Notes and Quotes – Various Works

– Notes and Quotes –


Various Works


Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby Dick (1851)

– “Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.”


Scene from Heathers (1988):

JD (reading from Heather D.’s copy of Moby Dick):

“… and even for hate, thou can’t but kill, and all are killed”. I like it. It’s got that ‘what a cruel world, so let’s toss ourselves in the abyss’ type of ambience. Come on! It’s Heathers copy of Moby Dick. Why don’t you give it a try. Underline something.


“Get off of my bed, you fucking psycho! Do you think you’re a rebel? Do you actually think you’re a rebel? You’re not a rebel, you’re a fucking psychotic!”


You say tomato, I say tomato… Hold it! “Esquimaux!” It’s one word… I love it! I usually go for the whole sentence myself, but this is perfecto! Esquimaux, you know… It’s so mysterious. Es-qui-maux.


“Esquimaux” (325, 487)

Who ever said that the devil was dead? (356)

“Good Lord! is this the road that Jonah went?” (365)

“The lower subdivided part, called the junk, is one immense honeycomb of oil, formed by crossing and re-crossing, into ten thousand infiltrated cells, of tough elastic white fibers throughout its whole extent.” (371)

The Case and the junk of whales, sperm

“stript abstract” (510)

“eyes to see outwards…? No,…a sky-light on top of his head to illuminate inwards.” (512)

“the symbol of that unseen agency” (606)


And so it ends in three days of chase

Again a sore loser losing

Again a dusty book on a shelf




Upton Sinclair (1878–1968), The Jungle (1906)

Upton Sinclair: “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I accidentally hit in the stomach.”


“‘The Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery. It is alive and warm. It is brutal with life. It is written of sweat and blood and groans and tears.’”

– Jack London”


“Upton Sinclair once said that if anyone examined his heart they would find two words there: Social Justice. In The Jungle (1906), Sinclair explores and reveals the conditions that slaughterhouse workers were exposed to in the early years of the twentieth century. The novel’s hero is Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who works in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. As The Jungle begins Rudkus is glad to have any job, and is able to disregard his surroundings. But after a family tragedy, Rudkus rebels. He becomes a socialist, fighting against the meager salaries, atrocious working conditions, and lack of protection and rights for employees.

“Upon the novel’s publication in 1906 Sinclair became an instant hero. His exposure of the poor working conditions and the revelation that unsanitary and diseased meat was routinely sold resulted in immediate change. The stockyards ware cleaned up and passage of the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act later that year led to the formation in 1931 of the Food and Drug Administration.”



“In these chutes the stream of animals was continuous ; it was quite uncanny to watch them, pressing on to their fate, all unsuspicious – a very river of death.” (38).


“The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country – from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie.” (88).


“If they paid higher prices, they might get frills and fanciness, or be cheated ; but genuine quality they could not obtain for love nor money.” (89).


“. . . a few drinks were good for a man who worked hard. As he went back he did not shiver so, he had more courage for his tasks ; the deadly brutalizing monotony of it did not afflict him so, – he had ideas while he worked, and took a more cheerful view of his circumstances.” (96).


“‘De-vyled’ ham . . .” (115).


“duffers and dope” (184).


“The vilest of weeds, like poison weeds,

Bloom well in prison air ;

It is only what is good in man

That wastes and withers there ;

Pale anguish keeps the heavy gate,

And the Warder is Despair.” (192).


“So he tramped on until exercise and fresh air banished his headache, and his strength and joy returned. This happened to him every time, for Jurgis was still a creature of impulse, and his pleasures had not yet become business. It would be a long time before he could be like the majority of these men of the road, who roamed until the hunger for drink and for women mastered them, and then went to work with a purpose in mind, and stopped when they had the price of a spree.” (262).


“When they got up in the morning, Jurgis was sent out to buy a paper ; one of the pleasures of committing a crime was the reading about it afterward.” (301).


Socialist firebrand vs Republican bum (310).


War Whoop League


Mike Scully’s note to Mr. Harmon:

“The bearer, Jurgis Rudkus, is a particular friend of mine, and I would like you to find him a good place, for important reasons. He was once indiscreet, but you will perhaps be so good as to overlook that.” (312).


“‘As if political freedom made wage-slavery any the more tolerable!’ said Ostrinski.”(374).


