Monday, December 07, 2009


In email or in posts at messageboards, little quotes at the end of each message have been a common sight since the beginning. Below is a series of quotes I've used over time that I rediscovered the other day when I was checking something out.

My indifference has shut me out. I live in a world of ghosts, a prisoner of dreams. I want God to put out his hand, show his face, speak to me. I cry out to him in the dark but there is no one there.
-Antonius Block, 'The Seventh Seal'

Block is of course the protagonist in Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Block here is expressing his existential crisis of faith as he struggles with Death to learn what comes after.

But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.
-Arwen Undomiel, 'The Lord of the Rings'

This passage spoken by Arwen the daughter of Elrond in an appendix of The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorites. Tolkien's elves are immortal, bound to the earth unto the end. Men on the other hand are granted at their creation the Gift: they are allowed to die and their souls pass beyond the circles of the World to heaven. Of course, immortal elves view death as a release while mortal men view death and the great unknown beyond as a punishment. Hence Arwen's words as she goes from immortality to mortality.

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.
-from "Collected Sayings of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan

This is one of Frank Herbert's epigrams attributed to the protagonist that preceded each chapter of Dune. The idea that 'hard times' and 'oppression' bring out human ingenuity in coping and overcoming is certainly not new, but Herbert's expression of the concept is eloquent.

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.
-Roy Batty, 'Blade Runner'

All the best lines from the science fiction/cyberpunk classic Blade Runner are given to the antagonist Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer). In the movie, Roy is an artificially created and enhanced being whose ranks are used by Man to fight, to work in hazardous environments and to provide sexual services. Roy escapes in order to track down his creator in a bid to obtain more life (his kind live and die in a span of only a few years). In this quote, Roy expresses to the protagonist as the protagonist hangs off a building about to fall to his doom the sense of what it is to be a slave.

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