The Braindead Megaphone Quotes

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The Braindead Megaphone The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders
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The Braindead Megaphone Quotes (showing 1-30 of 34)
“Don't be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“Humor is what happens when we're told the truth quicker and more directly than we're used to.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“You know that feeling at the end of the day, when the anxiety of that-which-I-must-do falls away and, for maybe the first time that day, you see, with some clarity, the people you love and the ways you have, during that day, slightly ignored them, turned away from them to get back to what you were doing, blurted out some mildly hurtful thing, projected, instead of the deep love you really feel, a surge of defensiveness or self-protection or suspicion? That moment when you think, Oh God, what have I done with this day? And what am I doing with my life? And how must I change to avoid catastrophic end-of-life regrets?

I feel like that now: tired of the Me I've always been, tired of making the same mistakes, repetitively stumbling after the same small ego strokes, being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness. At the end of my life, I know I won't be wishing I'd held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me...

--"Buddha Boy”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“My heart goes out to him. Sort of. Because empathy depends on how you've spent your day.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“In a culture that is becoming ever more story-stupid, in which a representative of the Coca-Cola company can, with a straight face, pronounce, as he donates a collection of archival Coca-Cola commercials to the Library of Congress, that 'Coca-Cola has become an integral part of people's lives by helping to tell these stories,' it is perhaps not surprising that people have trouble teaching and receiving a novel as complex and flawed as Huck Finn, but it is even more urgent that we learn to look passionately and technically at stories, if only to protect ourselves from the false and manipulative ones being circulated among us.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“The generalizing writer is like the passionate drunk, stumbling into your house mumbling: I know I'm not being clear, exactly, but don't you kind of feel what I'm feeling?”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will be the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. The United States of Tom looks at misery and says: Hey, I didn't do it. It looks at inequity and says: All my life I busted my butt to get where I am, so don't come crying to me. Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege. Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around. Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies. These two parts of the American Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“It's a big world, and I really like it.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
tags: mecca
“...smile first, then speak.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“What good the prophet in the wilderness may do is incremental and personal. It's good for us to hear someone speak the irrational truth. It's good for us when, in spite of all of the sober, pragmatic, and even correct arguments that war is sometimes necessary someone says: war is large-scale murder, us at our worst, the stupidest guy doing the cruelest thing to the weakest being.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“Now I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another. The writer gets no points just because what's inside the box bears some linear resemblance to "real life" -- he can put whatever he wants in there. What's important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“A culture's ability to understand the world and itself is critical to its survival. But today we are led into the arena of public debate by seers whose main gift is their ability to compel people to continue to watch them. ”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“The mind is a machine that is constantly asking: What would I prefer? Close your eyes, refuse to move, and watch what your mind does. What it does is become discontent with That Which Is. A desire arises, you satisfy that desire, and another arises in its place. This wanting and rewanting is an endless cycle for which, turns out, there is already a name: samsara. Samsara is at the heart of the vast human carnival: greed, neurosis, mad ambition, adultery, crimes of passion, the hacking to death of a terrified man on a hillside in the name of A More Pure And Thus Perfect Nation--and all of this takes place because we believe we will be made happy once our desires have been satisfied.

I know this. But still I'm full of desire... --"Buddha Boy”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“Just before I doze off, I counsel myself grandiosely: Fuck concepts. Don't be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“Vonnegut's war was necessary. And yet it was massacre and screaming and confusion and blood and death. It was the mammoth projection outward of the confused inner life of men. In war, the sad tidy constructs we make to help us believe life is orderly and controllable are roughly thrown aside like the delusions they are. In war, love is outed as an insane, insupportable emotion, a kind of luxury emotion, because everywhere you look, someone beloved to someone is being slaughtered, by someone whose own beloved has been slaughtered, or will be, or could be.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“I have lunch, flirt with some local grandmothers, undercut my flirting by crotching myself on the corner of a table as I leave. -- "The Great Divider”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“...There is no end to the making and selling of things there is no end to the making and selling of things there is no end...

