- Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. When I furnished this study seven years ago, I pushed the long desk against a blank wall, so I could not see from either window. Once, fifteen years ago, I wrote in a cinder-block cell over a parking lot. It overlooked a tar-and-gravel roof. This pine shed under the trees is not quite so good as the cinder-block study, but it will do. 'The beginning of wisdom,' according to a West African proverb, 'is to get you a roof.'
- As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
- Eskimo: 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?'
- Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.
- How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
- It could be that our faithlessness is a cowering cowardice born of our very smallness, a massive failure of imagination... If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed.
- So this was adolescence. Is this how the people around me had died on their feet - inevitably, helplessly? Perhaps their own selves eclipsed the sun for so many years the world shriveled around them, and when at last their inescapable orbits had passed through these dark egoistic years it was too late, they had adjusted. Must I then lose the world forever, that I had so loved? Was it all, the whole bright and various planet, where I had been so ardent about finding myself alive, only a passion peculiar to children, that I would outgrow even against my will?
- The surest sign of age is loneliness.
- Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?
- On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.' (Teaching a Stone to Talk, Harper & Row, 1982)