Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Timothy Synder's Quotations

Below are a few quotations from Timothy Synder's book, The Road to Unfreedom:  Russia, Europe, America.


"The adviser of the first pro-Russian American presidential candidate had been the advisor of the last Russian Ukrainian president."

"The politics of inevitability is the idea that there are no ideas."

"Life becomes a sleepwalk to a premarked grave in a prepurchased plot.

"Russia would be a centralized state as the fascist regimes of the 1930s had been.  There was one party too many.  Russia should be a zero-party state, redeemed only by a man.  Parties should exist, according to Ilyin, only to ritualize elections."

"Allowing Russians to vote in free elections, thought Ilyin, was like allowing embryos to choose their species."

"Rather than governing, the leader produces crisis and spectacle."

"Totalitarianism is its own true enemy, and that is the secret it keeps from itself by attacking others."

"Putin and his friends and allies accumulated vast wealth beyond the law, and then remade the state to preserve their own gains.  Having achieved this, Russian leaders had to define politics as being rather than doing."

"Hegel's was an appealing way of seeing our fractious world, since it suggested that catastrophe was an indication of progress."

"Nikolai Berdyaev found in Ilyin's work 'the nightmare of evil good.'"

"In the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet leaders agreed not to kill one another, which removed dynamism from politics."

"The Soviet Union that expelled Ilyin and educated Putin had a troubled relationship with time.  It lacked a succession principle and lasted only sixty-nine years."

"Workers were represented by the party, the party by the central committee, the central committee by its politburo, and the politburo usually by a single leading man."

"It was Brezhnev who proved to be Stalin's most important successor, because he redefined the Soviet attitude to time:  he buried Marxist politics of inevitability, and replaced it with a Soviet politics of eternity."

"The Bolshevik Revolution had been about youth, about a new start to be made after capitalism.  This image depended, at home and especially abroad, on the blood purges that allowed new men and women to rise through the party ranks."

"Once Soviet citizens expected no improvements from the future, nostalgia had to fill the vacuum left by utopia."

"The myth of the October Revolution promised everything; the myth of the Great Fatherland War promised nothing."

"What was, was normal.  To say otherwise in Brezhnev's Soviet Union was to be condemned to an insane asylum."

"Wild privatization was not at all the same things as a market economy, at least as conventionally understood.  Markets require the rule of law..."

"'Operation Successor,' as the challenge was known in the Kremlin, had two stages:  finding a new man who was not a known associate of Yeltsin, and then inventing a fake problem that he could then appear to solve."

"The ink of political fiction is blood."

"Democracy is a procedure to change rulers.  To qualify democracy with an adjective--'people's democracy' during communism, 'sovereign democracy' thereafter--means eliminating that procedure."

"The politics of eternity requires and produces problems that are insoluble because they are fictional."

"Human sexuality is an inexhaustible raw material for the manufacture of anxiety."

"That year it became a criminal offense to portray Putin as a gay clown."

"Russia's real geopolitical problem was China.  But precisely because Chinese power was real and proximate, consider Russia's actual geopolitics might lead to depressing conclusions."

"The West was chosen as an enemy precisely because it represented no threat to Russia.  Unlike China, the EU had no army and no longer border with Russia."

"Having transformed the future into an abyss, Putin had to make flailing at its edge look like judo."

"In 2012, Putin made it clear that he understood democracy as ritualized support for his person."

"Russia's own past became a foreign threat."

"In 2013, the Russian Federation proposed an alternative to integration under the name 'Eurasia:' empire for Russia, nation-states for everyone else."

"Rather than monopolizing law, the Russian state under Putin monopolized corruption."

"Because failure had to be presented as success, Russia had to present itself as a model for Europe, rather than the other way around."

"What the EU might describe as failures of governance were to be experienced as the flowering of Russian innocence."

"Using the odd word 'passionarity,' Putin evoked a special Russian ability to thrive amidst global chaos."

"Gumilev was born to an extraordinary family, and lived one of the most tragically and garishly Soviet lives imaginable."

"Joseph Stalin understood the Soviet project as self-colonization.  Since the Soviet Union had no overseas possessions, it had to exploit its hinterlands."

