Quotes of the Month

July 2017

And isn't the whole point of things--beautiful things--that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?

Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch. New York: Little, Brown, 2013. Print. p757.

June 2017

Who knows what will be significant when we have all moved on to whatever is waiting or not waiting?

Radtke, Kristen. Imagine Wanting Only This. New York: Pantheon, 2017. Print. p277.

May 2017

Truth is white, write over it
with a crow's ink.
Truth is black, write over it
with a mirage's light.

Darwish, Mahmoud. "To a Young Poet." Trans. Fady Joudah. Poetry Foundation. Web. 1 May 2017.

April 2017

Seize the moment 'cause tomorrow you might be dead.

"Welcome to the Hellmouth." Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The WB. 10 March 1997. Television.

March 2017

Ridicule the intellectuals so the rabble won't get ideas.

Heiner Müller. Gundling’s Life Frederick of Prussia Lessing’s Sleep Dream Scream: A Horror Story. Hamletmachine and Other Texts for the Stage. Ed. and Trans. Carl Weber. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1984. 59-80. Print. p63.

February 2017

The world is the set of symptoms whose illness merges with man. Literature then appears as an enterprise of health. . . .

Gilles Deleuze. "Literature and Life." Trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Grego. Critical Inquiry 23.2 (1997): 225-230. Print. p228.

January 2017

So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.

Smith, Tracy K. "My God, It's Full of Stars." Life on Mars. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2011. 11-12. Print. p12.

December 2016

If I know your sect I anticipate your argument.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Self-Reliance." 1841.

November 2016

Absurd the adventitious bridges between words.

Gass, William H. "Charity." Eyes: Novellas & Stories. New York: Knopf, 2015. 77-149. Print. p97

October 2016

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.

Wallace, David Foster. "Up, Simba." Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. New York: Back Bay-Little, Brown, 2006. 156-234. Print. p207.

September 2016

How is there freedom to choose if one does not learn how to choose?

Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest. Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. Print. p320.

August 2016

There’s such a thing as collective bullshitting (a.k.a. ideology).

James, Aaron. Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump. New York: Doubleday-Penguin Random House, 2016. eBook. p39.

July 2016

My I thinks were gossamer sutures in that gaping rift between signifier and signified. To fortify them I perseverated until they were blots.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. New York: Mariner-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006. Print. p142.

June 2016

Some of our desires are only fulfilled by others. Our nightmares belong to us.

Moon, Fábio and Gabriel Bá. Two Brothers. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2015. Print. p223.

May 2016

Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters gold.

Gray, Thomas. "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes." Poetry Foundation. Web. 1 May 2016.

April 2016

Reading is anguish, and this is because any text, however important, or amusing, or interesting it may be (and the more engaging it seems to be), is empty—at bottom it doesn’t exist; you have to cross an abyss, and if you do not jump, you do not comprehend.

Blanchot, Maurice. The Writing of the Disaster. 1980. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: Bison-U of Nebraska P, 1986. Print. p10.

March 2016

Psychoanalysis brings subjects to the point where they can identify with the gaze and thus experience fully the failure of ideology.

McGowan, Todd. The Real Gaze: Film Theory after Lacan. Albany: SU of New York P, 2007. Print. p120.

February 2016

We need a type of theatre which not only releases the feelings, insights and impulses possible within the particular historical field of human relations in which the action takes place, but employs and encourages those thoughts and feelings which help transform the field itself.

Brecht, Bertolt. "A Short Organum for the Theatre." Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Ed. and Trans. John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang-Farrar,1964. 179-205. Print. p190.

January 2016

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is, to change it.

Marx, Karl. “Theses on Feuerbach.” Karl Marx: Selected Writings. Ed. David McLellan. Oxford, Eng.: Oxford UP, 1977. 169. Print. qtd. in Singer, Peter. Marx: A Very Short Introduction. 1980. Oxford, Eng.: Oxford UP, 2000. Print. p43.

December 2015

Belief is an affair of obedience to the dead, uncomprehended letter.

Žižek, Slavoj. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989. p43. Print.

November 2015

{[because there must always be glitches ‹especially where paradise is concerned ‹‹whether open or closed›››}].

Danielewski, Mark Z. The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May. New York: Pantheon-Random, 2015. p722. Print.

October 2015

A sentence is a proposition during which if there is a difficulty there will be value since value is contingent on noticing and noticing occurs only when there is a difficulty.

Retallack, Joan. "Witt & Stein." Procedural Elegies / Western Civ Cont'd /. New York: Roof, 2010. p45. Print.

September 2015

Sometimes "I" is supposed to hold what is not there until it is. Then what is comes apart the closer you are to it.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2014. p71. Print.

August 2015

I was an index of first lines when I was born.

