Who are you?
"Meanwhile, and by meanwhile I mean for ever, being human, whatever that is, is something we have to survive as there is no prospect of rescue..."
--Jonathon Miller, Madness, BBC2 TV, quoted by John McCrone in The Myth of Irrationality
"...everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world--no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds...not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe."
--Neil Gaiman, "I Woke Up and One of Us Was Crying," A Game of You (Sandman #37)
JUDGE: Who put you in the ranks of the poets?
BRODSKY: Nobody. Who put me in the ranks of mankind?
--Joseph Brodsky, transcript of his trial, 1964
What do you look like?
Studying a face,
Stepping back to look at a face
Leaves a little space in the way like a window,
But to see--
It's the only way to see.
--Stephen Sondheim, "Finishing the Hat," Sunday in the Park with George
What's your secret?
SWAMP THING: I came...as you...requested. I am...no longer...certain why. I know...that you will only give me...another riddle...another enigma...another senseless...destination...never...the truth.
CONSTANTINE: The truth? Is that all? Well, why didn't you say?
--Alan Moore, "Ghost Dance" (Swamp Thing #45)
"Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while. That this is the way of life, from the All-Highest down to the meanest creature in creation...but whether this is the case or no, it is still a worthy thing to open cages. It is still a virtuous act to free the imprisoned."
--Neil Gaiman, "Exiles," The Wake (Sandman #74)
What do you want to be?
Some days--just now and then--it's good to be alive. You're ready for anything. Love, adventure, death or glory--it doesn't matter which. It's the appetite that counts.
--Jamie Delano, "Waiting for the Man" (Hellblazer #4)
I want to tell you everything, everything at once. I want to explode and leave you splattered bloody with all the things I have to say--kaboom, and you're covered with me, coated, dripping, deafened by the blast. A flash of instant knowledge: knowledge, not information. Burning hot. Blinding bright. Blasting down the ingrained walls of carrion-comfort cynicism.
How can I do that? How? The peacock can show its whole tail at once, but I can only tell you a story.
--James Alan Gardner, Vigilant
What can you do?
"There is a madness needed to touch the gods, yes, this is true. Few mortals possess it, the willingness to step away from the protection of sanity. To walk into the wild wood of madness..."
--Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones (Sandman #61)
"We write our names in the sand; and then the waves roll in and wash them away. But we can leave things behind us."
--Neil Gaiman, "August," Fables and Reflections (Sandman #30)
"One thing I've learned: you can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it."
--Neil Gaiman, "Dream a Little Dream of Me," Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman #3)
What can't you do?
"We draw our personal darkness around us to keep us safe from the sun."
--Tanith Lee, Personal Darkness
PHANTOM STRANGER: Can you travel into the future, John Constantine?
CONSTANTINE: Only like everyone else, boss. You know. One minute at a time.
--Neil Gaiman, "The Road to Nowhere" (Books of Magic #4)
What is love?
Somebody crowd me with love,
Somebody force me to care.
Somebody help me come through--
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
--Stephen Sondheim, "Being Alive," Company
When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn't make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares are still walking. When we hold each other, we feel--not safe, but better. "It's all right," we whisper. "I'm here. I love you." And we lie, "I'll never leave you." For just a moment or two the darkness doesn't seem so bad. When we hold each other.
--Neil Gaiman, "Hold Me" (Hellblazer #27)
No world is safe for those who love.
--Fred Saberhagen, "Young Girl at an Open Half-door"
What is friendship?
Any time the Constantine mask was slipping, and I couldn't take the shadows any more, I'd visit them. Good people. They sheltered me, gave me refuge, kept me sane. Warmth and friendship and two fingers to the demons at the door.
--Garth Ennis, "A Drop of the Hard Stuff," Dangerous Habits (Hellblazer #42)
Are you strong?
BARON WINTER: You fought a good campaign, Constantine. You have my respect...although I'm unsure as to the exact nature of our victory.
CONSTANTINE: Victory? I don't think it was a victory, Baron...more of a no-score draw.
--Alan Moore, "The End" (Swamp Thing #50)
Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.
Only the curious
have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.
--Alastair Reid, "Curiosity"
What are you afraid of?
"No one stops telling stories. It's in the blood. Storytellers who don't tell stories aren't anything. They're nothing at all."
--Neil Gaiman, "The Parliament of Rooks," Fables and Reflections (Sandman #40)
He wouldn't understand--how some people are doomed from the word go. How they devour themselves--searching for annihilation.
--Jamie Delano, "A Feast of Friends" (Hellblazer #2)
LYTA HALL: I didn't know there was a downstairs, here.
LACHESIS: There's a downstairs in everybody. That's where we live.
--Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones (Sandman #58)
"You know the really scary thing about bad dreams? ...It's that something's going on in your head, and you can't control it. I mean, it's like there's these bad worlds inside you. But it's just you.... It's like you're betraying yourself."
--Neil Gaiman, "Bad Moon Rising," A Game of You (Sandman #34)
"You see, the thing you are most afraid of is always the thing that happens--always." The last word seared the air between us. "We make it happen, we all do, wizard and weaver alike, though I could never tell you how. Yet here you are--here you sit by me, and your worst fear has come true, it's done with, and you did not die. Indeed I do envy you, Tikat."
I thought he was mocking me. I said, "I survived. I do not know if that is the same as not dying."
--Peter S. Beagle, The Innkeeper's Song
What would you do with a million dollars?
You can't be a hero
Hiding underneath your bed,
So we'll live the life
We've created in our heads.
We'll wake up every morning
In a whole new place--
On a road reaching out into space.
--Natsuko Karedo, "I Am a Pioneer"
What would you tell the one who loves you?
What's hard is simple;
What's natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.
--Stephen Sondheim, "Anyone Can Whistle," Anyone Can Whistle
What do you want to do?
"What's the good of having mastery over cosmic balance and knowing the secrets of fate if you can't blow something up?"
--Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
"Can you help me, Mr. Venasque?"
"I can teach you how to fly. That's the first step."
"What do you mean, fly? Really, like a bird?"
I almost heard him smile. "Birds don't fly, Mr. Easterling. They live. Part of their way of living is to travel off the ground. But ask a bird how he does that and he'll look at you funny. The same when someone asks you how to walk. Put one foot in front of the other. Sure, that's the mechanics of it, but how do you walk? Or find the right balance to ride a two-wheeler bike? You do it. You find it. I can teach you where it is in you."
--Jonathan Carroll, Sleeping in Flame
"We have to live without sympathy, don't we. That's impossible of course. We act it to one another, all this hardness; but we aren't like that really. I mean...one can't be out in the cold all the time; one has to come in from the cold...do you see what I mean?"
--John le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Where do you want to be?
A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.
--Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
"The gates to Faerie are never fully closed. Come when you wish."
--Neil Gaiman, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Dream Country (Sandman #19)
What do you want?
Though I have sung the mad pleasures of wine and opium, I thirst only for a liquor unknown on earth, which the pharmaceutics of heaven itself could not afford me.
--Charles Baudelaire, "Notes for a Preface," Les Fleurs du Mal
"The imagination. That's our out. Our imagination teaches us our limits and then how to grow beyond those limits. The imagination says listen to me. I am your darkest voice. I am your 4 AM voice. I am the voice that wakes you up and says this is what I'm afraid of. Do not listen to me at your peril. The imagination is the noon voice that sees clearly and says yes, this is what I want for my life. It's there to sort out your nightmare, to show you the exit from the maze of your nightmare, to transform the nightmare into dreams that become your bedrock."
--John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation