Existentialist Quotes

Quotes tagged as "existentialist" Showing 1-23 of 23
Jean-Paul Sartre
“I have crossed the seas, I have left cities behind me,
and I have followed the source of rivers towards their
source or plunged into forests, always making for other
cities. I have had women, I have fought with men ; and
I could never turn back any more than a record can spin
in reverse. And all that was leading me where ?
To this very moment...”
Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

Ernesto Sabato
“…Me anima la débil esperanza de que alguna persona llegue a entenderme. Aunque sea una sola persona. (66)”
Ernesto Sabato, El túnel

“Part of being of a true existentialist is wanting to be what we make ourselves be by the way we choose to act, as opposed to making excuses for the way we act and regretting it.”
Gary Cox, How to Be an Existentialist: or How to Get Real, Get a Grip and Stop Making Excuses

Jostein Gaarder
“There exists a world. In terms of probability this borders on the impossible. It would have been far more likely if, by chance, there was nothing at all. Then, at least, no one would have began asking why there was nothing.”
Jostein Gaarder, Maya

Jacqueline Simon Gunn
“Empty Spaces

I wanted to feel less.
To not be burdened by emotion,
To not feel sadness,
To not know loss.
I envied the inanimate,
The trees that stand proudly in winter,
Not missing their leaves.
I wanted to be weightless,
To not experience limitation.
I didn’t want time to pass,
The blur of days, months, years.
It moved too quickly,
I wanted to grasp on,
Hold it.
It eluded me,
Like light.
I wanted to preserve life before you were gone.
I didn’t want to know grief.

But the pain kept me connected.
It meant that I loved you,
It meant that I would always be a little broken,
It meant that our love filled all of the empty spaces.
It meant that you would be with me... forever.”
Jacqueline Simon Gunn

Timothy Findley
“Nothing so completely verifies our perception of a thing as our killing of it.”
Timothy Findley, The Wars

Isaac Hooke
“You are the illusion. The person in the mirror is real.”
Isaac Hooke, The Forever Gate 2

“I feel as though dispossessed from the semblances of some crystalline reality to which I’d grown accustomed, and to some degree, had engaged in as a participant, but to which I had, nevertheless, grown inexplicably irrelevant. But the elements of this phenomenon are now quickly dissolving from memory and being replaced by reverse-engineered Random Access actualizations of junk code/DNA consciousness, the retro-coded catalysts of rogue cellular activity. The steel meshing titters musically and in its song, I hear a forgotten tale of the Interstitial gaps that form pinpoint vortexes at which fibers (quanta, as it were) of Reason come to a standstill, like light on the edge of a Singularity. The gaps, along their ridges, seasonally infected by the incidental wildfires in the collective unconscious substrata.

Heat flanks passageways down the Interstices. Wildfires cluster—spread down the base trunk Axon in a definitive roar: hitting branches, flaring out to Dendrites to give rise to this release of the very chemical seeds through which sentience is begotten.

Float about the ether, gliding a gentle current, before skimming down, to a skip over the surface of a sea of deep black with glimmering waves. And then, come to a stop, still inanimate and naked before any trespass into the Field, with all its layers that serve to veil. Plunge downward into the trenches. Swim backwards, upstream, and down through these spiraling jets of bubbles. Plummet past the threshold to trace the living history of shadows back to their source virus. And acquire this sense that the viruses as a sample, all of the outlying populations withstanding: they have their own sense of self-importance, too. Their own religion. And they mine their hosts barren with the utilitarian wherewithal that can only be expected of beings with self-preservationist motives.”
Ashim Shanker, Sinew of the Social Species

Kamand Kojouri
“Don’t worry if you don’t accomplish everything in this life. Fortunately, death overcomes every thing—even the very thing that tried to kill us.”
Kamand Kojouri

Tatsuhiko Takimoto
“Take fireflies for example. Try to imagine their beauty, the evanescent beauty of their lives, which don't even last a week.

