Top 100

Top 70 Ben Lerner Quotes (2024 Update)

Ben Lerner Quote: “What interests me about fiction is, in part, its flickering edge between realism and where a tear in the fabric of a story lets in some other sort of light.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Shaving is a way to start the workday by ritually not cutting your throat when you’ve the chance.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I’ll work my way from irony to sincerity in the sinking city, a would-be Whitman of the vulnerable grid.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The scare quotes burn off like fog.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “What normally felt like the only possible world became one among many.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Art has to offer something other than stylized despair.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “When I was a kid and we played baseball we used to use that “eye black” stuff sometimes – that kind of grease you put under your eyes to reduce glare or something. We only used it, of course, to look cool; it’s not like we were any better prepubescent athletes for reducing glare.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Since the world is ending,” Peter quoted from behind us, “why not let the children touch the paintings?”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Few real people appear in my two novels, actually. “Ari” appears on the edge of this book a couple of times – but on the edge, she’s never in it, even if she’s a determining force from the outside. Everybody in the first book was basically made up, if never from scratch.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The transpersonal is more awe-inspiring, more exciting than the thing we confuse it for.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The problem is that if you’re self-conscious about being a person on whom nothing is lost, isn’t something lost – some kind of presence? You’re distracted by trying to be totally, perfectly impressionable.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The fatal problem with poetry: poems.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I think that sexual pleasure and the weird color of the sky after a storm or the stream of tail lights across the bridge or the way silence can thin or thicken before music starts – all these things have to be harnessed by the political. The libidinal has to be harnessed by the political.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I was a violent, bipolar, compulsive liar. I was a real American.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I wasn’t aware I’d write the novel when I wrote the New Yorker story either. And the narration of their construction in 10:04 is fiction, however flickering.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I came to realize that far more important to me than any plot or conventional sense was the sheer directionality I felt while reading prose, the texture of time as it passed, life’s white machine.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “If I was a poet, I had become one because poetry, more intensely than any other practice, could not evade its anachronism and marginality and so constituted a kind of acknowledgment of my own preposterousness, admitting my bad faith in good faith, so to speak.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Every relationship can feel saturated by market logic or at best purchased at the price of the immiseration of others.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I promise to pass through a series of worlds with you,” I remembered from her vows.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I’ll project myself into several futures simultaneously,” I should have said, “a minor tremor in my hand; I’ll work my way from irony to sincerity in the sinking city, a would-be Whitman of the vulnerable grid.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Are there are fireflies on the West Coast? I never saw any when I lived in California.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Poetry arises from the desire to get beyond the finite and the historical – the human world of violence and difference – and to reach the transcendent or divine. You’re moved to write a poem, you feel called upon to sing, because of that transcendent impulse. But as soon as you move from that impulse to the actual poem, the song of the infinite is compromised by the finitude of its terms.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “The language of poetry is the exact opposite of the language of mass media,” I said, meaninglessly.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “When the narrator feels like an octopus, when he says his limbs are starting to multiply, he means he has inklings of orders of perception beyond his individual body.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I guess when I’m frightened or in pain or maybe very bored I’ve tried to hold myself together by imposing a narrative order on the experience as it happens.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Fiction doesn’t appeal to me because it can describe physical appearances exhaustively or because it can offer access to the inner depths of an array of human characters – neither that kind of “realism” of bodily surfaces nor of individual psychologies seems particularly realistic to me.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Maybe now if you’re not an exhibitionist you’re private. Or maybe it’s just that for a lot of people – sometimes in interesting ways, sometimes in stupid ways – there’s no division between the art object and what surrounds it.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Laser technology has fulfilled our people’s ancient dream of a blade so fine that the person it cuts remains standing and alive until he moves and cleaves. Until we move, none of us can be sure that we have not already been cut in half, or in many pieces, by a blade of light. It is safest to assume that our throats have already been slit, that the slightest alteration in our postures will cause the painless severance of our heads.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “On the one hand, Klaus, surely the only man in Topeka outfitted in white linen, could not take these kids – with their refrigerators full of food, their air-conditioning and television, their freedom from stigma or state violence – seriously; what could be more obvious than the fact that they did not know what suffering was, that if they suffered from anything it was precisely this lack of suffering, a kind of neuropathy that came from too much ease, too much sugar, a kind of existential gout?”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Maybe that’s the way I’m private – I respect the privacy of “my” characters? Anyway, we’re getting close to the whole “relatability” and “likability” thing.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Nothing is a cliche when you’re living it.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “And because his narrator was characterized above all by his anxiety regarding the disconnect between his internal experience and his social self-presentation, the more intensely the author worried about distinguishing himself from the narrator, the more he felt he had become him.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I remember I had this recurring dream that we were playing a night game and instead of eye black we had mashed up the glowing bodies of fireflies and put that under our eyes. So our faces were glowing – a kind of night vision.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I usually see the word “metafiction” applied to works that draw attention to their own devices, their own artificiality, in order to mock novelistic convention and show the impossibility of capturing a reality external to the text or whatever.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “My concern is how we live fictions, how fictions have real effects, become facts in that sense, and how our experience of the world changes depending on its arrangement into one narrative or another.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Henry James claim that if you want to be a novelist you should be somebody on whom nothing is lost.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Maggie Nelson cuts through our culture’s prefabricated structures of thought and feeling with an intelligence whose ferocity is ultimately in the service of love. No piety is safe, no orthodoxy, no easy irony. The scare quotes burn off like fog.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I think the anti-intellectualism of a lot of contemporary fiction is a kind of despairing of literature’s ability to be anything more than perfectly bound blog posts or transcribed sitcoms.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Just in case God isn’t dead, our astronauts carry sidearms.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Many of the left thinkers that really matter to me – that formed a big part of my thinking about politics and art – emphasize how capitalism is a totality, how there’s no escape from it, no outside.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Happy were the ages when the starry sky was the map of all possible paths, ages of such perfect social integration that no drug was required to link the hero to the whole.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “How much easier it would be if when you played them slowly in reverse the lyrics really did, as some hysterical parents feared, reveal satanic messages; if there were a backmasked secret order, however dark, instead of rage at emptiness.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I don’t think “I’m going to publish this as fiction” but I think “I’m going to tell this story to a friend” and then I start telling the story in my mind as the experience transpires as a way of pretending it’s already happened.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I believe she imbued my body thus, finding every touch enhanced by ambiguity of intention, as if it too required translation, and so each touch branched out, became a variety of touches.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “I’ve been building a fiction in part around the Marfa poem since my brief residency there, which has kept it from receding into the past.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Think about how often – before cell phones, before any kind of caller ID – you answered the landline as a child and had to have an exchange, however brief, with aunts or uncles or family friends. Even if it was that five-second check-in, How are you doing, how is school, is your mom around – it meant periodic real-time vocal contact with an extended community, which, through repetition, it reinforced.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Most of us start from that position of irony now and what I wanted to do – really felt like I had to do if I was going to write another novel – was move towards something like sincerity.”
Ben Lerner Quote: “Anyway I read more contemporary poetry than contemporary fiction so my mind goes first to a kind of crass “conceptualism” that repeats vanguard gestures of the past minus the politics and historical context.”
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