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Ian Frazier quotes Showing 1-14 of 14

“Every once in a while, people need to be in the presence of things that are really far away.”
Ian Frazier
“Sometimes travel is merely an opportunity taken when you can.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“America is a leap of the imagination. From its beginning, people had only a persistent idea of what a good country should be. The idea involved freedom, equality, justice, and the pursuit of happiness; nowadays most of us probably could not describe it a lot more clearly than that. The truth is, it always has been a bit of a guess. No one has ever known for sure whether a country based on such an idea is really possible, but again and again, we have leaped toward the idea and hoped. What SuAnne Big Crow demonstrated in the Lead high school gym is that making the leap is the whole point. The idea does not truly live unless it is expressed by an act; the country does not live unless we make the leap from our tribe or focus group or gated community or demographic, and land on the shaky platform of that idea of a good country which all kinds of different people share.

This leap is made in public, and it's made for free. It's not a product or a service that anyone will pay you for. You do it for reasons unexplainable by economics--for ambition, out of conviction, for the heck of it, in playfulness, for love. It's done in public spaces, face-to-face, where anyone is free to go. It's not done on television, on the Internet, or over the telephone; our electronic systems can only tell us if the leap made elsewhere has succeeded or failed. The places you'll see it are high school gyms, city sidewalks, the subway, bus stations, public parks, parking lots, and wherever people gather during natural disasters. In those places and others like them, the leaps that continue to invent and knit the country continue to be made. When the leap fails, it looks like the L.A. riots, or Sherman's March through Georgia. When it succeeds, it looks like the New York City Bicentennial Celebration in July 1976 or the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. On that scale, whether it succeeds or fails, it's always something to see. The leap requires physical presence and physical risk. But the payoff--in terms of dreams realized, of understanding, of people getting along--can be so glorious as to make the risk seem minuscule.”
Ian Frazier, On the Rez
“Siberia is so big, it’s almost more an idea than a place”
Ian Frazier
“Would Crazy Horse have spent this much to remodel a kitchen?”
Ian Frazier, On the Rez
“Scientists estimate that the Siberian permafrost holds the remains of 150 million mammoths—or about 8 million more than the 142 million Russians aboveground in Russia today.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“She said being inside a language was like being in a person's house - after a while you came to see why the teapot was where it was.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“Some settlers began with no implements but an ax. In conversation, the subject of axes--their ideal weight, their proper helves--was more popular than politics or religion. A man who made good axes, who knew the secrets of tempering the steel and getting the center of gravity right, received the celebrity of an artist and might act accordingly. The best ax maker in southern Indiana was "a dissolute, drunken genius, named Richardson." Men who really knew how to chop became famous, too. An ax blow requires the same timing of weight shift and wrist action as a golf swing, and as in golf those who where good at it taught others; sometimes all the men in one district learned their stroke from the same axman extraordinaire. A good stroke had a "sweetness" similar to the sound of a well-struck golf or tennis ball, and gave a satisfaction which moved the work along.”
Ian Frazier, Family
“It reflects like an optical instrument and responds to changes in the weather so sensitively that it seems like a part of the sky rather than of the land. And along with all that, Baikal is distinctly Asiatic: if a camel caravan could somehow transport Baikal across Siberia to Europe, and curious buyers unwrapped it in a marketplace, none would mistake it for a lake from around there.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“One very important key to maintaining our daily sanity is a simple scheduling tactic I call Putting Things the Hell Off.”
Ian Frazier, The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days
“Katya talked about how the Russian language is being destroyed by poor education and by the sloppiness of nonnative speakers who ignore case endings and have no conception of verb aspects and don't care. You find the worst speech in the street markets, she said. She called the new, bad Russian that's spreading everywhere "market language" (bazarnii yazyk).”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“In Russia, meanwhile, dedicated young people kept trying to kill the tsar.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia
“And soon all the people who had accompanied me through life would be gone, too, and then even the people who had known us, and no one would remain on earth who had ever seen us, and those descended from us perhaps would know stories about us, perhaps once in a while they would pass by buildings where where we had lived and they would mention that we had lived there. And then the stories would fade, and our graves would go untended, and no one would guess what it had been like to wake before dawn in our breath-warmed bedrooms as the radiators clanked and our wives and husbands and children slept. And we would move from the nearer regions of the dead who are remembered into the farther regions of he forgotten, an on past those, into a space as while and big as the sky replicated forever.”
Ian Frazier
“Then a beat-up car lurched into sight towing an even more beat-up car. As the cars came near, I saw that they were connected back to front by a loop made of two seat belts buckled to each other. That was the only time I ever saw a Russian use a seat belt for any purpose at all.”
Ian Frazier, Travels in Siberia


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