Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Fuches Quotes 12

Since the periodicity of my long-running quotations series has been getting asymptotic with infinity, here are the quotes that have been piling up since the last edition – which looks like, oh, December 2001. Normally, I do a fair bit of editing and re-ordering – plus going through the best books I've read since the last one, looking for stand-out excerpts. (Impossible in this case, obviously.) Anyway, here they are, pretty much just formatted, but otherwise as they went into the file. Pretty good stuff, actually, come to look at it! Viva la quotes.


"Once [Angelina Jolie's lips] were puffy comfort pillows to make all the boys hate the thin-lipped gals they married and therefore ruin marriages in the thousands, but at some point they ceased to be lips and became some New Thing. Now they are acres of rolling terrain with their own texture and climate, their traditions, their hopes, their fears, their culture."
- Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
"I found it hard,
  It's hard to find
  Oh, well, whatever
  Never mind."
- Nirvana, in the song that defined both modern rock and Generation X
"I mean, this is a guy who, three months ago, was in control of a country. Now he's maybe in control of a cave."
- George W. Bush, on Osama bin Laden
"If I were an al Qaeda guy, I wouldn't go out for a pizza. This battle is not over."
- Maj. Bryan Hilferty, 10th Mountain Division, on the siege of the mountain strongholds in Paktia Province
"Intoxicated with the madness
  I'm in love with my sadness"
- Smashing Pumpkins
"Don't you hate it when you panic and kill the hooker?"
- Traditional
"Hell is not the place of evil; rather, Hell is the absence of any standards at all."
- Kenneth Tynan
"It may be said of me by Harper & Brothers, that although I reject their proposals, I welcome their advances."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay (on her publisher)
"I have a special warmth for Uganda because I was on a small plane that crash-landed there five years ago; with its fire trucks and unflappable immigration officials, Uganda makes an outstanding country in which to crash."
- Nicholas D. Kristof (in the New York Times)
"All my days are beautiful. If we let ourselves be depressed, we would die. God won't forget us. God doesn't forget anything he creates, even in Gaza."
- Saeda al Ghandar, 25-year old Palestinian mother of 4
"Q: And your hypothesis is that sun and food make you happy?
A: Yes, and running and exercise. I gave five lectures on the double helix, and I was bored. After about a month of listening to Francis Crick, none of us could stand it anymore. He'd start talking, and we'd want to leave the room. At 25, I was famous but bored. No one was inviting me to parties . . . There were no groupies in my life."
- James Watson, co-discoverer of the secret of life, New York Times Magazine
"The 'street' in any given Arab country consists of 278 state-sanctioned mullahs already preaching death to the Americans and the Jews, five state-controlled newspaper opinion columnists preaching ditto, 577,000 state security officers making sure nobody says anything to the contrary and 73 million people who would very much like to be living in New Jersey. In Kabul, they cheered and kissed our soldiers. In Baghdad, they'd love to have the chance."
- Michael Kelley
"Everybody in Casablanca has problems. Yours may work out. Now, if you'll excuse me . . ."
- Rick
"I want all my secrets back right now."
- Pavement
"We need people ready to serve at any cost at whatever task Palestine requires . . . The metal, whatever is needed to forge anything, whatever the national machine will require. Is there a wheel lacking? I am that wheel. Nails, screws, a block? Take me. Must the land be dug? I will dig it. Is there shooting to be done, are soldiers needed? I will enlist. Policemen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, water-carriers? If you please, I am ready to do it all. I am not a person. I am the pure embodiment of service, prepared for everything. I have no ties. I know only one command: Build."
- Joseph Trumpeldor, one of the founding fathers of Israel
"The best anti-tank ditch in the world."
- Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, on the Suez Canal (after crushing 7 Egyptian divisions in the desert, and driving all the way to its banks)
"Not all Jews endorse the expansionist policies of the current Israeli leadership; on the contrary, Jewish leftists around the world generally support the Palestinians. But the cruel suicide bombings in Israel, along with the revival of European anti-Semitism, have forced distant observers to choose . . . I have concluded that, for me, only one moral imperative is possible: to support Israel."
- Camille Paglia
"Does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people."
- Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas "condemning" a Hamas suicide bombing that killed 20 Israelis (including 6 children) and wounded 100 (including 40 children)
"An ugly crime."
- Abbas, the next day, condemning the Israeli retaliatory assassination of a Hamas leader
"Of course there was no massacre and no cover-up [in Jenin]. If the European politicians and journalists had given the matter two minutes’ thought, they would have grasped the point even before they sped to the scene. Israel’s civilian-soldiers in Jenin, like those in any other Israeli military operation, cover the waterfront of political opinion, and no doubt include a share of journalists and jurists, doctors and dustmen, university professors and human-rights activists, each one carrying a mobile phone. A massacre is as unthinkable as a cover-up is unimaginable."
- Douglas Davis, Spectator
"Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money."
- from David Mamet's Heist
"People must belong to a tribe; they yearn to have a purpose larger than themselves. We are obliged by the deepest drives of the human spirit to make ourselves more than animated dust, and we must have a story to tell about where we came from, and why we are here . . . People need a sacred narrative."