“. . . listen to his teachings expounded by doctors of dusty divinity – ” (399).


“Communism in material production, anarchism in intellectualism,” (401).


“You have manufacturers contriving tens of thousands of catchpenny devices, storekeepers displaying them, and newspapers and magazines filled up with advertisements for them! “ (404).




James Joyce (1882-1941), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

“The end: black, cold, void waste” (Joyce 130).

“…within an aim’s ace…”

“It was his epitaph for all dead friendships . . .”

“—That question is out of order . . . Next business.”

“. . . hear the war of wits . . .”

“—Keep your icon. If we must have a Jesus let us have a legitimate Jesus.”

“I admire the mind of man independent of all religions”

“You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.”

“. . . true scholastic stink.”

“The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.”

“Thoth, the god of writers”

“Every jackass going the roads thinks he has ideas”

“I don’t care a flaming damn” (214)

“Did the idea ever occur to you, Cranly asked, that Jesus was not what he pretended to be?”

“. . . are you trying to make a convert of me or a pervert of yourself?”

“— I cannot answer for the past”

“The church is not the stone building nor even the clergy and their dogmas. It is the whole mass of those born into it”





Chinua Achebe (1930-2013), Things Fall Apart (1958)

“As they trooped through Okonkwo’s obi he asked: ‘Who will prepare my afternoon meal?’” (95)


“cut the goats’ throats” (97)


“But when she finally appeared holding a cock in her right hand, a loud cheer rose from the crowd.” (100-101)


“A man’s life from birth to death was a series of transition rites which brought him nearer and nearer to his ancestors.” (104)


“Those were good days when a man had friends in distant clans. Your generation does not know that. You stay at home, afraid of your next-door neighbour. Even a man’s motherland is strange to him nowadays.” (113)


“dangling a white cock”




Alan Paton (1903-1988), Cry, the Beloved Country (1948)

“[The success of Cry, the Beloved Country] has enabled me to write books that cost more to write than their sales could ever repay. So I write this with pleasure and gratitude.”


Blue agapanthus, wild watsonia, red-hot poker, arum in a dell (41)


“Can a man in trouble go only to those of his church?” (43)


“Oh child of my womb and fruit of my desire, it was pleasure to hold the tiny clutching of the fingers, it was pleasure to feel the little mouth tugging at the breast. Such is the nature of woman.” (90)


“Wise men write many books, in words too hard to understand.” (94)


“On the table by the bed of the murdered man was found an unfinished manuscript on “The Truth About Native Crime,” and it would appear that he was engaged in writing it when he got up to go to his death.” (104)


“As though they did not know, Msimangu and the young man talked in low voices, as one talks in a room where someone was dead.” (126)


“And while there is life, there is hope for amendment of life.” (138)


“There was a thief upon the cross.” (141)


“I am in health[/hell], my father.” (153)


“Old man, leave him alone. You lead him so far and then you spring upon him. He looks at you sullenly, soon he will not answer at all.” (154)


“- Be of courage, my son.” (154)


Lawyer: Mr. Kumalo (156),

Pro deo: for God: free of charge (157)


Odendaalsrust: “No second Johannesburg is needed on this earth. One is enough.” (205)


“- It was my son that killed your son, said the old man.” (214)


“There is no applause in prison.” (220)


“Yes, God save Africa, the beloved country.” (259)


“. . . do not laugh or talk idly . . .” (292)


“Some cry for the cutting up of South Africa without delay into separate areas, where white can live without black, and black without white, where black can farm their own land and mine their own minerals and administer their own laws.”




Joseph Heller (1923-1999), Catch 22 (1953)

“Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?” (35).

“. . . fly fifty-five.” (102)

“Mudd . . . the unknown soldier . . . who never had a chance.” (108).

“. . . of duty and damnation.” (137).

Cosa vuol dire bullshit?” (154).

“. . . to prod and . . . not to prod.” (157).

“Nately . . . . hangdog, hopeless look . . . . had spent the last thirty-two hours at twenty dollars an hour with the apathetic whore he adored . . .” (161).

Englishman, “. . . too bad, since I hated me father. Lust for my mother, you know?” (176).


“‘And don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways,’ Yossarian continued, hurtling on over her objection. ‘There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about—a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?’” (179).


“Déjà vu, seen before, Jamais vu, never seen, Presque vu, almost seen” (204).

