logic that these algorithms and sensors embed is a very troubling political and economic logic. It leads to certain assumptions about public and private institutions, and consumers, citizens, and administators, that on second thought most of us would probably reject. Because it does shrink the public space. It does result in public institutions being hijacked by the logic of the market. It does shrink the kind of risks that we can take. And I think eventually it does disable a lot of cultural and political innovation. And that's the real reason to hate them.

—Evgeny Morozov

He drank coffee with the air of a man who regretted that it was not hemlock.

—P.G. Wodehouse

We write all of our own tools, no matter what project we're building. Pretty much anything that we're doing requires some sort of design tool that didn't exist before. In fact, the design tools that we write to do the projects that we're doing are a sort of product in and of themselves.

I think in reality, today, if you use the same tools as everyone else, you kind of build the same products. If you write your own tools, you can sort of see new things, design new things.

—Saul Griffith

Take [Banksy's] political stuff. One featured that Vietnamese girl who had her clothes napalmed off. Ho-hum, a familiar image, you think. I'll just be on my way to my 9 to 5 desk job, mindless drone that I am. Then, with an astonished lurch, you notice sly, subversive genius Banksy has stencilled Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald either side of her.

Wham! The message hits you like a lead bus: America... um... war... er... Disney... and stuff. Wow. In an instant, your worldview changes forever. Your eyes are opened. Staggering away, mind blown, you flick v-signs at a Burger King on the way home. Nice one Banksy!

—Charlie Brooker

Mathematicians are not very good at formalizing mathematics, but they are very good at notation.

—Pierre-Louis Curien

when you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.

—why the lucky stiff

The guy didn't panick or anything, but he did say to himself, inside his mask, "From now on, life isn't self-explanatory." That guy hit the nail on the head.

—why the lucky stiff

A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.

—Jorge Luis Borges

We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.

—Slavoj Žižek

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

—R. Buckminster Fuller

"What next?" "Some actual journalism, I think." "Actual journalism? Is that when you don't commit crimes?" "Hell, no. It's when we commit REALLY GOOD CRIMES."

—Warren Ellis's "Transmetropolitan"

We must always be prepared to admit when a theory is merely lyrical but fucked in practice.

—Ben Marcus

Rap has a bad reputation in white circles, where many people believe it consists of obscene and violent anti-white and anti-female guttural. Some of it does. Most does not. Most white listeners don't care; they hear black voices in a litany of discontent, and tune out. Yet rap plays the same role today as Bob Dylan did in 1960, giving voice to the hopes and angers of a generation, and a lot of rap is powerful writing.

—Roger Ebert

One of the best ways to teach people not to rebel is to offer plenty of ruts for fake rebellion.

—Norman Solomon The Trouble with Dilbert

I'm not trying to make art, I'm trying to make lies, because the truth hurts.

—Dm Simons

Blueteen only lies in three situations: 1. When it will save civilization. 2. When he can drive fiscal advantages. 3. Miscellaneous.

—Terror Island

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: "drifting"], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

—Guy-Ernest Debord

The best restaurants in any town are the ones that are open 24 hours. It doesn't matter if the restaurant is clean or attractive, if the food is good or even edible. What makes 24-hour places special is that whatever is going on inside them at any moment — eating, crashing from a night high and wild, a secret lovers' rendezvous, a drug deal, a traveler getting her bearings in a new town — will continue to go on there until the place burns down or goes out of business. These places sell time, not food. All 24-hour restaurants are social neutral zones, outside the normal boundaries of time and space, which exist for most of us in neatly packaged eight-hour segments: one for sleep, one for work and one for life. These diners are the alien bases in our midst. Area 51 with curly fries and a Coke.

—Richard Kadrey

Languages talk about multi-paradigm as if it's a good thing, but multi-paradigm means you can always do the bad thing if you feel you really need to.

—John Carmack

And how long have you written?

As long as I can remember.

I mean poetry.

So do I.

—E. E. Cummings

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

—Kurt Vonnegut

We all have archipelagoes in our minds.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

One afternoon a student said "Roshi, I don't really understand what's going on. I mean, we sit in zazen and we gassho to each other and everything, and Felicia got enlightened when the bottom fell out of her water-bucket, and Todd got enlightened when you popped him one with your staff, and people work on koans and get enlightened, but I've been doing this for two years now, and the koans don't make any sense, and I don't feel enlightened at all! Can you just tell me what's going on?"

