The Anthologist Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
The Anthologist (The Paul Chowder Chronicles #1) The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
3,545 ratings, 3.76 average rating, 762 reviews
Open Preview
The Anthologist Quotes (showing 1-27 of 27)
“I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“But spending your life concentrating on death is like watching a whole movie and thinking only about the credits that are going to roll at the end. It’s a mistake of emphasis.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“Carpe diem' doesn't mean seize the day--it means something gentler and more sensible. 'Carpe diem' means pluck the day. Carpe, pluck. Seize the day would be "cape diem," if my school Latin servies. No R. Very different piece of advice. What Horace had in mind was that you should gently pull on the day's stem, as if it were, say, a wildflower or an olive, holding it with all the practiced care of your thumb and the side of your finger, which knows how to not crush easily crushed things--so that the day's stalk or stem undergoes increasing tension and draws to a thinness, and a tightness, and then snaps softly away at its weakest point, perhaps leaking a little milky sap, and the flower, or the fruit, is released in your hand. Pluck the cranberry or blueberry of the day tenderly free without damaging it, is what Horace meant--pick the day, harvest the day, reap the day, mow the day, forage the day. Don't freaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at a fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it. That's not the kind of man that Horace was.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“You can tell it's a poem because it's swimming in a little gel pack of white space. That shows it's a poem.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“Sometimes I'll spend an hour writing a tiny email. I work on it until I've created the illusion that I've dashed it off in three minutes. If I make a typo, I let it stand. Sometimes in fact I correct the typo without thinking, and then I back up and retype the typo so that it'll look more casual. I don't know why.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“You need the art in order to love the life.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“Poetry is prose in slow motion.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“At some point you have to set aside snobbery and what you think is culture and recognize that any random episode of Friends is probably better, more uplifting for the human spirit, than ninety-nine percent of the poetry or drama or fiction or history every published. Think of that. Of course yes, Tolstoy and of course yes Keats and blah blah and yes indeed of course yes. But we're living in an age that has a tremendous richness of invention. And some of the most inventive people get no recognition at all. They get tons of money but not recognition as artists. Which is probably much healthier for them and better for their art.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“And then a man of forty or so, with a French accent, asked, "How do you achieve the presence of mind to initiate the writing of a poem?" And something cracked open in me, and I finally stopped hoarding and told them my most useful secret. The only secret that has helped me consistently over all the years that I've written. I said, "Well, I'll tell you how. I ask a simple question. I ask myself: What was the very best moment of your day??" The wonder of it was, I told them that this one question could lift out from my life exactly what I will want to write a poem about. Something I hadn't known was important will leap out and hover there in front of me, saying I am— I am the best moment of the day. I noticed two people were writing down what I was saying. Often, I went on, it's a moment when you're waiting for someone, or you're driving somewhere, or maybe you're just walking across a parking lot and admiring the oil stains and the dribbled tar patterns. One time it was when I was driving past a certain house that was screaming with sunlitness on its white clapboards, and then I plunged through tree shadows that splashed and splayed across the windshield. I thought, Ah, of course— I'd forgotten. You, windshield shadows, you are the best moment of the day. "And that's my secret, such as it is," I said.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“So what rhyming poems do is they take all these nearby sound curves and remind you that they first existed that way in your brain. Before they meant something specific, they had a shape and a way of being said. And now, yes, gloom and broom are floating fifty miles away from each other in you mind because they refer to different notions, but they're cheek-by-jowl as far as your tongue is concerned. And that's what a poem does. Poems match sounds up the way you matched them when you were a tiny kid, using that detachable front phoneme. ”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“Notes of joy have a special STP solvent in them that dissolves all the gluey engine deposits of heartache. War and woe don't have anything like the range and reach that notes of joy do.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“I made an egg salad sandwich and took a bite of it over the open silverware drawer. A piece of egg salad fell in among the forks. I swore softly with my mouth full. Another piece of egg salad fell in.