“. . . he had . . . and hated it.” (211).

“I made a deal with the doctors.” (163).


Washington Irving, Irving Washington

“‘T. S. Eliot, What can it mean?’”




Malcolm X (1925-1965), The Autobiography of (1965)

Marcus Garvey and the Reverend Earl Little believed that “freedom, independence and self-respect could never be achieved by the Negro in America,” (Malcolm X 2).

“. . .status symbol to be light-complexioned. . .” (Malcolm X 3).

“. . . crying out in protest could accomplish things [. . . .] if you want something, you had better make some noise” (Malcolm X 8).

“. . . in order to get something you had to look as though you already had something” (Malcolm X 108).

“. . . in the country’s entire social, political and economic structure, the criminal, the law, and the politicians were actually inseparable partners” (Malcolm X 119).

“. . . this same white man raped China” (181).

“. . . always arguing about something useless” (183).

“. . . King James used the nom de plume Shakespeare” (189).

“. . . both heaven and hell were conditions in which people lived right here on this planet Earth” (211).

“. . . Hollywood stuff!” (Malcolm X 236).

“. . . sick of the status-symbol charade” (Malcolm X 332).

“. . . it isn’t the American white man that is racist, but it’s the American political, economic, and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man” (Malcolm X 378).




Amy Tan (1952-present), The Joy Luck Club (1989)

“‘This feather may look worthless, but it come from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.’” (17).


“. . . she died just like a rabbit: quickly and with unfinished business left behind.” (19).

“I can never remember things I didn’t understand in the first place.” (19).


“‘Why do you think you are missing something you never had?’” (25).


“Something was always missing. Something always needed improving. Something was not in balance. This one or that one had too much of one element, not enough of another . . . . Each person is made of five elements . . . . Too much fire and you had a bad temper . . . . Too little wood and you bent too quickly to listen to other people’s ideas, unable to stand on your own . . . . Too much water and you flowed in too many directions . . .” (31).


“. . . she finally explained that I was late-blooming, like Einstein, who everyone thought was retarded until he discovered a bomb.” (38).


“‘We are burning the five evils . . .’” “. . . the snake [of coiled green incense] had come out of a colorful box decorated with five evil creatures: a swimming snake, a jumping scorpion, a flying centipede, a dropping-down spider, and a springing lizard. The bite from any one of these creatures could kill a child . . .” (68).


“‘A boy can run and chase dragonflies, because that is his nature . . . . But a girl should stand still. If you are still for a very long time, a dragonfly will no longer see you. Then it will come to you and hide in the comfort of your shadow.” (72).


“‘This American rules . . . . Every time people come out from foreign country, must know rules. You not know, judge say, Too bad, go back. They not telling you why so you can use their way go forward. They say, Don’t know why, you find out yourself. But they knowing all the time. Better you take it, find out why yourself.” (94).


“My mother had a look . . . . of complete despair and horror . . . . for being so foolish as to think she could use faith to change fate.” (130).


“. . . I remember wondering why it was that eating something good could make me feel so terrible, while vomiting something terrible could make me feel so good.” (154).


“Isn’t hate merely the result of wounded love?” (154).


“There were too many choices, so it was easy to get confused and pick the wrong thing.” (191).


“‘If you cry, your life will always be sad.’” . . . . “‘Your tears do not wash away your sorrows. They feed someone else’s joy. And that is why you must learn to swallow your own tears.’” (217).


“. . . magpies, birds of joy.” (217).


“. . .too many good things all seem the same after a while.” (226).


“A girl in China did not marry for love. She married for position, and my mother’s position was, I later learned, was the worst.” (228).


“‘. . . I was lihai. Wild and stubborn.” (243).


Kai gwa?” (244).


“‘I was born in the year of the Tiger.’” (248).

“A tiger can make a soft prrrn-prrn noise deep within its chest and make even rabbits feel safe and content.” (249).


“Now Saint is a ghost.” (252).


“You do not have to sit like a Buddha under a tree letting pigeons drop their dirty business on your head. You can buy an umbrella.” (254).

“In America, nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.” (254).


“Americans don’t really look at one another when talking.” (255).


“Religion . . . . Say to them, I’m going for God’s sake, and they will respect you.” (258).