Pardlo, Gregory. "Written by Himself." Digest. Tribeca, NY: Four Way, 2014. p3. Print.

July 2015

The simulacra are marching everywhere,
and deep in the caves the chimeras are breathing.

Seshadri, Vijay. "Family Happiness." 3 Sections. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2013. p66. Print.

June 2015

We'll only know who we are
once the algorithm
finds us.

Quart, Alissa. "Clean." Monetized. Oxford, OH: Miami UP, 2015. p66. Print.

May 2015

the rain exploding

in the air is love

the grass excreting her

green wax is love

and stones remembering

past steps is love

Sanchez, Sonia. "Ballad." Homegirls and Handgrenades. 1984. Buffalo: White Pines, 2007. p33.

April 2015

The poem too

is a palimpsest, streaked

with erasures, smelling

of departure and burnt stone.

Kinnell, Galway. "The Poem." Body Rags. 1968. Three Books. Boston: Mariner-Houghton Mifflin, 2002. p30. Print.

March 2015

The day of the publication of the true literature of the American body will be day of Revolution

Ginsberg, Allen. "Death to Van Gogh's Ear." Collected Poems: 1947-1997. New York: HarperPerennial, 2006. 175-8. p175. Print.

February 2015

This understumble, untranslatable in French, incorporates stumble into understand. Understanding always amounts to struggling forward into misunderstanding.

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book X: Anxiety, 1962-1963. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. A. R. Price. Cambridge, Eng.: Polity, 2014. p79.

January 2015

There is no greater bulwark against the twittering acceleration of American consciousness than the encounter with a work of art, and the experience of a text or an image. You are the representatives, the saving remnants, of that encounter and that experience, and of the serious study of that encounter and that experience—which is to say, you are the counterculture. Perhaps culture is now the counterculture.

Leon Wieseltier. Commencement Address. Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. 19 May 2013. Rpt. in "'Perhaps Culture is Now the Counterculture': A Defense of the Humanities." New Republic 28 May 2013. Web. <http://www.newrepublic.com/ article/113299/leon-wieseltier-commencement-speech-brandeis-university-2013>. 1 Jan. 2015.

December 2014

It is intimate

and remote both

for the keeper

and those afloat.

Kay Ryan. "Lighthouse Keeping." Poetry April 2005: 21. Print.

November 2014

What is it to teach, when what is to be taught has precisely to be taught not only to one who doesn't know, but to one what can't know?

Jacques Lacan. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan Book X: Anxiety, 1962-1963. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. A. R. Price. Cambridge, Eng.: Polity, 2014. p17. Print.

October 2014

I'm writing to approach, through words, that empty shape inside me, to creep around it, like a hunter, to work out how to kill it, to know its territory.

Ander Monson. Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2010. p27. Print.

September 2014

Now, in Milledgeville, I fear for my life.

A. Van Jordan. "The Homesteader." The Cineaste. New York: Norton, 2013. p58. Print.

August 2014


Jacques Lacan. "The Imaginary, The Symbolic, and The Real." On the Names-of-the-Father. Trans. Bruce Fink. Cambridge, Eng.: Polity, 2013. p34. Print.

July 2014

No keystroke left behind.

Thomas Pynchon. Bleeding Edge. New York: Penguin, 2013. p105. Print.

June 2014

Language exists

to pull things


Rae Armantrout. "New Intelligence." Just Saying. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2013. p91. Print.

May 2014

I had a teacher one whole summer who never told me

                               anything and it was wonderful.

Frank O'Hara. "Hotel Particulier." Lunch Poems. San Francisco: City Lights, 1964. p40. Print.

April 2014

We've had the goddam Ages of Faith, we've had the goddam Age of Reason. This is the Age of Publicity.

William Gaddis. The Recognitions. 1955. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive, 2012. p736. Print.

March 2014

"Reality" is simply a more or less constant scanning pattern—The scanning pattern we accept as "reality" has been imposed by the controlling power on this planet, a power primarily oriented towards total control....

William S. Burroughs. Nova Express. 1964. New York: Grove, 1992. p53. Print.

February 2014

I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry.

John Cage. "Lecture on Nothing." Silence: Lectures and Writings. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 1961. p109. Print.

January 2014

So much depends upon this observer of the universe.

John Green. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton-Penguin, 2012. eBook.

December 2013

Somewhere along the way America became a giant mall with a country attached.

Ben Fountain. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. New York: Ecco-HarperCollins, 2012. p222. Print.

November 2013

Heavenly labials in a world of gutterals.

Wallace Stevens. "The Plot against the Giant." Harmonium. 1923. The Collected Poems. 1954. New York: Vintage, 1982. p7. Print.