- E.O. Wilson, Consilience
"Nevertheless, here is a salute to the postmodernists. They say to the rest of us: Maybe, just maybe, you are wrong. That is one reason to think well of postmodernism, even as it menaces rational thought. Another is the relief it affords those who have chosen not to encumber themselves with a scientific education . . . And if somehow, against all the evidence, against all reason, the linchpin falls out and everything is reduced to epistemological confusion, we will find the courage to admit that the postmodernists were right, and in the best spirit of the Enlightenment, we will start over again."
- ibid
"People died in large numbers, often horribly. Sometimes they were able to emigrate and displace other people, making them die horribly instead."
- ibid (on environmental upheaval)
"If you're going to make a movie about vampires fighting with automatic weapons in crowded Eastern European go-go joints, this is the way to do it."
- Stephen Hunter, on Blade 2
"What are you going to run on, Tom? Patients' bill of rights? I'm for it. Enron? I'm against it. Campaign reform? I'll sign it. Child care? Tom, I'm gonna expand child care to those who don't even have children."
- George Bush, at the annual Gridiron dinner, teasing Senator Tom Daschle about his presidential ambitions
"It's not easy being alive what with everything trying to eat you."
- Scott Christensen
"Laura and I are very honored to have our friends, Tony and Cherie Blair, and their family visit us here in Crawford. We appreciate the rain that the prime minister brought with him."
- George Bush
"No, the big problem with God people is that they make patent absurdities a central fact in the lives of entire populations, so that if anyone by chance wants to live a reasonable life, he has to do so in private, apologetically, like a man walking half bent-over through a crowded subway car because he has an erection in his pants."
"Can money pay for all the days
I lived awake but half asleep?"
- Primitive Radio Gods
"Some of ya'll niggaz already be up in this bitch."
"The French are still unwilling to designate Hizballah a terrorist organization. At least they got knocked out of the World Cup."
- Andrew Sullivan
"Victory? We're French! We don't even have a word for it!"
- Homer Simpson
"There was no official reaction because we figured it was so stupid."
- Pentagon spokesperson, on a French book claiming the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by right-wing oil interests in the U.S. government
"It's Dick-less."
- David Edelstein, on the screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick's "The Minority Report"
"No more pretending for him! He was completely and openly a mess. Meanwhile the rest of us go on trying to fool each other."
- Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son
"If we think you're coming after us next Tuesday, we'll be bombing your ass flat this Tuesday."
- Dan Savage, roughly defining the "Bush Doctrine"
"The truth is that a decent walk is hard to beat. The advantages over private and particularly public transport are not to be sniffed at. You traverse at your own chosen speed. The Government has yet to devise a method of taxing it. The company is familiar. The opportunity to sharpen thoughts or take in the scenery is wonderful. There are rarely queues."
- The Times of London, "Feet provide the most pleasing form of transport"
"You know, I don't want to overgeneralize but it's a style I find hard to take. They really let you have it up there. Throw it right in your face. Self-righteous do-gooders. I mean, I think we ought to save the dolphins, too. Torpedo those Japanese fishing boats if they don't lay off! But spare me the folk singers!"
- Thom Jones, "Mosquitos"
"Had she been Queen of the Universe for a million years and witnessed glory after glory, what would it have mattered now that she had come to this?"
- Thom Jones, "I Want to Live!"
"…but that's how life tricks you. You're thinking he's in Africa having an adventure and it's horrible in Africa – back home watching the Atlanta Braves by the air conditioner is where it's at. Everybody always thinks they're missing out. It's an illusion."
- Thom Jones, "I Need a Man to Love Me"
"The whole thing is very strange and rather pathetic, thought Yolek, recalling that his own mother was the last person really to fondle him. Starlight on a winter night was no doubt to be taken auspiciously, but life was basically a rum business."
- Amos Oz, "A Perfect Peace"
"Don't you ever feel like just picking up and taking off for some faraway place, some strange big city like Rio de Janeiro or Shanghai where you can be all alone, a total stranger who doesn't owe anybody anything?"
"Me? No way. I want to stay safely put. Without anyone after my scalp. Even if that means making concessions to Nasser. We can afford some. What I want is to spend my life with good friends. With Jews. With my own brothers."
- ibid
"One would have to be worse than a fool to go looking in all this cold nothingness for some sign of intimacy or warmth, much less for the magic of Chad. It will all be in vain. For even if there are other worlds, how will they differ from the one that starts at this porch? In them, too, death will skulk, like a sleeping mastiff."
- ibid
"Far away, in a place where the heavens descended gently on earthly fields, there was love in this world. All would end happily there. A perfect peace… Just wait peacefully and you will receive it. Just go on resting and all will be given you. Everything is waiting. All things are possible. The magic is on its way."
- ibid
"Only once or twice are you granted a special moment that everything else depends on, the moment for which you have been trained and prepared throughout those years of activity and cunning, a moment that might allow you, if you seize it, to discover something about the matter without knowledge of which your whole life is merely a sterile sequence of arrangments, organization, evasions, and troubleshooting."
- Amos Oz, To Know A Woman
"He had that much-massaged look of a man whose money makes money while he sleeps."
- Norman Mailer, Tough Guys Don't Dance
"There is nothing like the danger of humiliation to build fast alliances."
