If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace (1867)

I see only a coincidence of occurrences such as happens with all the phenomena of life, and I see that however much and however carefully I observe the hands of the watch, and the valves and wheels of the engine, and the oak, I shall not discover the cause of the bells ringing, the engine moving, or of the winds of spring. To do that I must entirely change my point of view and study the laws of the movement of steam, of the bells, and of the wind. History must do the same.


Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

“I asked you earlier if you saw yourself reflected in your tale.”


“I do not. I MAY not. I am Prince of Stories, Will; but I have no story of my own. Nor shall I ever.”

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

“Why did you not want a tragedy? Something lofty, something dark, a tale of a noble hero with a tragic flaw?”

“I wanted a tale of graceful ends. I wanted a play about a King who drowns his books, and breaks his staff, and leaves his kingdom. About a magician who becomes a man. About a man who turns his back on magic.”

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

Ben: So…tell me about your new play. Does it go well?

Will: Not really, no. I am writing a scene in which Miranda, our virginal and innocent heroine, sits and listens as her father Prospero, the exiled and deposed Duke of Milan, and a wise magician, laboriously explains the plot to her.
I trust they will finish soon, and allow me to get on to more interesting matters.

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be un-dreamed.

Only the phoenix arises and does not descend.
And everything changes.
And nothing is truly lost.

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

Tools, of course, can be the subtlest of traps. One day, I know, I must smash the emerald. … But that day can wait.

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

I have no liking for prisons, Master Li. Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while.

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

Death’s a funny thing. I used to think it was a big, sudden thing, like a huge owl that would swoop down out of the night and carry you off. I don’t anymore. I think it’s a slow thing. Like a thief who comes to your house day after day, taking a little thing here and a little thing there, and one day you walk round your house and there’s nothing there to keep you, nothing to make you want to stay. And then you lie down and shut up for ever. Lots of little deaths until the last big one.

Hob Gadling

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

“Del…? That’s not for eating. I think it’s a table decoration.”

“It’s nice. It tastes a bit like forever.”

Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

Destiny: Matthew. You were close to our brother…

Matthew: Nobody was close to your brother. Not unless you’re talking about astronomical distances…y’know–the sun is close to Alpha Centauri… He…he wasn’t very good at close.