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Utopia Avenue

David Mitchell

Top 10 Best Quotes

“My Dutch grandfather used to say, ‘If you don’t know what to do, do nothing for eight days.’ ” Dean asked, “Why eight?” “Less than eight is haste. More than eight is procrastination. Eight days is long enough for the world to shuffle the deck and deal you another hand.”

“Art is memory made public. Time wins in the long run. Books turn to dust, negatives decay, records get worn out, civilizations burn. But as long as the art endures, a song or a view or a thought or a feeling someone once thought worth keeping is saved and stays shareable. Others can say, “I feel that too.”

“Grief is the bill of love, fallen due.”

“Songs do not change the world,’ declares Jasper. ‘People do. People pass laws, riot, hear God and act accordingly. People invent, kill, make babies, start wars.’ Jasper lights a Marlboro. ‘Which begs a question. “Who or what influences the minds of the people who change the world?” My answer is “Ideas and feelings.” Which begs a question. “Where do ideas and feelings originate?” My answer is, “Others. One’s heart and mind. The press. The arts. Stories. Last, but not least, songs.” Songs. Songs, like dandelion seeds, billowing across space and time. Who knows where they’ll land? Or what they’ll bring?’ Jasper leans into the mic and, without a wisp of self-consciousness, sings a miscellany of single lines from nine or ten songs. Dean recognises, ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’, ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘The Trail of the Lonesome Pine’. Others, Dean can’t identify, but the hardboiled press pack look on. Nobody laughs, nobody scoffs. Cameras click. ‘Where will these song-seeds land? It’s the Parable of the Sower. Often, usually, they land on barren soil and don’t take root. But sometimes, they land in a mind that is ready. Is fertile. What happens then? Feelings and ideas happen. Joy, solace, sympathy. Assurance. Cathartic sorrow. The idea that life could be, should be, better than this. An invitation to slip into somebody else’s skin for a little while. If a song plants an idea or a feeling in a mind, it has already changed the world.”

“Labels. I stuck them on everything. 'Good.' 'Bad.' 'Right.' 'Wrong.' 'Square.' 'Hip.' 'Queer.' 'Normal.' 'Friend.' 'Enemy.' 'Success.' 'Failure.' They're easy to use. They save you the bother of thinking. Those labels stay stuck. They proliferate. They become a habit. Soon, they're covering everything, and everybody, up. You start thinking reality is the labels. Simple labels, written in permanent marker. The trouble is, reality's the opposite. Reality is nuanced, paradoxical, shifting. It's difficult. It's many things at once. That's why we're so crummy at it. People harp on about freedom. All the time. It's everywhere. There are riots and wars about what freedom is and who it's for. But the Queen of Freedoms is this: to be free of labels.”

“If we could read the script of the future, we'd never turn the page.”

“If a song plants an idea or a feeling in a mind, it has already changed the world.”

“Writing is a forest of faint paths, of dead-ends, hidden pits, unresolved chords, words that won’t rhyme. You can be lost in there for hours. Days, even.”

“To have your photo taken is to be told, “You exist.”

“Fuck all war. Fuck old people who start them, who send young people to die in them. Fuck the hate that war makes. And fuck people who feed that hate, even twenty years after.”

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Book Keywords:

civilizations, books, art, time, memory, feeling, shareable, thought, pubic

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