- ibid
"I like the sky and often wonder where I'd be without it. I know: I'd be in England, where we don't have one."
- Martin Amis, Money
"Memory's a funny thing, isn't it. You don't agree? I don't agree either. Memory has never amused me much, and I find its tricks more and more wearisome as I grow older."
- ibid
"She accepted my apologies. They always do, at first."
- ibid
"We think we drink. They're nutters down there. It's a scotch contest."
- ibid
"Poor kid… Well I have my problems too, sister, but I don't have yours."
- ibid
"Over the passing years, time had been cruel to nearly everybody else. Time had been wanton, virulent and spiteful. Time had put the boot in."
- ibid
"Everyone in here, they had all transgressed, they had all sinned against money. And now money was making them pay."
- ibid
"Then came the lagging time. It came abruptly, flopped down like an immense and invisible jelly from the ceiling, swamping the air with marine languor and insect speeds – lagging time, with its numbness and disjuntion, its inertia and automatism, its lost past and dead future. It was as if they were wandering through an endless, swarming, rotten, terminal marketplace after a year of unsleeping nights. Excuse me, said panic to each of them in turn. They had no mouth and they had to scream.
"'Jesus!' said Andy on the way to the sitting room. 'What in the fuck was that?'
"'Lagging time,' said Quentin.
"'Jesus. Never had that cocksucker before.'"
- Martin Amis, Dead Babies
"Alone of species, all alone! we try to understand ourselves and the world. We become rebels or patriots or martyrs on the basis of ideas. We build Chartres and computers, write poems and tensor equations, play chess and quartets, sail ships to other planets and listen in to other galaxies . . . The yearning for certainty which grails the scientist, the aching beauty which harasses the artist, the sweet thorn of justice which fierces the rebel from the eases of life, or the thrill of exultation with which we hear of true acts of that now difficult virtue of courage, of cheerful endurance of hopeless suffering – are these really derivable from matter? The intellectual life of man, his culture and history and religion and science, is different from anything else we know of in the universe. That is fact. It is as if all life evolved to a certain point, and then in ourselves turned at a right angle and simply exploded in a different direction."
- Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
"In Britain since the seventeenth century, the study of what was called 'natural history' was commonly the consoling joy of finding the perfections of a benevolent Creator in nature. What more devastation could be heaped upon these tender motivations and consolations than the twin announcement by two of their own midst, Darwin and Wallace, both amateur naturalists in the grand manner, that it was evolution, not a divine intelligence, that has created all nature . . . Cold Uncalculating Chance, by making some able to survive better in this wrestle for life, and so to reproduce more, generation after generation, has blindly, even cruelly, carved this human species out of matter, mere matter . . . It said in a word that there is no authorization from outside. Behold! there is nothing there. What we must do must come from ourselves . . . We, we fragile human species at the end of the second millennium A.D., we must become our own authorization. And here at the end of the second millennium and about to enter the third, we are surrounded with this problem."
- ibid
"Language allowed the ape to be human, a transitional creature with layers of social relations extending outward to larger and larger groups. The information revolution makes those links global. It is not simply language but electronic communication of language that gives humanity the potential to become a new biological entity . . . Gaia is not our mother. She could be our daughter."
- Alison Jolly, Lucy's Legacy, Sex and Intelligence in Human Evolution
"Our main problem, and one that we share with all other earthly creatures, is what to do next."
- Jim Harrison
"When the anti-Yank set bitch about America’s warmongering but think the UN’s the perfect vehicle to restrain it, you know they’re just posing, and that, though they may routinely say that ‘Bush frightens me’, they’re not frightened at all. America could project itself anywhere and blow up anything, but it doesn’t. It could tell the UN to go fuck itself, but it’s not that impolite. Imagine any previous power of the last thousand years with America’s unrivalled hegemony and unparalleled military superiority in a unipolar world with nothing to stand in its way but UN resolutions. Pick whoever you like: the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, the Third Reich, the Habsburgs, Tsarist Russia, Napoleon, Spain, the Vikings. That’s really ‘frightening’. I’ve now read a gazillion columns beginning, ‘He’s a dangerous madman with weapons of mass destruction. No, not Saddam. George W. Bush.’ It barely works as a joke never mind a real threat. The fact that, in all the torrent of anti-Americanism, there’s no serious thought given to how to reverse it nor any urgency about doing so tells you precisely how frightening and dangerous these folks really think the Great Satan is."
- Mark Steyn, The Spectator
"It’s true that lulling the enemy into a false sense of security can be very cunning; but only if the sense of security does, indeed, turn out to be false."
- ibid (on delaying the war on Iraq)
"This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I'm not interested in watching it."
- President Bush, on renewed inspections in Iraq
"Good advice doesn't come in a box marked 'good advice'."
- David Frum
"Every once in a while these European critics have to be reminded, as they were by Colin Powell in his speech here, that America saved Europe from the Nazis and from the Communists and asked nothing in return. Our troops came and went, leaving behind little more than Hershey bar wrappers."
- Richard Cohen, Washington Post
"Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men – free people will set the course of history."
- G.W. Bush
"Bonjour, you cheese eating surrender monkeys!"
- The Simpsons, on the French
"Don't sing."
