Russell Hoban quotations used in SA4QE

This is a list of quotations from Russell Hoban's books used in the annual SA4QE fan event. Click on the novel title for details of that book, or on the "read more" link for details of who chose the quotation and where they left it.

"The real thing is always more than you're ready for."

Holding on to the world is mostly an act of faith: you see a little bit of it front of you and you believe in the rest of it both in time and space.  If you're scheduled for a jump to Hubble on Tuesday you believe in you, in Hubble, in the jump, and in Tuesday.  Sometimes it was hard for me to believe all of it.

"All roads, whether long or short, are hard," said Frog. "Come, you have begun your journey, and all else necessarily follows from that act. Be of good cheer. The sun is bright. The sky is blue. The world lies before you."

It was an earthy dance, nothing of it moved up into the air, it was as if earth had formed itself into a man and the man was dancing himself slowly back into the earth. Bembel Rudzuk danced more and more slowly and more and more deeply until the body I saw before me stood motionless like the nymphal shell left behind by a dragonfly. But Bembel Rudzuk, unlike the dragonfly, seemed not to have flown away into the air but to have danced himself out of his body into the earth.
The shell of Bembel Rudzuk opened its eyes and Bembel Rudzuk looked out of them.
“Was this your dream?” I said. “Were you dancing your dream?”
“Earth,” he said. “I was dancing earth.”
“Are you awake?” I said.
“Which is the dream?” he said.

Everyone lives a life that is seen and a life that is unseen. Our dreams are part of our unseen life. We often forget our own dreams and we have no idea whatever of the dreams of others: last night the person next to you in the underground may have ridden naked on a lion or travelled under the sea to the lost city of Atlantis. Along with the dream life there is the life of ideas and half-ideas, of glimmerings and flashes and indescribable atmospheres of the mind. What we actually do in what is called the real world depends largely on how we live this unseen life in our inner world of words and images, songs and bits of poems, names and numbers and memories and dreams remembered and unremembered...

Oh no, thought Kleinzeit when he saw Sister, this is too much. Even if I were well, which I'm probably not, even if I were young, which I no longer am, this is far too massive a challenge and it would be better not to respond to it. Even at arm-wrestling she could destroy me, how do I dare consider her thighs? He considered her thighs and felt panic rising in him. Offstage the pain was heard, like the distant horn in the Beethoven overture. Am I possibly a hero, Kleinzeit wondered, and poured himself a glass of orange squash.

Sister fingered his chart, noticed Thucydides and Ortega on the bedside locker. 'Good morning, Mr Kleinzeit,' she said. 'How are you today?'

Kleinzeit was glad he was wearing adventurous pyjamas, glad Thucydides and Ortega were there. 'Very well, thank you,' he said. 'How are you?'

'Fine, thank you,' said Sister. 'Kleinzeit, does that mean something in German?'

'Hero,' said Kleinzeit.

'I thought it must mean something,' said Sister. Maybe you, said her eyes.

Good heavens, thought Kleinzeit, and I'm unemployed too.

It was then that I became aware of the wires trailing from the electrodes on my head.

‘You been getting some kind of ECT,’ he said. ‘They done that to me, they said the voices would go away.’

‘Did they?’

‘Yes. Now I’ve got nothing. There’s only a kind of ringing emptiness. I never asked them to take away the voices but there it is, you see: who am I? Nobody. I’m not entitled to hear voices unless it’s somebody asking questions and taking down what I say. You showed them though, you just walked away wires and all. Don’t let them empty you out, they’ve got nothing better to offer.’

But the reality of it is that all of us are more than a little crazy and there is a craziness in the human situation. The ancient Greeks put a name to that craziness, they called it Dionysus, and having given it a name they could take it into account….What I’m saying is that it’s a strange and frightening thing to be a human being, to partake of the mystery and madness of human consciousness

Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.

That trains mostly stay on rails, that the streets are mostly peaceful, that the square continues green and quiet below my window is more than I have any right to expect, and it happens every day.

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