SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event

This fan event began in 2002 as a unique way of spreading the words of Russell Hoban. Every 4th February (Russell's birthday), readers around the world write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper (the sort he used) and leave them in public places, and/or share them on social media with the hashtags #sa4qe and #russellhoban. Contributed photos and commentary were posted from 2002 to 2012 on the SA4QE site and then following this site's launch in 2012 new posts were uploaded here until 2022. This site no longer includes new contributions, but fans are welcome to continue celebrating! If you need a single sheet of yellow A4 and have enough yellow ink in your printer you can download this PDF. Below are some random quotations shared in previous years.

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.

What passes for reality seems to me mostly a load of old rubbish invented by not very inventive minds.

One speaks of the American Dream and the meaning various with the speaker but always what is meant is a montage of heart-pictures, desire-pictures, richly coloured wishes and memories and expectations of what people variously want from America or associate with America. This montage may have in it the Declaration of Independence, John D. Rockefeller, the Ku Klux Klan, Daniel Boone and Joseph MCarthy, Shirley Temple and the mountain men and Charlie Parker; it may have Abe Lincoln and Billy the Kid and the Statue of Liberty lifting her lamp beside the golden door of the Land of Opportunity where the plough breaks the plains, the West is won, the Yanks are coming, the Wright brothers and the astronauts go up and the economy comes down, Henry David Thoreau plants beans at Walden Pond, the Okies roll out of the dustbowl in battered Fords and talking blues by Woody Guthrie, Frank Sinatra sings at Las Vegas, Thomas Wolfe burns in the night and Jack Dempsey, Marilyn Monroe, Diamond Jim Brady, P.T. Barnum and the Enola Gay gleam high in the sunlight over Hiroshima while Bartolomeo Vanzetti writes a letter to his son and survivalists in Texas stockpile provisions and machine guns. The American Dream is pretty much whatever montage of heart-pictures you like to look at.

“In the storm a safe place, a calm and wild place.  Oh the great secret.  The forever-moment that has always been and will always be, the centre to which the universe configures itself.  The magic place, the good blackness.  The dancing of the heat on the infinite sands, the pyramids, the ziggurats, the lightning and the sphinxes of it, the pleasant palaces and rainbows.  Now the satyrs are quiet and full-fed, now they sleep while the wild dogs howl.  Broken is the great vessel of the alone, the aloneness is all spilt out.  Broken the forty jars of silence wherein I crouched like forty dead thieves.  Broken, broken, broken the solitary madness where the lizard-men ran silent on the ceiling of my mind.  How they screamed and wept, how they dropped and one by one burst on the stone of Yes.  The Yes of the death of the lizard-men.”

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...

The first time I saw her was in a dream, the colours were intense; the air was fall of vibrations; everything seemed magnified and slowed down.
The street lamps were lit but the sky was still light. She was waiting at a bus stop. A sign said BALSAMIC although there was nothing vinegary about the place, no friars and no Gilead in sight. There were nondescript buildings in warm colours, perhaps leaning a bit, perhaps painted on canvas. She was waiting for the bus; there were obscure figures queuing behind her.
[...]
There was the sign that said BALSAMIC; the letters were sharp and clear; they riffled like rail departures but the name stayed the same. There were those shaky-looking buildings and the bus stop and there she waited, the thin woman with the straw-coloured hair, blue eyes, and pale face, unknown but seeming to look at me round the edges of my memory. Sleeping or waking, I'd never seen her before.
Again and again she gestured with her clenched fist and said, 'Yes!' silently. She wanted me to follow her. Why? Here came the bus: FINSEY-OBAY, yellow, pink, and orange rice paper and bamboo lit from within like a Japanese lantern. Such a light against that not-yet-dark sky! Again she looked at me as she boarded the bus and I felt that thrill of terror as I stepped back. And again the sense of loss. What did she want? How could I find her again?

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.

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.

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