Don DeLillo

Born: November 20, 1936

Occupation: Writer

Quotes of Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo

[I]n the American soul there is a lonely individual standing in a vast landscape. 
He is either on a horse or driving a car, depending, and either way he’s carrying a gun. 
This is one of the essential...

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Don DeLillo

Let's enjoy the aimless days while we still can.

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Don DeLillo

Fame and secrecy are the high and low ends of the same fascination.

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Don DeLillo

In a repressive society, a writer can be deeply influential, but in a society that's filled with glut and repetition and endless consumption, the act of terror may be the only meaningful act.

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Don DeLillo

I felt Joyce was an influence on my fiction, but in a very general way, as a kind of inspiration and a model for the beauty of language.

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Don DeLillo

He took pains to avoid self-depreciation, self-mockery, ambiguity, irony, subtlety, vulnerability, a civilized world-weariness and a tragic sense of history--the very things, he says, that are most natural...

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Don DeLillo

Everything that goes on in your whole life is a result of molecules rushing around somewhere in your brain.

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Don DeLillo

He thinks he's happy but it's just a nerve cell in his brain that's getting too much stimulation or too little stimulation.

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Don DeLillo

Isn't death the boundary we need? Doesn't it give a precious texture to life, a sense of definition? You have to ask yourself whether anything you do in this life would have beauty and meaning without...

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Don DeLillo

There is a world inside the world.

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Don DeLillo

Stories are consoling, fiction is one of the consolation prizes for having lived in the world.

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Don DeLillo

People stress the violence. That's the smallest part of it. Football is brutal only from a distance. In the middle of it there's a calm, a tranquility. The players accept pain. There's a sense of order...

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Don DeLillo

If you know you're worth nothing, only a gamble with death can gratify your vanity.

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Don DeLillo

In this century the writer has carried on a conversation with madness. We might almost say of the twentieth-century writer that he aspires to madness. Some have made it, of course, and they hold special...

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Don DeLillo

I think more than writers, the major influences on me have been European movies, jazz, and Abstract Expressionism.

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Don DeLillo

At night the sky was very near, sprawled in star smoke and gamma cataclysms, but she didn't see it the way she used to, as soul extension, dumb guttural wonder, a thing that lived outside language in the...

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Don DeLillo

There is a balance, a kind of standoff between the time continuum and the human entity, our frail bundle of soma and psyche. We eventually succumb to time, it's true, but time depends on us. We carry it...

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Don DeLillo

War is the form nostalgia takes when men are hard-pressed to say something good about their country.

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Don DeLillo

Insanity's so personal. It's hard to know who shares our secrets.

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Don DeLillo

Past, present and future are not amenities of language. Time unfolds into the seamsof being. It passes through you, making and shaping.

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Don DeLillo

How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and...

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Don DeLillo

the instant he knew he loved her, she slipped down his body and out of his arms

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Don DeLillo

Dying was just an extended version of Ash Wednesday.

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Don DeLillo

Talent is more erotic when it's wasted.

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Don DeLillo

The cheesecake was smooth and lush, with the personality of a warm and well-to-do uncle who knows a hundred dirty jokes and will die of sexual exertions in the arms of his mistress.

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Don DeLillo

People in free societies don't have to fear the pathology of the state. We create our own frenzy, our own mass convulsions, driven by thinking machines that we have no final authority over. The frenzy...

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Don DeLillo

Sometimes I see something so moving I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.

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Don DeLillo

There are times when you want to stop working at faith and just be washed in a blowing wind that tells you everything.

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Don DeLillo

I don't want to do the type of writing where I recite biography, parentage and education. I want to rise up from the words on the page and do something, hurt someone.

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Don DeLillo

Years after I'd seen him for the last time I found myself thinking of him unexpectedly and often. You know how certain places grow powerful in the mind with passing time. In those early morning dreams...

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Don DeLillo

Some nights I need to be held. Tonight I'm a listener. So nice to lie in rumpled sheets and listen. Cover me with words.

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Don DeLillo

You need to know things the others don't know. It's what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself.