Female fireflies flash their lights only to have intercourse with the males; males twinkle just to have intercourse with the females. And once their mating has finished, they die. In short, their reproductive instinct is the single, absolute reason for fireflies to live. In that simple instinct and their simple world, no kind of sadness can intervene. This is precisely why fireflies are so fleetingly beautiful.”
Tatsuhiko Takimoto, Welcome to the N.H.K.

Milan Kundera
“This scene expresses the basic situation of immaturity; lyricism is an attempt to face that situation: the individual expelled from the protected enclosure of childhood wishes to enter the world, but at the same time, because he is frightened of it, he fashions an artificial replacement world out of his own verse. He makes his poems revolve around him like the planets around the sun; he becomes the center of a small universe in which nothing is alien, in which he feels as much at home as a child inside its mother, for everything here is fashioned only from the substance of his soul. Here he can accomplish everything that is so difficult "outside;" here he can, like the student Wolker, march with a proletarian crowd to make a revolution and, like the virginal Rimbaud, lash his "little girlfriends" because that crowd and those girlfriends are not fashioned out of the hostile substance of an alien world but out of the substance of his own dreams, and they are thus he himself and do not shatter the unity of the universe he has constructed for himself.”
Milan Kundera

Søren Kierkegaard
“You are a hater of activity in life; quite right, for before there can be any meaning in activity, life must have continuity, and this your life lacks. You occupy yourself with your studies, that is true, you are even industrious. But it is only for your own sake and is done with as little teleology as possible. Otherwise you are unoccupied; like those workers in the Gospel, you stand idle in the marketplace (Matthew 20:3). You stick your hands in your pockets and observe life. Then you rest in despair, nothing occupies you, you don’t step aside for anything: “if someone were to throw a tile down from the roof I wouldn’t get out of the way.” You are like someone dying, you die daily, not in the profound, serious sense in which one usually takes that word, but life has lost its reality and “you always reckon your lifetime from one day’s notice to quit to the next”. You let everything pass you by, it makes no impression, but then suddenly something comes which grips you, an idea, a situation, a smile from a young girl, and then you are “in touch”; for just as on some occasions you are not in touch, so at others you are in touch and of service in every way. Wherever something is going on you are “in touch”. You conduct your life as it is your custom to behave in a crowd, you “work your way into the thickest of it, trying if possible to be forced up above the others so as to be able to lie on top of them”; if you manage to get up there you “make yourself as comfortable as possible”, and this is also the way you let yourself be carried along through life. But when the crowd disperses, when the event is over, you stand once more at the street corner and look at the world. A dying person possesses, as you know, a supernatural energy, and so too with you. If there is an idea to be thought through, a work to be read through, a plan to be carried out, a little adventure to be experienced - yes, a hat to be bought, you take hold of the matter with an immense energy. According to circumstance, you work on untiringly for a day, for a month; you are happy in the assurance that you still have the same abundance of strength as before, you take no rest, “no Satan can keep up with you”. If you work together with others, you work them into the ground. But then when the month or, what you always consider the maximum, the six months have gone, you break off and say, “and that’s the end of the story”. You retire and leave it all to the other party, or if you have been working alone you talk to no one about what you were doing. You then pretend to yourself and others that you have lost the desire and flatter yourself with the vain thought that you could have kept working with the same intensity if that is what you desired. But that is an immense deception. You would have succeeded in finishing it, as most others, if you had patiently willed it so, but you would have found out at the same time that it needs a kind of perseverance quite different from yours.”
Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life

“Whereas a belief in an absurd world arises out of the fundamental disharmony of a person searching for meaning in an apparently meaninglessness universe, an existential nihilist displays impassive intellectual stoicism towards their eventual mortality while embracing a passionate artistic commitment to munity against the underlying syndrome of insignificance and confusion encasing life.”
Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Milan Kundera
“But it was not only a feeling of guilt which drove him into danger. He detested the pettiness that made life semilife and men semimen. He wished to put his life on one of a pair of scales and death on the other. He wished each of his acts, indeed each day, each hour, each second of his life to be measured against the supreme criterion, which is death. That was why he wanted to march at the head of the column, to walk on a tightrope over an abyss, to have a halo of bullets around his head and thus to grow in everyone's eyes and become unlimited as death is unlimited. . .”
Milan Kundera, Life is Elsewhere

