Quotes By The Illustrated Man

“We're all fools," said Clemens, "all the time. It's just we're a different kind each day. We think, I'm not a fool today. I've learned my lesson. I was a fool yesterday but not this morning. Then tomorrow we find out that, yes, we were a fool today too. I think the only way we can grow and get on in this world is to accept the fact we're not perfect and live accordingly.”

“My waiter friend, Laurent, working at the Brasserie Champs du Mars near the Eiffel Tower, one night while serving me Une Grande Beer, explained his life. “I work from ten to twelve hours, sometimes fourteen,” he says, “and then at midnight I go dancing, dancing, dancing until four or five in the morning and go to bed and sleep until ten and then up, up and to work by eleven and another ten or twelve or sometimes fifteen hours of work.” “How can you do that?” I ask. “Easily,” he says. “To be asleep is to be dead. It is like death. So we dance, we dance so as not to be dead. We do not want that.” “How old are you?” I ask, at last. “Twenty-three,” he says. “Ah,” I say and take his elbow gently. “Ah. Twenty-three, is it?” “Twenty-three,” he says, smiling. “And you?” “Seventy-six,” I say. “And I do not want to be dead, either. But I am not twenty-three. How can I answer? What do I do?” “Yes,” says Laurent, still smiling and innocent, “what do you do at three in the morning?” “Write,” I say, at last. “Write!” Laurent says, astonished. “Write?” “So as not to be dead,” I say. “Like you.” “Me?” “Yes,” I say, smiling now, myself. “At three in the morning, I write, I write, I write!”

“Mother wasn't afraid of the sky in the day so much, but it was the night stars that she wanted to turn off, and sometimes I could almost see her reaching for a switch in her mind, but never finding it.”

“Wouldn’t it be fine if we could prove things with our mind, and know for certain that things are always in their place. I’d like to know what a place is like when I’m not there. I’d like to be sure.”

“My tunes and numbers are here. They have filled my years, the years when I refused to die. And in order to do that I wrote, I wrote, I wrote, at noon or 3:00 A.M.

So as not to be dead.”

“Love will fly if held too lightly, love will die if held too tightly.”

“She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then a part of the wall, and, once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with.”

“They'll fry you, bleach you, change you! Crack you, flake you away until you're nothing but a husband, a working man, the one with the money who pays so they can come sit in there devouring their evil chocalates! Do you think you could control them?”

“We haven't been too bad, have we?"
"No, nor enormously good. I suppose that's the trouble - we haven't been much of anything except us, while a big part of the world was busy being lots of awful things.”

“To be asleep is to be dead. It is like death. So we dance, we dance so as not to be dead. We do not want that.”

“I shall remain on Mars and read a book.”

“It was summer and moonlight and we had lemonade to drink, and we held the cold glasses in our hands, and Dad read the stereo-newspapers inserted into the special hat you put on your head and which turned the microscopic page in front of the magnifying lens if you blinked three times in succession.”

“There were only the great diamonds and sapphires and emerald mists and velvet inks of space, with God's voice mingling among the crystal fires.”

“Too much of anything isn't good for anyone.”

“The quality of death, like that of life, must be of an infinite variety, and if one has already died once, then what was there to look for in dying for good and all, as he was now?”

“Memories, as my father once said, are porcupines. To hell with them! Stay away from them! They make you unhappy. They ruin your work. They make you cry”

“The odors of perfume were fanned out on the summer air by the whirling vents of the grottoes where the women hid like undersea creatures, under electric cones, their hair curled into wild whorls and peaks, their eyes shrewd and glassy, animal and sly, their mouths painted a neon red.”

“Because sometimes the Church seems like those posed circus tableaus where the curtain lifts and men, white, zinc-oxide, talcum-powder statues, freeze to represent abstract Beauty. Very wonderful. But I hope there will always be room for me to dart about among the statues, don't you, Father Stone?”

“And he listened to me. That was the thing he did, as if he was trying to fill himself up with all the sound he could hear. He listened to the wind and the falling ocean and my voice, always with rapt attention, a concentration that almost excluded physical bodies themselves and kept only the sounds.”

“The form does not matter. Content is everything.”

“Ya no existe el cohete. Nunca existió. Ni la gente. No hay nadie en todo el universo. Nunca hubo nadie. Ni planetas. Ni estrellas". Eso decía. Y luego algo acerca de sus pies y sus piernas y sus manos: "No mas manos", decía. "Ya no tengo manos. Nunca las tuve. Ni cuerpo. Nunca lo tuve. Ni boca. Ni cara. Ni cabeza. Nada. Solamente espacio. Solamente el abismo".”

“He had felt a braveness which he had thought to be the genuine thing, and now he knew that it had been nothing but shock and the objectivity possible in shock.”

“Thus with the wisest of you all; you are ever unfixed.”

“Don’t ask for everything on your platter,” she said. “Be satisfied with a wrinkled pea, for there’s another world we’re all going to that’s better than this
“I know that world,” he said.
“It’s peaceful,” she said.
“There’s quiet,” she said.
“There’s milk and honey flowing.”
“Why, yes,” he said.
“And everybody’s laughing.”
“I can see it now,” he said.
“A better world,” she said.
“Far better,” he said. “Yes, Mars is a great planet.”

“Maybe I don’t have enough to do. Maybe I have time to think too much. Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?”

“The Lord is not serious. In fact, it is a little hard to know just what else He is except loving. And love has to do with humor, doesn't it? For you cannot love someone unless you put up with him, can you? And you cannot put up with someone constantly unless you can laugh at him. Isn’t that true?”