Man, it occurs to me, is a joyful, buying-and-selling piece of work. I have been wrong, dead wrong, when I've decried consumerism. Consumerism is what we are. It is, in a sense, a holy impulse. A human being is someone who joyfully goes in pursuit of things, brings them home, then immediately starts planning how to get more.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“At times, they're so Right and I'm so Left, we agree.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“...if we define Megaphone as the composite of hundreds of voices we hear each day that come to us from people we don't know, via high-tech sources, it's clear that a significant and ascendant component of that voice has become bottom-dwelling, shrill, incurious, ranting, and agenda-driven. It strives to antagonize us, make us feel anxious, ineffective, and alone; convince us that the world is full of enemies and of people stupider and less agreeable than ourselves; is dedicated to the idea that, outside the sphere of our immediate experience, the world works in a different, more hostile, less knowable manner. This braindead tendency is viral and manifests intermittently; while it is the blood in the veins of some of your media figures, it flickers on and off in others. ”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“We consider speech to be the result of thought (we have a thought, then select a sentence with which to express it), but thought also results from speech (as we grope, in words, toward meaning, we discover what we think).”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“Working with language is a means by which we can identify the bullshit within ourselves (and others).”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“By honing the sentences you used to describe the world, you changed the inflection of your mind, which changed your perceptions.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“And next time we hear someone saying something like, 'We are pursuing this strategy because other strategies, when we had considered them, we concluded that, in terms of overall effectiveness, they were not sound strategies, which is why we enacted the one we are now embarked upon, which our enemies would like to see us fail, due to they hate freedom,' we will wait to see if the anchorperson cracks up, or chokes back a sob of disgust, and if he or she does not, we'll feel a bit insane, and therefore less confident, and therefore more passive.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“The mind, it occurs to me, is an engine. There is an ambient mode in which the mind sits idling, before there is information. Some minds idle in a kind of dreading crouch, waiting to be offended. Others stand up straight, eyes slightly wide, expecting to be pleasantly surprised. Some minds, imaging the great What Is Out There, imagine it intends doom for them; others imagine there is something out there that may be suffering and in need of their help.
Which is right?
Neither.
Both.
Maybe all of our politics is simply neurology writ large. Maybe there are a finite number of idling modes. Maybe there are just two broad modes, and out of this fact comes our current division.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“The best stories proceed from a mysterious truth-seeking impulse that narrative has when revised extensively; they are complex and baffling and ambiguous; they tend to make us slower to act, rather than quicker. They make us more humble, cause us to empathize with people we don’t know, because they help us imagine these people, and when we imagine them—if the storytelling is good enough—we imagine them as being, essentially, like us. If the story is poor, or has an agenda, if it comes out of a paucity of imagination or is rushed, we imagine those other people as essentially unlike us: unknowable, inscrutable, incontrovertible.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“A culture capable of imagining complexly is a humble culture. It acts, when it has to act, as late in the game as possibl, and as cautiously, because it knows its girth and the tight confines of the china shop it's blundering into. And it knows that no matter how well prepared it is -- no matter how ruthlessly it has held its projections up to intelligent scrutiny -- the place it is headed for is going to very different from the place it imagined. The shortfall between the imagined and the real, multiplied by the violence of one's intent, equals the evil one will do.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“If at the moment when someone cuts us off in traffic or breaks our heart or begins bombing our ancestral village, we could withdraw from judging mode, and enter this other, more accepting mode, we could paradoxically, make ourselves more powerful. By resisting the urge to reduce, in order to subsequently destroy, we keep alive - if only for a few seconds more - the possibility of transformation. -The Thought Experiment”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“The writer,' said Donald Barthelme, 'is one who, embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.' In this mode of not-knowing, the thick-torsoed, literal, and crew-cut mind is moved to the sidelines in favor of the swinging, perceptive, light-footed, tutu-wearing subconscious.”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone
“A fortunate birth, in other words, is a shock absorber." -The Thought Experiment”
George Saunders, The Braindead Megaphone

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