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.
In the morning there was sunlight.
"What ben makes tracks for what wil be. Words in the air pirnt foot steps on the groun for us to put our feet in to. May be a nother 100 years and kids wil sing a rime of Riddley Walker and Abel Goodparley with ther circel game."
Ah! said the walls, listening to the footfalls, it’s the silence that we like, the lovely shape of the silence between the shape of the footfalls.
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.’
‘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.’
'For years I have signed and measured and located this point and that point on the face of the earth,' said the surveyor, 'and I have gone back to the same places to find my stakes pulled out as boundaries waver and lose accuracy. I sight and I measure and I plant the stakes again, knowing that they will be pulled out again. It is not only stakes and boundaries that are lost - this is what there is to know about maps, and I tell you what I have paid years to learn: everything that is found is always lost again, and nothing that is found is ever lost again. Can you understand that? You're still a boy, so maybe you can't. Can you understand that?'
One wakes up in the morning and puts on oneself. Everyone has experienced this: the self must be put on before any garment, and there is inevitably a pause as it were a caesura in the going forward of things before the self is put on. Why is this? It is because our mortal identity is not the primary one, not the profound, not the deep one. No, what wakes up from sleep is not Tiglath-Pileser or Peter Schlemiel or Pilgermann; it is simply raw undifferentiated being, brute being with nothing driving it but the forward motion imparted to it by the original explosion into being of the universe. For a fraction of a moment it is itself only; then must it with joy or terror put on that identity taken on with mortal birth, that identity that each morning is the cumulative total of its mortal days and nights, that self old or young, sick or well, brave or cowardly, beautiful or ugly, whole or mutilated, that is one’s lot.
From the book Pilgermann by Russell Hoban, 4th Feb 1925 – 13th Dec 2011.
Celebrating the anniversary of his birth in the annual SA4QE event.
Time after time had violent men sharpened the cross into a sword and made their silken vestments into banners; time after time had they spat out the wafer and the wine and shouted for real blood and real bodies.
Don’t worry about the form, and don’t worry about beginnings, middles and endings, take hold of the thing, wherever you can, whatever of an idea presents itself to you, whether it’s the foot or the elbow, grab it, and work out from there. Don’t expect too much of yourself, but – just as people who are thrifty, and who save money – and don’t wait until they’ve got fifty pounds to put in the bank, but put in a pound, or five pounds, or ten pounds, and it accumulates that way, do something every day. If you can only write a paragraph, do a paragraph. If you can write a page, do a page. A whole story, okay, an idea, okay, notes, whatever – just get into the habit of doing something every day. And, let the ideas develop as they will – don’t require of yourself that you do a whole story or a whole novel, just do whatever you can – every day.
I have a Friend's card; I like the way they nod me through when I show it: I'm not a stranger. I always feel good in museums. I like the high ceilings and the acoustics, the footsteps and the voices, the silence over and under the footsteps and voices and the individual silences of each thing, all of them different, all of them holding a long-departed Now.
'Modern life,' said Jachin-Boaz [to the owner of the bookshop], 'particularly modern life in cities, creates great tensions in people, don't you think?'
'Modern life, ancient life,' said the owner. 'Where there's life there's tension.'
'Yes,' said Jachin-Boaz. 'Tension and nerves. It's astonishing, really, what nerves can do."
'Well, they have a system, you see,' said the owner. 'When you suffer an attack of nerves you're being attacked by the nervous system. What chance has a man got against a system?'
'Exactly,' said Jachin-Boaz. 'He could have delusions, hallucinations.'
'Happens every day of the week,' said the owner. 'Sometimes I, for example, have the delusion that this shop is a business. Then I come back to reality and realize that it's just an expensive hobby.'
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