October 2013

Don't slip on the banana peel of nihilism, even while listening to the roar of Nothingness.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. "Poetry as Insurgent Art." Poetry as Insurgent Art. New York: New Directions, 2007. p25. Print.

September 2013

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Martin Luther King, Jr. March on Washington. 28 Aug. 1963.


I have two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.

Barack Obama. The White House Correspondents Association Dinner. 1 May 2010.

August 2013

The slaughter of reason is as regular as that of cows at an abattoir. This extraordinary human gift—the ability to think—is rarely used to recommend a calm and caring life, or even to find a just harmony among the needs of men.

William H. Gass. Middle C. New York: Knopf, 2013. p212.

July 2013

True poetry is truth. Truth is not popular, so poetry also is not.

David Mitchell. Black Swan Green. New York: Random, 2006. p155.

June 2013

Every four years, we elect a new criminal because that's become the precise job description.

Charles P. Pierce. "A Bad Idea Gets Worse." The Politics Blog with Charles P. Pierce. Esquire. 21 Feb. 2013.

May 2013

Madness is a reality, not a perversion.

Kathy Acker. Great Expectations. New York: Grove, 1982. p119.

April 2013

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?

Henry David Thoreau. Walden; or, Life in the Woods. 1854.

March 2013

Is there a poem that never reaches words

And one that chaffers the time away?

Wallace Stevens. "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction." Transport to Summer. 1947. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. New York: Vintage-Random, 1990. p396.

February 2013

Every author ought to write every book as if he were going to be beheaded the day he finished it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald. This Side of Paradise. 1919. Ed. Ruth Prigozy. New York: Pocket, 1995. p235.

January 2013

The knot in the mind. That pounding thought. The cricket all night. That bright singing knot. That meditation on knots, which is a goat.

Laura Kasischke. "The Knot." Space, in Chains. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon, 2011. p77.

December 2012

Shoppers carried by escalators

into the flames

Skin-deep civilization

gone in a flash of samsara

as the carbon air bursts into flames

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Time of Useful Consciousness (Americus, Book II). New York: New Directions, 2012. p85.

November 2012

The top 400 people—not percent, people, 400—own more wealth now than the bottom 185 million Americans taken together. That is a medieval structure.

Gar Alperovitz, Green Party Convention Keynote Address 2012

October 2012

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible psychological reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.

David Foster Wallace. "Up, Simba." Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. New York: Back Bay-Little, Brown, 2006. 156-234. p207.

September 2012

I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

David Foster Wallace, Kenyon College Commencement

August 2012

Article 31: Every citizen has the right to health care.

Article 34: Free education in all its stages is a right for all Iraqis.

Iraqi Constitution

July 2012

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

2012 Republican Party of Texas, "Report of Platform Committee

June 2012

. . . I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Martin Luther King, Jr. "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence." 4 Apr. 1967. American Rhetoric Online Speech Bank.

May 2012

When you're tan, you feel better about yourself.

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi. BrainyQuotes.com. 1 May 2012.


After the experience gained in Oklahoma City we realized how important the use of Therapy Dogs are in working with people affected by a disaster.

Therapy Dogs International (TDI). Disaster Stress Relief (DSR). 1 May 2012.

April 2012

Give them the choice, Mr. Benjamin, and the mass will always choose the fake.

William Gaddis. Agapē Agape. 2002. New York: Penguin, 2003. p35.

March 2012

My mind was full of sickening Jewish worry, the pogrom within and the pogrom without.

Gary Shteyngart. Super Sad True Love Story. New York: Random, 2010. p164.

February 2012

Memory believes before knowing remembers.

William Faulkner. Light in August. 1932. New York: Vintage-Random, 1990. p119

January 2012

Poetry actively repelled my attention, it was opaque and thingly and refused to absorb me; its articles and conjunctions and prepositions failed to dissolve into a feeling and a speed; you could fall into the spaces between words as you tried to link them up; and yet by refusing to absorb me the poem held out the possibility of a higher form of absorption of which I was unworthy, a profound experience unavailable from within the damaged life, and so the poem became a figure for its outside.

Lerner, Ben. Leaving the Atocha Station. Minneapolis: Coffee House, 2011. p20.

December 2011

For we are language      Lost

in language

Howe, Susan. Defenestration of Prague. 1983. The Europe of Trusts. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1990. p99.

November 2011

Compare human health with corporate profits.

Andrews, Bruce. "Culture Just Reupholsters." I Don't Have Any Paper So Shut Up (or, Social Romanticism). Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1992.

October 2011

If the person you were before reading and the person you are after is the same, then you haven't really read.

Sheck, Laurie. A Monster's Notes. New York: Knopf, 2009. p281.

September 2011

Always to be subjective, like a book,

that's what I wanted; to face inside,

but also to turn out, to have a soul that would resemble paper

Hillman, Brenda. "Bookstore." Fortress. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 1989. p20.