"One can record that these people [Ukrainian protesters] were fascists or Nazis or members of a gay international conspiracy or Jewish international conspiracy or a gay Nazi Jewish international conspiracy, as Russian propaganda suggested to various target audiences."

"Must any attempt at novelty be met with the cliche of force and the force of cliche?"

"Putin's direct assault on factuality might be called implausible deniability."

"In the Russian invasion, the strong used the weapons of the weak--partisan and terrorists tactics--in order to pretend to be the weak."



Timothy Synder's The Road to Unfreedom

Timothy Synder's The Road to Unfreedom offers a powerful critique of Russia's authoritarian regime.  Set against the backdrop of many of the events depicted in his earlier book, The Bloodlands:  Europe between Hitler and Stalin, Synder's current book suggests that Putin's regime is the heir to at least some of the insidious political traditions established by its predecessor states, the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire.  Synder's critique of Putin's Russia is unremitting.  In many ways, the book resembles Hannah Arendt's classic, Origins of Totalitarianism, only Synder is content to direct his fire at antidemocratic--as opposed to fully totalitarian--tendencies in the modern world.

According to Synder, Russia isn't merely a Great Power seeking to exert its geopolitical influence over its neighbors.  Rather, Synder's Russia is actively seeking to destroy democratic politics both at home and abroad.  Synder's analysis of Russia and its allegedly nefarious influence over international relations stems in part from his belief that Russian politics are a cover for oligarchy and cronyism.  However, Synder doesn't merely argue that Russia is a corrupt, unequal, and belligerent society.  For Synder actually argues that modern Russian leaders are increasingly attracted to many of the fascist ideals outlined by Arendt and other political theorists.

Thus, Synder spends considerable amounts of time exploring the thinkers who have inspired at least some of the principle figures in Putin's government.  The common denominator among such thinkers is a belief in Russia's essential innocence and victimization at the hands of the United States, Europe, and so-called "international Jewry." The result of Russia's belief in its own innocence has been the military invasions of Georgia and the Ukraine, and the social media attacks against America and varied European countries.

While Cohen and others have argued that Russia has merely been reacting to the expansion of NATO and the European Union, Synder vigorously disputes this claim, arguing that Russia only recently turned against the West, and did so in response to no obvious new or rising geopolitical or military threat.  Synder believes that Russia turned against Europe only when it became clear that it was clearly losing the race to make its population safe, well, free, or prosperous.  With high mortality rates, and even higher rates of corruption and inequality, Russian oligarchs needed to discredit successful Western political and economic forms by mounting vigorously propaganda campaigns.

I myself remember being shocked by Russian Times' television coverage only a few years ago.  Although I expected a country to promote a positive image of itself, I couldn't imagine why Russia was investing so much time and energy to attack American and European policies and practises.
I was also shocked by the extent the Russian media service had begun to actively gloat about any and all problems European or American governments faced. Further, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union often tried to divide Europeans from their American allies.  However, the Russian Times editorial bias seemed to be geared toward treated America and its European allies as if they were all part of the same colonial conspiracy to undermine the peace and prosperity of Russia and the rest of the world.  My Tunisian-born wife reminded me that it was very normal for non-Western countries to resent America and all of the former colonial powers.  I understood this, but still wondered why Russia thought it a good idea to brazenly attack such a powerful group of countries.  It was one thing to deprecate American and Europe to its a domestic audience, but quite another to export negative propaganda to American and European audiences.  Fora time, I watched Russian Times, and subscribed to its Facebook page, in order to gain a critical perspective on American foreign policy.  Over time, however, I learned that Russian Times had no particular editorial viewpoint.  Rather, its reporters and writers tended to celebrate any American or European setback, whether that setback was experienced by governments or whole peoples. 

To be sure, Cohen has his own biases.  He certainly does believe in European-style democratic politics and social welfare policies.  But his biases seem to be based on objective economic and political facts. After all, European peoples are, relatively speaking, extremely wealthy, and, in contrast to the modern Russian experience, European governments succeed one another from time to time.  As an historian of middle Europe in the first part of the twentieth century, Synder is also somewhat biased in favor of the long-suffering Ukrainian people.  But again, his bias is rooted in the historical experience of Ukraine, which was brutalized by Nazi invasion, and Stalinist terror, and has now experienced Russian political interference, the Russian seizure of the Crimea, and the surreptitious but very real Russian invasion of Russian-speaking portions of Ukraine. 