"Well you see," Roshi replied, "for most people, and especially for most educated people like you and I, what we perceive and experience is heavily mediated, through language and concepts that are deeply ingrained in our ways of thinking and feeling. Our objective here is to induce in ourselves and in each other a psychological state that involves the unmediated experience of the world, because we believe that that state has certain desirable properties. It's impossible in general to reach that state through any particular form or method, since forms and methods are themselves examples of the mediators that we are trying to avoid. So we employ a variety of ad hoc means, some linguistic like koans and some non-linguistic like zazen, in hopes that for any given student one or more of our methods will, in whatever way, engender the condition of non-mediated experience that is our goal. And since even thinking in terms of mediators and goals tends to reinforce our undesirable dependency on concepts, we actively discourage exactly this kind of analytical discourse."

And the student was enlightened.

—broken koan

A few years ago I decided that I'd be happy as long as I spent most of my time doing my three favorite things: reading, writing, and fucking (the three R's).

—Short Round

At a New York gathering, [John Cage] was heard to say, "Beethoven was wrong!" The poet John Ashbery overheard the remark, and for years afterward wondered what Cage had meant. Eventually, Ashbery approached Cage again. "I once heard you say something about Beethoven," the poet began, "and I've always wondered—" Cage's eyes lit up. "Beethoven was wrong!" he exclaimed. "Beethoven was wrong!" And he walked away.

—Alex Ross

Do not expect too much of the end of the world

—Stanisław Jerzy Lec

It is a stroke of good fortune to find one who is worth seducing... Most people rush ahead, become engaged or do other stupid things, and in a turn of the hand everything is over, and they know neither what they have won nor what they have lost.

—Soren Aabye Kierkegaard

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong.

—Oscar Wilde

When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called "the People's Stick."

—Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin

It seems to me that the real political task in our contemporary society is to criticize the workings of institutions, particularly the ones that appear to be neutral and independent, and to attack them in such a way that the political violence, which has always exercised itself obscurely through them, will finally be unmasked so that one can fight against them.

—Michel Foucault

I think it's very friendly, me and the reader are old friends, and I take their hand and go, "it's all right, come with me, I know it's scary but I'm here with you," and I lead them into the scary parts... and then I let go of their hand and run away.

—Neil Gaiman, on his narrative voice

If you find your thoughts leading you to a marginal reality, follow them.

—Olivier Danvy

This is one of the reasons Lisp doesn't get anywhere. The trend to promote features so clever that you stop thinking about your problem and start thinking about the clever features. CL's loop is so powerful that people invented functional programming so that they'd never have to use it.


Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: "It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to."

—Jim Jarmusch

My romantic entanglements tended to be quantum in nature—i.e. they happened at a distance and were undetectable to outside observers.

—Amish Information Systems

I don't think, as a matter of fact, that I'm going to benefit from anything on this earth. It's more like that, I mean, if you have love on the earth, that seems to be number one. There's food, water, air and love, right? And love is just basically heartbreak. Humans can't live in the present as animals do; they just live in the present. But humans are always thinking about the future or the past. So, it's a veil of tears, man. And I don't know anything that's going to benefit me except more love. I just need an overwhelming amount of love. And a nap. Mostly a nap.

—Townes van Zandt

And [R.A.] Lafferty is something played in an Irish bar on an instrument that you're not quite sure what it is and you're humming the tune but you don't remember the words as you walk out.

—Neil Gaiman

The universe raises its head and stares at itself through me.

—Russell Edson

Are you quite sure that all those bells and whistles, all those wonderful facilities of your so called powerful programming languages, belong to the solution set rather than the problem set?

—Edsger Dijkstra

Not that the incredulous person doesn't believe in anything. It's just that he doesn't believe in everything.

—Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum

Your head's like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune's all we are.

—Grant Morrison

Except here, of course, because ... we are linguists, and we don't give a shit. We don't believe simple Anglo-Saxon monosyllables will either sear your eyeballs or warp the moral fiber of the young.

—Geoffrey Pullum

Put the nightmare together. If you do not wake up screaming, you have not put it together well.

—R.A. Lafferty

May I propose a Herzog dictum? Those who read own the world, and those who watch television lose it.

—Werner Herzog

As for elitism, the problem may be scientism: technological edge mistaken for moral superiority. The imperialism of high technocracy equals the old racist imperialism in its arrogance; to the technophile, people who aren't in the know/in the net, who don't have the right artifacts, don't count. They're proles, masses, faceless nonentities. Whether it's fiction or history, the story isn't about them. The story's about the kids with the really neat, really expensive toys. So "people" comes to be operationally defined as those who have access to an extremely elaborate fast-growth industrial technology. And "technology" itself is restricted to that type. I have heard a man say perfectly seriously that the Native Americans before the Conquest had no technology. As we know, kiln-fired pottery is a naturally occurring substance, baskets ripen in the summer, and Machu Picchu just grew there.