- my grandfather, to my sister (on her way up to eulogize my grandmother)
"Let me tell you about this girl. It's all exactly there. The punished child in the stolen makeup. Eyes that are never going to look at anyone again."
- Denis Johnson, Already Dead, A California Gothic
"Suddenly and often in this strange land, there opens before the dreamer the Golden Gate. This is not a dream, illusion, or metaphor. This is California. There really is such a place. It is not a mistake of the imagination, it doesn't disappear like a mirage or back away like a rainbow. Anything, anything, anything! – that's what California offers."
- ibid
"I still acutely remember the suffering and misery brought about by war. It would certainly be a better world if war were not necessary. Yet I also remember the desperation and anger I felt when the rest of the world chose to ignore the tragedy that was drowning my people. We begged a foreign power to free us from oppression, by force if necessary . . . If the antiwar movement dissuades the United States and its allies from going to war with Iraq, it will have contributed to the peace of the dead. "
- José Ramos-Horta, East Timor's minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996
"Maybe Bush is a fool. Maybe he suffers from the naivete that, in the view of many Europeans, makes the United States a dangerous, blundering giant. Or maybe he breathes the idealism that rescued Europe, liberated Kuwait, and saved the Muslims of Kosovo. Maybe the lie of 2003 isn't that strength comes from ignorance but that it comes from a preoccupation with history, with the ethnic hatreds of Europe and the autocracies of the Middle East. Maybe with care and perseverance, flowers can bloom in the desert."
- William Saletan
"I swear on my greatest honor I've never killed anyone. Sure there was that guy in Reno, but everyone has killed a guy Reno."
- Scott Christensen
"As the sands shift and we execute the plan, one fact remains true: Marines are the windstorm that will liberate the Iraqi people from one of the most repressive regimes on the face of the earth and make their freedom a reality. Nothing will stop the U.S. Marines."
- Lt. Gen. James T. Conway
"Sometimes, you have to embrace the suck."
- U.S. soldier trying to smoke a cigarette in a sandstorm
"The only time I saw Iraqi men entirely intimidated by the American-British forces was in Basra, when a cluster of men gaped, awestruck, around an example of the most astoundingly modern weapon in the Western arsenal. Her name was Claire, and she had a machine gun in her arms and a flower in her helmet. 'I'm a bit of a novelty here,' she said, laughing. The Iraqis flinched."
- Nicholas D. Kristof
"It is not unusual for a politician to jump before they are pushed. It is rare, however, for such a person to perform a triple back somersault in the process of leaping."
- The London Times, on Clare Short's resignation from the Blair Cabinet
"I presume all human history is paved with the thought: this can't be happening."
- Tibor Fischer, The Thought Gang
"I don't know . . . if you've slept soundly at night the morning is exhilarating, I suppose."
- Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human
"I didn't know how this was going to turn out, but neither did they. Nobody can outguess the future."
- Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
"There were girls in the front
  And there were girls in the back
  There were girls pettin' squirrels
  And there were squirrels smokin' crack."
- Butthole Surfers
""When it comes to the eventual referendum, whether the currency will work or not just isn’t going to be one of the issues. The British are made of more random stuff than that. Indeed, one of the main appeals of the pro-euro argument is that rare joy of deciding to do something, even when you know it will end disastrously. Absolutely catastrophically. In the soup without a ladle in sight. The British have an admirable track-record in supporting grand ideas that end tragically, like the Charge of the Light Brigade, or holding a globally televised tennis tournament in a venue with no roof."
- Caitlin Moran, Times of London
"Once they have slept together they will have to find something else to veil the enormous absurdity of their existence."
- Sartre, La Nausee
"We were a heap of living creatures, irritated, embarrassed at ourselves, we hadn't the slightest reason to be there, none of us, each one, confused, vaguely alarmed . . ."
- ibid
"Good times, Michael . . . good times . . ."
- Thaddeus Musser
"The toppling of Saddam Hussein freed 25 million people from 30 years of torture, murder, war, starvation and impoverishment at the hands of a psychopathic family that matched Stalin for cruelty but took far more pleasure in it. For Upper West Side liberalism, this matters less than the destruction of a museum. Which didn't even happen!"
- Charles Krauthammer, on the left's criticism of the U.S. for allowing the looting of 33 (not 170,000) artifacts from the Iraqi National Museum
"If [the Iraqi Governing Council] was elected, it would have gained much power and credibility."
- Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League – the 22 member states of which have exactly zero leaders who came to power through a free or fair election
"The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies."
- Robert Conquest's Third Law of Politics.
"So if the sherry glass is full
  But the day is way too young
  You'd better sip today, sip today, sip today
  Before it's gone."
- Live
"Don't take it so much to heart, Mr. Hogarth. Without you things would have turned out just as badly."
- Rappaport, Stanislaw Lem's His Master's Voice
"From too much love of living,
  From hope and fear set free,
  We thank with brief thanksgiving
  Whatever gods may be
  That no man lives forever,
  That dead men rise up never;
  That even the weariest river
  Winds somewhere safe to sea."