The boldest aspect of Synder's new book its ability to set contemporary politics into a global framework.  According to Synder, Russia is actively working to support the domestic enemies of American and European democracy.  Synder repeatedly highlights the tangible connections between the Russian government and oligarchy on the one hand, and European separatists and European far-right parties--to say nothing of the Trump Administration--on the other.  It is possible that Synder overstates this case, since Russia qua Great Power may be motivated by traditional geopolitical instincts as much as it is motivated by ideological conspiracy.  Even so, Synder makes a good case that Russia's sense of victimization is overblown, and Russia is actively attempting to undermine democratic institutions in neighboring countries as well as the West. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Andrew Kaufman's Give War and Peace a Chance

Like this blog, Andrew Kaufman's book, Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times, offers up a sometimes awkward blend of personal reflection and literary criticism.  Kaufman's sole concern is that ordinary people do as his title enjoins by taking up Tolstoy's magnum opus.  Although many people are no doubted by the book's 1500 plus pages, Kaufman tells us that Tolstoy's massive tome is worth the time and effort.  Kaufman divides his book into twelve sub-themes.  According to the Russian literary scholar, each of these themes reveals one distinct form of Tolstoyan wisdom.  These theme include courage, love, imagination, success, and happiness. Overall, Kaufman seems to believe that Tolstoy's main strength as both a creative writer and a philosopher is that he had an almost existentialist approach to life avante la lettre.  That is to say, Kaufman is often most struck by the fact that Tolstoy seems to think that Tolstoy imaginatively blended any plot detail with ontological reflection.  For instance, Kaufman dwells upon Tolstoy's treatment of battle in War and Peace by describing how truly insightful protagonists can sometimes pause in the middle of the fray to dwell upon the frailty of human existence or the beauty of the universe.  To my mind, Kaufman's Tolstoy seems like an progenitor of Heiddeger.  But then again, Kaufman's Tolstoy also reminds me of Melville.  Tolstoy's striking originality seems to have been that he wanted to capture both historical themes and personal ones, alternating between the two modes of analysis in order to shed light on both of them.  The American author who accomplished something strikingly similar is Melville, whose Moby Dick captures a whaler's voyage even as it also attempts to wrestle with the nature of zoological life.  As Kaufman points out, many readers of War and Peace evince a definite preference for either the war or the peace scenes.  It's rare to find a reader who likes both topics equally.  It's probably even rarer to find the reader who truly understands the fact that the two topics are intrinsically intertwined.  But both Tolstoy and Melville had capacious minds and great empathy for their surroundings.  I think it was Gorky who said that Tolstoy seemingly understood the life of horses, so great was his capacity to see things from radically different perspectives.  Similarly, Gorky seems to have had the ability to understand the whale almost as well as he understood the whaler.

Of course, Kaufman's book is also a series of reflections about his own life.  He's a good role model for readers who will get more out of a nineteenth century novel if they can somehow find ways to link it to their present reality.  In any case, his approach reminded me of my own experience reading War and Peace.  Over thirty years ago, I was a recent graduate of college, down and out in Los Angeles.  I figured I would at least read a great classic while I was in the process of looking for a job.  I did that, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.  I did, as Kaufman suggests is a common experience, definitely prefer the Napoleonic scenes to the love scenes.  But I suppose that if I returned later in life to the work I might realize that the history of personal or family life is no less important than the history of warfare and national strife.  In any case, I can't remember much about War and Peace, only that it probably led to my somewhat delayed obsession with Russia and Russian literature. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pushkin's The Captain's Daughter

I have seldom paused to consider the translators who have made my obsession with Russia possible.  Without them, I wouldn't be able to read any of the hundreds of brilliant Russian novelists, playwrights, and poets admire so much.  Recently, I was so floored by the beautifully elliptical prose of Platonov's book, Soul, that I decided to read up a little on the translators, Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, who had, apparently, helped to convey the book's mysterious power to me. Next I decided to read Chandlers' translation of Alexander Pushkin's novella, The Captain's Daughter.  While it's difficult for a non-Russian speaker to know whether one translation is more or less faithful to the original, I can say that Robert Chandler seems to convey a real sense of poetry in his work. In the future, I'll try to pay more attention to the translations I select.  I've already looked up Robert Chandler's interviews online to see which other translators he recommends.

