The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Vomitingghosts presents … Quotation Day *

* (restored)
For the past five years I’ve kept a journal on the computer and inside the journal (among other things) I write down passages from books, movies, television, conversations—basically any piece of language I think is beautiful and worth remembering. I don’t categorize the quotations as I’ve done below but I thought it might make for more manageable and pleasurable browsing, which I suggest you do. Also, if you’d like to add any quotations or passages about anything, please do. I would love it. My eyes are always peeled and they are never satisfied. Enjoy.



(“Study for Big Hummingbird, 2004” by Fred Tomaselli)

“Birds don’t sing, they explain. Only people sing.” – Kenneth Koch

“The kind of music I want to continue hearing after I’m dead is the kind that makes me think I’ll be capable of hearing it then.” – Sarah Manguso, “Hell”

According to the physician and writer, Oliver Sacks, even the most amnesiac people remember music.

“Whatever is too stupid to say can be sung.” – Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

“I believe your spine responds to music in a way that it might not respond to visuals. That sound can reach inside you in a very primal way. I like to create these sonic resorts that people can walk into and never leave their chair.” – Tori Amos

“You just pick a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” – Sid Vicious



“There is a sheet of paper in Windsor covered with pen-and-ink sketches of cats in various degrees of detail, obviously done from life…evidence of remarkable powers of observation and rapidity of execution. But in the middle of all these cats appears a little dragon (one does not notice it at first, because of its feline pose). Leonardo could not resist the urge, at some point, to let the pen run away with him for a few minutes.” – From Leonardo: The Artist and the Man by Serge Bramly

“Cats are filled with music; when they die the fiddle-makers take out the music and make fiddles.” – Mark Twain

“Cats live in loneliness then die like falling rain.” – From Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space

“Pet a cat history ceases.” – Old saying

“I’ve witnessed a cat orgy. On my way home from work one night, I saw five or six cats mounting each other, stacked like those ancient Indian paintings where the horse is formed of copulating lovers, while four or five other cats sat around in a circle and watched, mewing.” – Anonymous

“One cat just leads to another.” – Ernest Hemingway



“[Poetry] should burn the blood like a poultice of broken glass.” – Federico Garcia Lorca

“Poetry is the green grass that grows up through the cracks of the cold paving stones of thought.” – Roberto Calasso

“A person needs to precision of a poet and the passion of a scientist.” – Vladimir Nabokov

“I like poems that keep some secrets, that walk the line between explicit utterance and whispers. Not only do I prefer that sense of mystery in the poems I read, I like it when my own poems do that for me: reveal enough to make me wonder, but also let me twist a little in the wind.” – Laura Kasischeke

From the Thursday, February 1, 2007 episode of The Colbert Report:

“People are often surprised to find I have a sensitive side. And I’m not just talking about my back covered in bedsores. I loves me sleep. And as a sensitive man, it was time I told you about the most poetic fucking thing I’ve ever heard.

[Cue strings, harps, sprinkly-sparkly sounds; image of a couple silhouetted against a sunset on a beach, an alpine mountaintop, a sunflower and sunflower buds, reeds shifting in the breeze on a coast before an ocean sunset; text in hyper-curly cursive font: “The Most Poetic F@#king Thing I’ve Ever Heard”]

It’s hamisaratoides heiroglyphica, a newly discovered moth that, quote, ‘alights on the neck of a sleeping magpie and drinks the bird’s tears.’

I’ve never heard of anything more deserving of rhyme. It’s right up there with the greatest works of Byron, Shelley, and that extraordinary young man from Nantucket.

Sorry, Raven, now you’re only second on my list of all-time most poetic birds.

[Cut to chart]

All-Time Most Poetic Birds
1. Magpie
2. Raven
3. Mourning Dove
4. Nightingale
5. Turquoise-Browed Motmot

[Cut back to Colbert]

Turquoise-browed motmot, ball’s in your court.

Because I’ve heard of unicorns galloping to the moon on rainbow-covered bridges paved with baby’s dreams.