- Swinburne
"A lot of people, including some conservatives, already think that if gays want to get married—if, in other words, they want to settle down, become pillars of the community, and bring up children in loving, stable homes—then perhaps a little encouragement is in order. But 'Christian' conservatives disagree. So it’ll be a while before we get gay wedlock here. Gay applicants for marriage licenses will have to join the queue at the city clerk’s office in Toronto, which stayed open last Saturday and Sunday, in honor of Gay Pride Week. Good old Canada. It’s the kind of country that makes you proud to be a North American."
- Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker
"In T3, the saga begins all over again: The latest Terminator assassin arrives naked from the future, kills someone for a wardrobe, then goes off to murder the (future) leader of the resistance against the machines. Then a protector arrives naked from the future but manages to get a wardrobe without killing anyone."
- David Edelstein, Slate
"I'll be your whatever you want."
- The Breeders
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of a divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor."
- the guys who gave us this country
"Such things cause little stir in the world; for in the world a self is what one least asks after, and the thing it is most dangerous of all to show signs of having. The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. is bound to be noticed."
- Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death
"…the self wants in despair to rule over himself, or create himself, make this self the self he wants to be, determine what he will have and what he will not have in his concrete self. His conctrete self has indeed necessity and limits, is this quite definite thing, with these aptitudes, predispositions, etc. But he wants first to undertake to refashion the whole thing in order to get out of it a self such as he wants – and it is in this way he wants to be himself…"
- ibid
"…far from the self succeeding increasingly in being itself, it becomes increasingly obvious that it is a hypothetical self. The self is its own master, absolutely its own master; and exactly this is the despair, but also what it regards as its pleasure and joy. But it is easy on closer examination to see that this absolute ruler is a king without a country, that really he rules over nothing; his position, his kingdom, his sovereignty, are subject to the dialectic that rebellion is legitimate at any moment."
- ibid
"Consequently, the despairing self is forever building only castles in the air, and is always only fencing with an imaginary opponent. All these experimental virtues look very splendid; they fascinate for a moment, like oriental poetry; such self-discipline, such imperturbability, such ataraxy, etc. border almost on the fabulous. Yes, that they do for sure, and beneath it all there is nothing. The self wants in its despair to savour to the full the satisfaction of making itself into itself, of developing itself, of being itself; it wants to take the credit for this fictional, masterly project, its own way of understanding itself. And yet what it understand itself to be is in the final instance a riddle; just when it seems on the point of having the building finished, at a whim it can dissolve the whole thing into nothing."
- ibid
"Another day, another forty-nine cents."
- F. Flav
"Can I trust your assertion, Isabella? Are you sure you hate me? If I let you alone for half a day, won't you come sighing and wheedling to me again?"
- Heathcliff, Bronte's Wuthering Heights
"We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind – black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent – to be free – free to raise a family in love and hope; free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts; free not to bend your knee to any man in fear; free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others. That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go – (laughter) – I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, 'Why me, and why us, and why America?' And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. And our job – my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond – our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us."
- Tony Blair, addressing the U.S. Congress
"In terms of the Iraqi media's attitude regarding the governing council, the sentiments are not much different from the rest of the Middle East. The difference is that the Iraqi people are free to speak their minds."
- Nimrod Raphaeli of MEMRI
"Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children."
- The Roman Catholic Church, only days after the Massachusetts attorney general delivered his report on the epidemic of violence done to children within the church
"I hold it truth, with him who sings,
   To one clear harp in divers tones
   That man may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things"
- Tennyson
"After all, one may hear the most private affairs of other people, but only in a spirit of respect for the struggling, battered thing which any human soul is, and in a spirit of fine, discriminative sympathy. For even satire is a form of sympathy. It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives."
- D.H. Lawrence
"In Paris at any rate she felt a bit of sensuality still. But what a weary, tired, worn-out sensuality. Worn-out for lack of tenderness. Oh! Paris was sad. One of the saddest towns: weary of its now-mechanical sensuality, weary of the tension of money, money, money, weary even of its resentment and conceit, just weary to death, and still not sufficiently Americanized or Londonized to hide the weariness under a mechanical jig-jig-jig! Ah, these manly he-men, these flaneurs, these oglers, these eaters of good dinners! How weary they were! Weary, worn-out for lack of a little tenderness given and taken. The efficient, sometimes charming women knew a thing or two about the sensual realities: they had that pull over their jigging English sisters. But they knew even less of tenderness. Dry, with the endless dry tension of will, they too were wearing out. The human world was just getting worn out."
- ibid
"'Love isn't good enough for you?' he called.
'No!' shouted Birkin.
'Ha, well that's being over-refined," said Gerald, and the car ran through the mud."
- ibid
"If the God Wotan got caught in an overhead power cable, this is what he would sound like."
- Anthony Lane, on the lead singer of Rammstein
"At least Sisyphus got close."
- Jed Babbin
"No matter who you back in the California Recall, you have to admit that it would be simply delicious to have the possibility that Arnold Schwarzenegger would win, walk into the governor's office, and say to Gray Davis 'I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.'"
-Robert Eleazer
"I'll be back in Paris before the end of the week. Will I gain anything by this change? It is still a city: this one happens to be cut in two by a river, the other is by the sea . . . I am afraid of cities. But you mustn't leave them . . . I am free: there is absolutely no more reason for living, all the ones I have tried have given way and I can't imagine any more of them. I am still fairly young. I still have enough strength to start again. But do I have to start again? . . . Today my life is ending. By tomorrow I will have left this town which spreads out at my feet, where I have lived so long. It will be nothing more than a name, squat, bourgeois, quite French, a name in my memory, not as rich as the names of Florence or Bagdad. A time will come when I shall wonder: whatever could I have done all day when I was in Bouville? Nothing will be left of this sunlight, this afternoon, not even a memory."
