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Neal Stephenson Quotes

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Neal Stephenson Quote: “Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.”

Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.

— Neal Stephenson



Neal Stephenson Quote: “To condense fact from the vapor of nuance.”

To condense fact from the vapor of nuance.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.”

Well, all information looks like noise until you break the code.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Unix is not so much an operating system as an oral history.”

Unix is not so much an operating system as an oral history.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor.”

I use emacs, which might be thought of as a thermonuclear word processor.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.”

When you are wrestling for possession of a sword, the man with the handle always wins.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Boredom is a mask frustration wears.”

Boredom is a mask frustration wears.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I don’t even want you to nod, that’s how much you annoy me. Just freeze and shut up.”

I don’t even want you to nod, that’s how much you annoy me. Just freeze and shut up.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.”

It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “And it happened all the time that the compromise between two perfectly rational alternatives was something that made no sense at all.”

And it happened all the time that the compromise between two perfectly rational alternatives was something that made no sense at all.

— Neal Stephenson



Neal Stephenson Quote: “What’s hard, in hacking as in fiction, is not writing, it’s deciding what to write.”

What’s hard, in hacking as in fiction, is not writing, it’s deciding what to write.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Emacs is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful.”

Emacs is written in Lisp, which is the only computer language that is beautiful.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I think visual literacy and media literacy is not without value, but I think plain old-fashioned text literacy and mathematical literacy are much more powerful and flexible ways to organize your mind.”

I think visual literacy and media literacy is not without value, but I think plain old-fashioned text literacy and mathematical literacy are much more powerful and flexible ways to organize your mind.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defense against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.”

Nothing is more important than that you see and love the beauty that is right in front of you, or else you will have no defense against the ugliness that will hem you in and come at you in so many ways.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “The story is everything, so it always begins with a story. Research is a kind of scaffolding built underneath the story as I go along. My enjoyment level varies, but in general, I’m writing about topics I find interesting, so I can’t gripe too much.”

The story is everything, so it always begins with a story. Research is a kind of scaffolding built underneath the story as I go along. My enjoyment level varies, but in general, I’m writing about topics I find interesting, so I can’t gripe too much.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Interesting things happen along borders – transitions – not in the middle where everything is the same.”

Interesting things happen along borders – transitions – not in the middle where everything is the same.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “The sight of the bare katana inspires everyone to a practically Nipponese level of politeness.”

The sight of the bare katana inspires everyone to a practically Nipponese level of politeness.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Most Kabbalists were theorists who were interested only in pure meditation. But there were so-called ‘practical Kabbalists’ who tried to apply the power of the Kabbalah in everyday life.”

Most Kabbalists were theorists who were interested only in pure meditation. But there were so-called ‘practical Kabbalists’ who tried to apply the power of the Kabbalah in everyday life.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “So, you’re worried that a pink dragon will fly over the concent and fart nerve gas on us?”

So, you’re worried that a pink dragon will fly over the concent and fart nerve gas on us?

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Humans needed water or they would die, but dirty water killed as surely as thirst. You had to boil it before you drank it. This culture around tea was a way of tiptoeing along the knife edge between those two ways of dying.”

Humans needed water or they would die, but dirty water killed as surely as thirst. You had to boil it before you drank it. This culture around tea was a way of tiptoeing along the knife edge between those two ways of dying.

— Neal Stephenson



Neal Stephenson Quote: “Clearly Mr. Drkh has had a long career of being the weirdest person in any given room, but he’s about to go down in flames.”

Clearly Mr. Drkh has had a long career of being the weirdest person in any given room, but he’s about to go down in flames.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “How could your cover be blown in Canada? Why even bother going dark there? How could you tell?”

How could your cover be blown in Canada? Why even bother going dark there? How could you tell?

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “It is easy to look at these waves, accomplishing so little and to think that no matter what efforts we put forth in our lives, all we’re really doing is rearranging the sand grains in a beach that in essence never changes.”

It is easy to look at these waves, accomplishing so little and to think that no matter what efforts we put forth in our lives, all we’re really doing is rearranging the sand grains in a beach that in essence never changes.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Any property that’s open to common use gets destroyed. Because everyone has incentive to use it to the max, but no one has incentive to maintain it.”

Any property that’s open to common use gets destroyed. Because everyone has incentive to use it to the max, but no one has incentive to maintain it.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “It is commonly the case with technologies that you can get the best insight about how they work by watching them fail.”

It is commonly the case with technologies that you can get the best insight about how they work by watching them fail.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for may people, is not that he’s socially inept – because everybody’s been there – but rather his complete lack of embarrassment about it.”

One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for may people, is not that he’s socially inept – because everybody’s been there – but rather his complete lack of embarrassment about it.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “They knew many things but had no idea why. And strangely this made them more, rather than less, certain that they were right.”

