I recently read the book (yes, all 900+ pages ;-)). I really liked the book. I felt some of the sections in the later part could have been crisper and less dramatic. But nevertheless. I am a fan of the author’s narration style, observing the people very closely but still separated from them — I am reminded of the way Karla describes him — “interested in everything but committed to nothing” :). Some of the quotes in the book are brilliant — I sometimes think the author first made a list of amazing quotes and then created situations to deliver the quotes as punchlines :). You can check out some of the quotes here and here.
Here is a compilation of my favorite quotes, in no particular order.
“What is the best thing in the world?”
“Well, if you’d have to press me, I’d have to say freedom. the freedom to do what? I don’t know, maybe the freedom to say no. If you’ve got that much freedom, you really don’t need anymore.”
“I mean that you are making things to be more difficult than they are, or need to be. The facts of life are very simple. In the beginning we feared everything – animals, the weather, the trees, the night sky – everything except each other. Now we fear each other and almost nothing else. No one knows why anyone does anything. No one tells the truth. No one is happy. No one is safe. In the face of all that is so wrong with the world, the very worst thing you could do is survive. And yet you must survive. It is the dilemma that makes us believe and cling to the lie that we have a soul, and that there is a god who cares about its fate. And now you have it.”
“I am not sure what he just said .. but somehow I agree with him, and feel insulted, at the same time”
The truth is a bully we all pretend to like.
I know now that it’s the sweet, sweating smell of hope, which is the opposite of hate; and its a sour, stifled smell of greed, which is the opposite of love.
Optimism is the first cousin of love, and it’s exactly like love in three ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humour, and it turns up where you least expect it.
The past reflects eternally between two mirrors – the bright mirror of words and deeds, and the dark one, full of things we didn’t do or say.
I was going through deep and silent water. Nothing and no-one could make me happy. Nothing and no-one could make me sad. I was tough. Which is probably the saddest thing you can say about a man.
“Most loves are like that … You heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat, and your self-respect and independence. After a while, you start throwing people out – your friends, everyone you used to know. And it’s still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it’s going to take you down with it. I’ve seen that happen to a lot of girls here. That’s why I’m sick of love.”
The sane man is simply a better liar than an insane man.
The truth is that there are no good men, or bad men,’ he said, ‘It is the deeds that have goodness or badness in them. There are good deeds and there are bad deeds. Men are just men —it is what they do, or refuse to do, that links them to good or evil. The truth is that an instant of real love, in the heart of anyone —the noblest of man alive or the most wicked— has the whole purpose and process and meaning of life within the lotus-folds of its passion. The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God.
One of the ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone.
One of the reasons why we crave love, & seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, & shame, & sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.
Fate’s way of beating us in a fair fight is to give us warnings that we hear, but never heed.
Happiness is a myth, which was invented to make us buy things.
“There is nothing so depressing as good advice, and I will be pleased if you do not inflict it upon me. Frankly, I am shocked at you. You must know this, surely? Some years ago I suffered such an offensively gratuitous piece of good advice that I was depressed for six months afterwards. It was a very close call – I almost never recovered.” Hear hear 🙂
A good man is as strong as the right woman needs him to be.
So, that’s it. The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men and a hundred million cowards. The rest of us, all six billion of us, do pretty much what we are told.
Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.
‘What characterizes the human race more,’ Karla once asked me, ‘cruelty or the capacity to feel shame for it?’ I thought the question was acutely clever then, when I first heard it, but I’m lonelier and wiser now, and I know that it isn’t cruelty or shame that characterizes the human races. It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would’ve annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive.
“Hate is a very resilient thing you know. Hate is a survivor. I had to hide my hate for a long time. People couldn’t handle it. They got spooked by it. So I sent my hate outside myself … And it’s here now, inside me, where it belongs. And I’m glad. I enjoy it. I need it Lin, it’s stronger than I am. It’s brave that I am. My hate is my hero.”
“If you ask people why killing or any other crime is wrong, they will tell you that it is against the law, or that the Bible, or the Upanishads … or some other authority tells them it is wrong. It may be true but they don’t know why it is true. In order to know about any act or intention or consequence, we must first ask two questions. One, what would happen if everyone did this thing? Two, would this help or hinder the movement towards complexity?” I particularly liked this section and his “the wrong thing for the right reasons” explanation.
Kadherbhai once said that every virtuous act is inspired by a dark secret. it mightn’t be true of everyone, but it was true enough about me. the little good that I ‘ve done in the world has always dragged behind it a shadow of dark inspiration. .. motive matters more with good deeds that with bad.
I felt empty: the kind of emptiness that’s sad but not distressed, pitying but not broken hearted, and damaged, somehow, but clearer and cleaner for it. And then I knew what it was, that emptiness: there’s a name for it, a word we use often without realizing the universe of peace that’s enfolded it in — free.
” People haven’t stopped believing in love. They have stopped wanting to be in love. They just dont beleive in happy endings anymore. They still believe in love, and falling in love but now they know that … romances almost never end as well as they begin“
“Such is life” – Ned Kelly
“It’s such a huge arrogance, to love someone, and there’s too much of it around. There’s too much love in the world. Sometimes I think thats what heaven is – a place where everybody’s happy because nobody loves anybody else, ever.” – Karla
Sometimes the lion must roar, just to remind the horse of his fear.
People do not understand the truly fantastic effort required in the corruption of a simple man. And the more simple the man, the more the effort it requires.
Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.
Mistakes are like bad loves, the more you learn from them, the more you wished they’d never happened.
If you turn your heart as a weapon, you always end up using it on yourself.
Its a fool’s mistake to be alone with someone you shouldn’t have loved.
I take everything personally….thats what being a person is all about.
Personality and person identity are in some ways like co-ordinates on the street map drawn by intersecting relationships. We know who we are and we define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them.
There’s no meanness too spiteful or too cruel, when we hate someone for all the wrong reasons.
There’s a kind of luck that’s much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that’s not much more that doing the right thing in the right way, and both only happen when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment.
“Depression only happens to people who don’t know how to be sad.”
“It isn’t a secret, unless keeping it hurts.”
“People always hurt us with their trust. The surest way to hurt someone you like, is to put all your trust in him.”
” I’m cold inside Lin. I like people and I like things but I don’t love any of them – not even myself – and I dont really care about them. And you know the strange thing is, I don’t really wish that I did care” – Karla. Now you know why she is my favorite character 🙂
“The world and I are not on the speaking terms. The world tries to win me back, but it doesn’t work. I guess I’m just not the forgiving type.”
“The real trick in life is to want nothing and to succeed in getting it”