Sarah Noffke
“Travel makes existentialists of us all.”
Sarah Noffke, Rebels

“Perhaps I can follow a heroic existential nihilist’s sterling example of surviving the harshness of reality by employing an attentive narrative examination of my recalcitrant life to extract shards of personal truth and elicit a synthesizing purposefulness of my being from the darkness, anarchy, and chaos of existence. Perhaps through the act of engaging in a deliberative examination of the ontological mystery of being and investigating the accompanying stark brutal doubt that renders a materialistic life intolerably senseless, absurd, and meaningless, I can confront the baffle of being and establish a guiding set of personal values to live by in an indifferent world. Perhaps by using the contemplative tools of narrative storytelling, I can strictly scrutinize the key leaning rubrics veiled within an array of confusing personal life experiences. Perhaps by engaging in a creative act of discovery I can blunt the pain and anguish that comes from the nightmarish experience of suffering from an existential crisis.”
Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Milan Kundera
“He was looking for immensity. His life was hopelessly small, everything surrounding him was nondescript and gray. And death is absolute; it is indivisible and indissoluble.

The presence of the girl was pathetic (a few caresses and a lot of meaningless words), but her absolute absence was infinitely grand; when he imagined a girl buried in a field, he suddenly discovered the nobility of pain and the grandeur of love.

But it was not only the absolute but also bliss he was looking for in his dreams of death.”
Milan Kundera

Walter M. Miller Jr.
“the world weighed heavily upon him. What did the world weigh? It weighs, but is not weighed. Sometimes its scales are crooked. It weighs life and labor in the balance against silver and gold. That’ll never balance. But fast and ruthless, it keeps on weighing. It spills a lot of life that way, and sometimes a little gold.”
Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

Simone de Beauvoir
“That’s what’s so wonderful about you, you’re so self-sufficient that I feel that you’ve created your own self.”
Simone de Beauvoir, The Blood of Others

Colin Wilson
“In his embryonic form, as the Outsider, he does not know himself well enough to understand the driving force behind his feelings. That is why his chief concern is with thinking, not with doing.”
Colin Wilson, The Outsider

Søren Kierkegaard
“Just as the weak, despairing person is unwilling to hear anything about any consolation eternity has for him, so a person in such despair does not want to hear anything about it, either, but for a different reason: this very consolation would be his undoing; as a denunciation of all existence. Figuratively speaking, it is as if an error slipped into an author's writing and the error became conscious of itself as an error; perhaps it actually was not a mistake but in a much higher sense an essential part of the whole production, and now this error wants to mutiny against the author, out of hatred toward him, forbidding him to correct it and in maniacal defiance saying to him: No! I refuse to be erased! I will stand as a witness against you; a witness that you are a second-rate author.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening

Johnny Rich
“He’s a typical existentialist. And that’s a contradiction in terms if ever there was one.”
Johnny Rich, The Human Script

Ivan Klíma
“Out of the fog that shrouded the countryside, softening the outlines of people and things, demonstrators emerged, flags waved and speakers rose spontaneously to address spontaneous gatherings. Mostly they were people who had not been allowed to speak for years. They clambered on to piles of rock, balanced on the rims of fountains and on pedestals of statues whose removal they demanded, just as they demanded the removal of those who had bowed down before these statues. They spun visions of how everyone's life, including Pavel's own, would quickly be transformed and rise above the poverty in which it had for so long been mired. Others, who preferred actions to words, climbed onto rooftops to remove the snow-covered symbols of yesterday's power. They pulled down street signs and fastened in their place new plaques scrawled with names that until recently had been unmentionable, and they sometimes gathered threateningly under the windows of abandoned Party secretariats, ready to break in and begin, or rather complete, the purging. In every face he saw a kind of ecstasy that looked almost sexual.”
Ivan Klíma, Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light