- Sartre, "La Nausee"
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain
"For the moment, most Europeans who want to see an economic recovery will have to watch it on TV."
- IMF chief economist, contrasting the European outlook with "the best recovery money can buy" in the U.S. (quoted in the Times of London)
"Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
  But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
  How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea
  Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
  O how shall honey's summer breath hold out
  Against the wrackful siege of of batt'ring days,
  When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
  Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
  O fearful meditation! where, alack,
  Shalls Tim'es best jewel from Time's ches lie hid?
  Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back,
  Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
    O none, unless this miracle have might,
    That in blank ink my love may still shine bright."
- Wm. Shakespeare
"An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one."
- George Mikes
"It was exactly because Eve did not know Adam from Adam that they got on so A-OK."
- Zadie Smith, White Teeth
"On the whole, it is probably better to look young than to be young. Youth is fine once, but when you look back and remember that virtually everything you said out loud from the age of 16 to 24 was either ill-judged or idiotic or both, there seems little point in getting nostalgic about it. The best thing about the young is their skin."
- Tim Dowling, Telegraph Magazine
"User error: hit any user to continue."
- Nick Davis, Mizuho IT, London
"London is where people go to come back from it sadder and wiser."
- Martin Amis
"Every little trifle, for some reason, does seem incalculably important today, and when you say of a thing that 'nothing hangs on it' it sounds like blasphemy. There's never any knowing – how am I to put it? – which of our actions , which of our idlenesses won't have things hanging on it forever."
- E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread
"'I want to go back,' Daniel says, quietly, with effort.
'Where?' I ask, unsure.
There's a long pause that kind of freaks me out and Daniel finishes his drink and fingers the sunglasses he's still wearing and says, 'I don't know. Just back.'"
- Bret Easton Ellis, Less Than Zero
"…there surges a bustling thrusting crowd such as our busiest boulevard gives no idea of … the cabs move twice as fast, watermen and bus conductors run a whole sentence to a single word … the last atom of value is extracted from every minute."
- Parisian visitor, on London
"Things get worse."
- Peter Atkins, Oxford professor, paraphrasing the Second Law of Thermodynamics
"America is an optimistic country because that's where the optimists went."
- unknown
"Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance."
- Sartre
"Life has no meaning. . . . No promise dwells in it. No invisible hand is guiding it in secret. It is chaotic. Shapeless. Pure disorder and fog. A tangle of moments in disarray. Chaos. A mess."
- Bernard-Henri Levy, paraphrasing Sartre
"I reflected that getting air support four hours late is a lot like getting no air support at all."
- Brian Taylor, Marine Corps reservist in Iraq
"My own theory is that the Gimp is responsible for 90 percent of Pulp Fiction's success. When you hear Peter Greene say, 'Bring out the Gimp', for the first time, you are placed in the position of having absolutely no idea what's coming next. This is an incredibly rare and gratifying sensation for moviegoers."
- Jonathan V. Last
"MEMO TO OSAMA: Re: the 'truce.' Go fuck yourself."
- Andrew Sullivan
"Pat's best service to his country was to remind us all what courage really looks like, and that the purpose of all good courage is love. He loved his country, and the values that make us exceptional among nations, and good. And he worried after the terrible blow we were struck on September 11th, 2001, that he had 'never done a damn thing' to serve her. Love and honor oblige us. We are obliged to value our blessings, and to pay our debts to those who sacrificed to secure them for us. They are blood debts we owe to the policemen and firemen who raced into the burning towers that others fled; to the men and women who left for dangerous, distant lands to take the war to our enemies and away from us, and to those who fought in all the wars of our history."
- Senator John McCain, at Pat Tillman's memorial service
"They're all Pat Tillmans, every one."
- Larry Miller
"The barbarians may well be at the gates, but then they always have been. Besides, the gates are a damn good place for barbarians to be."
- Joseph Epstein
"All I ever wanted to know was what to do."
- Dave Eggers, You Shall Know Our Velocity
"The accomodation is even more of a surprise. Instead of a spartan bunkhouse with too-narrow wire frame beds and a jug of water that freezes in the night so you have to break the ice before you can pour it over your head, I'm in a meticulously designed pioneer-style room with patchwork quilts and one of those knock-me-down hot showers that European plumbers ought to be sent to America to study. I'd had visions of living like a brute for a week, then dumping my clothes in an incinerator back in Anchorage, hosing off the moose shit, and going looking for food that didn't come out of a can . . . As I snuggle down for the night under the crisp linen and embroidered counterpane and cast an eye over the antique lamps and hand-tinted photographs, I realise that if I ever tell anybody how nice it is here they'll all want to come, and it will spoil it; so instead I pull the threadbare bloodstained blanket up to my chin, arch my back against the broken springs, and listen to my teeth chattering above the drunken snoring of Liver Eating Johnson from the rusty toilet bucket on which he collapsed a little while ago."
