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Wild Ducks Flying Backward

Tom Robbins

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Are You Ready for New Urban Fragrances? Yeah, I guess I'm ready, but listen: Perfume is a disguise. Since the middle ages, we have worn masks of fruit and flowers in order to conceal from ourselves the meaty essence of our humanity. We appreciate the sexual attractant of the rose, the ripeness of the orange, more than we honor our own ripe carnality. Now today we want to perfume our cities, as well; to replace their stinging fumes of disturbed fossils' sleep with the scent of gardens and orchards. Yet, humans are not bees any more than they are blossoms. If we must pull an olfactory hood over our urban environment, let it be of a different nature. I want to travel on a train that smells like snowflakes. I want to sip in cafes that smell like comets. Under the pressure of my step, I want the streets to emit the precise odor of a diamond necklace. I want the newspapers I read to smell like the violins left in pawnshops by weeping hobos on Christmas Eve. I want to carry luggage that reeks of the neurons in Einstein's brain. I want a city's gases to smell like the golden belly hairs of the gods. And when I gaze at a televised picture of the moon, I want to detect, from a distance of 239,000 miles, the aroma of fresh mozzarella.”

“Among our egocentric sad-sacks, despair is as addictive as heroin and more popular than sex, for the single reason that when one is unhappy one gets to pay a lot of attention to oneself. Misery becomes a kind of emotional masturbation.”

“Our great human adventure is the evolution of consciousness. We are in this life to enlarge the soul, liberate the spirit, and light up the brain.”

“He who jokes in the executioners face can be destroyed, but never defeated.”

“Serious reading is hardly a social activity and every halfway serious reader is perpetually subject to a form of coitus interruptus. Family members or friends who lack the desire, the courage, or the opportunity to burst in on you when there's some indication that you could be sexually entwined will seldom hesitate to interject themselves between you and a page, even though the act of reading is often as intimate and intense as a full-fledged carnal embrace. You must take steps to ensure your privacy.”

“I can only hope that, upon learning of my imminent execution, Good Samaritans in Colorado will be moved to ship me a plump love apple from their backyard patch - and should they happen to be friendly with Hunter S. Thompson, perhaps persuade him to inject it with a little something beforehand. Hunter will know just what I mean, and trust me, it won't affect the taste of the tomato.* *When I wrote those lines, Thompson was alive and blooming. Now, with his sad demise, still more color has faded out of the American scene. Where are the men today whose lives are not beige; where are the writers whose style is not gray?”

“There is evidence that the honoree [Leonard Cohen] might be privy to the secret of the universe, which, in case you're wondering, is simply this: Everything is connected. Everything. Many, if not most, of the links are difficult to determine. The instrument, the apparatus, the focused ray that can uncover and illuminate those connections is language.”

“Maybe what I admired most about John Steinbeck is that he never mortgaged his 45-acre heart for a suite in an ivory tower.”

“In actuality, myths are neither fiction nor history. Nor are most myths—and this will surprise some people—an amalgamation of fiction and history. Rather, a myth is something that never happened but is always happening. Myths are the plots of the psyche. They are ongoing, symbolic dramatizations of the inner life of the species, external metaphors for internal events. As Campbell used to say, myths come from the same place dreams come from. But because they’re more coherent than dreams, more linear and refined, they are even more instructive. A myth is the song of the universe, a song that, if accurately perceived, explains the universe and our often confusing place in it. It is only when it is allowed to crystallize into “history” that a myth becomes useless—and possibly dangerous. For example, when the story of the resurrection of Jesus is read as a symbol for the spiritual rebirth of the individual, it remains alive and can continually resonate in a vital, inspirational way in the modern psyche. But when the resurrection is viewed as historical fact, an archival event that occurred once and only once, some two thousand years ago, then its resonance cannot help but flag. It may proffer some vague hope for our own immortality, but to our deepest consciousness it’s no longer transformative or even very accessible on an everyday basis. The self-renewing model has atrophied into second-hand memory and dogma, a dogma that the fearful, the uninformed, and the emotionally troubled feel a need to defend with violent action.”

“But mostly, finally, ultimately, I'm here for the weather. As a result of the weather, ours is a landscape in a minor key, a sketchy panorama where objects, both organic and inorganic, lack well-defined edges and tent to melt together, creating a perpetual blurred effect, as if God, after creating Northwestern Washington, had second thoughts and tried unsuccessfully to erase it. Living here is not unlike living inside a classical Chinese painting before the intense wisps of mineral pigment had dried upon the silk - although, depending on the bite in the wind, they're times when it's more akin to being trapped in a bad Chinese restaurant; a dubious joint where gruff waiters slam chopsticks against the horizon, where service is haphazard, noodles soggy, wallpaper a tad too green, and considerable amounts of tea are spilt; but in each and every fortune cookie there's a line of poetry you can never forget. Invariably, the poems comment on the weather. In the deepest, darkest heart of winter, when the sky resembles bad banana baby food for months on end, and the witch measles that meteorologists call "drizzle" are a chronic gray rash on the skin of the land, folks all around me sink into a dismal funk. Many are depressed, a few actually suicidal. But I, I grow happier with each fresh storm, each thickening of the crinkly stratocumulus. "What's so hot about the sun?" I ask. Sunbeams are a lot like tourists: intruding where they don't belong, promoting noise and forced activity, faking a shallow cheerfulness, dumb little cameras slung around their necks. Raindrops, on the other hand, introverted, feral, buddhistically cool, behave as if they were locals. Which, of course, they are.”

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Book Keywords:

coitus-interruptus, sunbeams, city, humor, pnw, rain, clouds, senses, raindrops, language, john-steinbeck, inspirational, washington, weather

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