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Tim O'Brien Quotes
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Tim O'Brien Quote: “What happened, and what might have happened?”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I live in my head all day long and the world is a little dreamy.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “In a true war story, if there’s a moral at all, it’s like the thread that makes the cloth. You can’t tease it out. You can’t extract the meaning without unraveling the deeper meaning. And in the end, really, there’s nothing much to say about a true war story, except maybe “Oh.” True war stories do not generalize. They do not indulge in abstraction or analysis. For.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Because it’s all relative. You’re pinned down in some filthy hellhole of a paddy, getting your ass delivered to kingdom come, but then for a few seconds everything goes quiet and you look up and see the sun and a few puffy white clouds, and the immense serenity flashes against your eyeballs – the whole world gets rearranged – and even though you’re pinned down by a war you’ve never felt more at peace.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “There was the single abiding certainty that they would never be at a loss for things to carry.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It’s not just the embarrassment of tears. That’s part of it, no doubt, but what embarrasses me much more, and always will, is the paralysis that took my heart. A moral freeze: I couldn’t decide, I couldn’t act, I couldn’t comport myself with even a pretense of modest human dignity.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It wasn’t a question of deceit. Just the opposite; he wanted to heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A lot like yesterday, a lot like never.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “He had an opinion of himself, I think, that was too high for his own good. Or maybe it was the reverse. Maybe it was a low opinion that he kept trying to erase.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The presence of danger has a way of making you feel fully awake.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Men killed, and died, because they were embarrassed not to.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “But I do like churches. The way it feels inside. It feels good when you just sit there, like you’re in a forest and everything’s really quiet, expect there’s still this sound you can’t hear.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “There were red checkers and black checkers. The playing field was laid out in a strict grid, no tunnels or mountains or jungles. You knew where you stood. You knew the score. The pieces were out on the board, the enemy was visible, you could watch the tactics unfolding into larger strategies. There was a winner and a loser. There were rules.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I guess we’re really brothers, aren’t we? Don’t know what that means, except it means that some of the same things we remember.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Did I choose this life of illusion? Don’t be mad. My bed was made, I just lied in it.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “There is always the threat of tomorrow’s treachery, or next year’s treachery, or the treachery implicit in all the tomorrows beyond that.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I cannot remember much, I cannot feel much. Maybe erasure is necessary. Maybe the human spirit defends itself as the body does, attacking infection, enveloping and destroying those malignancies that would otherwise consume us.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “We are fascinated, all of us, by the implacable otherness of others. And we wish to penetrate by hypothesis, by daydream, by scientific investigation those leaden walls that encase the human spirit, that define it and guard it and hold it forever inaccessible.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “But in a story I can steal her soul.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “He hated her. Yes, he did. He hated her. Love, too, but it was a hard, hating kind of love.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Can the foot soldier teach anything important about war, merely for having been there? I think not. He can tell war stories.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Imagination, like reality, has its limits.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Whenever he told the story, Rat had a tendency to stop now and then, interrupting the flow, inserting little clarifications or bits of analysis and personal opinion. It was a bad habit, Mitchell Sanders said, because all that matters is the raw material, the stuff itself, and you can’t clutter it up with your own half-baked commentary. That just breaks the spell. It destroys the magic. What you have to do, Sanders said, is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “A place where your life exists before you live it, and where it goes afterwards.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “If you don’t care for obscenity, you don’t care for the truth; if you don’t care for the truth, watch how you vote.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “In the interests of truth, however, I want to make it clear that Norman Bowker was in no way responsible for what happened to Kiowa. Norman did not experience a failure of nerve that night. He did not freeze up or lose the Silver Star for valor. That part of the story is my own.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The day was cloudy. I passed through towns with familiar last names, through the pine forests and down to the prairie, and then to Vietnam, where I was a soldier, and then home again. I survived, but it’s not a happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “In a way I wanted to stop myself. It was cruel, I knew that, but right and wrong were somewhere else.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey. They were not love letters, but Lieutenant Cross was hoping, so he kept them folded in plastic at the bottom of his rusack. In the late afternoon, after a day’s march, he would dig his foxhole, wash his hands under a canteen, unwrap the letters, hold them with the tips of his fingers, and spend the last hour of light pretending.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Looking back after twenty years, I sometimes wonder if the events of that summer didn’t happen in some other dimension, a place where your life exists before you’ve lived it, and where it goes afterward.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Laughter does not deny pain. Laughter – like a wail – acknowledges and replies to pain.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Each of us, I suppose needs his illusions. Life after death. A maker of planets. A woman to love, a man to hate. Something sacred. But what a waste.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Don’t throw away luck on little stuff. Save it up.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “You learn, finally, that you’ll die, and so you try to hang on to your own life, that gentle, naive kid you used to be, but then after a while the sentiment takes over, and the sadness, because you know for a fact that you can’t ever bring any of it back again. You just can’t.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Everyone acts stupid at some time in order to be loved.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “On occasions the war was like a Ping-Pong ball. You could put fancy spin on it, you could make it dance.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It had nothing to do with morality. Embarrassment, that’s all it was. And right then I submitted. I would go to the war – I would kill and maybe die – because I was embarrassed not to.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Inside I feel much like a 12-year-old or a 17-year-old who knows big words.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “I hated him for making me stop hating him.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Why do our politicians put warnings on cigarette packs and not on their own foreheads?”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Knowledge, of course, is always imperfect, but it seemed to me that when a nation goes to war it must have reasonable confidence in the justice and imperative of its cause. You can’t fix your mistakes. Once people are dead, you can’t make them undead.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness. Greased they’d say. Offed, lit up, zapped while zipping. It wasn’t cruelty, just stage presence. They were actors. When someone died, it wasn’t quite dying, because in a curious way it seemed scripted, and because they had their lives mostly memorized, irony mixed with tragedy, and because they called it by other names, as if to encyst and destroy the reality of death itself.”
Tim O'Brien Quote: “Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”
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