Of Chinatown, “. . . I was surprised how they tried to make everything look like an old imperial city or an emperor’s tomb. But if you looked on either side of these pretend-pagodas, you could see the streets became narrow and crowded, dark, and dirty. . . . . Why didn’t they build gardens and ponds instead?” (260).


“These are not fortunes, they are bad instructions.” (262).


“‘This is Communist China?’” (276).



Chuck Palahniuk (1962-present), Fight Club (1996)

“Disaster is a natural part of my evolution,” Tyler whispered, “toward tragedy and dissolution.”


“I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions,’ Tyler whispered, “because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”


“The liberator who destroys my property,” Tyler said, “is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free.”


“Remember this,” Tyler said. “The people you’re trying to step on, we’re everyone you depend on. We’re the people who do your laundry and cook your food and serve your dinner. We make your bed. We guard you while you’re asleep. We drive the ambulances. We direct your call. We are cooks and taxi drivers and we know everything about you. We process your insurance claims and credit card charges. We control every part of your life.


“We are the middle children of history, raised by television to believe that someday we’ll be millionaires and movie stars and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re just learning this fact,” Tyler said. “So don’t fuck with us.”



Dai Sijie (1954-present), Once on a Moonless Night (2009)

“‘No verbs, therefore no concerns.’” (32).

“‘Be a hero who will win the wars I wage.’” (60).


“. . . in Chinese love stories the one that loves always starts by borrowing a book from the beloved . . .” (76).


“‘The exhibition allowed itself the luxury of philosophising, presenting a cosmological point of view, and listing the means of torture according to the five primordial elements: water (for example, drowning), wood (beating), metal (the torture of a thousand blades), earth (burying alive) and fire (burning at the stake).’” (104).


“. . . I kept worrying I’d fall out [of bed] right in the middle of the ‘meeting of the clouds and the rain’ to use the Chinese expression for the sexual act.” (120).

“(How careless, I scolded myself, making us run a risk like that, knowing it was our last ‘meeting of the clouds and the rain’ in the Year of the Horse . . . .)” (120).


“Cao ta ma!” . . . “Shit! Shitting Hell!” (125).


“For now, his grave still looks new, but soon it, too, will be overrun by weeds, Death’s timekeepers, and it, too, like all the others, will become part of the landscape.” (176).


“. . . unless it was the cry of the man in the sutra who, once on a moonless night, fell from a cliff.” (210).


“NOTES MADE BY TUMCHOOQ: In 1975, the year of the monkey, Pagan was struck by the worst earthquake in its history.” (235). (monkey?)




Billy Bob Thornton (1955-present), The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts (2012)

Black Oak Arkansas

Mothers of Invention

Del Reeves

Webb Pierce



“See, these stories didn’t have to be made up. The characters were already there, so the stories just came out of the characters we knew.” (6)


Brothel: Athletic Club (84)


“Plus, people like to watch me play a cynical fuck.” (191)

Robert Duvall: “. . . he understands the journey from ink to behavior . . .” (193)


“Show me a politician who hasn’t slept with some assistant and I’ll show you a eunuch.” (224).


“What I’m talking about is cynicism. I’m cynical about cynicism. Cynicism has become popular, funny, and entertaining, so in order to combat it, I then have to become cynical about the perpetrators.” (234)


“Now we live in a society that drives artists inward, and so the real artists do not have the inclination to keep doing their art. They’re afraid of getting their hearts broken. That’s what happened to me anyway.” (234)


“There’s shit out there that will kill you the fuck dead.” (245)


“I’m just saying. You’re reading words, but there’s blood in my eyes.” (248)


“They think that hating something and talking bad about it will make them seem more cool or hip. I can boil my point of view to this: I’m against people who are against shit.” (262)




Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Monologue to the Maestro: A High Seas Letter

Esquire: October 1935

Y.C.: “Listen. There is no use writing anything that has been written before unless you can beat it. What a writer in our time has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done. The only way he can tell how he is going is to compete with dead men. Most live writers do not exist. Their fame is created by critics who always need a genius of the season, someone they understand completely and feel safe in praising, but when these fabricated geniuses are dead they will not exist. The only people for a serious writer to compete with are the dead that he knows are good. It is like a miler running against the clock rather than simply trying to beat whoever is in the race with him. Unless he runs against time he will never know what he is capable of attaining.”


“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” – Ernest Hemingway


“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.” – Ernest Hemingway