Extracts

By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonethless help to clarify and explain.
— Tim O'Brien, "The Things They Carried"

"'They can't get inside you,' she had said. But they could get inside you. 'What happens to you here is for ever,' O'Brien had said. That was a true word. There were things, your own acts, from which you could never recover. Something was killed in your breast: burnt out, cauterized out."

George Orwell, "1984"

But this was terrible knowledge that would come to me later, and with time it would exact a horrible toll—for I knew through direct experience that I would always be a mere forty-eight hours from betraying everything I cherished. That’s all it takes to break a person. Forty-eight hours and a few simple garden tools.
— David J. Morris, "Empires of the Mind: SERE, Guantánamo, and the Legacies of Torture"

"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

Stanley Kubrick

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
— William Blake, "The Tyger"

"The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.
— Carl Jung, "General Aspects of Dream Psychology"

"… if you refuse to let your own suffering lie upon you for an hour and if you constantly try to prevent and forestall all possible stress way ahead of time; if you experience suffering and displeasure as evil, hateful, worthy of annihilation, and as a defect of existence, then it is clear that besides your religion of pity you also harbor another religion in your heart that is perhaps the mother of the religion of pity:  the religion of comfortableness.  How little you know of human happiness, you comfortable and benevolent people, for happiness and unhappiness are sisters and even twins that either grow up together or, as in your case, remain small together."

Friedrich Nietzsche

“The Italian navigator has landed in the New World.”
”How were the natives?”
”Very friendly.”
— Message conveying the succesful creation of the world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction on the South Side of Chicago

"The ugly fact is books are made out of books," he says. "The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written."

Cormac McCarthy, "Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction"

Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.
— Janet Malcolm, "The Journalist and the Murderer"

"People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words. I know the ten-dollar words. There are older and better words which if you arrange them in the proper combination you make it stick. Remember, anybody who pulls his erudition or education on you hasn’t any."

Ernest Hemingway