August 2011

The real is not impossible; it is simply more and more artificial.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 1972. New York: Penguin, 2009. p87.

July 2011

RACHEL MENKEN: It's hard to get caught in a lie.

DON DRAPER: It wasn't a lie; it was ineptitude with insufficient cover.

"Marriage of Figaro." Mad Men. AMC. 2 Aug. 2007.

June 2011

Once in a while, when I was not mad, I would turn poetic instead.

Markson, David. Wittgenstein's Mistress. 1988. Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1995. p31.

May 2011

Waste is a religious thing. We entomb contaminated waste with a sense of reverence and dread. It is necessary to respect what we discard.

DeLillo, Don. Underworld. New York: Scribner-Simon & Schuster, 1997. p88.

April 2011

There is no reason to despise democratic elections; the point is only to insist that they are not per se an indication of Truth─on the contrary, as a rule, they tend to reflect the predominant doxa determined by the hegemonic ideology.

Žižek, Slavoj. First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. London: Verso, 2009. p137.

March 2011

The business of love is

                             cruelty which,

by our wills,

we transform to live together.

Williams, William Carlos. "The Ivy Crown." 1955. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 1914-1945. 6th ed. Vol. D. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton, 2003. p1278.

February 2011

I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

Yeats, William Butler. "The Circus Animals' Desertion." 1939. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Eds. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O'Clair. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Modern Poetry. New York: Norton, 2003. 142-3. p143. Print.

January 2011

Why shouldn't someone create a dictionary of words that make up one book and let the reader himself assemble the words into a whole?

Pavić, Milorad. Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel. 1984. Trans. Christina Pribićević-Zorić. New York: Vintage-Random, 1989. p96. Print.

December 2010

I'm too multiple to feel.

      A fork ahead.

            I take both.

Mark Z. Danielewski. Only Revolutions. New York: Pantheon-Random, 2006. p9 by Hailey.

November 2010


my avatar's not working!"

Rae Armantrout. "Operations." Versed. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2009. p15. Print.

October 2010

the objective uncertainty, seized in the most passionately inward appropriation, is truth, the highest truth there is for an existing person.

Søren Kierkegaard. "Truth Is Subjectivity." Existentialism. 2nd ed. Ed. Robert C. Solomon. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. p21. Print.

September 2010

Yes. I have heard too much, I have been told too much; I have had to listen to too much, too long

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! 1936. New York: Modern Library, 1964. p207. Print.

August 2010

Mass culture is unadorned make-up.

Theodor W. Adorno. "The Schema of Mass Culture." The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. 1991. Ed. J. M. Bernstein. London: Routledge, 2001. p 78. Print.

July 2010

"Are we lost again, Julian?"

Bret Easton Ellis. Imperial Bedrooms. New York: Knopf, 2010. p22. Print.

June 2010

He was what his brain could make nothing of.

Ted Hughes. "Crow's Playmates." Crow. 1970. Collected Poems. Ed. Paul Keegan. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2003. p240. Print.

May 2010

I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a single word: Home.

Mahmoud Darwish. "I Belong There." Fewer Roses. 1986. Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems. Ed. and Trans. Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché. Berkeley: U of California P, 2003. p7. Print.

April 2010

The writer/speaker rises, as if already dead, to address an other, some second person whose existence is equally problematic. Beyond them lies the world, that matrix which at any moment might be rendered void.

Beverly Dahlen, A Reading, 18-20. Denver, CO: Instance, 2006. p14. Print.

March 2010

The poem─and in it the poet─is this intimacy opened to the world, unreservedly exposed to being.

Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature. 1955. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1982. p157. Print.

February 2010

When I fall into the abyss, I go straight into it, head down and heels up, and I'm even pleased that I'm falling in just such a humiliating position, and for me I find it beautiful. And so in that very shame I suddenly begin a hymn.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

January 2010

Language exists because nothing exists between those

who express themselves. All language is therefore

a language of prayer. Held in the dark, without sleep.

Lynn Xu. Language exists because. The Best American Poetry 2008. Ed. Charles Wright. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. p139. Print.

December 2009

Overexposure to manufactured illusions soon destroys their representational power. The illusion of reality dissolves, not in a heightened sense of reality as we might expect, but in a remarkable indifference to reality.

Christopher Lasch. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations. 1979. New York: Norton, 1991. p87. Print.

November 2009

To fall in love is to individualize someone by the signs he bears or emits. . . . The beloved appears as a sign, a "soul"; the beloved expresses a possible world unknown to us, implying, enveloping, imprisoning a world that must be deciphered, that is, interpreted.

Gilles Deleuze. Proust and Signs. 1964. Trans. Richard Howard. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2000. p7. Print.

October 2009

Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.

