Geoff Dyer Geoff Dyer > Quotes


Geoff Dyer quotes (showing 1-23 of 23)

“Have regrets. They are fuel. On the page they flare into desire.”
Geoff Dyer
“The perfect life, the perfect lie, I realised after Christmas, is one which prevents you from doing that which you would ideally have done (painted, say, or written unpublishable poetry) but which, in fact, you have no wish to do. People need to feel that they have been thwarted by circumstances from pursuing the life which, had they led it, they would not have wanted; whereas the life they really want is precisely a compound of all those thwarting circumstances.”
Geoff Dyer
“Life is bearable even when it's unbearable: that is what's so terrible, that is the unbearable thing about it.”
Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence
“Sometimes I think my ability to concentrate is being nibbled away by the internet; other times I think it's being gulped down in huge, Jaws-shaped chunks. In those quaint days before the internet, once you made it to your desk there wasn't much to distract you. You could sit there working or you could just sit there. Now you sit down and there's a universe of possibilities – many of them obscurely relevant to the work you should be getting on with – to tempt you. To think that I can be sitting here, trying to write something about Ingmar Bergman and, a moment later, on the merest whim, can be watching a clip from a Swedish documentary about Don Cherry – that is a miracle (albeit one with a very potent side-effect, namely that it's unlikely I'll ever have the patience to sit through an entire Bergman film again).

Then there's the outsourcing of memory. From the age of 16, I got into the habit of memorising passages of poetry and compiling detailed indexes in the backs of books of prose. So if there was a passage I couldn't remember, I would spend hours going through my books, seeking it out. Now, in what TS Eliot, with great prescience, called "this twittering world", I just google the key phrase of the half-remembered quote. Which is great, but it's drained some of the purpose from my life.