All this being said, The Captain's Daughter is concise but strangely elegant piece of historical fiction.  The book's plot revolves around a young nobleman, Pyotr Grinyov, who serves on the outskirts of the expanding Russian Empire in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.  The book is a romance, and necessarily involves the protagonist in duels, military combat, and acts of chivalry in the service of a young maiden.  It also relies upon rigid gender stereotypes.  For instance, the heroine of the book lacks almost any positive characteristics, and initiates almost no action whatsoever.  She's handsome;  she suffers and cries;  and she awaits rescue.  Her mother does participate in decision-making, but even this version of female possibility seems to involve perpetually hectoring her husband, and eventually making the noble decision to avoid life in the absence of a husband.

The book is rescued from romantic cliche by its acknowledgement of the brutal center of Russia's social structure and imperial adventures. For Pushkin's hero is slavishly served by a devoted serf.  This serf's fate depends entirely on the whim of Pyotr Grinyov his his landowning father.  Although the serf serves his masters faithfully, Pushkin makes it clear that he is entirely dependent on the goodwill of his lord, who may send him to work in the fields for acts of disloyalty, or for no reason at all.

Pushkin's treatment of inequality lies along side his treatment of Russian imperialism.  For on the outposts of empire, Pushkin makes it clear that the Russian czarina is profoundly resented by local Cossacks and tribal peoples. While the hero expresses few doubts about the legitimacy of his czarina, and admires the men and women who dies in her service, he does not doubt that Russia's civilizing mission in this period involved military aggression and torture.  The complexity of The Captain's Daughter is linked to the author's self-evident respect for the villain of the story, Pugachev, who is generous enough to pardon enemies, and respectable enough to allow Pyotr Grinyov to rescue his love interest from the clutches of an evil Russian rival.  (Note that Pushkin's History of the Pugachev Rebellion provides another excellent avenue into Pushkin's sophisticated approach to social upheaval).

In the end, Pushkin also complicates his depiction of femininity. Although the maiden once merely awaited rescue from Grinyov, she does at least set out to beg assistance for her future husband from Catherine the Great.  While pleading for assistance isn't the textbook definition of female agency, the empress is of course able to exert her willpower at both the center and periphery of empire.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bertolt Brecht's Diaries, 1920-1922

Some Favorite Quotes from Bertolt Bretcht's Diaries, 1920-1922


How Germany bores me!  It's a good middling country, with lovely pale colors and wide landscapes:  but what inhabitants!  A degraded peasantry whose crudeness however doesn't give birth to any fabulous monsters...

..I keep coming back to the fact that essence of art is simplicity, grandeur and sensitivity, and that of its form coolness.

We've already reached a stage where it's impossible to give a compelling description of death because every conceivable way of dying has already been rehearsed and all one can do is borrow.

Meanwhile a lot of time is passing. I'm not making use of it.  I'm simply glad when it's gone, like skin peeling after sunburn.

I don't believe anything terrible happens in hell.

If one could only calm down to the great simple rhythm of life, the eating of potatoes, the dance in little plank-lined rooms, the sad sunsets in which the air expands, the unvaried external conflicts without distinction or refinement.  You rail against the uniformity of life--the mute dumb witted way in which all living creates refuse to meet their old needs in fresh forms--because you yourself are poor and have no compelling needs.

Expressionism represented a (little German) revolution, but as soon as a certain degree of freedom was permitted, it turned out that there were no free people around...

At night you tumbled into bed like a ripe fruit, voluptuously.

In future I shall produce nothing but flaming mud pies made of shit.

...tears don't suit her face.  She begins to look old then:  water trickling out of a ruin.

A queen is a queen, terror is terror, and Bi is Bi.  She's got style, but she never achieves the same effects as Nature.

...they don't wear the plot like a rubber skin but wrap it round themselves like a broad garment full of folds.