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Don DeLillo

Ask yourself this question. Do we have to be humans forever? Consciousness is exhausted. Back now to inorganic matter. This is what we want. We want to be stones in a field.

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Don DeLillo

He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful.

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Don DeLillo

Longing on a large scale makes history.

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Don DeLillo

Only a catastrophe gets our attention. We want them, we depend on them. As long as they happen somewhere else. This is where California comes in. Mud slides, brush fires, coastal erosion, mass killings,...

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Don DeLillo

There's a curious knot that binds novelists and terrorists...Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that...

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Don DeLillo

Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.

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Don DeLillo

I've never made an outline for any novel that I've written. Never.

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Don DeLillo

Everyone who does not live in Berlin lives in Brooklyn now.

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Don DeLillo

It's my contention that each book creates its own structure and its own length. I've written three or four slim books. It may be that the next novel is a big one, but I don't know.

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Don DeLillo

Pain is just another form of information.

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Don DeLillo

And what's the point of waking up in the morning if you don't try to match the enormousness of the known forces in the world with something powerful in your own life?

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Don DeLillo

The writer is the person who stands outside society, independent of affiliation and independent of influence.

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Don DeLillo

The modern meaning of life's end-when does it end? How does it end? How should it end? What is the value of life? How do we measure it?

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Don DeLillo

There's a connection between the advances that are made in technology and the sense of primitive fear people develop in response to it.

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Don DeLillo

There's a moral force in a sentence when it comes out right. It speaks the writer's will to live.

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Don DeLillo

There's never a dearth of reasons to shoot at the President.

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Don DeLillo

True terror is a language and a vision. There is a deep narrative structure to terrorist acts, and they infiltrate and alter consciousness in ways that writers used to aspire to.

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Don DeLillo

When you try to unravel something you've written, you belittle it in a way. It was created as a mystery.

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Don DeLillo

I am not particularly distressed by the state of fiction or the role of the writer. The more marginal, perhaps ultimately the more trenchant and observant and finally necessary he'll become.

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Don DeLillo

Writers in repressive societies are considered dangerous. That's why so many of them are in jail.

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Don DeLillo

Human existence had to have a deeper source than our own dank fluids. Dank or rank. There had to be a force behind it, a principal being who was and is and ever shall be.

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Don DeLillo

In this country there is a universal third person, the man we all want to be. Advertising has discovered this man. It uses him to express the possibilities open to the consumer. To consume in America is...

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Don DeLillo

I have only a bare working knowledge of the human brain but it's enough to make me proud to be an American.

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Don DeLillo

I think if you maintain a force in the world that comes into people's sleep, you are exercising a meaningful power.

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Don DeLillo

People hurried past, the others of the street, endless anonymous, twenty-one lives per second, race-walking in their faces and pigments, sprays of fleetest being.

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Don DeLillo

There came a time in every prolonged effort when he had a moment of near panic, or 'terror in a lonely place', the original semantic content of the word. The lonely place was his own mind.

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Don DeLillo

I think that the massive, overarching, interconnected systems of technology tend to make us a little insecure, somewhat pliable, and susceptible to half-beliefs.

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Don DeLillo

The less important you are in an office, the more they expect the happy smile.

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Don DeLillo

I don't know what I think about certain subjects, even today, until I sit down and try to write about them.

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Don DeLillo

As belief shrinks from the world, it is more necessary than ever that someone believe. Wild-eyed men in caves. Nuns in black. Monks who do not speak. We are left to believe. Fools, children. Those who...

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Don DeLillo

Writing is a concentrated form of thinking.

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Don DeLillo

All plots tend to move deathward. This is the nature of plots.

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Don DeLillo

Murray said, ´I don´t trust anybody´s nostalgia but my own. Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It´s a settling of grievances between the present and the past. The more powerful the...

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Don DeLillo

Some people are larger than life. Hitler is larger than death.

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Don DeLillo

I am ashamed every day, and more ashamed the next. But I will spend the rest of my life in this living space writing these notes, this journal, recording my acts and reflections, finding some honor, some...

