top of page

The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade

Thomas Lynch

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Whatever’s there to feel, feel it – the riddance, the relief, the fright and freedom, the fear of forgetting, the dull ache of your own mortality. Get with someone you can trust with tears, with anger, and wonderment and utter silence. Get that part done – the sooner the better. The only way around these things is through them.”

“The flush toilet, more than any single invention, has 'civilized' us in a way that religion and law could never accomplish.”

“The advance of our technology is coincidental with the loss of our appetite for ethical questions that ought to attend the implications of these new powers. . . In the name of diversity, any idea is regarded as worthy as any other; any nonsense is entitled to a forum, a full hearing, and equal time.”

“When we bury the old, we bury the known past, the past we imagine sometimes better than it was, but the past all the same, a portion of which we inhabited. Memory is the overwhelming theme, the eventual comfort. But burying infants, we bury the future, unwieldy and unknown, full of promise and possibilities, outcomes punctuated by our rosy hopes. The grief has no borders, no limits, no known ends, and the little infant graves that edge the corners and fencerows of every cemetery are never quite big enough to contain that grief. Some sadnesses are permanent. Dead babies do not give us memories. They give us dreams.”

“They understood that the meaning of life is connected, inextricably, to the meaning of death; that mourning is a romance in reverse, and if you love, you grieve and there are no exceptions-- only those who do it well and those who don't. And if death is regarded as an embarrassment or an inconvenience, if the dead are regarded as a nuisance from whom we seek a hurried riddance, then life and the living are in for like treatment.”

“Sometimes I stand among the stones and wonder. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I weep. Sometimes nothing at all much happens. Life goes on. The dead are everywhere.”

“I will, I do, Amen, Here Here, Let's eat, drink and be merry. Marriage is the public spectacle of private parts: cheque-books and genitals, house-wares, fainthearts, all doubts becalmed by kissing aunt, a priest's safe homily, those tinkling glasses tightening those ties that truly bind us together forever, dressed to the nines. Darling, I reckon maybe thirty years, given our ages and expectancies. Barring the tragic or untimely, say, ten thousand mornings, ten thousand evenings, please God, ten thousand moistened nights like this, when, mindless of these vows, our opposites, nonetheless, attract. Thus, love's subtactraction: the timeless from the ordinary times -- nine thousand nine hundred ninety-nine.”

“I think maybe Gladstone had it right. I think my father did. They understood that the meaning of life is connected, inextricably, to the meaning of death; that mourning is a romance in reverse, and if you love, you grieve and there are no exceptions---only those who do it well and those who don't.”

“The bodies of the newly dead are not debris nor remnant, nor are they entirely icon or essence. They are, rather, changelings, incubates, hatchlings of a new reality that bear our names and dates, our image and likenesses, as surely in the eyes and ears of our children and grandchildren as did word of our birth in the ears of our parents and their parents. It is wise to treat such new things tenderly, carefully, with honor.”

“I had this theory. It was based loosely on the unremarkable observation that the old are always looking back with longing while the young, with the same longing, look ahead. One man remembers what the other imagines.”

Except where otherwise noted, all rights reserved to the author(s) of this book (mentioned above). The content of this page serves as promotional material only. If you enjoyed these quotes, you can support the author(s) by acquiring the full book from Amazon.

Book Keywords:

civilization, young, old, longing, toilet, memory, civilized

bottom of page