But when Hedda starts squiring high and low because I lured her out of her shell and then left her lying naked, then I remain cool as a cattle-dealer.

He served three years in the war, yet he's too much of a coward to ask an old man for some cider...

Previously he would never kowtow to a pig for the sake of its bacon, nor kill it because it wasn't a stallion.  But now he wants to construct brilliantly ingenious catapults with which to crush this sandflea at long range.

Taking tea is a sport with a bit of soul to it.

The third act is good apart from one or two details.  The fourth is a bastard, an abortion, a plan a cow has squashed.

We slithered about on a bench, she was pale, childlike, lascivious.

There's music under my skin like a snoring walrus, I'm not desperate any longer.  10,000 devils are drumming at me, previously there were 9999.

I realize I'm weak on verbs.

They lop off his feet, chuck away his arms, bore a hole in his head til the whole starry heaven is shining into it:  is he still Galileo?  It's a sex murder story.

And yet there's no kind of rule people find harder to bear than reason.

I described our relationship as something between a marriage and an adventure, a child of compromise in fact.

The man from Galilee died for himself, they called him back to himself, had need of him, didn't merely quote him, sent him to his death once again, then again and again, set him up in a tabernacle, whistled to him whenever there was someone he was supposed to die for, and had him dying for killers and skeptics in round-the-clock cinema performances.

The cakewalk doesn't suit a parquet floor.

An invulnerable man, because he puts up no resistance.

Nine of us in Otto's flat spent the afternoon slowly filling up with tea and alcohol.

Paint faces like still-lifes, landscapes like faces...

Idleness.  I kill time with matchsticks.  I take a critical view of the weather.  I walk till I'm exhausted.

He has too much sense of purpose, wraps a meaning into every situation, believes in progress and thinks that every amoeba is sooner or later bound to turn into a monkey.

Recently my fingers have developed a prejudice against comparatives.  They all follow this pattern:  A squirrel is smaller than a tree.  A bird is more musical than a tree.  Each of us is strongest man in his own skin.  Characteristics should take off their hats to one another, instead of spitting in each other's faces.

What alarms me about [Russia] is not the disorder actually achieved there but the order actually aimed for.  At present I am very much against Bolshevism:  Universal military service, food rationing, controls, conspiracies, economic favoritism.  On top of that, at best:  equilibrium, transformation, compromise.

A man with one theory is lost.  He needs several of them, four, lots!  He should stuff them in his pockets like newspapers, hot from the press always, you can live well surrounded by them, there are comfortable lodgings to be found between theories. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti

Some Quotes from Brecht's Mr. Puntila and His Man Matti



Puntila:  What d'you mean human beings?  You're a human being?  Moments ago you said you were a driver.  Caught you contradicting yourself, haven't I?

Puntila:  I've got a kind heart and I'm not ashamed of it.  Once I picked up a stag beetle in the road and put it in the bushes so it wouldn't get run over, that's how far I'd go.  I let it clamber up a twig.

Puntila:  Matti, look at me.  What do you see?
Matti:  I'd say a fat slob, pissed as arseholes.
Puntila:  That shows the deceptiveness of appearances.  I'm not like that at all.  Matti, I'm a sick man.

Puntila: I get attacks.
Matti:  You don't say.
Puntila:  It's no laughing matter, my friend.  It comes over me every three months or so.  I wake up, and all of a sudden I'm stone cold sober.

Puntila:  Worse still, when I get these attacks of total senseless sobriety I sink to the level of beasts...I become fully responsible for my actions.  D'you realize what that means, brother, fully responsible for one's actions?

Puntila:  "Dear child, why sue me when you said
We always felt so close in bed."

Puntila:  Is a a forest simply ten thousand cords of wood? Or is it a verdant delight for all mankind?

Puntila:  ...that's a problem to looked at without flinching--cool, calm, and drunk.

The Judge:  I tried a divorce case once where the wife complained that her husband never belted her when she threw the lamp at him.  She felt neglected.

Matti:  I knew a gentleman wasn't at all amusing, but it didn't stop him making a million in margarine and fats.

Eva:  I just wanted to point out that the Attache is an intelligent and kindhearted person who ought not to be judged by appearances or by what he says or what he does.

