John Updike Quotes About Wit

Browse 48 famous quotes of John Updike about Wit.

"Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings." ~ John Updike
"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
"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them." ~ John Updike
"Art is like baby shoes. When you coat them with gold, they can no longer be worn." ~ John Updike
"If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and for earning money." ~ John Updike
"The fullness ends when we give Nature her ransom, when we make children for her. Then she is through with us, and we become, first inside, and then outside, junk. Flower stalks." ~ John Updike
"Students present themselves...like a succession of CDs whose shimmering surface gives no clue to their contents without the equipment to play them." ~ John Updike
"We are cruel enough without meaning to be." ~ John Updike
"For many men, work is the effective religion, a ritual occupation and inflexible orientation which permits them to imagine that the problem of their personal death has been solved. Unamuno: ‘Work is the only practical consolation for having been born.' My own chosen career — its dispersal and multiplication of the self through publication, its daily excretion of yet more words, the eventual reifying of those words into books — certainly is a practical consolation, a kind of bicycle which, if I were ever to stop pedaling, would dump me flat on my side. Religion enables us to ignore nothingness and get on with the jobs of life." ~ John Updike
"Laws aren't ghosts in this country, they walk around with the smell of earth on them." ~ John Updike
"It comes to him: growth is betrayal. There is no other route. There is no arriving somewhere without leaving somewhere." ~ John Updike
"...I glance around at the nest we have made, at the floorboards polished by our bare feet, at the continents of stain on the ceiling like an old and all-wrong discoverer's map, at the earnestly bloated canvases I conscientiously cover with great streaks straining to say what even I am begining to suspect is the unsayable thing, and I grow frightened." ~ John Updike
"How many more, I must ask myself,such perfect ends of Augusts will I witness?" ~ John Updike
"He tries to picture how it will end, with an empty baseball field, a dark factory, and then over a brook in a dirt road, he doesn't know. He pictures a huge vacant field of cinders and his heart goes hollow." ~ John Updike
"I remember one English teacher in the eighth grade, Florence Schrack, whose husband also taught at the high school. I thought what she said made sense, and she parsed sentences on the blackboard and gave me, I'd like to think, some sense of English grammar and that there is a grammar, that those commas serve a purpose and that a sentence has a logic, that you can break it down. I've tried not to forget those lessons, and to treat the English language with respect as a kind of intricate tool." ~ John Updike
"A woman once of some height, she is bent small, and the lingering strands of black look dirty in her white hair. She carries a cane, but in forgetfulness, perhaps, hangs it over her forearm and totters along with it dangling loose like an outlandish bracelet. Her method of gripping her gardener is this: he crooks his right arm, pointing his elbow toward her shoulder, and she shakily brings her left forearm up within his and bears down heavily on his wrist with her lumpish freckled fingers. Her hold is like that of a vine to a wall; one good pull will destroy it, but otherwise it will survive all weathers." ~ John Updike
"He doesn't blame people for many sin, but he does hate uncoordination, the root of all evil, as he feels it, for without coordination there can be no order, no connecting." ~ John Updike
"Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children"They will not be the same next time. The sayingsso cute, just slightly off, will be corrected.Their eyes will be more skeptical, plugged inthe more securely to the worldly buzzof television, alphabet, and street talk,culture polluting their gazes' dawn blue.It makes you see at last the value ofthose boring aunts and neighbors (their smellsof summer sweat and cigarettes, their faceslike shapes of sky between shade-giving leaves)who knew you from the start, when you were zero,cooing their nothings before you could be boredor knew a name, not even you own, or howthis world brave with hellos turns all goodbye." ~ John Updike
"Ken appeared, was taller than she, wanted her, was acceptable and accepted on all sides; similarly, nagging mathematical problems abruptly crack open. Foxy could find no fault with him, and this challenged her, touched off her stubborn defiant streak. She felt between his handsomeness and intelligence a contradiction that might develop into the convoluted humour of her Jew. Ken looked lika a rich boy and worked like a poor one. From Farmington, he was the only son of a Hartford laywer who never lost a case. Foxy came to imagine his birth as cool and painless, without a tear or outcry. Nothing puzzled him. There were unknowns, but no mysteries. (...) He was better-looking, better-thinking, a better machine." ~ John Updike
"I Missed His Book, But I Read His Name"Though authors are a dreadful clanTo be avoided if you can,I'd like to meet the Indian,M. Anantanarayanan.I picture him as short and tan.We'd meet, perhaps, in Hindustan.I'd say, with admirable elan ,"Ah, Anantanarayanan --I've heard of you. The Times once ranA notice on your novel, anUnusual tale of God and Man."And AnantanarayananWould seat me on a lush divanAnd read his name -- that sumptuous spanOf 'a's and 'n's more lovely than"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan" --Aloud to me all day. I planHenceforth to be an ardent fanof Anantanarayanan --M. Anantanarayanan." ~ John Updike
"That's why we love disaster, Harry sees it, puts us back in touch with guilt and sends us crawling back to God" ~ John Updike
"Still, my fascination with Buchanan did not abate, nor was I able, as the Seventies set in, to move the novel forward through the constant pastiche and basic fakery of any fiction not fed by the springs of memory -- what Henry James calls (in a letter to Sarah Orne Jewett) the "fatal cheapness [and] mere escamotage" of the "'historic' novel." ~ John Updike
"Her hair had been going gray as long as he could remember; she bundled it behind in a bun held with hairpins that he frequently found on the floor when he lived boyishly close to the carpet." ~ John Updike
"On being conscious of being a writer: As soon as one is aware of being "somebody," to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf in his overanimation. [...] Most of the best fiction is written out of early impressions, taken in before the writer became conscious of himself as a writer. The best seeing is done by the hunted and the hunter, the vulnerable and the hungry; the "successful" writer acquires a film over his eyes. His eyes get fat. Self-importance is a thickened, occluding form of self-consciousness. The binge, the fling, the trip – all attempt to shake the film and get back under the dinning-room table, with a child's beautifully clear eyes." ~ John Updike