They knew many things but had no idea why. And strangely this made them more, rather than less, certain that they were right.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Once a person has all the things they need to live, everything else is entertainment.”

Once a person has all the things they need to live, everything else is entertainment.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Most of the brain’s work is done while the brain’s owner is ostensibly thinking about something else, so sometimes you have to deliberately find something else to think and talk about.”

Most of the brain’s work is done while the brain’s owner is ostensibly thinking about something else, so sometimes you have to deliberately find something else to think and talk about.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.”

That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Constable Moore had reached the age when men can subject their bodies to the worst irritations – whisky, cigars, woolen clothes, bagpipes – without feeling a thing or, at least, without letting on.”

Constable Moore had reached the age when men can subject their bodies to the worst irritations – whisky, cigars, woolen clothes, bagpipes – without feeling a thing or, at least, without letting on.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be – or to be indistinguishable from – self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”

Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be – or to be indistinguishable from – self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “One of the problems, hanging out with me, is that I can turn any topic into a toxic horror story. I’ve lost two girlfriends and a job by reading an ingredients label out loud, with annotations, at the wrong time.”

One of the problems, hanging out with me, is that I can turn any topic into a toxic horror story. I’ve lost two girlfriends and a job by reading an ingredients label out loud, with annotations, at the wrong time.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Gold is the corpse of value...”

Gold is the corpse of value...

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Wired people should know something about wires.”

Wired people should know something about wires.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.”

Jack the sound barrier. Bring the noise.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Two tires fly. Two Wail. A bamboo grove, all chopped down From it, warring songs.”

Two tires fly. Two Wail. A bamboo grove, all chopped down From it, warring songs.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “She’s not afraid. She’s wearing a dentata.”

She’s not afraid. She’s wearing a dentata.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety.”

The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated – is that intelligent people can handle subtlety.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “She looked at me like I was crazy. Most of my lovers do, and that’s partly why they love me, and partly why they leave.”

She looked at me like I was crazy. Most of my lovers do, and that’s partly why they love me, and partly why they leave.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “We see everything from the narrator’s point of view, so exposition about the world is limited to what impinges directly on him and the story he’s telling. Considering how old the world is, we learn very little about its history, which I think is a good thing.”

We see everything from the narrator’s point of view, so exposition about the world is limited to what impinges directly on him and the story he’s telling. Considering how old the world is, we learn very little about its history, which I think is a good thing.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Ask a Soviet engineer to design a pair of shoes and he’ll come up with something that looks like the boxes that the shoes came in; ask him to make something that will massacre Germans, and he turns into Thomas “Fscking” Edison.”

Ask a Soviet engineer to design a pair of shoes and he’ll come up with something that looks like the boxes that the shoes came in; ask him to make something that will massacre Germans, and he turns into Thomas “Fscking” Edison.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I just assume I’m not invisible. I assume I’m wearing fluorescent clothes, and there’s a million-dollar bounty going to the first driver who manages to hit me. And I ride on that assumption.”

I just assume I’m not invisible. I assume I’m wearing fluorescent clothes, and there’s a million-dollar bounty going to the first driver who manages to hit me. And I ride on that assumption.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Middle class prosperity is lapidary; the flow of cash rounds and smooths a person like water does riverbed stones.”

Middle class prosperity is lapidary; the flow of cash rounds and smooths a person like water does riverbed stones.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “The full cosmos consists of the physical stuff and consciousness. Take away consciousness and it’s only dust; add consciousness and you get things, ideas, and time.”

The full cosmos consists of the physical stuff and consciousness. Take away consciousness and it’s only dust; add consciousness and you get things, ideas, and time.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “It is exciting to discover electrons and figure out the equations that govern their movement; it is boring to use those principles to design electric can openers. From here on out, it’s all can openers.”

It is exciting to discover electrons and figure out the equations that govern their movement; it is boring to use those principles to design electric can openers. From here on out, it’s all can openers.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I am on an expense account that would blow your mind.”

I am on an expense account that would blow your mind.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “The best way to know someone is to have a conversation with them.”

The best way to know someone is to have a conversation with them.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “Jad said, “The leakage was forcing choices, the making of which in no way improved matters.” Okay. So we were, in effect, locked in a room with a madman sorcerer. That clarified things a little.”

Jad said, “The leakage was forcing choices, the making of which in no way improved matters.” Okay. So we were, in effect, locked in a room with a madman sorcerer. That clarified things a little.

— Neal Stephenson


Neal Stephenson Quote: “I don’t like sewing machines. I don’t understand how a needle with a thread going through the tip of it can interlock the thread by jamming itself into a little goddamn spool. It’s contrary to nature and it irritates me.”

I don’t like sewing machines. I don’t understand how a needle with a thread going through the tip of it can interlock the thread by jamming itself into a little goddamn spool. It’s contrary to nature and it irritates me.

— Neal Stephenson

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