Eva:  Are you feeling sleepy?
Matti:  Just go on talking.  I'm only shutting my eyes so's to concentrate better.

Puntila:  Sooner die than fail to respect our law and order.  I would.  Because everything I do is according to the law.  If I want to clobber a man to death I do it within the law or not at all.

Puntila:  ...I'm not lying to you.  If I said they'd got glanders that'd be a lie, but when I tell you they've got scarlet fever that's a delicate hint from one gentleman to another.

Puntila:  I don't like fixing a deal after drinking just one glass...

Puntila:  And I admire your integrity, and how you always have my best interests at heart.  But it is Puntila's privilege to have his own worst interests at heart, and that's something you haven't learnt yet.

Puntila: I'm not selling any forest.  My daughter's got her dowry between her legs, right?

Matti:  It's a very human habit, discussing.  It's one great advantage we have over the animals.  If cows could discuss for instance, there'd be soon be no more slaughterhouses.

Eva:  He's not all that easily offended, he's got too much debt for that. 

Puntila:  What kind of terms are you on with Eva?
The Attache:  Good terms.  She is a little chilly to me, but then that is her nature.  It is not unlike our position with regard to Russia.  In diplomatic parlance we'd say relations are correct.

Eva:  When I was at my convent in Brussels I never heard anything but decent talk. 

Puntila:  You should look up to your employer's daughter as to a higher being that has graciously condescended to come down amongst us.

Fina:  Miss Eva'd like to a word with you.
Matti:  All right.  I'll just finish my coffee.
Fina:  No need to impress me by drinking it in such a languid way. 

The Judge:  Half the time they're making babies 'cause the summer's so short, and the other half  'cause the winter's so long.

Puntila:  I didn't give you that posh education in Brussels so you could chuck yourself at the chauffeur... Ten paces distances and no familiarities, or chaos sets in, that's my inflexible rule.

Puntila:  The engagement party's all fixed.  I've had a pig killed, that can't be undone now, he's not going to trot quietly back to his trough again just to oblige me and go on eating merely because you've changed your mind.

Matti:  I propose a confederation of Mr. Puntila's fiancees.

Matti:  ...hopes were aroused and expenses incurred...

The Parson:  ...I am left preaching to empty pews;  as though they lacked transport...why, every milkmaid's got a bicycle...

The Parson:  It's no picnic trying to bash a little culture into these bumpkins.

The Judge:  We live in a commercial age.  Everything gets flattened out and the good old institutions disappear. 

The Lawyer:  It's all very well for Puntila, his fields grow of their own accord, but a lawsuit's a terribly sensitive plan and by the time it's fully mature your hair will have gone grey. 

The Attache:  You see the point:  It's not that she has a lover, which is normal, nor that she beats him, which is understandable, but that she does it with an umbrella, which is vulgar.  A question of nuance.

The Attache:  Lady Oxford that I laughed at jokes or bon mots before they're made, meaning that I'm very quick-witted.

Puntila:  Matti, can you fuck decently? 
Matti:  I'm told so.
Puntila:  That's nothing.  Can you do it indecently?  That's what counts.




Monday, April 2, 2018

Jungle of Cities


Some favorite quotes from Bertolt Brecht's Jungle of Cities


Shlink:  The people in your street feel sorry for you.
Galga:  I can't go and gun down the whole goddamn street.

Shlink:  And on this morning, which isn't just like any other, I declare war on you!  I'll begin the fight by shaking the foundations of your life.

Garga:  May I ask you to provide me with better linen, Mr. Maynes. You can't start a whorehouse on five dollars a week.

The Worm:  So that's what they are, books?  A slimy business.  Why have them at all?  There're enough lies in the world as it is.

The Worm:  Books!  What's the use of them?  Did libraries stop the San Francisco earthquake?

Garga:  What are you trying to do, start a frontier town all over again?  Knives?  Guns?  Cocktails?

Garga:  ...let's go away, together.  To San Fransisco, wherever you want to go. I don't know if a man can stay in love forever, but listen, I promise you this:  I'll stay with you.  

Shlink:  As you please.  I only ask you to consider the conditions on this planet, and to accept my offer.