- Pete McCarthy, The Road to McCarthy
"The world is divided into places where strangers say hello to you, and places where they don't."
- ibid
"It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbled, or where a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and who comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who never knew victory or defeat."
- Teddy Roosevelt
"What's tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow is . . . another day."
- anon and anon
"I hope you're all Republicans."
- Ronald Reagan, on the operating table, to his surgeons, after being shot
"The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge – and pray God we have not lost it – that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest."
- Regan, Pointe du Hoc, 1984
"Please could you stay awhile to share my grief
For it's such a lovely day
To have to always feel this way
And the time that I will suffer less
Is when I never have to wake
Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever
Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever"
- Portishead
"Now I just tend to think of everyone as a contractor."
- Christine Fullerton, fellow contractor, on the subject of marriage and romantic partnerships
"Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women . . . Wait a minute, that's Conan. I stepped out of character here for a second."
- Governor Schwarzenegger, when asked to describe his governing philosophy
"Your mother just got DSL. Better join before she does it for you."
- banner ad for JDate, the online Jewish dating service
"The road up and the road down are the same road."
- Heraclitus
"Few things can fill the Anglo soul with such warm happiness as the sight of the French getting hysterical in public. Parisian riots are a marvellously win-win proposition. The dishonest, arrogant, self-interested, lazy baggage handlers, ticket collectors, air-traffic controllers, protected peasants and nihilistic, drivel-ranting students all get doused, bashed and gassed while the repellent attack dogs of the state, the CRS, get cobblestoned and bricked. As an added pleasure there is the humiliation of the government."
- A A Gill, Times of London
"Press one if you're highly skilled. Press two if you're a twat."
- Ryan Fife, Director of Fife Ventures, proposing a Highly Skilled Migrant Programme visa advice hotline
"Quite possibly the dullest, least sexy lesbian vampire movie I have ever seen."
- Jeannette Catsoulis, on "Eternal"
"If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is ‘America’."
- Captain Ian Fishback, decorated graduate of West Point, and whistle-blower on American abuse of detainees
"Your paranoia's probably worse."
- Linkin Park
"Is that the men's game you've got on there?"
"No, it's the war."
"Put the men's game on. We can catch the second half of the war . . . and get the first half in highlights."
- two Pep Band members, one with a radio, at the UVa vs. Maryland women's basketball game, the same night the men's teams were playing at Maryland, and also the opening night of the Persian Gulf War
"All human females are clinically insane."
- Fuchs's First Principle of Dating (Empirically Derived)
"Advanced people form charming friendships: conventional people marry."
- Bernard Shaw, The Philanderer
"As Gyuri approached the student hostel, he could see a light in what he surmised was Jadwiga's room. That was all you needed: a lit window in the distance, the knowledge that there was something there, something to work for. The company of a dwarfy hope."
- Tibor Fischer, Under the Frog
"Maybe that's a shitty analogy, but it's all I've got!"
- DK Fuchs, 2006
"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
- George Orwell
"The not done things are done every day Henry. It's part of modern life. I've done most of them myself."
- Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
"I spent Easter Sunday two years ago in a Baghdad that had just been liberated by U.S. and coalition troops. And, yes, the right word is 'liberated.' If you doubt that was the feeling of most Iraqis at the time, then you weren't there."
- David Ignatius, March 25, 2005
"American soldiers make do with C-rations. Dinner on an America West flight from New York to Las Vegas consists of one small bag of peanuts. Meanwhile, one recent menu for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo consisted of orange-glazed chicken, fresh fruit crepe, steamed peas and mushrooms, and rice pilaf. Sounds like the sort of thing you'd get at Windows on the World if it still existed."
- Ann Coulter
"A novel is a long piece of prose with something wrong with it."
- Randall Jarrell
"President Bush knows that the more Kerry talks about Iraq, the more he, Bush, prospers. This is because anything Kerry says about Iraq contradicts something else he has emphatically said – and irritates either his liberal base or an American majority. So Bush might serve national understanding – and himself – if, early on tonight, he says: 'Everyone in the solar system knows my thinking on Iraq. But no one, probably not even anyone on my opponent's campaign plane, knows his thinking, as of now, 9:17 p.m. Eastern time. So, I invite him to take my time – all of it – and tell a bewildered nation what he thinks, at least tonight, at least between 9 and 10:30 p.m.'"
- George Will
"Dicks are bad, and it sucks to be a dick, but it's way worse to be an asshole, and because there are assholes, we need dicks. So shut the fuck up, all you pussies!"
- Trey Parker, espousing the Team America world view
"Remember, whatever you write, this was no retreat. All that happened was that we found more Chinese behind us than in front of us, so we about-faced and attacked."
- Chesty Puller, USMC, speaking to reporters after the battle out of the Chosin Reservoir, Korean War
"We're surrounded. That simplifies our problem of getting to these people and killing them."
- Chesty Puller at the Chosin Reservoir
"A friend in need's a friend indeed,
  A friend with weed is better
  A friend with breasts and all the rest,
  A friend who's dressed in leather"
- Placebo, "Pure Morning"
"I'll tell you what. Why don't we take all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless, so maybe your mother will have a place to stay."