But moths that drink the tears of sleeping magpies? That’s the most poetic fucking thing I’ve ever heard.

[Repeat segment-title montage]

And that’s our show, ladies and gentlemen. Good night.”

“Suppose you want to get an experience into words so that it is permanently there, as it would be in a painting—so that every time you read what you wrote, you reexperienced it. Suppose you want to say something so that it is right and beautiful—even though you may not understand exactly why. Or suppose words excite you—the way stone excites a sculptor—and inspire you to use them in a new way. And that for these or other reasons you like writing because of the way it makes you think or because of what it helps you to understand. These are some of the reasons poets write poetry.” – Kenneth Koch, “On Reading Poetry”



(“Eye-Balloon, 1887” by Odilon Redon)

“I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.” – Jules Renard

“Every sentence and name of God must begin with a caterpillar.” – Mark Twain

“I realized that the aliens had taken me to Heaven, or someplace like it. I spoke to God, and it was a gigantic shining eyeball butterfly with a synthesized voice. There I learnt that I was an agent fighting for the forces of good against the forces of evil, and that there was a war of sorts going on between Heaven and Hell. What exactly my role in this war was, I do not know, as they were vague and abstract. I also found out that God is a huge fan of Tron.” – James Champagne, Confusion

“What will you do, God, when I die?” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“God hides things by putting them near us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Moses conversed with God, he asked, “Lord, where shall I seek You?”
God answered, “Among the brokenhearted.”
Moses continued, “But, Lord, no heart could be more despairing than mine.”
And God replied, “Then I am where you are.”
– Abu’l Fayd Al-Misri



(“Untitled, 1946, plate 1 for Histoire de L’oeil” by Hans Bellmer)

“Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” – Oscar Wilde

“What good are intestines if you can’t have sex with them?” – Jeffery Dahmer, from the “Hell on Earth 2006” episode of South Park

“The sexual intercourse of angels is a conflagration of the whole being.” – W.B. Yeats

“There’s something about opium that goes very well with lesbianism.” – from Lost Girls written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Melinda Gebbie

“Oh God, I’m sorry! The doctors didn’t understand how it happened! How you had been poisoned by radioactivity! How your body slowly became riddled with cancer! I did. I was… I am filled with radioactive blood. And not just blood. Every fluid. Touching me… loving me… Loving me killed you! Like a spider, crawling up inside your body and laying a thousand eggs of cancer… I killed you.” – Spiderman, from Spiderman: Reign #3 apologizing to the corpse of Mary Jane for killing her with his radioactive cum

Their Sex Life
by A.R. Ammons

One failure on
Top of another.

“Sex should be like having a glass of water.” – Lenin


Outer Space

“Not stars, but suns, great globes of light…and not these alone, but the breaking apart of the nearest globes, and the protoplasmic flesh that flamed blackly outward to join together and for that eldritch, hideous horror from outer space, that spawn of the blackness of primal time, that tentacled amorphous monster which was the lurker at the threshold, whose mask was as a congeries of iridescent globes, the noxious Yog-Sothoth who froths as primal slime in nuclear chaos beyond the nether-most outposts of space and time!” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Lurker at the Threshold

“SASKIA: My nightmare. I had it again last night.
REX: That you’re inside a golden egg and you can’t get out, and you float all alone through space forever.
SASKIA: Yes, the loneliness is unbearable. No. This time there was another golden egg flying through space. And if we were to collide, it’d all be over.”
– from The Vanishing (1988)

Here is a fascinating interview with the poet Albert Goldbarth about his extensive collection of “1950s outer space stuff” as well as manual typewriters:

He says, “I suppose one of the nice things about the toy spaceships—and in some sense the toy robots, too—is that no matter how imaginative or surreal they are, they’re made, by definition, out of the real material they would exist in if they existed in our actual world. You’re looking at a tin spaceship, opposed to a plastic spaceship or a carved wooden spaceship. You’re looking at a tin robot, and they have the look of working models, something someone might actually stumble over if they walked outside and saw this spaceship parked at the curb. So at one and the same time you have this fantasy object that never could exist, made of a material that we choose to believe has an actual existence in some other nearby universe.”