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“There's something narcissistic in the phrase "collected poems." Who's collecting them? The poem. How hard is that? That's not a real collection. Now if he had made a collection of water fountains, or of oven mitts, that would be a collection. Or if he'd collected editions of Festus, the long mad poem written somewhere in the nineteenth century by a lost soul named Bailey--that would be an achievement. But collecting your own poems? What's so great about that? And mixing and mingling them in with some new? New and and Collected Poems? Oh, well! Good job. Nice going.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“All my tips and tricks and woes and worries are gong to come tumbling out before you. I'm going to divulge them. What a juicy work that is, 'divulge.' Truth opening its petals. Truth smells like Chinese food and sweat.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“You have to suffer in order to be a human being who can help people understand suffering.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“One French guy at a bar wanted several of us to "faire le parachutisme." He said it was easy, you just jumped out of a plane. It sounded very exciting but no, thank you. He said "I'm not a homo." I said it's not a question of whether or not you're a homo, I just don't want to jump out of a plane.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“And I'll flip through the newest issue, walking back from my blue mailbox, hunting for the poem he chose over mine, and it'll be the same thing as always. The prose will have pulled back, and the poem will be there, cavorting, saying, I'm a poem, I'm a poem. No, you're not! You're an impostor, you're a toy train of pretend stanzas of chopped garbage. Just like my poem was.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“And now I'm back outside again sitting in the white plastic chair looking at the dew on the gas cap of my car. A fly wants to bit me on the ankle. The mosquitoes are all asleep. They're just not out at this hour. Only one biting fly. And a mourning dove, who blows through his thumbs to make that sound.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“Poetry is a controlled refinement of sobbing.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“The two plants had a gentleman's agreement going, like the railroad companies and the real-estate speculators in the old days, whereby they progressed together up the hill and into the yard.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because you the truth is hard to see, because it exists in a misty, gray non-space between two strongly charged falsehoods that sound true but aren't.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“One day the English language is going to perish. The easy spokenness of it will perish and go black and crumbly — maybe — and it will become a language like Latin that learned people learn. And scholars will write studies of Larry Sanders and Friends and Will & Grace and Ellen and Designing Women and Mary Tyler Moore, and everyone will see that the sitcom is the great American art form. American poetry will perish with the language; the sitcoms, on the other hand, are new to human evolution and therefore will be less perishable.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“So the first thing about the history of rhyme . . . is that it’s all happened before. It’s all part of these huge rhymeorhythmic circles of exuberance and innovation and surfeit and decay and resurrectional primitivism and waxing sophistication and infill and overgrowth and too much and we can’t stand it and let’s stop and do something else.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because the truth is hard to see, because it exists in a misty, gray non-space between two strongly charged falsehoods that sound true but aren't.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“anthology knowledge isn't real knowledge.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“The thing about life is that life is an infinite subject matter. At any one moment you can say only what' before your mind just then. You have some control over what comes before your mind - you can influence the influx by reading, or by looking through your old notes, or by going to movies, or by talking to people, and you can choose what room of the house or what corner of the yard to sit in, and you can choose to write before or after you've masturbated - this is crucial - and you can choose to tell the truth or not to. And the difficult is that sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because you think that the truth is too personal, or too boring, to tell. Or both. And sometimes it's hard to tell the truth because the truth is hard to see, because it exists in a misty, gray non-space between two strongly charged falsehoods that sound true but aren't.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist
“The address of the Tip O'Neill building is 10 Causeway Street. It may be torn down soon, because it is one of the most wonderfully unsightly buildings ever constructed. In the eighties they blew up a grand hotel that had gone seedy, and in its place they built this shrine to Congressman Tip O'Neill. It houses all the federal offices - the office of Social Security, and the Firearms Legitimization Bureau, the Bioshock Informant Management Corps, and the Soy Protein Tax Credit Administration, and the Federal Security Corn Slab Ektachrome Mediocrity Desk, plus another twelve important outposts of American impotence. And it has wireless Internet.”
Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist

All Quotes
Quotes By Nicholson Baker
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game