"My first thought, as a child, was that the artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and that he does it without destroying something else. A kind of refutation of the conservation of matter. That still seems to me its central magic, its core of joy." ~ John Updike
"But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it's fatal not to go through with it." ~ John Updike
"People go around mourning the death of God; it's the death of sssin that bothers me. Without ssin, people aren't people any more, they're just ssoul-less sheep." ~ John Updike
"Heade's calm is unsteady, storm-stirred; we respond in our era to its hint of the nervous and the fearful. His weather is interior weather, in a sense, and he perhaps was, if far from the first to portray a modern mood, an ambivalent mood tinged with dread and yet imbued with a certain lightness.The mood could even be said to be religious: not an aggressive preachment of God's grandeur but a kind of Zen poise and acceptance, represented by the small sedentary or plodding foreground figures that appear uncannily at peace as the clouds blacken and the lightning flashes." ~ John Updike
"Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life." ~ John Updike
"The essential support and encouragement comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it." ~ John Updike
"An affair wants to spill, to share its glory with the world. No act is so private it does not seek applause." ~ John Updike
"We are fated to love one another; we hardly exist outside our love, we are just animals without it, with a birth and a death and constant fear between. Our love has lifted us up , out of the dreadfulness of merely living." ~ 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
"Suddenly summoned to witness something great and horrendous, we keep fighting not to reduce it to our own smallness." ~ John Updike
"From earliest childhood I was charmed by the materials of my craft, by pencils and paper and, later, by the typewriter and the entire apparatus of printing. To condense from one's memories and fantasies and small discoveries dark marks on paper which become handsomely reproducible many times over still seems to me, after nearly 30 years concerned with the making of books, a magical act, and a delightful technical process. To distribute oneself thus, as a kind of confetti shower falling upon the heads and shoulders of mankind out of bookstores and the pages of magazines is surely a great privilege and a defiance of the usual earthbound laws whereby human beings make themselves known to one another." ~ John Updike
"...but with his mother there's no question of liking him they're not even in a way separate people he began in her stomach and if she gave him life she can take it away and if he feels that withdrawal it will be the grave itself." ~ 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
"In that latitude the temperature flirted with a hundred degrees for a few of the dog days, but to a child it can hardly ever be too hot. I liked the sun licking the backs of my legs, and the sweat between my shoulder blades, and the violet evenings, with ice cream and fireflies, wherein the long day slowly cooled. I liked the ants piling up dirt like coffee grounds between the bricks of our front walk, and the milkweed spittle in the vacant lot next door. I liked the freedom of shorts, sneakers, and striped T-shirt, with freckles and a short hot-weather haircut.We love easily in summer, perhaps, because we love our summer selves." ~ John Updike
"Evening Concert, Sainte-Chapelle" The celebrated windows flamed with lightdirectly pouring north across the Seine;we rustled into place. Then violinsvaunting Vivaldi's strident strength, then Brahms,seemed to suck with their passionate sweetness,bit by bit, the vigor from the red,the blazing blue, so that the listening eyesaw suddenly the thick black lines, in shapesof shield and cross and strut and brace, that heldthe holy glowing fantasy together.The music surged; the glow became a milk,a whisper to the eye, a glimmer ebbeduntil our beating hearts, our violinswere cased in thin but solid sheets of lead." ~ John Updike
"If Rabbit knew a way to clone an adult sized vagina, Rabbit would clone it, have sex with it, then clone an arm to the side of that vagina so he could carry it with him everywhere he went like a big, fuzzy key chain." ~ John Updike
"The Sometime Sportsman Greets the Springby John UpdikeWhen winter's glaze is lifted from the greens,And cups are freshly cut, and birdies sing,Triumphantly the stifled golfer preensIn cleats and slacks once more, and checks his swing.This year, he vows, his head will steady be,His weight-shift smooth, his grip and stance ideal;And so they are, until upon the teeBefall the old contortions of the real.So, too, the tennis-player, torpid fromHibernal months of television sports,Perfects his serve and feels his knees becomeSheer muscle in their unaccustomed shorts.Right arm relaxed, the left controls the toss,Which shall be high, so that the racket faceShall at a certain angle sweep acrossThe floated sphere with gutty strings—an ace!The mind's eye sees it all until uponThe courts of life the faulty way we playedIn other summers rolls back with the sun.Hope springs eternally, but spring hopes fade." ~ John Updike
"With his white collar he forges god's name on every word he speaks" ~ 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
"In fact we do not try to picture the afterlife, nor is it our selves in our nervous tics and optical flecks that we wish to perpetuate; it is the self as the window on the world that we can't bear to thinkof shutting. My mind when I was a boy of ten or eleven sent up its silent scream at the thought of future aeons -- at the thought of the cosmic party going on without me. The yearning for an afterlife is the opposite of selfish: it is love and praise of the world that we are privileged, in this complex interval of light, to witness and experience." ~ John Updike
"For supper Jill cooks a filet of sole, lemony, light, simmered in sunshine, skin flaky brown; Nelson gets a hamburger with wheatgerm sprinkled on it to remind him of a Nutburger. Wheatgerm, zucchini, water chestnuts, celery salt, Familia: these are some of the exotic items Jill's shopping brings into the house. Her cooking tastes to him of things he never had: candlelight, saltwater, health fads, wealth, class." ~ 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
"Nature may be defined as that which exists without guilt." ~ 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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Lo contrario del amor no es el odio, sino la indiferencia"
Author: Care Santos

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