Exactly the same thing has happened now that it's possible to get hold of out-of-print books instantly on the web. That's great too. But one of the side incentives to travel was the hope that, in a bookstore in Oregon, I might finally track down a book I'd been wanting for years. All of this searching and tracking down was immensely time-consuming – but only in the way that being alive is time-consuming.”
Geoff Dyer
“To be interested in something is to be involved in what is essentially a stressful relationship with that thing, to suffer anxiety on its behalf.”
Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence
tags: life
“He [Thelonious Monk] played each note as though astonished by the previous one, as though every touch of his fingers on the keyboard was correcting an error and this touch in turn became an error to be corrected and so the tune never quite ended up the way it was meant to.”
Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
“If the regular length of a shot is increased, one becomes bored, but if you keep on making it longer, a new quality emerges, a special intensity of attention.' At first there can be a friction between our expectations of time and Tarkovsky-time and this friction is increasing in the twenty-first century as we move further and further away from Tarkovsky-time towards moron-time in which nothing can last—and no one can concentrate on anything—for longer than about two seconds.”
Geoff Dyer, Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room
“The history of sex is the history of glimpses: first ankles, then cleavage, then knees. More recently, tattoos, navel rings, tongue studs, underwear…” (p. 92).”
Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
“We'd never seen anything as green as these rice paddies. It was not just the paddies themselves: the surrounding vegetation - foliage so dense the trees lost track of whose leaves were whose - was a rainbow coalition of one colour: green. There was an infinity of greens, rendered all the greener by splashes of red hibiscus and the herons floating past, so white and big it seemed as if sheets hung out to dry had suddenly taken wing. All other colours - even purple and black - were shades of green. Light and shade were degrees of green. Greenness, here, was less a colour than a colonising impulse. Everything was either already green - like a snake, bright as a blade of grass, sidling across the footpath - or in the process of becoming so. Statues of the Buddha were mossy, furred with green.”
Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It
“Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it's a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It's only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I ­always have to feel that I'm bunking off from something.”
Geoff Dyer
“Everyone was nowhere to be seen”
Geoff Dyer
“At some time all cities have this feel: in London it's at five or six on a winer evening. Paris has it too, late, when the cafes are closing up. In New York it can happen anytime: early in the morning as the light climbs over the canyon streets and the avenues stretch so far into the distance that it seems the whole world is city; or now, as the chimes of midnight hang in the rain and all the city's longings acquire the clarity and certainty of sudden understanding. The day coming to an end and people unable to evade any longer the nagging sense of futility that has been growing stronger through the day, knowing that they will feel better when they wake up and it is daylight again but knowing also that each day leads to this sense of quiet isolation. Whether the plates have been stacked neatly away or the sink is cluttered with unwashed dishes makes no difference because all these details--the clothes hanging in the closet, the sheets on the bed--tell the same story--a story in which they walk to the window and look out at the rain-lit streets, wondering how many other people are looking out like this, people who look forward to Monday because the weekdays have a purpose which vanishes at the weekend when there is only the laundry and the papers. And knowing also that these thoughts do not represent any kind of revelation because by now they have themselves become part of the same routine of bearable despair, a summing up that is all the time dissolving into everyday. A time in the day when it is possible to regret everything and nothing in the same breath, when the only wish of all bachelors is that there was someone who loved them, who was thinking of them even if she was on the other side of the world. When a woman, feeling the city falling damp around her, hearing music from a radio somewhere, looks up and imagines the lives being led behind the yellow-lighted windows: a man at his sink, a family crowded together around a television, lovers drawing curtains, someone at his desk, hearing the same tune on the radio, writing these words.”
Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
“Beware of clichés. Not just the clichés that Martin Amis is at war with. There are clichés of response as well as expression. There are clichés of observation and of thought—even of conception. Many novels, even quite a few adequately written ones, are clichés of form which conform to clichés of expectation.”
Geoff Dyer
“People say it's not what happens in your life that matters, it's what you think happened. But this qualification, obviously, did not go far enough. It was quite possible that the central event of your life could be something that didn't happen, or something you thought didn't happen. Otherwise there'd be no need for fiction, there'd only be memoirs and histories...”
Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
“The paradox is that some of the most artistically valuable contemporary photographs are content with being photographs, are not under the same compulsion to pass themselves off - or pimp themselves out - as art. The simple truth is that the best exponents of the art of contemporary photography continue to produce work that fits broadly within the tradition of what Evans termed 'documentary style'.”
Geoff Dyer, Working the Room: Essays and Reviews: 1999-2010
“A restaurant on the moon could not have had less atmosphere.”
Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It
“In the cramped confines of the toilet I had trouble getting out of my wet trousers, which clung to my legs like a drowning man. The new ones were quite complicated too in that they had more legs than a spider; either that or they didn't have enough legs to get mine into. The numbers failed to add up. Always there was one trouser leg too many or one of my legs was left over. From the outside it may have looked like a simple toilet, but once you were locked in here the most basic rules of arithmetic no longer held true.”
Geoff Dyer, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It
“In his book Real Presences, George Steiner asks us to "imagine a society in which all talk about the arts, music and literature is prohibited." In such a society there would be no more essays on whether Hamlet was mad or only pretending to be, no reviews of the latest exhibitions or novels, no profiles of writers or artists. There would be no secondary, or parasitic, discussion - let alone tertiary: commentary on commentary. We would have, instead, a "republic for writers and readers" with no cushion of professional opinion-makers to come between creators and audience. While the Sunday papers presently serve as a substitute for the experiencing of the actual exhibition or book, in Steiner's imagined republic the review pages would be turned into listings:catalogues and guides to what is about to open, be published, or be released.
What would this republic be like? Would the arts suffer from the obliteration of this ozone of comment? Certainly not, says Steiner, for each performance of a Mahler symphony is also a critique of that symphony. Unlike the reviewer, however, the performer "invests his own being in the process of interpretation." Such interpretation is automatically responsible because the performer is answerable to the work in a way that even the most scrupulous reviewer is not.
Although, most obviously, it is not only the case for drama and music; all art is also criticism. This is most clearly so when a writer or composer quotes or reworks material from another writer or composer. All literature, music, and art "embody an expository reflection which they pertain". In other words it is not only in their letters, essays, or conversation that writers like Henry James reveal themselves also to be the best critics; rather, The Portrait of a Lady is itself, among other things, a commentary on and a critique of Middlemarch. "The best readings of art are art."
No sooner has Steiner summoned this imaginary republic into existence than he sighs, "The fantasy I have sketched is only that." Well, it is not. It is a real place and for much of the century it has provided a global home for millions of people. It is a republic with a simple name: jazz.”
Geoff Dyer, But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz
“I've always liked things I can just trance out to. Because what that means is that you've escaped the chafe of time. Often when you're bored, it's that friction between you and time.”
Geoff Dyer
“The first thing to ask was how she came by her call sign. ‘When you land the jet too hard you get a maintenance code of 904. And you have to put the jet up on jacks every time you land too hard. The area code for Jacksonville is 904. In my first squadron I didn’t like to go around so I made sure to land even if it broke the jet. It did not win me many friends on the maintenance crew but it got me a call sign.”
Geoff Dyer, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush
“although I was as zealous in my anti-faith as Paul was in his belief I would be lying if I did not confess to a slight chink in my armour of nonbelief.”
Geoff Dyer, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush
“So far I’ve only read a page but I like that page a lot.”
Geoff Dyer
“I've always liked things I can just trance out to. Because whatat means is that you've escaped the chafe of time. Often when you're bored, it's that friction between you and time.”
Geoff Dyer


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Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
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But Beautiful: A Book About Jazz But Beautiful
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Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling With D.H. Lawrence Out of Sheer Rage
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