"Newton's Sleep" can be, and has been, read as an anti-technological diatribe, a piece of Luddite ranting. It was not intended as such, but rather as a cautionary tale, a response to many stories and novels I had read over the years which (consciously or not—here is the problem of elitism again) depict people in spaceships and space stations as superior to those on earth. Masses of dummies stay down in the dirt and breed and die in squalor, and serve 'em right, while a few people who know how to program their VCRs live up in these superclean military worldlets provided with all mod con plus virtual reality sex, and are the Future of Man. It struck me as one of the drearier futures.


I hope the story doesn't read as anti-space travel. I love both the idea and the reality of the exploration of space, and was only trying to make the whole idea less smugly antiseptic. I really do think we have to take our dirt with us wherever we go. We are dirt. We are Earth.

—Ursula K. Le Guin

San Francisco, he could see in the shape of things, was where the world ended.

—William Gibson

Most writers on logic strongly object to all symbols, except the venerable Barbara, Celarent, etc., …I should advise the reader not to make up his mind on this point until he has well weighed two facts which nobody disputes, both separately and in connexion. First, logic is the only science which has made no progress since the revival of letters; secondly, logic is the only science which has produced no growth of symbols.

—Augustus De Morgan

After all, the cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopaedia.

—Umberto Eco

I think most things are pretty magical, and it's less a matter of belief than it is one of just stopping to notice.

—Neil Gaiman

The unfortunate events in one's life: 1. The cessation of all life; 2. Java; 3. Moving


"Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?" "So easily that, to tell the truth, I am seldom sober."

—Dorothy Sayers


—David Foster Wallace

Every time I write about the impossibility of effectively protecting digital files on a general purpose computer, I get responses from people decrying the death of copyright. How will authors and artists get paid for their work? they ask me. Truth be told, I don't know. I feel rather like the physicist who just explained relativity to a group of would-be interstellar travelers, only to be asked: How do you expect us to get to the stars, then? I'm sorry, but I don't know that, either.

—Bruce Schneier

Most of you won't like this and I don't blame you at all. It's not meant for you.

—Lou Reed

I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.

—Thomas Jefferson

Many children today are greatly to be pitied because too much is done for them and dictated to them and they are deprived of the learning processes. We seem to have dropped into an age of entertaining, a breathless going from one sensation to another, whether it be mechanical toys for the five-year-old or moving-picture plays for the sixteen-year-old. It not only destroys their power to think, but also makes happiness, contentment, and resourcefulness impossible. At seventeen, life is spoken of as "so dull" if there is not "something doing" every waking hour.

—Gail Harrison, "Modern Psychology in its Relation to Discipline", 1915

We now come to the decisive step of mathematical abstraction: we forget what the symbols stand for. ...[The mathematician] need not be idle; there are many operations which he may carry out with these symbols, without ever having to look at the things they stand for.

—Hermann Weyl

Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egytians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilizations, what there is particularly immortal about yours?

—G.K. Chesterton

...the tangled thicket of overlapping, but incompatible, feature sets that are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike what Unix was supposed to be: that's Linux today.

—Ron Minnich

Let everything that's been planned come true. Let them believe. And let them have a laugh at their passions. Because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world. And most important, let them believe in themselves. Let them be helpless like children, because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. when he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. hardness and strength are death's companion. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.

—Andrey Aresnjevich Tarkovskij's Stalker

Millions of people still buy Microsoft software because Microsoft has imposed itself as an almost universal standard, practically monopolising the field, as one embodiment of what Marx called the 'general intellect', by which he meant collective knowledge in all its forms, from science to practical knowhow. Gates effectively privatised part of the general intellect and became rich by appropriating the rent that followed.

—Slavoj Žižek

Where Star Wars had a simple, linear structure, Empire Strikes Back has almost no plot, but instead, a sophisticated complex of echoes and foreshadowing. There aren't many X-Wings. The climax of the film isn't an action sequence, but character development. The good guys lose. It is as if Leigh Bracket had pinched George Lucas's action figures and started to act out Ulysses with them.

Good movie, almost certainly: Star Wars II, almost certainly not.

