A Literary Mixtape, Volume 3

This is a literary “mixtape,” of sorts, with literary quotes arranged in a hopefully thematic and pleasing way, sort of like a cassette tape that you’d give your boyfriend or girlfriend or something. This is the third “mixtape,” and as always, some of the quotes are slightly misquoted from memory.

…Confused? Are you? No? I hope not. If you are confused, fret not. Confusion is the natural state of mankind, and also, if you are confused, you can see the previous mixtape for details.

Anyway, as a reader, your job is to read this — yes, doy — but your job is also to leave your favorite quotes in the comment section, so that the journey may continue. For as a wise man once said, a book may have many beginnings. And many endings…

glitter text generator



One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with. A good book may have three openings entirely dissimilar and inter-related only in the prescience of the author, or for that matter one hundred times as many endings.

Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds

Now, witness the power of this fully operational battle station.

Emperor Palpatine, Return of the Jedi

Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.

–Satchel Paige

…Black to the bone; my home is your home.
So welcome to the terrordome.

Public Enemy

ROSENCRANTZ: I remember…


ROS: I remember when there were no questions.

GUIL: There were always questions. To exchange one set for another is no great matter.

ROS: Answers, yes. There were answers to everything.

GUIL: You’ve forgotten.

ROS: (flaring) I haven’t forgotten — how I used to remember my own name — and yours, oh; I haven’t forgotten — how I used to remember my own name — and yours, oh yes! There were answers everywhere you looked. There was no question about it — people knew who I was and if they didn’t they asked and I told them.

GUIL: You did, the trouble is each of them is… plausible, without being instinctive. All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque. A man standing in his saddle in the half-lit half-alive dawn banged on the shutters and called two names. He was just a hat and a cloak levitating in the grey plume of his own breath, but when he called we came. That much is certain — we came.

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

JULES: …You read the Bible, Brett?

BRETT: (gasping) …Yes.

JULES: Well, there’s this passage I got memorized, seems sorta appropriate for the occasion.

–Pulp Fiction (final revision)

I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation–

‘…I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.
My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.
My harp is turned to mourning, and my organ to the voice of those
who weep...’

The Book of Job, Chapter 30: Verses 28 to 31

...At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitful face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jaggèd, like an old man’s mouth driveling, beyond
Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the fig’s fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Brown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind
over the third stair…

–T.S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday

Then they began to climb and they were going to the East it seemed, and then it darkened and they were in a storm, the rain so thick it seemed like flying through a waterfall, and then they were out and he turned his head and grinned and pointed and there, ahead, all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going.

–Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro

I love it when a plan comes together.

–John “Hannibal” Smith, The A-Team

I fight the comets, lick the moon,
pave its lonely streets.
I set the controls, I pioneer
The seeding of the ionosphere.
I translate the Bible into velociraptor.

–Michael Robbins

Welcome to Earth.

–Will Smith, Independence Day

The world! The world is alive!

–Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

…But before the Law stands a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper there comes a man from the country and prays for admittance to the Law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and then asks if he will be allowed in later. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not at the moment.”

Franz Kafka

There was only one catch, and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.

Joseph Heller, Catch-22

It was raining. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted down a hill. I could hear a creek rushing down among rocks. And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.

Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son

…I saw her much later, not too many years ago, and when I smiled she seemed to believe I was making advances. But it was only that I remembered. I’ll never forget you. Your husband will beat you with an extension cord and the bus will pull away forever leaving you standing there in tears, but you were my mother.


I shall never be
Different. Love me.

–W.H. Auden

…Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

–William Blake

If you set out in this world,
better be born seven times.
Once, in a house on fire,
once, in a freezing flood,
once, in a wild madhouse,
once, in a field of ripe wheat,
once, in an empty cloister,
and once among pigs in a sty.
Six babes crying, not enough:
you yourself must be the seventh.

And if you write and can afford it,
let seven men write your poem.
One, who builds a marble village,
one, who was born in his sleep,
one, who charts the sky and knows it,
one, whom words call by his name,
one, who perfected his soul,
one, who dissects living rats.
Two are brave and four are wise;
you yourself must be the seventh.

–Attila József, from the Hungarian (trans. John Batki)

…Conclusion of the book, ultimate: Evil is even, truth is an odd number, and death is a full stop. When a dog barks late at night and then retires again to bed, he punctuates and gives majesty to the serial enigma of the dark, laying it more evenly and heavily upon the fabric of the mind. Sweeney in the trees hears the sad baying as he sits on the branch, a huddle between earth and heaven, and he hears also the answering mastiff that is counting the watches in the next parish. Bark answers bark till the call spreads like fire through all Erin.

Soon the moon comes forth behind her curtains riding full tilt across the sky, lightsome and unperturbed in her immemorial calm. The eyes of the mad king upon the branch are upturned, whiter eyeballs in a white face, upturned in fear and supplication. His mind is but a shell… Is he mad? Was Hamlet mad? It is extremely hard to say. Is he the victim of hard-to-explain hallucinations? Nobody knows. Even experts do not agree on these vital points.

The more one studies the problem, the more fascinated one becomes… One man will think that he has a glass bottom and will fear to sit in case of breakage. In other respects he will be a man of great intellectual force and will accompany one in a mental ramble throughout the labyrinths of mathematics or philosophy so long as he is allowed to remain standing throughout the disputations.

