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Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

A quote from Douglas Adams – one of my heroes – who died ten years ago yesterday at the depressingly young age of 49. Here’s what the Guardian has to say about the occasion.

And here are some more Adams quotations.

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Truths were carved from the identical wood as were lies – words – and so sank or floated with equal ease. But since truths were carved by the World, they rarely appeased Men and their innumerable vanities. Men had no taste for facts that did not ornament or enrich, and so they wilfully – if not knowingly – panelled their lives with shining and intricate falsehoods.

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Charlie Brooker on Radio 4’s So Wrong It’s Right.

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Charlie Brooker introducing a round called This Putrid Modern Hell on the Radio 4 panel game, So Wrong It’s Right:

Critics say our reliance on text messages and tweets is making us worryingly inarticulate, but luckily there’s a wealth of scientific research to suggest the truth is actually a whole opposite bunch of stuff to that.

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Stephen R Donaldson in response to a questioner on his Gradual Interview requesting he eases off on the recondite lexemes:

But seriously: what’s wrong with encouraging you to expand your vocabulary? Words are the tools of thought. The more words you know, the more things you can think about.

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From Iain M Banks’s new novel, Surface Detail:

Almost every developing species had a creation myth buried somewhere in its past, even if by the time they’d become space-faring it was no more than a quaint and dusty irrelevance (though, granted, some were downright embarrassing). Talking utter drivel about thunderclouds having sex with the sun, lonely old sadists inventing something to amuse themselves with, a big fish spawning the stars, planets, moons and your own ever-so-special People – or whatever other nonsense had wandered into the most likely feverish mind of the enthusiast who had come up with the idea in the first place – at least showed you were interested in trying [to] provide an explanation for the world around you, and so was generally held to be a promising first step towards coming up with the belief system that provably worked and genuinely did produce miracles: reason, science and technology.

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Namely, Brobdingnag.

The nurse, to quiet her babe, made use of a rattle, which was a kind of hollow vessel filled with great stones, and fastned by a cable to the child’s waist: but all in vain, so that she was forced to apply the last remedy by giving it suck. I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious reader an idea of its bulk, shape, and colour. It stood prominent six foot, and could not be less than sixteen in in circumference. The nipple was about half the bigness of my head, and the hue both of that and the dug so varified with spots, pimples, and freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous: for I had a near sight of her, she sitting down the more conveniently to give suck, and I standing on the table. This made me reflect upon the fair skins of our English ladies, who appear so beautiful to us, only because they are of our own size, and their defects not to be seen, but through a magnifying glass, where we find by experiment, that the smoothest and whitest skins look rough and coarse, and ill coloured.

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, ‘A Voyage to Brobdingnag’, Chapter I.

That which gave me most uneasiness among these maids of honour, when my nurse carried me to visit them, was to see them use me without any manner of ceremony, like a creature who had no sort of consequence. For, they would strip themselves to the skin, and put on their smocks in my presence, while I was placed on their toylet directly before their naked bodies: which, I am sure to me was very far from being a tempting sight, or from giving me any other motions that those of horror and disgust. Their skins appeared so coarse and uneaven, so variously coloured when I saw them near, with a mole here and there as broad as a trencher, and hairs hanging from it thicker than pack-threads; to say nothing further concerning the rest of their persons. Neither did they at all scruple while I was by, to discharge what they had drunk, to the quantity of at least two hogsheads, in a vessel that held above three tuns. The handsomest among these maids of honour, a pleasant frolicksome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples; with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.

Source:¬†Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, ‘A Voyage to Brobdingnag’, Chapter V.

Earlier in the book, in ‘A Voyage to Lilliput’, the narrator describes how he voided his bowels for the first time since washing ashore and the Lilliputians carted his effluence away in wheelbarrows; later, Gulliver puts out a fire at the Emperor’s palace with his own, personal, built-in fire hose. In addition to the very accessible style of writing, this somewhat puerile interest in bodies and bodily functions has made reading the book quite a pleasure.

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Ade Edmondson was interviewed by Lee Mack on Radio 4’s Chain Reaction on Friday (the format of the show is that one comedian interviews another and one week’s interviewee becomes the following week’s interviewer). He talked about his retirement from comedy towards the end:

You’ll think, I’m stuck. Do I have to constantly be this funny man? It’s a very big pressure to put on yourself. I equate it to, you know, I really like caviar. If you’re forced to eat caviar every day for 28 years, you’ll probably want something else – and that’s the same with comedy, I think, in the end. You really work at it and it takes up every ounce of your being and you have to think about it, you have to really concentrate all that time and constantly be trying to turn everything you ever hear into a gag. In the end, what are you doing? It’s weird. I just kind of lost the bug for that.

Lee Mack replied:

I know what you mean. A comedian once said to me, the problem with comedy is you can’t watch a sunset without trying to think of a joke about it. And I remember thinking for about the two minutes after that, I bet I could think of a joke about the sunset.

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Stephen Donaldson answered another one of my questions recently. I asked:

You’ve answered lots of questions about the challenges of writing, but I don’t think you’ve ever said whether you actually enjoy writing. (I’ve just done a search for ‘enjoy’ and, although I didn’t read every answer, the closer I found was an answer to one of my earlier questions in which you said you didn’t enjoy rewriting.)

So – do you enjoy writing? And, of course, I mean enjoy in a broad sense – I don’t mean ‘Is it fun to write?’, but is it broadly a pleasurable experience? Are there certain things that are more enjoyable to write than others, or does it depend on your state of mind at the time?

I did creative writing at university and I remember one of my lecturers saying something along the lines that if writing is fun, you’re probably not very good. Is that something that rings a bell with you?

He replied:

“If writing is fun, you’re probably not very good.” I can’t speak for anyone else. And in any case, the assertion is too broad to be useful. But it sure rings a bell for me.

I would never use a word like “enjoy” to describe the experience of writing. I call it “wrestling with the Angel of the Lord”: it’s always arduous, painful, and frustrating. In fact, whenever I’m writing easily, I know I’m doing something wrong. Which explains, at least in part, why it takes me so &^#$% long to produce a book.

So why do I do it? Why do I bother? Well, this is the work I was born to do. I’m more consistently alive when I’m writing than I am under most other circumstances. Writing makes me–for lack of a better term–a bigger person than I could hope to be otherwise. So it’s hard. So what? Name something that you consider worth doing on a profound level; and if you think it’s easy–or even fun–I’ll be inclined to think that you aren’t putting your heart into it.

Source: Stephen R Donaldson Official Website.

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Alan Moore.

Source: The Stool Pigeon.

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