That fans are on the whole not concerned about or even aware of this disjuncture shows the capacity of the fanboy to extrapolate universes where none exist, or perhaps, simply, to read for the plot. Provided the film tells you 'what Luke Skywalker did next' and does not knock over any of the furniture, then the film will be accepted, canonised and treated as a classic. Joseph Campbell said that mythology is psychology misread as biography. I have been trying to think of a way of misquoting that line and applying it to Star Wars. 'Fantasy is imagery misread as history'.

—Andrew Rilstone

What I have loved, whether I have kept it or not, I shall love forever.

—André Breton

It is often forgotten that dictionaries are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature.

—Jorge Luis Borges

Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth.

—Albert Camus

Don't be part of the problem, be the problem!

—Sarah Giddings

Do not ask God the way to heaven; he will show you the hardest one.

—Stanisław Jerzy Lec

...I've never met a person who smokes marijuana every day who I thought wouldn't benefit from smoking less (and I've never met someone who has never tried it who I thought wouldn't benefit from smoking more).

—Sam Harris

A library is a bush of ghosts and you swallow them, you well read men and women, you swallow all the ghosts and they go inside you and stay there. You do not know it but you are haunted by the books you've read.


Ooh, I saw a squirrel. Do you know when squirrels do that thing where they dash out in front of traffic? That's called eXtreme Squirreling. And I think it's awesome.

—erik, Old Man Murray

If you boat a lot, you're known as a boating enthusiast. I like to boat, but I just don't want to ever be referred to as a 'boating enthusiast'. I hope they call me 'a guy who likes to boat'.

—Mitch Hedberg

The mind which plunges into Surrealism, relives with burning excitement the best part of childhood.

—André Breton

Optimists and pessimists differ only on the date of the end of the world.

—Stanisław Jerzy Lec

It’s true that biology and theoretical physics have brought us some fascinating knowledge about the origins of life and the formation of the universe. But does knowing such things help us elucidate the basic mechanisms of happiness and suffering? It’s important not to lose sight of the goals that we set ourselves. To know the exact shape and dimensions of the Earth is undeniably progress. But whether it it’s round or flat doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the meaning of existence… [The goal of Buddhism] is inner science, a science that’s been developed over more than two thousand years of contemplation and study of the mind. Especially in Tibet, since the eighth century, that science was the principle preoccupation of a large part of the population. The goal was never to transform the external world, but to transform it in producing better human beings, in allowing human beings to develop an inward knowledge of themselves… [Science,] if too hastily taken for a panacea, can also ecliplse the search for wisdom. Science is essentially analytical and therefore tends to get lost in the inexhaustible complexity of phenomena. Science covers such a vast field of discovery that it’s captivated the interest and energy of many of the brightest minds of our times. It’s like a never-ending gold-rush. The spiritual approach is a very different one, because it deals with the principles underlying knowledge and ignorance, happiness and suffering. Science only takes account of the tangible or mathematical proofs, while the spritual approach recognises the validity of intimate conviction arising from contemplative experience.

—Matthieu Ricard

Many journalists have fallen for the conspiracy theory of government. I do assure you that they would produce more accurate work if they adhered to the cock-up theory.

—Bernard Ingham

Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.

—W. Somerset Maugham

All the movies are about strange worlds that you can't go into unless you build them and film them. That's what's so important about film to me. I just like going into strange worlds.

—David Lynch

Dieu est mort mais ma chevelure est parfaite.

God is dead but my hair is perfect.

—Bernard-Henri Lévy

Dare to be naïve.

—Buckminster Fuller

Benchmarks only exist so we can make fun of Ruby.


We must give industry not what it wants, but what it needs.

—Edsger Dijkstra

We are anthill men in an anthill world.

—Ray Bradbury

Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, 'So this is how it feels,' and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else.

—Shakespeare in Neil Gaiman's Sandman

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.

About which one cannot speak, one must be silent.

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

My grandfather had died, and my mother was trying to explain it to me... Grandpa isn't coming back? No, she said. Not ever again... And I remember saying, hold everything right fucking there. You went to all the trouble of conceiving me, and giving birth to me, and raising me and clothing me and all... and you make me cry and things hurt so much and disappointments crush my heart every day and I can't do half the things I want to and sometimes I just want to scream — and what I've got to look forward to is my body breaking and something flipping off the switch in my head — I go through all this, and then there's death? What is the motherfucking deal here? I wasn't having this. This was not fair.

—Warren Ellis's "Transmetropolitan"

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.

—Bertrand Russell

Reality is the apparent absence of contradiction. The fantastic [maravilloso] is the contradiction that appears in the real.

—Luis Aragon