If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

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

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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.

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

the envoy O’Shaughnessy: Sir Librarian–the young lord in white…who was he?

Lucien: He is Dream of the Endless.

envoy: He is…? But the wake. That ceremony. I was told that Dream of the Endless was no more.

Lucien: Yes.

envoy: So…who died?

Lucien: Nobody died. How can you kill an idea? How can you kill the personification of an action?

envoy: Then what died? Who are you mourning?

Abel: A puh-point of view.

Mikal Gilmore – intro to The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

…and it’s Dream’s recognition of his shortcomings that finally allows him to win whatever redemption he pulls off–that makes him, finally, a real hero. Heroes, remember, weren’t always very nice folks. In fact, many of the classical ones–not to mention quite a few of the real-life historical ones–were vain, murderous, or otherwise interestingly fucked-up. The idea of the uncomplicated hero … is a fairly modern-day work of misfortune.

Mikal Gilmore – intro to The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

(I also realize that my ideas might run strongly contrary to Gaiman’s own view of Dream, but that’s only a further testament to how well Neil has done his job: when you create characters and a storyscape that occupy somebody else’s imagination, you lose the sole authority to determine how that work resounds in others’ dreams.)

Mikal Gilmore – intro to The Sandman, vol. 10 (1996)

Which is to say, sure, you could see the modern-day sensibility in it all–the fun subterfuge of deities and comics characters sharing the same space, the same dilemmas. At the same time, it was as if you had discovered a timeless trove of fascinating lost legends and mysteries: missing vellums that revealed how so many different peoples shared so many similar patterns of fable and providence in their disparate histories of storytelling.

Snorri Sturluson – The Younger Eddas (ca. 13th century)

“After this, the gods despaired of ever being able to bind the wolf; wherefore All-father sent Skirnir, the messenger of Frey, into the country of the Dark Elves (Svartalfaheim) to engage certain dwarfs to make the fetter called Gleipnir. It was fashioned out of six things; to wit, the noise made by the footfall of a cat; the beards of women; the roots of stones; the sinews of bears; the breath of fish; and the spittle of birds. Though thou mayest not have heard of these things before, thou mayest easily convince thyself that we have not been telling thee lies. Thou may have seen that women have no beards, that cats make no noise when they run, and there are no roots under stones. Now I know what has been told thee to be equally true, although there may be some things thou art not able to furnish a proof of.”

“Binding the Wolf Fenrir”

Snorri Sturluson – The Younger Eddas (ca. 13th century)

When they came he threw the serpent into that deep ocean by which the earth is engirdled. But the monster has grown to such an enormous size that, holding his tail in his mouth, he encircles the whole earth.

“Of Loki and His Progeny”

Snorri Sturluson – The Younger Eddas (ca. 13th century)

…the mansion, called Sessrumnir, is large and magnificent; thence she sallies forth in a car drawn by two cats.

“Of the God Frey, and the Goddess Freyja”