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Yōko Ogawa quotes (showing 1-30 of 74)

“Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it’s not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Still, being alone doesn't mean you have to be miserable. In that sense it's different from losing something. You've still got yourself, even if you lose everything else. You've got to have faith in yourself and not get down just because you're on your own.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
“He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
tags: love
“When we grow up, we find ways to hide our anxieties, our loneliness, our fear and sorrow. But children hide nothing, putting everything into their tears, which they spread liberally about for the whole world to see.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
“The Professor never really seemed to care whether we figured out the right answer to a problem. He preferred our wild, desperate guesses to silence, and he was even more delighted when those guesses led to new problems that took us beyond the original one. He had a special feeling for what he called the "correct miscalculation," for he believed that mistakes were often as revealing as the right answers.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Soon after I began working for the Professor, I realized that he talked about numbers whenever he was unsure of what to say or do. Numbers were also his way of reaching out to the world. They were safe, a source of comfort.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“A problem isn't finished just because you've found the right answer.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“...The pages and pages of complex, impenetrable calculations might have contained the secrets of the universe, copied out of God's notebook.
In my imagination, I saw the creator of the universe sitting in some distant corner of the sky, weaving a pattern of delicate lace so fine that that even the faintest light would shine through it. The lace stretches out infinitely in every direction, billowing gently in the cosmic breeze. You want desperately to touch it, hold it up to the light, rub it against your cheek. And all we ask is to be able to re-create the pattern, weave it again with numbers, somehow, in our own language; to make the tiniest fragment our own, to bring it back to eart.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Eternal truths are ultimately invisible, and you won't find them in material things or natural phenomena, or even in human emotions.”
Yōko Ogawa
“He preferred smart questions to smart answers.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Among the many things that made the Professor an excellent teacher was the fact that he wasn't afraid to say 'we don't know.' For the Professor, there was no shame in admitting you didn't have the answer, it was a necessary step toward the truth. It was as important to teach us about the unknown or the unknowable as it was to teach us what had already been safely proven.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“The room was filled with a kind of stillness. Not simply an absence of noise, but an accumulation of layers of silence...”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“For a torture to be effective, the pain has to be spread out; it has to come at regular intervals, with no end in sight. The water falls , drop after drop after drop, like the second hand of a watch, carving up time. The shock of each individual drop is insignificant, but the sensation is impossible to ignore. At first, one might manage to think about other things, but after five hours, after ten hours, it becomes unendurable. The repeated stimulation excites the nerves to a point where they literally explode, and every sensation in the body is absorbed into that one spot on the forehead---indeed, you come to feel that you are nothing but a forehead, into which a fine needle is being forced millimeter by millimeter. You can’t sleep or even speak, hypnotized by a suffering that is greater than any mere pain. In general, the victim goes mad before a day has passed.”
Yōko Ogawa, Revenge
“Solving a problem for which you know there's an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“It was clear that he didn't remember me from one day to the next. The note clipped to his sleeve simply informed him that it was not our first meeting, but it could not bring back the memory of the time we had spent together.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
tags: memory
“He seemed convinced that children's questions were much more important than those of an adult. He preferred smart questions to smart answers.”
Yōko Ogawa
“The truly correct proof is one that strikes a harmonious balance between strength and flexibility. There are plenty of proofs that are technically correct but are messy and inelegant or counterintuitive. But it's not something you can put into words — explaining why a formula is beautiful is like trying to explain why the stars are beautiful.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“I was always watching you." This could have been a breathless declaration of love or a final farewell.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
“Because he had been- and in many ways still was- such a brilliant man, he no doubt understood the nature of his memory problem. It wasn't pride that prevented him from asking for help but a deep aversion to causing more trouble than necessary for those of us who lived in the normal world.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“When I’m curled up in his arms like this, I can never tell how my body looks to him. I worry that I seem completely ridiculous, but I have the ability to squeeze into any little space he leaves for me. I fold my legs until they take up almost no room at all, and curl in my shoulders until they’re practically dislocated. Like a mummy in a tomb. And when I get like this, I don’t care if I never get out; or maybe that’s exactly what I hope will happen.”
Yōko Ogawa, Revenge
“—Mais, quelle que soit l'importance de l'événement, dès qu'il est écrit sur le papier, il ne fait plus qu'une ou deux lignes. "Mes yeux ne voyaient plus" ou "je n'avais plus un sou", il suffit d'une dizaine ou d'une vingtaine de lettres de l'alphabet. C'est pourquoi, quand on calligraphie des autobiographies, il arrive qu'on soit soulagé. On se dit que ce n'est pas la peine de trop réfléchir à tout ce qui se passe dans le monde.”
Yōko Ogawa, Les Tendres Plaintes
“I prefer pi.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“She began to sing, but I could not make out the words. It must have been a love song, to judge from the slightly pained expression on her face, and the way she tightly gripped the microphone. I noticed a flash of white skin on her neck. As she reached the climax of the song, her eyes half closed and her shoulders thrown back, a shudder passed through her body. She moved her arm across her chest to cradle her heart, as though consoling it, afraid it might burst. I wondered what would happen if I held her tight in my arms, in a lovers’ embrace, melting into one another, bone on bone… her heart would be crushed. The membrane would split, the veins tear free, the heart itself explode into bits of flesh, and then my desire would contain hers - it was all so painful and yet so utterly beautiful to imagine.”
Yōko Ogawa, Revenge
“Math has proven the existence of God, because it is absolute and without contradiction; but the devil must exist as well, because we cannot prove it”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“So you think that zero was there waiting for us when humans came into being,like the flowers and the stars? You should have more respect for human progress. We made the zero, through great pain and struggle.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Are all things quantifiable, and all numbers fraught with poetic possibility?”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“I'm sure it must have been even more wonderful then, when we were young and knew nothing about the pain of growing up.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Diving Pool: Three Novellas
“Root always showed amazing insight when it came to the Professor.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“I was impressed by the delicate weaving of the numbers. No matter how carefully you unraveled a thread, a single moment of inattention could leave you stranded, with no clue what to do next. In all his years of study, the Professor had managed to glimpse several pieces of the lace. I could only hope that some part of him remembered the exquisite pattern.”
Yōko Ogawa, The Housekeeper and the Professor
“Eternal truths are ultimately invisible, and you won't find them in material things or natural phenomena, or even in human emotions. Mathematics, however, can illuminate them, can give them expression - in fact, nothing can prevent it from doing so.”
Yōko Ogawa

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