John Updike Quotes About Lit

Browse 24 famous quotes of John Updike about Lit.

"Writing … is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable. That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world — it happens to everybody. In the morning light one can write breezily, without the slight acceleration of one's pulse, about what one cannot contemplate in the dark without turning in panic to God. In the dark one truly feels that immense sliding, that turning of the vast earth into darkness and eternal cold, taking with it all the furniture and scenery, and the bright distractions and warm touches, of our lives. Even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light — in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalizing it — approaches blasphemy." ~ John Updike
"Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five." ~ John Updike
"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them." ~ John Updike
"A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world." ~ John Updike
"When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas." ~ John Updike
"No soul or locale is too humble to be the site of entertaining and instructive fiction. Indeed, all other things being equal, the rich and glamorous are less fertile ground than the poor and plain, and the dusty corners of the world more interesting than its glittering, already sufficiently publicized centers." ~ John Updike
"We expect the world of doctors. Out of our own need, we revere them; we imagine that their training and expertise and saintly dedication have purged them of all the uncertainty, trepidation, and disgust that we would feel in their position, seeing what they see and being asked to cure it. Blood and vomit and pus do not revolt them; senility and dementia have no terrors; it does not alarm them to plunge into the slippery tangle of internal organs, or to handle the infected and contagious. For them, the flesh and its diseases have been abstracted, rendered coolly diagrammatic and quickly subject to infallible diagnosis and effective treatment. The House of God is a book to relieve you of these illusions; it … displays it as farce, a melee of blunderers laboring to murky purpose under corrupt and platitudinous superiors." ~ John Updike
"I drive my car to supermarket,The way I take is superhigh,A superlot is where I park it,And Super Suds are what I buy.Supersalesmen sell me tonic -Super-Tone-O, for Relief.The planes I ride are supersonic.In trains, I like the Super Chief.Supercilious men and womenCall me superficial - me,Who so superbly learned to swim inSupercolossality.Superphosphate-fed foods feed me;Superservice keeps me new.Who would dare to supersede me,Super-super-superwho?" ~ John Updike
"Is it not the singularity of life that terrifies us? Is not the decisive difference between comedy and tragedy that tragedy denies us another chance? Shakespeare over and over demonstrates life's singularity — the irrevocability of our decisions, hasty and even mad though they be. How solemn and huge and deeply pathetic our life does loom in its once-and doneness, how inexorably linear, even though our rotating, revolving planet offers us the cycles of the day and of the year to suggest that existence is intrinsically cyclical, a playful spin, and that there will always be, tomorrow morning or the next, another chance." ~ John Updike
"Nevertheless, we react to one a bit differently than we do to Rothko's hovering panels or Barnett Newman's stripes, though Whistler does approach their extremity of abstraction; part of our pleasure lies in recognizing bridges and buildings in the mist, and in sensing the damp riverine silence, the glimmering metropolitan presence. … The painting - a single blurred stripe of urban shore - is additionally daring in that the sky and sea are no shade of blue, but, instead, an improbable, pervasive cobalt green. Human vision is here taken to its limits, and modern painting, as a set of sensations realized in paint, is achieved." ~ John Updike
"I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another's brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves." ~ John Updike
"History. The more of it you have the more you have to live it. After a little while there gets to be too much of it to memorize and maybe that's when empires start to decline." ~ John Updike
"The mind cannot fall asleep as long as it watches itself. Only when the mind moves unwatched and becomes absorbed in images that tug it as it were to one side does self-consciousness dissolve and sleep with its healing, brilliantly detailed fictions pour in upon the jittery spirit. Falling asleep is a study in trust. Likewise, religion tries to put as ease with the world. Being human cannot be borne alone. We need other presences. We need soft night noises-a mother speaking downstairs. We need the little clicks and sighs of a sustaining otherness. We need the gods." ~ John Updike
"One world: everybody fucks everybody. When he thinks of all the fucking there's been in the world and all the fucking there's going to be, and none of it for him, here he sits in this stuffy car dying, his heart just sinks. He'll never fuck anybody again in his lifetime except poor Janice Springer, he sees this possibility ahead of him straight and grim as the known road." ~ John Updike
"We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." ~ John Updike
"Neutrinos, they are very small.They have no charge and have no massAnd do not interact at all.The earth is just a silly ballTo them, through which they simply pass,Like dustmaids down a drafty hallOr photons through a sheet of glass.They snub the most exquisite gas,Ignore the most substantial wall,Cold shoulder steel and sounding brass,Insult the stallion in his stall,And, scorning barriers of class,Infiltrate you and me. Like tallAnd painless guillotines they fallDown through our heads into the grass.At night, they enter at NepalAnd pierce the lover and his lassFrom underneath the bed—you callIt wonderful; I call it crass." ~ John Updike
"....his silence he has indicated that he is willing. He hasn't the strength any more, the excess vitality, for an affair - its danger, its demand performances, the secrecy added like a filigree to your normal life, your gnawing preoccupation with it and with the constant threat of its being discovered and ended." ~ John Updike
"There was a beauty here bigger than the hurtling beauty of basketball, a beauty refined from country pastures, a game of solitariness, of waiting, waiting for the pitcher to complete his gaze toward first base and throw his lightning, a game whose very taste, of spit and dust and grass and sweat and leather and sun, was America." ~ John Updike
"It's been the same story ever since I can remember, ever since Wilson – the Republicans don't do a thing for the little man." ~ John Updike
"The faith in an afterlife, however much our reason ridicules it, very modestly extends our faith that each moment of our consciousness will be followed by another - that a coherent matrix has been prepared for this precious self of ours. The guarantee that our self enjoys an intended relation to the outer world is most, if not all, of what we ask from religion. God is the self projected onto reality by our natural and necessary optimism. He is the not-me personified." ~ John Updike
"Ever since, two summers ago, Joe Marino had begun to come into her bed, a preposterous fecundity had overtaken the staked plans, out in the side garden where the southwestern sun slanted in through the line of willows each long afternoon. The crooked little tomato branches, pulpy and pale as if made of cheap green paper, broke under the weight of so much fruit; there was something frantic in such fertility, a crying-out like that of children frantic to please. Of plants, tomatoes seemed the most human, eager and fragile and prone to rot. Picking the watery orange-red orbs, Alexandra felt she was cupping a giant lover's testicles in her hand." ~ John Updike
"And there was, in those Ipswich years, for me at least, a raw educational component; though I used to score well in academic tests, I seemed to know very little of how the world worked and was truly grateful for instruction, whether it was how to stroke a backhand, mix a martini, use a wallpaper steamer, or do the Twist. My wife, too, seemed willing to learn. Old as we must have looked to our children, we were still taking lessons, in how to be grown-up." ~ John Updike
"Thirty-six years old and he knows less than when he started. With the difference that now he knows how little he'll always know." ~ John Updike
"…he is unlike the other customers. They sense it too, and look at him with hard eyes, eyes like little metal studs pinned into the white faces of young men [...] In the hush his entrance creates, the excessive courtesy the weary woman behind the counter shows him amplifies his strangeness. He orders coffee quietly and studies the rim of the cup to steady the sliding in his stomach. He had thought, he had read, that from shore to shore all America was the same. He wonders, Is it just these people I'm outside or is it all America?" ~ John Updike
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I worried constantly. I felt that my son was chipping away at me. This small thing and then that small thing."
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