Quotes By The Signature of All Things

“Take me someplace where we can be silent together.”


“There is a Dutch word, uitwaaien, “to walk against the wind for pleasure.”


“In all our lives, there are days that we wish we could see expunged from the record of our very existence. Perhaps we long for that erasure because a particular day brought us such splintering sorrow that we can scarcely bear to think of it ever again. Or we might wish to blot out an episode forever because we behaved so poorly on that day - we were mortifyingly selfish, or foolish to an extraordinary degree. Or perhaps we injured another person and wish to disremember the guilt. Tragically, there are some days in a lifetime when all three of those things happen at once - when we are heartbroken and foolish and unforgivably injurious to others, all at the same time.”


“The trick at every turn was to endure the test of living for as long as possible. The odds of survival were punishingly slim, for the world was naught by a school of calamity and an endless burning furnace of tribulation. But those who survived the world shaped it--even as the world, simultaneously, shaped them.”


“Astonishingly, at some point, a sputtering torch was thrust into her hands. Alma did not see who gave it to her. She had never before been entrusted with fire. The torch spit sparks and sent chunks of flaming tar spinning into the air behind her as she bolted across the cosmos-the only body in the heavens who was not held to a strict elliptical path.

Nobody stopped her.

She was a comet.

She did not know that she was not flying.”


“Who will ever kiss this encyclopedia of a head?”


“Well, child, you may do whatever you like with your suffering,” Hanneke said mildly. “It belongs to you. But I shall tell you what I do with mine. I grasp it by the small hairs, I cast it to the ground, and I grind it under the heel of my boot. I suggest you learn to do the same.”


“All transformation appears to be motivated by desperation and emergency.”


“To be prosperous and happy in life, Henry, it is simple. Pick one woman, pick it well, and surrender.”


“A parent is inexcusable who does not personally teach her child to think.”


“To show a longing for anything that one cannot have, for instance, is not a clever position.”


“One must bear what cannot be escaped," she told Alma, as she rubbed clean her face. "You will not die of your grief - no more than the rest of us ever have.”


“One thing was certain: Human Time was the saddest, maddest, most devastating variety of time that had ever existed. She tried her best to ignore it.”


“Once Henry had heard a crying noise at sea, and had seen a mermaid floating on the ocean's surface. The mermaid had been injured by a shark. Henry had pulled the mermaid out of the water with a rope, and she had died in his arms..."what language did the mermaid speak?" Alma wanted to know, imagining that it like almost have to be Greek. "English!" Henry said. "By God, plum, why would I rescue a deuced foreign mermaid?”


“In all of our lives, there are days that we wish we could see expunged from the record of our very existence.”


“You are still young, so you think only of your own self. You do not notice the tribulations that occur all around you, to other people. Do not protest; it is true. I am not condemning you. I was as selfish as you, when I was your age. It is the custom of the young to be selfish... But someday you will understand that nobody passes through this world without suffering--no matter what you think of them and their supposed good fortune.”


“The beauty and variety of the natural world are merely the visible legacies of endless war.”


“The whole sphere of air that surrounds us, Alma, is alive with invisible attractions — electric, magnetic, fiery and thoughtful. There is a universal sympathy all around us… When we cease all argument and debate — both internal and external — our true questions can be heard and answered…That is the gathering of magic.”


“She wanted to understand the world, and she made a habit of chasing down information to its last hiding place, as though the fate of nations were at stake in every instance.”


“What life is, we know not. What life does, we know well. —LORD PERCEVAL”


“This person had arrived, he had illuminated her, he had ensorcelled her with notions of miracle and beauty, he had both understood and misunderstood her, he had married her, he had broken her heart, he had looked upon her with those sad and hopeless eyes, he had accepted his banishment, and now he was gone. What a stark and stunning thing was life- that such a cataclysm can enter and depart so quickly, and leave such wreckage behind!”


“She knew that the world was plainly divided into those who fought an unrelenting battle to live, and those who surrendered and died. This was a simple fact.”