Thomas Pynchon. Gravity's Rainbow. 1973. New York: Penguin, 2006. p255. Print.

September 2009

What was around me was also inside me, and I had only to look into myself in order to see the world.

Paul Auster. The Book of Illusions. New York: Picador-Henry Holt, 2002. p108. Print.

August 2009

If a story seems too random, or perhaps too brilliant, for a "madman" to have conceived of it himself, then consider that the "author" might be reality and the "madman" just the reader. After all, only reality can escape the limits of our imagination.

Rivka Galchen. Atmospheric Disturbances. New York: Picador-Farrar, 2008. p160. Print.

July 2009

To put herself into the Lack.

Jonathan Lethem. As She Climbed across the Table. New York: Vintage-Random, 1997. p105. Print.

June 2009

Remember that men & women are infinitely ecstatic, infinitely suffering beings.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. "Poetry as Insurgent Art." Poetry as Insurgent Art. New York: New Directions, 2007. p29. Print.

May 2009

If the neurotic inhabits language, the psychotic is inhabited or possessed by language.

Jacques Lacan. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book III: The Psychoses 1955-1956. Trans. Russell Grigg. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Norton, 1993. p250. Print.

April 2009

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that’s all."

Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. New York: Harper, 1902. p117.

March 2009

Here am I, drowned, living, loving, and insane.

Hayden Carruth. "The Asylum." 1957. For You. New York: New Directions, 1970. p14.

February 2009

Good-bye, Americana; hello, real time.

Philip Roth. American Pastoral. New York: Vintage-Random, 1997. p69.

January 2009

My kiss says razors and pain, my kiss says
America is charged with the madness
of God.

Kim Addonizio. "The First Line is the Deepest." Poetry Jan. 2009. Web. 31 Dec. 2008.

December 2008

All the unhappiness of man stems from one thing only: that he is incapable of staying quietly in his room.

Blaise Pascal. qtd. in Auster, Paul. The Invention of Solitude. 1982. New York: Penguin, 2007. p74.

November 2008

Narcissism. The obsessional effort by those who have no inner identity to reassure themselves that they do by compulsive rituals of self-aggrandizement. The narcissistic quest can get no satisfaction, however, because it derives from the void at the heart of American society.

Walter A. Davis. Art and Politics: Psychoanalysis, Ideology, Theatre. London: Pluto, 2007. p75.

October 2008

‘Reality’ is a fantasy-construction which enables us to mask the Real of our desire.

Slavoj Žižek. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989. p45.

September 2008

. . . desire is neither the appetite for satisfaction nor the demand for love, but the difference that results from the subtraction of the first from the second, the very phenomenon of their splitting.

Jacques Lacan. "The Signification of the Phallus." 271-80. Écrits: A Selection. 1966. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2002. p276.

August 2008

the words have barely begun   to match the desire

Adrienne Rich. "A Long Conversation." Midnight Salvage, Poems 1995-1998. New York: Norton, 1999. p63.

July 2008

Desire goes travelling into the total dark of another's soul
looking for where it breaks off
I was a hard thing to undo

Jorie Graham. "Le Manteau de Pascal." The Errancy. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1997. p68.

June 2008

'Reality' is a fantasy-construction which enables us to mask the Real of our desire.

Slavoj Žižek. The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989. p45.

May 2008

As he writes, he feels that he is moving inward (through himself) and at the same time moving outward (toward the world).

Paul Auster. The Invention of Solitude. 1982. New York: Penguin, 2007. p138.

April 2008

My script had been scrambled behind my back.

Angela Carter. “Flesh and the Mirror.” Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces. London: Quartet, 1974. Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories. New York: Penguin, 1995. 68-74. p73.

March 2008

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep.

W. H. Auden qtd. in "February 21, 2008." The Writer's Almanac. 21 Feb. 2008. Podcast. 21 Feb. 2008.

February 2008

I'm finished.

There Will Be Blood. Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. Miramax, 2007.

January 2008

I plan on writing an epic poem about this gorgeous pie.

Twin Peaks. "Episode Twenty-Five." ABC. 4 April 1991.

December 2007

We just want to live. If anyone would let us.

Jeffrey Eugenides. The Virgin Suicides. New York: Warner, 1993. p132.

November 2007

No single day passes that I do not listen to the heartless indifferences and stupidities passing from the counselors’ lips without secretly wishing I could improve matters quite substantially by bashing a few culprits over the head with an excellent shovel or stout club!

J. D. Salinger. "Hapworth 16, 1924." The New Yorker June 1965: 32-113.

October 2007

No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.

Antonin Artaud. Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society. 1947. Selected Writings. Ed. Susan Sontag. Trans. Helen Weaver. New York: Farrar, 1976. 483-514. p497.

