justin hadad

quotes

“Rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person's concept of his relation to the cosmos. For example, a non-Zoroastrian could think of Zarathustra as simply a madman who led millions of naive followers to adopt a cult of ritual fire worship. But without his ‘madness’ Zarathustra would necessarily have been only another of the millions or billions of human individuals who have lived and then been forgotten.”

– John Nash, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1994

“But as I watched him smile back at me and zip his coat, I saw everything in the world build up and then everything in the world fall down again.”

– Marina Keegan, “Cold Pastoral”

“In the United States if you ask someone if they play chess and they say ‘no,’ it's because they don't know how the horsey moves. In Russia, if you ask someone if they play chess and they say ‘no,’ it's because they're only 1600.”

– chess.com user "Loomis"

"For to wish to forget how much you loved someone––and then, to actually forget––can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart. I have heard that this pain can be converted, as it were, by accepting 'the fundamental impermanence of all things.' This acceptance bewilders me: it seems like an act of will; at others, of surrender. Often I feel myself to be rocking between them (seasickness)."

– Maggie Nelson, Bluets

“All is well, the old man is dancing.”

– unknown; Roman lore

"Sydney Afriat is also a connoisseur of the art of good writing. He may well be the last remaining stylist writing exquisite economic prose with a liberal use of the subjunctive, a grammatical form long in decline in the Anglo-Saxon world (but much in evidence, even in daily discourse, of the language spoken in the Siena in which he lives). Moreover, he may belong to another select group of prose stylists who are also masters of some aspects of the mathematical method and its philosophy."

– Kumaraswamy Velupillai, book review of The Market: Equilibrium, Stability, Mythology by Sydney Afriat

“A lot of people have said that if Tal had looked after his health, if he hadn't led such a dissolute life... and so forth. But with people like Tal, the idea of ‘if only’ is just absurd. He wouldn't have been Tal then.”

– Salli Landau, Chess Week (Russia), 2003

“I envy you going to Oxford: it is the most flower-like time of one's life. One sees the shadow of things in silver mirrors. Later on, one sees the Gorgon's head, and one suffers, because it does not turn one to stone.”

– Oscar Wilde, in a letter to Louis Wilkinson, 1898

"In addition, Dr. Dannyboy has suggested a fifth element: positive thought. Pointing out that their breathing, bathing, dining, and screwing brought Alobar and Kudra much physical pleasure, and that an organism steeped in pleasure is an organism disposed to continue, he has said that the will to live cannot be overestimated as a stimulant to longevity. Indeed, Dr. Dannyboy goes so far as to claim that ninety percent of all deaths are suicides."

– Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

“And nonetheless, my love, you have remained a shramana, nonetheless you do not love me, you love no human being. Is this not so?”

– Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

“It doesn’t matter how well you polish the underside of the banister.”

– Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

“The appreciation of deception happens at the moment when the deception is undone, or by the imaginative creation of a less sophisticated reader who has not seen through the deceit.”

– Allison Sharrock, "The Art of Deceit"

“If you took the monsters' point of view, everything they did made perfect sense. The trick was learning to think like a monster.”

– Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus

"Therefore I say to the universe: 'Your love is mine.'"

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“He totally can, but refuses to draw a straight line.”

– Thumpmonks, on the game developer Mateusz Skutnik, 2018

"The fire of this kiss was still around him like a colored glory when he returned home. He could not lay it aside in the hall as he did this black felt hat, and when he came into the bedroom he thought that his wife must see that halo."

– Vladimir Nabokov, Laughter in the Dark

“Nothing is as practical as a good theory.”

– Kurt Lewin, Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers, 1952

“Early in the novel that Tereza clutched under her arm when she went to visit Tomas, Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition––the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end––may seem quite 'novelistic' to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as 'fictive,' 'fabricated,' and 'untrue to life' into the word 'novelistic.' Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion."

– Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time, my greatest regret is how much I believed in the future.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

"I know it’s a kick in the pants to know the problem is you, but it’s also fucking fantastic. You are, after all, the only person you can change."

– Cheryl Strayed, "The Rumpus Advice Column #38: Romantic Love is Not a Competitive Sport"

"Lord, I confess I want the clarity of catastrophe but not the catastrophe. Like everyone else, I want a storm I can dance in. I want an excuse to change my life."

– Franny Choi, "Catastrophe Is Next to Godliness"

"Who was left? No one, I thought, and someday these streets, where my grandmother drank hot tea from an old jahrzeit glass, would be empty and we would all of us have moved to the crest of the Orange Mountains, and wouldn't the dead stop kicking at the slats in their coffins then?"

– Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus

"And presently I was driving home in the drizzle of the dying day, with the windshield wipers on full blast but unable to cope with my tears."

– Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls.”

– Vladimir Nabokov, describing what he wanted the cover of Lolita to be

“Beware of summer lovin’.”

– Lazerek Perry

“For I have known them all already, known them all: / Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, / I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; / I know the voices dying with a dying fall / Beneath the music from a farther room. / So how should I presume?”

– T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

"It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting."

– Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night."

– Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

"The best meditations move at breakneck pace, the second best are completely stationary. Aurelius was a master horseman, but know that it was the horse that moved and not the emperor."

– Kimathi Muiruri, "so now You have seen free men"

“The #1 programmer excuse for legitimately slacking off: 'my code's compiling!'"

xkcd

"About dreams. It is usually taken for granted that you dream of something that has made a particularly strong impression on you during the day, but it seems to me it's just the contrary. Often it's something you paid no attention to at the time — a vague thought that you didn't bother to think out to the end, words spoken without feeling and which passed unnoticed — these are the things that return at night, clothed in flesh and blood, and they become the subjects of dreams, as if to make up for having been ignored during waking hours.”

– Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

"Everything is like something else. / I should have waited before I learned this."

– John Ashbery, "No Longer Very Clear"

"If we were not something more than unique human beings, if each one of us could really be done away with once and for all by a single bullet, storytelling would lose all purpose. But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world's phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again."

– Herman Hesse, Demian

"Last year, in October, it was me who was starting a love affair, whose excruciating outcome was naturally to be expected. But going to the ends of misery first means going to the ends of happiness. Yesterday, it came to me with certainty that I write my love stories and live my books, in a perpetual round dance."

– Annie Ernaux, Getting Lost

"I stopped watching for ridicule, the scorpion's tail hidden in his words. He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might have mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart?"

– Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

– James Baldwin, interview with LIFE magazine, 1963

“What’s the point of being in love if I can’t be clever?”

– Plautus, Casina


An older version of this page is available in the archives. Some, of course, I no longer stand for, or at least don't like enough to have in a website under my name.