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Don DeLillo

People think about who they are in the stillest hour of the night. I carry this thought, the child's mystery and terror of this thought, I feel this immensity in my soul every second of my life.

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Don DeLillo

Even when you self-destruct, you want to fail more, lose more, die more than others, stink more than others.

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Don DeLillo

In these night recitations we create a space between things as we felt them at the time and as we speak them now. This is the space reserved for irony, sympathy and fond amusement, the means by which we...

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Don DeLillo

People who are in power make their arrangements in secret, largely as a way of maintaining and furthering that power.

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Don DeLillo

People who are powerless make an open theater of violence.

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Don DeLillo

Never underestimate the power of the State to act out its own massive fantasies.

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Don DeLillo

American writers ought to stand and live in the margins, and be more dangerous.

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Don DeLillo

I watch movies occasionally, and I watch documentaries. Virtually nothing else.

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Don DeLillo

Silence, exile, cunning and so on... it's my nature to keep quiet about most things. Even the ideas in my work.

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Don DeLillo

The future belongs to crowds.

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Don DeLillo

A Catholic is raised with the idea that he will die any minute now and if he doesn't live his life in a certain way, this death is an introduction to an eternity of pain.

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Don DeLillo

Look past the violence. There is a wonderful brimming spirit of innocence and fun.

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Don DeLillo

Her death would leave me scattered, talking to chairs and pillows. Don't let us die, I want to cry out to that fifth-century sky ablaze with mystery and spiral light. Let us both live forever, in sickness...

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Don DeLillo

It was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things. Dusk, silence, iron chill. Something lonely in the bone.

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Don DeLillo

Out of some persistent sense of large-scale ruin, we kept inventing hope.

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Don DeLillo

Stories have no point if they don't absorb our terror.

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Don DeLillo

That's why people take vacations. No to relax or find excitement or see new places. To escape the death that exists in routine things.

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Don DeLillo

The world is full of abandoned meanings. In the commonplace I find unexpected themes and intensities.

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Don DeLillo

I've always seen myself in sentences. I begin to recognize myself, word by word, as I work through a sentence.

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Don DeLillo

Brilliant people never think of the lives they smash, being brilliant.

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Don DeLillo

It is interesting ... how weapons reflect the soul of the maker.

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Don DeLillo

Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks...

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Don DeLillo

Men with secrets tend to be drawn to each other, not because they want to share what they know but because they need the company of the like-minded, the fellow afflicted.

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Don DeLillo

Film is more than the twentieth-century art. It's another part of the twentieth-century mind. It's the world seen from inside. We've come to a certain point in the history of film. If a thing can be filmed,...

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Don DeLillo

If I were a writer, how I would enjoy being told the novel is dead. How liberating to work in the margins, outside a central perception. You are the ghoul of literature. Lovely.

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Don DeLillo

Too much has been forgotten in the name of memory.

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Don DeLillo

I saw a photograph of a wedding conducted by Reverend Moon of the Unification Church. I wanted to understand this event, and the only way to understand it was to write about it.

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Don DeLillo

The less there was to see, the harder he looked, the more he saw. (Point Omega)

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Don DeLillo

Sometimes a thing that's hard is hard because you're doing it wrong. (Point Omega)

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Don DeLillo

She became confused when she stepped onto an escalator that wasn't working.

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Don DeLillo

It's all about time, dimwit time, inferior time, people checking watches and other devices, other reminders. This is time draining out of our lives. Cities were built to measure time, to remove time from...

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Don DeLillo

Why is it so hard to be serious, so easy to be too serious?

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Don DeLillo

If you reveal everything, bare every feeling, ask for understanding, you lose something crucial to your sense of yourself. You need to know things that others don't know. It's what no one knows about you...

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Don DeLillo

...Because what's the meaning of doing dishes if you're not driven by something beyond necessity.

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Don DeLillo

How many beginnings before you see the lies in your excitement?

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Don DeLillo

We need time to lose interest in things.

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Don DeLillo

To be a tourist is to escape accountability.