September 2007

Learn to think with pain.

Maurice Blanchot. The Writing of the Disaster. New Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: Bison-U of Nebraska P, 1986. Trans. of L’Ecriture du désastre. Paris, Fr.: Éditions Gallimard, 1980. p145.

August 2007

. . . the path toward death is nothing other than what is called jouissance.

Jacques Lacan. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychpoanalysis, 1969-70. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Russell Grigg. New York: Norton, 2007. p18.

July 2007

PETE MARTELL: She’s dead . . . wrapped in plastic.

Twin Peaks. Pilot. ABC. 8 April 1990.

June 2007

But though a war may well be “too stupid,” that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.

Albert Camus. The Plague. Trans. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Modern Library, 1947. New York: Vintage-Random, 1991. p37.

May 2007

The human organism is an atrocity exhibition at which he is an unwilling spectator . . .

J. G. Ballard. The Atrocity Exhibition. 1970. Eds. V. Vale and Andrea Juno. Rev. ed. San Francisco: V/Search, 1990. p14.

April 2007

I'm reading the Inferno to cheer me up.

D. M. Thomas. The White Hotel. 1981. New York: Penguin, 1993. p201.

March 2007

Be—and yet know the great void where all things begin,
the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

Rainer Maria Rilke. II, 13. Sonnets to Orpheus. 1923. The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. Ed. and Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Vintage-Random, 1989. p245.

February 2007

Dimly he began to see the significance of things. Caught once in the cogs and wheels of a great and terrible engine, he had seen—none better—its workings.

Frank Norris. "A Deal in Wheat." 1902. Anthology of American Literature. 9th ed. Vol. II. Eds. George McMichael, et al. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall-Pearson, 2006. 795-803. p802.

January 2007

While existence is granted only through the symbolic order (the alienated subject being assigned a place therein), being is supplied only by cleaving to the real.

Bruce Fink. The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995. p61.

December 2006

Sometimes I wish I’d been an Englishman; American life is so damned dumb and stupid and healthy.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise. 1919. Ed. Ruth Prigozy. New York: Pocket, 1995. p178.

November 2006

A poem bared the moment to things he was not normally prepared to notice.

Don DeLillo. Cosmopolis. 2003. New York: Scribner, 2004. p5.

October 2006

Every day Elaine thinks of disappearing. She will leave and take nothing with her—"You have yourself" is what people say, and that’s what stops her. She fears she is nothing. Nonexistent.

A. M. Homes. Music for Torching. New York: Perennial-HarperCollins, 1999. p263.

September 2006

I'll just pray, until I run out of words,
then I'll howl.

Ai. "Fairy Tale." Dread. New York: Norton, 2003. p32.

August 2006

The imaginary is a scar.

Hubert Aquin. Prochain épisode. 1965. qtd. in Sheppard, Gordon. Ha! A Self-Murder Mystery. 2003. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2006. p281.

July 2006

Not only can man's being not be understood without madness, but it would not be man's being if it did not bear madness within itself as the limit of his freedom.

Jacques Lacan. "Presentation of Psychical Causality." Écrits. 1966. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 2006. 123-58. p144.

June 2006

god, my god, my head is leaking, lord, my head is leaking through my mouth, my god, and down my throat and past my shoulders, all those tubs, good lord, and toward my shows?

William H. Gass Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife. TriQuarterly: 1968. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1998.

May 2006

I’m writing because I want somebody to tell me whether I am alive or dead.

Don DeLillo. Americana. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. New York: Penguin, 1989. p164.

April 2006

I sit here and am nothing.

Rainer Maria Rilke. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. 1910. Trans. M. D. Herter Norton. New York: Norton, 1949. p28.

March 2006

As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.

Kate Chopin. The Awakening. 1899. Ed. Margo Culley. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994. p28.

February 2006

If pure Being was pure panic, I knew what pure Being was.

William H. Gass. The Tunnel. 1995. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1999. p591.

January 2006

Only after disaster can we be resurrected.

Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club. 1996. New York: Norton, 2005. p70.

December 2005

Here they are now: here is the voice trying to surround
the words.
And here: the words trying to awaken
what they would surround.

Jorie Graham. "History." Region of Unlikeness. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1991. 35-6. p35.

November 2005

In the unconscious, excluded from the system of the ego, the subject speaks.

Jacques Lacan. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. 1973. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton, 1981. p58.

October 2005

even our intimacies are rigged with terror.

Adrienne Rich. "Hunger." The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977. New York: Norton, 1978. p13.

September 2005

this place is
in the constructive process
of ruin—Gaze upon it

Edward Dorn. Gunslinger. Durham: Duke UP, 1989. p16.

August 2005

Just for the record, I do not consider myself an evil person (though how like a killer that makes me sound!).