Garga:  What I like is drinking, making love and smoking, all at once, a couple of weeks at a time.
Shlink:  No doubt you'll spare a couple of moments to leaf through a dictionary, too...

Garga:  It's you who started all this frontier business.  I say, all right--let's have it that wild and woolly...
Shlink:  So you're really joining battle?
Garga:  Yes, I am..
Shlink:  You don't even want to know what it is all about?
Garga:  I don't even want to know what it is all about...For me it's enough to know that you think you're the tougher guy.

The Baboon:  Man, I'd rather work with a razor than with crooked papers.  And don't forget, Chicago's a cold place!

Shlink:  All right, you go.
Skinny:  Go?  I've been sitting here in your office for twenty years, come April...
Shlink:  You've been fired.

Garga:  Listen, my dear mother, isn't it plain to see?  Nothing is going to last long anymore, nothing, not the stove and not the wall either.

Mae:  I don't want you to look at me like that--I gave you birth, and I fed you with my milk, and later with bread, and I beat you, and you can't look at me like that.

Manky:  Well...All I say is:  When I take my brig into port, I know how deep the water is.
John:  Can't trust anybody.  

Shlink:  I'm a simple man:  don't expect any words out of my mouth.  All I have in my mouth is my teeth.

Shlink:  We, for our part, we had a cat we could murder, bit by bit:  She drowned while we were teaching her to swim--although she'd been saving us from getting eaten by the rats.

The Worm:  That kid, the wind must've blown him to dust--there isn't a trace of him in all of Chi.

Marie:  Now Chicago awakens, with the milkmen shouting and the meat trucks rumbling through the streets, with the newspapers, with the fresh morning air.  To go away would be a good thing, and to wash yourself in water is good--and prairie or asphalt, both yield a harvest.  Just now, for instance, there's a cool wind rising down there in the flat country where we used to live;  I'm sure of that.

Jane:  Oh, when I float away it is in two parts, each going its own way.

Jane:  Where's he gone?
The Baboon:  Gone to study the faces of those who are getting out of this down--who find it too tough here, you know.

The Worm:  And there's nothing so papery as real life!

Garga:  Stay here, Marie.  We've been marooned in this city, with our country faces.

Shlink:  What a miserable thing life is:  you're living in clover, only the clover isn't good enough.

Garga: You turn members of my family into resources, you live off my supply.  And I'm getting leaner and leaner, I'm drifting away into metaphysics!

Shlink:  You only realize the worth of your affections when their objects lie in the morgue.

Shlink:  It's a straightforward business transaction, no one has to say thanks.

Shlink:  My congratulations, Garga.  You're a revengeful man.

Garga:  I'm sorry, Shlink, there's no chair for you just now.  We're one chair short.

John:  That you'd end up behind bars, well, I guess it was plain as writing on your forehead when you were five years old.

The Worm:  Just consider life on this planet:  A man doesn't get finished off at once, ever--they want to have a least a hundred goes at him!

Jane:  ...people aren't as simple as you think, George, even when they're almost dead and buried.

The Worm:  Maybe you've already noticed:  There's a family here, or rather, the remnants of a family.

Salvation Army Officer:  People are durable, that's their main trouble.  They can do too much to themselves, they last too long.

Garga:  I'm sorry, but you're asking me for a favor at a most unfavorable hour.

Garga:  And now, as the end draws near,  you've become a victim to the black addiction of this planet:   You want to touch others.

Garga:  And the time has passed quickly.  The stations of life are not the same as those of memory.   The end is not the final aim:  The last installment is no more important than any other.

Shlink:  But the coupling of organs...doesn't make up for the divisions caused by speech.

Shlink:  If you cram a ship's hold full of human bodies, so it almost bursts--there will be such loneliness in that ship that they'll all freeze to death.

Garga:  Well, yes, maybe I am a leper, but what's it matter.  You're a suicide.  What do you have to offer me?  You hired me all right, but you haven't paid.

Shlink:  I, Wang Yen, known as Shlink, fifty-four years of age, ended three miles south of Chicago, leaving no inheritors.

Marie:  Go away.  He has just died.  He doesn't want anyone to look at him.