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Don DeLillo

The figure of the gunman in the window was inextricable from the victim and his history. This sustained Oswald in his cell. It gave him what he needed to live. The more time he spent in a cell, the stronger...

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Don DeLillo

A person rises on a word and falls on a syllable.

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Don DeLillo

You live in a tower that soars to heaven and goes unpunished by God.

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Don DeLillo

There's always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down.

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Don DeLillo

A writer takes earnest measures to secure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it.

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Don DeLillo

Was she naked?" Lasher said. "To the waist," Cotsakis said. "From which direction?" Lasher said.

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Don DeLillo

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us.

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Don DeLillo

When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see.

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Don DeLillo

Look at those numbers running. Money makes time. It used to be the other way around. Clock time accelerated the rise of capitalism. People stopped thinking about eternity. They began to concentrate on...

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Don DeLillo

The future is always a wholeness, a sameness. We're all tall and happy there,' she said. 'This is why the future fails. It always fails. It can never be the cruel happy place we want to make it.

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Don DeLillo

People will not die. Isn't this the creed of the new culture? People will be absorbed in streams of information. I know nothing about this. Computers will die. They're dying in their present form. They're...

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Don DeLillo

Everything's a scandal. Dying's a scandal. But we all do it.

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Don DeLillo

It occurred to me that eating is the only form of professionalism most people ever attain.

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Don DeLillo

Prayer is a practical strategy, the gaining of temporal advantage in the capital markets of Sin and Remission.

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Don DeLillo

Music is dangerous in so many ways. It's the most dangerous thing in the world.

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Don DeLillo

For most people, there are only two places in the world. Where they live and their TV set. If a thing happens on television, we have every right to find it fascinating, whatever it is.

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Don DeLillo

I used to think it was possible for an artist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory.

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Don DeLillo

The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.

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Don DeLillo

Doesn't seem quite real. It's not meaningful. I can't quite imagine myself being 73. That's the age my father was! [Laughter.] How can I be his age? It's weird.

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Don DeLillo

When I work, I'm just translating the world around me in what seems to be straightforward terms. For my readers, this is sometimes a vision that's not familiar. But I'm not trying to manipulate reality....

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Don DeLillo

It was only after two years' work that it occurred to me that I was a writer. I had no particular expectation that the novel would ever be published, because it was sort of a mess. It was only when I found...

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Don DeLillo

I'm not reclusive at all. Just private.

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Don DeLillo

Coming and going I am leaving. I will go and come. Leaving has come to me. We all, shall all, will all be left. Because I am here and where. And I will go or not or never. And I have seen what I will see....

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Don DeLillo

It is all falling indelibly into the past.

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Don DeLillo

The greater the scientific advance, the more primitive the fear.

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Don DeLillo

I long for the days of disorder. I want them back, the days when I was alive on the earth, rippling in the quick of my skin, heedless and real. I was dumb-muscled and angry and real. This is what I long...

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Don DeLillo

California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.

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Don DeLillo

Hardship makes the world obscure.

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Don DeLillo

These are the days after. Everything now is measured by after.

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Don DeLillo

Just because it's on the radio doesn't mean we have to suspend belief in the evidence of our senses.

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Don DeLillo

The term itself--my life--is a desperate overstatement.

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Don DeLillo

Off-camera lives are unverifiable.

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Don DeLillo

I don’t want your candor. I want your soul in a silver thimble.

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Don DeLillo

Explain me to myself, you’ll make me choke on my lunch. Feel sympathy for me, I’ll puke monkey blood on your understated shoes.

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Don DeLillo

He said, "The word for moonlight is moonlight.

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Don DeLillo

Fear is self-awareness raised to a higher level.

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Don DeLillo

It was important for him to believe that he'd spent his life among people who kept missing the point.

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Don DeLillo

He'd once told me that the art of getting ahead in New York was based on learning how to express dissatisfaction in an interesting way. The air was full of rage and complaint. People had no tolerance for...

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Don DeLillo

The power of the dead is that we think they see us all the time. The dead have a presence. Is there a level of energy composed solely of the dead? They are also in the ground, of course, asleep and crumbling....