Donna Tartt. The Secret History. 1992. New York: Ballantine-Random, 2002. p275.

July 2005

Too bad dark languages rarely survive.

Mark Z. Danielewski. House of Leaves. New York: Pantheon-Random, 2000. p89.

June 2005

You're not a fictional character, are you, Mr. Ellis?

Bret Easton Ellis. Lunar Park. New York: Knopf, 2005. p125.

May 2005

The voice of the dictionary is the voice of her dreams.

Myla Goldberg. Bee Season. New York: Doubleday-Random, 2000. New York: Anchor-Random, 2001. p71.

April 2005

The artist is he who returns Death to its rightful owner: to Life.

W. L. Graff. “Elegy and Orpheus.” Rainer Maria Rilke: Creative Anguish of a Modern Poet. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1956. 225-59. p227.

March 2005

The book does not serve my freedom; it requires it.

Jean-Paul Sartre. "Why Write?" What Is Literature? Trans. Bernard Frechtman. New York: Philosophical Library, 1950. Rpt. in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds. Vincent B. Leitch, et al. New York: Norton, 2001. 1336-49. p1340.

February 2005

Naturally this need to provide the widest base possible for the selection and elaboration of the top intellectual qualifications—i.e. to give a democratic structure to high culture and top-level technology—is not without its disadvantages: it creates the possibility of vast crises of unemployment—for the middle intellectual strata, and in all modern societies this actually takes place.

Antonio Gramsci. "The Formation of the Intellectuals." Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Eds. and Trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. New York: International, 1971. Rpt. in The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Eds. Vincent B. Leitch, et al. New York: Norton, 2001. 1135-43. p1142.

January 2005

In the basement, when I wasn’t getting electroshocked, they’d put me on laundry detail. I didn’t like it, because laundry was the cruelest chore—breeding clean clothes out of the dead wash, mixing Tide and Joy, and so on. There was so much of it, so much more than I thought there would be from our now reduced numbers, a million airy pieces to fluff and fold, and yet all of it kept billowing, teetering, swarming up damply to swamp me, fear death by laundry . . .

Tom Carson. Gilligan’s Wake. New York: Picador, 2003. p16.

December 2004

The word, taking place in time, comes about in such a way that its advent necessarily remains unsaid in that which is said. The interminable space that the This opens up for the gaze is a place of superhuman and fearful silence.

Giorgio Agamben. Language and Death: The Place of Negativity. 1982. Trans. Karen E. Pinkus and Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1991. p77.

November 2004

Everyone wanted to be movie stars . . . and in the end, basically, everyone was a sociopath. . . .

Bret Easton Ellis. Glamorama. 1998. London: Picador-Macmillan, 1999. p309, author's ellipses.

October 2004

KAREN POMEROY. It’s meant to be ironic.
KITTY FARMER. Excuse me, you need to go back to grad school.

Donnie Darko. Dir. Richard Kelly. Flower Films, 2001.

September 2004

Brian, go inflate your tire.

"Strangers in the House." My So-Called Life. ABC. 20 Oct. 1994.

August 2004

The end of exile is the end of being.

Angela Carter. "The Lady of the House of Love." The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1979. Rpt. in Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories. New York: Penguin, 1995. 195-209. p207.

July 2004

Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word.

Martin Heidegger. "Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry." Existence and Being. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1949. 270-91. p281.

June 2004

The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other, it needs an Over-against. It seeks it out, speaks toward it.

Paul Celan. "The Meridian: Speech on the Occasion of the Award of the Georg Büchner Prize." Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan. Trans. John Felstiner. New York: Norton, 2001. 401-14. p409.

May 2004

The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum.

T. S. Eliot. "Tradition and the Individual Talent." 1917.

April 2004

I feel sometimes as if I were imagination (that spider goddess and thread-spinning muse)—imagination imagining itself imagine.

William H. Gass. Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife. 1968. Normal, IL: Dalkey Archive, 1989.

March 2004

The endeavor by which each thing endeavors to persevere in its being is nothing other than the actual cause of the thing.

Spinoza. Ethics. 1677. Ed. and Trans. G. H. R. Parkinson. Oxford, Eng.: Oxford UP, 2000. p171.

February 2004

Mostly, I had to admit, I live in the subjunctive, unable to find a foothold.

Rosmarie Waldrop. For years already. The Reproduction of Profiles. New York: New Directions, 1987. p18.

December 2003 and January 2004

Finally I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind.

Arthur Rimbaud. A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat. 1873. Trans. Louise Varèse. New York: New Directions, 1961. p55.

November 2003

Language is fossil poetry.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. "The Poet." 1844.

October 2003

You who read me, are You sure of understanding my language?

Jorge Luis Borges. "The Library of Babel." Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings. Eds. Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby. Trans. James E. Irby. New York: New Directions, 1964. 51-8. p58.