- Billy Hoyle, White Men Can't Jump
"Victory is never final. Defeat is never fatal. It is courage that counts."
- Winston Churchill
"We be doin' murder everyday
We be good enough to get away
You won't even know a wicked clown has hit the door
Until your melon hit the floor and roll away"
- Insane Clown Posse
"We saw London as a country in itself. We didn't leave. We didn't go to Stratford or Bath or Bristol because we had London . . . If I'm leaving London, I'm leaving by air."
- Jack Lohman, Director of the Museum of London
"I thought to become wise, but wisdom remained out of reach. Reality is beyond my grasp, deep it lies, very deep and no one can lay hands upon the heart of things."
- Ecclesiastes 7:24
"Come, eat your food with joy and drink your wine with a glad heart … enjoy life with the woman whom you love, through all the fleeting life which God has given you in this world, for this is what you are meant to get out of your life of toil under the sun."
- Eccl. 9:7
"Throw yourself into any pursuit that may appeal to you for there is no pursuit, no plan, no knowledge or intelligence, within the grave where you are going."
- 9:10
"No more sad talk
I've chosen my bit of Paradise
Tis on your breast
My dear acquaintance."
- Mary Webb, Precious Bane
"At the end of all freedom is a court-sentence; that's why freedom is too heavy to bear, especially when you're down with a fever, or are distressed, or love nobody."
- Camus, The Fall
"Life is so hard."
"Compared to what?"
- some guy, and Wittgenstein
"Ohhh, that had better not be a spider crawling on my nuts . . ."
- anonymous visitor to Zambia
"All I need from a pub is good beer and a seat where I can sip it and think, 'My, what a lovely pub.'"
- Nicholas Lezard, G2
"Of the gladdest moments in human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of Habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many Cares and the slavery of Home, man feels once more happy."
- Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton
"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
- Winston Churchill
"Some guy's name, on your underwear?"
- from Fight Club
"I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore — ever! I'm fucking serious!"
- God
"On Darfur, Bush has been impeccably transnational. He agreed to go the UN route and, as always happens, everybody’s dead. Forget Darfur, and Iraq and Iran. We’re all men of the world here, we can all understand why certain powers might feel it was in their interest to be pro-Saddam or pro-genocide or pro-nuking Israel. Instead, take an issue on which the permanent members of the Security Council were in perfect harmony: the tsunami. Even the French aren’t pro-tsunami. And yet [the UN's] permanent 24/7 lavishly funded humanitarian bureaucracy was useless. The only actual relief effort – you know, saving lives, restoring the water supply, providing shelter – was done by the US, Australia and a handful of others."
- Mark Steyn
"I agree with your sentiment but I am not sure that fistfucking dead bodies is proportional or appropriate. We could try mirrors on the track, like they have in Japan. It is supposed to give you a sense of self-awareness, just before you take the plunge, making it harder to jump. Or something."
- from London by London, in response to a rant against suicides on the tracks
"In reality Ken would never fund it so the threat of fistfucking may be all that we have."
- ibid
"Old Rampole deplored the propagation of books. 'It won't do,' he always said whenever Mr Bently produced a new author, 'no one ever reads first novels.'"
- Evelyn Waugh, Put Out More Flags
"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about."
- Benjamin Franklin
"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
- Trotsky
"There are several different ways to die from an encounter with a snake, and this film has them all."
- Manohla Dargis, New York Times, on Snakes on a Plane
"Though it's unfair, the American Film Institute will probably never include 'I've had it with these mother––––ing snakes on this mother––––ing plane' among its roster of great movie quotations."
- Mick Lasalle, San Francisco Chronicle, on same
"I'm not a slave
To a God
That doesn't exist."
- Marilyn Manson
"Hey, who's dropping bombs in there?! How about a courtesy flush?"
- Butters, South Park
"There are two ways a truly civilised and advanced nation can be defined. One, it has a fleet of nuclear submarines, and two, it does not have the death penalty. That leaves you with France and Britain. And that’s about right."
- Jeremy Clarkson, in the Times
"A politician who claims he's going to cut the size of government is saying he's going to creep up on himself and steal his own wallet."
- P.J. O'Rourke
"It is terrible! It is crazy! I am dazed and my head is spinning! London is the grandest and most complicated monstrosity on the face of the earth. How can I pack into a single letter all I have been through in the last three days? Just step out of my lodging and turn right down Regent Street, look at the splendid wide street lined with porticos and look at the shops with their inscriptions, in letters as tall as a man, and the stage-coaches piled high with passengers, and how a horse is rearing because its rider has acquaintances in yonder house, and how men are used to carry round posters that promise us grateful and artistic perfomances by trained cats - and the beggars and the negroes and the fat John Bulls with a slim pretty daughter on each arm. Oh those daughters!"
- Felix Mendelssohn, 27 April 1829
"Dude, what the fuck?"
- Ranger Staff Sergeant Ray de Pouli, when a 500lb bomb was dropped way too near their position on the peak of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan

  denis johnson     9/11     books     captain burton     evelyn waugh     excerpts     existentialism     film     graham greene     humour     iraq     israel     london     mark steyn     orwell     poetry     quotes     science     the long war     the military     thom jones  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (2014); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of spec-ops zombie apocalypse dark action thrillers. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
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