Another man will be perfectly polite and well-conducted except that he will in no circumstances turn otherwise than to the right and indeed will own a bicycle so constructed that it cannot turn otherwise than to that point. Others will be subject to colours and will attach undue merit to articles that are red or green or white merely because they bear that hue. Some will be influenced by the texture of a cloth or by the roundness or angularity of an object.

Numbers, however, will account for a great proportion of unbalanced and suffering humanity. One man will rove the streets seeking motor-cars with numbers that are divisible by seven. Well-known, alas, is the case of the poor German who was very fond of three and who made each aspect of his life a thing of triads. He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.

Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds  TC mark


Thumbnail image – Kaseta magnetofonowa


More From Thought Catalog

  • http://thestrangerblog.com/ Michelle (The Stranger)

    I almost fainted when I saw the Parable of the Law. Oliver Miller, you rock.

    • Oliver Miller

      And I have a whole article coming up about that, sort of.  Alert the people, spread the word.

      • http://thestrangerblog.com/ Michelle (The Stranger)

        I’m excited.
        Ever read The Myth of Sisyphus by chance? The parallels between the Parable of the Law and Sisyphus are uncanny.

      • Oliver Miller

        No, and in fact the other day I was trying to remember the thing that I read about The Myth of Sisyphus that explained it.  I bought a Camus book for 25 cents the other day, but is it even him or is it Sartre that did the myth thing?  Anyway, the Camus book — “Exile and the Kingdom” — has reminded me that I do not enjoy reading him that much.  I don’t hate him, but I don’t love it.  But if you feel like explaining the myth thing to me, go for it (obvs. I got the rock part and what the myth is actually about).  There was something that really interested me about Camus’ interpretation, but I forget what it was, ai yah.

      • http://thestrangerblog.com/ Michelle (The Stranger)

        (facebooked my response)

  • srmendelson

    “I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” -William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

    • Oliver Miller

      Heyyyyy…. that was almost in this, but I cut it.  “I give to you the mausoleum of hope and desire.”

  • Ash N Krzywicki

    You can love it or you can hate it but you can’t ignore it. -eminem, warrior

  • http://twitter.com/barkmuckner Mark Buckner

    All three of these were sweet.

  • Anonymous

    “JEWS HAVE SIX SENSES: Touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing… memory. While
    Gentiles experience and process the world through the traditional senses, and
    use memory only as a second-order means of interpreting events, for Jews memory
    is no less primary than the prick of a pin, or its silver glimmer, or the taste
    of the blood it pulls from the finger. The Jew is pricked by a pin and
    remembers other pins. It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other
    pinpricks – when his mother tried to fix his sleeve while his arm was still in
    it, when his grandfather’s fingers fell asleep from stroking his
    great-grandfather’s damp forehead, when Abraham tested the knife point to be
    sure Isaac would feel no pain – that the Jew is able to know why it hurts. When
    a Jew encounters a pin, he asks: What does it remember like?” — Jonathan Safran Foer, 

    Everything Is Illuminated

  • Shiva

    Oliver Miller, I think I may have a crush on you.

    My new favourite: “Music is what Math does on a Saturday night.”  – Aaron Sorkin

  • Anonymous

    I absolutely adore this, please keep them coming!

  • Darcy

    “keep that nigger running” -invisible man

  • Julia Roberto

    “I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
    – The Great Gatsby

  • Taina

    “A insônia, musa de olhos arregalados, não me deixou dormir uma longa hora ou duas; as cócegas pediam-me unhas, e coçava-me com alma.” -Machado  de Assis, Dom Casmurro

  • Anonymous

    ” let us be chaste like dead lips, pure like dreamed bodies, and resigned to being this way, like mad nuns.” — the book of disquiet by pessoa

  • Marie L

    “I surrender this century to you.” Pablo Neruda

  • Christian Holub

    “The fabric of times that approach one another, fork, are snipped off, or are simply unknown for centuries, contains all possibilities. In most times, we do not exist; in some, you exist but I do not; in others, I do and you do not; in others still, we both do. In this one, which the favouring hand of chance has dealt me, you have come to my home; in another, when you come through my garden you find me dead; in another, I say these same words, but I am an error, a ghost.”-Jorge Luis Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths

  • Meli893

    “I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and
    changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through
    water, and altered the colour of my mind.”
    Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

  • Anonymous

    “I remember one morning when I discovered a cocoon in the back of a tree just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened; the butterfly started slowly crawling out, and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it, I tried to help it with my breath, in vain.”

    “Zorba the Greek”, Kazantzakis

  • Claire G

    •”And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”
    – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

  • Ally

    “Art is long, and time is fleeting/ and our hearts, though stout and brave/ still like muffled drums, are beating/ funeral marches to the grave.” -Herbert Longfellow

    Also just a personal favorite, “You will move mountians kid.” Dr. Suess

  • Nica

    “We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the sign started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides — pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book.

    “No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

    A long silence followed.

    “Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

    He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

    We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.”

    There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

    “Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”

    Another silence ensued.

    “They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.”
    ― Don DeLillo, White Noise

    • http://thoughtcatalog.com/ Oliver Miller

      I love that book.

  • Dan

    “But is is true love in the rectum? That’s what bothers me sometimes” – Molloy, Samuel Beckett

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