September 2003

Of what I so often felt later, I now somehow had a premonition: that one had no right to open a book at all, unless one pledged oneself to read them all.

Rainer Maria Rilke. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. 1910. Trans. M. D. Herter Norton. New York: Norton, 1949. pp171-2.

August 2003

Interpretation must aim at the traumatic event or experience that is resisting verbalization, not the mere fact of resistance.

Bruce Fink. "The Master Signifier and the Four Discourses." Key Concepts of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. Ed. Dany Nobus. New York: Other, 1998. 29-47. p43.

July 2003

Wisdom lies next thee,
      simply, past metaphor.

Ezra Pound. Canto LXXXII. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. 1969. New York: New Directions, 1993. p546.

June 2003

Let’s destroy the mind that makes words and sentences.

Don DeLillo. Mao II. 1991. New York: Penguin, 1992. p161.

May 2003

Words were one of the layers—to ward off what?

William H. Gass. "Emma Descends into a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop’s." Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas. New York: Basic, 1998. 144-91. p189.

April 2003

"I guess some people are just born with tragedy."

Donnie Darko (Directed by Richard Kelley, 2001)

March 2003

"What if it is not the realists who see reality, but those who look inward?"

Robert Musil. The Man without Qualities: A Sort of Introduction and Pseudoreality Prevails into the Millennium. Vol. 1. Trans. Sophie Wilkins. New York:: Vintage-Random, 1996. Trans. of Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Hamburg, Ger.: Rowohlt Verlag, 1952. p523.

February 2003

All these words you say, they fall into a gulf, they're not me or you.

Doris Lessing. Briefing for a Descent into Hell. New York: Knopf, 1971. New York: Vintage-Random, 1981. p151.

January 2003

With what melancholy and yet with what calm certainty he felt that he would never again be able to say "I."

Maurice Blanchot. Awaiting Oblivion. Trans. John Gregg. Lincoln: Bison-U of Nebraska P, 1997. Trans. of L'Attente l'oubli. Paris, Fr.: Éditions Gallimard, 1962. p16.

October, November, and December 2002

I must go through this machine
       In order to be born

Barrett Watten. Progress. New York: Roof, 1985. p117.

July, August, and September 2002

. . . I want it,
another, thicker, kind of sight.

Jorie Graham. "Mist." Erosion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983. p5.

June 2002

There is a poetry in mere existence.

John Ashbery "Dangerous Moonlight." Can You Hear, Bird. New York: Farrar, 1995. p32.

May 2002

To create a work of art that the critic cannot even talk about ought to be the artist's chief concern.

John Ashbery. Art News. May 1972.

April 2002

DIRECTOR: I think it’s unwise to use movies as a guide for reality.
INSPECTOR: It depends on what you mean by reality.

Opera. Dir. Dario Argento. 1987.

February and March 2002

We stayed till the stamens trembled.

Lorine Niedecker. "Club 26." From This Condensary: The Complete Writing of Lorine Niedecker. 1985.

December 2001 and January 2002

Your silence today is a pond where drowned things live
I want to see raised dripping and brought into the sun.

Adrienne Rich. The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977. New York: Norton, 1978. p29.

October and November 2001

When we speak, we are leaning on a tomb, and the void of that tomb is what makes language true, but at the same time void is reality and death becomes being.

Maurice Blanchot. "Literature and the Right to Death." 1949. The Blanchot Reader. Ed. Michael Holland. Oxford, Eng.: Blackwell, 1995. p391-2.

August and September 2001

The words continue, to reconnoiter the echo.
And this ersatz follower, you.

Clark Coolidge. The Crystal Text. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1995. p65.

July 2001

His soul had arisen from the grave of boyhood, spurning her graveclothes.

James Joyces. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 1914. Ed. R. B. Kershner. Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 1993. p150.

June 2001

For the artist the moment of seeing can also be one of revelation.

Barrett Watten. "Plasma." Plasma/Paralleles/“X”. San Francisco: Tuumba, 1979. n.p.

April and May 2001

Man reading shd. be man intensely alive. The book shd. be a ball of light in one’s hand.

Ezra Pound. Guide to Kulchur. 1970. p50.

March 2001

The subject is nothing other than what slides in a chain of signifiers, whether he knows which signifier he is the effect of or not.

Jacques Lacan. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX, Encore 1972-1973: On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Trans. Bruce Fink. New York: Norton, 1998. p50.

February 2001

Thus they went on living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they forgot the values of the written letters.

Gabriel García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude. 1967. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: HarperCollins-HarperPerennial, 1970. pp48-9.

January 2001

Language is the history that gave me shape and hypochondria.

Lyn Hejinian. My Life. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1991. p47.