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Don DeLillo

No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.

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Don DeLillo

When I read obituaries I always note the age of the deceased. Automatically I relate this figure to my own age. Four years to go, I think. Nine more years. Two years and I'm dead. The power of numbers...

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Don DeLillo

I've got death inside me. It's just a question of whether or not I can outlive it.

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Don DeLillo

Doesn't our knowledge of death make life more precious?' What good is a preciousness based on fear and anxiety? It's an anxious quivering thing

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Don DeLillo

Fear is unnatural. Lightning and thunder are unnatural. Pain, death, reality, these are all unnatural. We can't bear these things as they are. We know too much. So we resort to repression, compromise and...

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Don DeLillo

That's the world out there, little green apples and infectious disease.

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Don DeLillo

It is possible to be homesick for a place even when you are there.

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Don DeLillo

Because friends have to be brutally honest with each other. I'd feel terrible if I didn't tell you what I was thinking, especially at a time like this

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Don DeLillo

Be willing to die for your beliefs, or computer printouts of your beliefs.

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Don DeLillo

Why shouldn't the death of a person you love bring you into lurid ruin? You don't know how to love the one you love until they disappear abruptly. Then you understand how thinly distanced from their suffering,...

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Don DeLillo

This is the whole point of technology. It creates an appetite for immortality on the one hand. It threatens universal extinction on the other. Technology is lust removed from nature. - Murray (WN 285)

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Don DeLillo

To plot is to live. […] We start out lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram....

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Don DeLillo

History was not a matter of missing minutes on the tape. I did not stand helpless before it. I hewed to the texture of collected knowledge, took faith from the solid and availing stuff of our experience....

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Don DeLillo

Do people still shoot at presidents? I thought there were more stimulating targets.' (20)

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Don DeLillo

Money has lost its narrative quality the way painting did once upon a time. Money is talking to itself.

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Don DeLillo

There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist? (155)

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Don DeLillo

Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We have minutes to live.

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Don DeLillo

I was always younger than anyone around me. One day it began to change.

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Don DeLillo

Writing is a concentrated form of thinking...a young writer sees that with words he can place himself more clearly into the world. Words on a page, that's all it takes to help him separate himself from...

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Don DeLillo

As technology advances in complexity and scope, fear becomes more primitive.

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Don DeLillo

Before pop art, there was such a thing as bad taste. Now there's kitsch, schlock, camp, and porn.

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Don DeLillo

Facts are lonely things

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Don DeLillo

He wanted paper and something to write with, some way to sustain a thought, to place it in the world.

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Don DeLillo

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save...

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Don DeLillo

You have to break through the structure of your own stonework habit just to make yourself listen.

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Don DeLillo

I've come to think of Europe as a hardcover book, America as the paperback version.

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Don DeLillo

Eye contact was a delicate matter. A quarter second of a shared glance was a violation of agreements that made the city operational.

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Don DeLillo

The more things I threw away, the more I found.

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Don DeLillo

What good is knowledge if it just floats in the air? It goes from computer to computer. It changes and grows every second of every day. But nobody actually knows anything.

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Don DeLillo

It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams

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Don DeLillo

What we are reluctant to touch often seems the very fabric of our salvation.

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Don DeLillo

We feel certain that the extraterrestrial message is a mathematical code of some kind. Probably a number code. Mathematics is the one language we might conceivably have in common with other forms of intelligent...

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Don DeLillo

Freud is finished, Einstein's next.

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Don DeLillo

When he died he would not end. The world would end.

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Don DeLillo

days like this. i look at you and feel electric. tell me you don't feel it too."_Eric Packer

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Don DeLillo

why something and not nothing? why music and not noise?

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Don DeLillo

World is supposed to mean something that's self-contained. but nothing is self-contained.

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Don DeLillo

holes are interesting. there are books about holes.

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Don DeLillo

The smoke alarm went off in the hallway upstairs, either to let us know the battery had just died or because the house was on fire.

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Don DeLillo

I slept for four years. I didn't study much of anything. I majored in something called communication arts.

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss