• Tell me how free I am.
    —Prisoner’s Dilemma
  • Music forecasts the past, recalls the future.
    —Orfeo
  • The oldest principle of composition: repeat everything.
    —Orfeo
  • Melody played on the brain like a weather report, an avowal of faith, gossip, a manifesto.
    —Orfeo
  • Music doesn't mean things, it is things.
    —Orfeo
  • Insecurity will always be a growth industry. The economy now depends on fear.
    —Orfeo
  • The loneliness of writing is that you baffle your friends and change the lives of strangers.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • It was like so, but wasn't.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • Be grateful for anything that still cuts. Dissonance is a beauty that familiarity hasn't yet destroyed.
    —Orfeo
  • Still, history is the long process of outsourcing human ability in order to leverage more of it.
    —What is Artificial Intelligence?
  • How did music trick the body into thinking it had a soul?
    —Orfeo
  • All we can ever do is lay a word in the hands of those who have put one in ours.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • There isn't a human being in the world worthy of any dog's welcome.
    —Orfeo
  • What he had done, how he had chosen to spend his energies, really was science. A way of looking, reverencing. And the purpose of all science, like living, which amounts to the same thing, was not the accumulations of Gnostic power, fixing of formulas for the names of God, stockpiling brutal efficiency, accomplishing the sadistic myth of progress. the purpose of science was to revive and cultivate a perpetual state of wonder. For nothing deserved wonder so much as our capacity to feel it.
    —The Gold Bug Variations
  • You wanted to play fiction against fact? Didn’t you know fiction is already fact’s patsy?
    —What Does Fiction Know?
  • Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual condition of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtler than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery.
    —The Gold Bug Variations
  • We will live with racism for ever. But senses of self, senses of belonging, senses of us and of others? Those are up for grabs.
    —Interview in the Guardian
  • Only white men have the luxury of ignoring race.
    —The Time of Our Singing
  • Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind.
    —The Gold Bug Variations
  • A book is still atemporal. It is you, in silence, hearing voices in your head, unfolding at a time that has nothing to do with the timescale of reading. And for the hours that we retreat into this moratorium, with the last form of private and silent human activity that isn't considered pathological, we are outside of time.
    —Interview in the Guardian
  • Europe died; explanations died of grief.
    —What Does Fiction Know?
  • The prose can be brutally beautiful. But the semester starts, you fall in love, get deflowered, watch Kennedy die and the Beatles invade, get high to listen to Coltrane, and discover Heller, Ellison, Ferlighetti, and Bellow—writing that flows across the page in huge bright swaths that you didn't know English could permit.
    —To The Measures Fall
  • And you, fallen Wendy, eviscerated by the eternal recurrence of it all, hear Peter snarl at you for growing guilty and big and old...
    —Operation Wandering Soul
  • The morning was glorious, one of those crystalline, dry, blue, fall days when the temperature hovers right at anticipation.
    —The Echo Maker
  • What he had done, how he had chosen to spend his energies, really was science. A way of looking, reverencing. And the purpose of all science, like living, which amounts to the same thing, was not the accumulations of Gnostic power, fixing of formulas for the names of God, stockpiling brutal efficiency, accomplishing the sadistic myth of progress. the purpose of science was to revive and cultivate a perpetual state of wonder. For nothing deserved wonder so much as our capacity to feel it.
    —The Gold Bug Variations
  • Science is not about control. It is about cultivating a perpetual sense of wonder in the face of something that forever grows one step richer and subtle than our latest theory about it. It is about reverence, not mastery.
    —The Gold Bug Variations
  • Information may travel at light speed, but meaning spreads at the speed of dark.
    —Generosity
  • Reading may be the last secretive behavior that is neither pathological or prosecutable. It is certainly the last refuge from the real-time epidemic. For the stream of a narrative overflows the banks of the real. Story strips its reader, holding her in a place time can't reach. A book's power lies in its ability to erase us, to expand or contract without limit, to circle inside itself without beginning or end, to defy our imaginary timetables and lay us bare to a more basic ticking. The pages we read are a nowhen, unfolding far outside the public arena. As long as we remain in them, now reveals itself to be the baldest of inventions.
    —The Paris Review Book for Planes, Trains, Elevators, and Waiting Rooms
  • It had to be U. U. was the only town I could still bear, the one spot in the atlas I'd already absorbed head-on. When you take too many of your critical hits in one place, that place can no longer hurt you.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • Synapses in motion tend to stay in motion. Synapses at rest tend to stay at rest.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • The web: yet another total disorientation that becomes status quo without anyone realizing it.
    —Galatea 2.2
  • In that weekly ecstatic keeping of faith and bearing of witness, Delia fell in love with singing. Singing was something that might make sense of a person. Singing might make more sense of life than living had to start with.
    —The Time of Our Singing
  • For a moment, looking felt like something that happened to you rather than something you did. Not 'Are you who I think you are?' Am I who you think I am?
    —Galatea 2.2
  • Maybe happiness is like a virus. Maybe it's one of those bugs that sits for a long time, so we don't even know that we are infected.
    —Generosity
  • On the ride back south, she tapped all the anger-management tricks they'd given her in job training. They played across her windshield like PowerPoint slides. Number One: It's not about you. Number Two: Your plan is not the world's. Number Three: The mind can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.
    —The Echo Maker
  • Time passes, as the novelist says. The single most useful trick of fiction for our repair and refreshment: the defeat of time. A century of family saga and a ride up an escalator can take the same number of pages. Fiction sets any conversion rate, then changes it in a syllable. The narrator’s mother carries her child up the stairs and the reader follows, for days. But World War I passes in a paragraph. I needed 125 pages to get from Labor Day to Christmas vacation. In six more words, here’s spring.
    —Generosity
  • When you're sure of what you're looking at, look harder.
    —Generosity
  • Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind.
    —The Gold Bug Variations