“I’d wish for a faster than light traveling spaceship, at any moment a mechanism can make the ship invisible, in essence leaving me floating in space, also the space ship is full of faery princesses who bloom out of flowers, mature to teenage hood in a few hours, crave sex, then die or turn in butterflies, also the spaceship has botanical garden full of powerful hallucinogenic plants. Oh, and also I can live forever, or at least until I don’t want to.” – Jose’s third wish from his genie in a lamp

In Stephen King’s introduction to Michel Houellebecq’s H.P. Lovecraft, Against the World, Against Life, King suggests Cthulhu represents “a gigantic, tentacle-equipped, killer vagina from beyond space and time.”

“Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it… for they will be from outer space.” – Criswell, from Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)



“People claim that love is the deepest feeling but don’t believe it. Loneliness is the most affecting of human emotions. Nothing makes life more vivid. If you wish to live in the moment, I recommend intense loneliness.” – George Sprott (1894-1975)

“I want to earn someone’s loyalty. I want to love someone so selflessly that he would never even think about going away. I suppose that’s what most people want. In fact, that’s probably why we don’t kill one another all the time. Everyone’s just a little too lonely to risk it.” – Dennis Cooper, from Guide

“Is escape…too difficult? Evidently, for (1) the walls are strong and I am weak, and (2) I love my walls…yet some have escaped…With an effort we lift our gaze from the walls upward and ask God to take the walls away. We look back down and they have disappeared…We turn back upward at once with love to the Person who has made us so happy, and desire to serve Him. Our state of mind is that of a bridegroom, that of a bride. We are married, we who have been so lonely heretofore.” – John Berryman

“I’m so lonely in this ghost town.” – Kathy Acker

“[Paul Eluard] was worn out. I had convinced him, had dragged him, a Frenchman to the core, to that distant land, and there, the same day we buried Jose Clemente Orozco, I came down with a dangerous case of phlebitis that tied me to my bed for four months. Paul Eluard felt lonely, lonely and in darkness, as helpless as a blind explorer. He didn’t know anyone, no doors were thrown open to him. The loss of his wife weighed heavily on him; he felt all alone here, without love. He would say to me: ‘We have to see life together with someone, to share every fragment of life with someone. My solitude is unreal, my solitude is killing me.’” – Pablo Neruda

“The port from which I set out was the port of my loneliness.” – Henry James



(“Henri Robin and a Specter, 1863” by Eugène Thiébault)

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.” – Guillermo del Toro

“Ghosts only come to those who look for them.” – Holeti

“Ectoplasm, or teleplasm, as it is sometimes called, is a mysterious protoplasmic substance that streams out of the bodies of mediums,” wrote séance investigator Julien J. Proskauer in The Dead Do Not Talk. “This is manipulated by the spirits in order that they may materialize; hence, in a sense, they use it to shape themselves into a corporeal form.”

“You can only listen to so much spectral knocking before you want to look under the table.” – Harry Houdini

“It was the day of ghosts. Still is.” – Kathy Acker

“Happy ghosts live pleasant lives full of good food and beautiful clothes.” – from A Discussion of Ghosts



(“Fruit Delight, 2002” by Debbie Norman)

“The skin broke quick, and the flesh, meaty and wet, slid inside my mouth, the nearly embarrassing free-for-all lusciousness of ripe fruit.” – Aimee Bender, Willful Creatures

“Water the root, enjoy the fruit.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

“When they ask for apples, give them pears.” – Nicanor Parra’s advice to Charles Simic

A comic strip by Chris Ware: Rocket Sam has crash landed on an unknown planet, which is enshrouded in darkness. For ten years Sam tries to grow berries but because it is night out no tree bears fruit. Sam’s only friend is the planet’s moon, which smiles down on him affectionately. Sam is the moon’s only friend, too. But after ten years the sun comes out and the moon disappears. The moon is very sad to leave Sam but looks forward to when they are reunited. When the sun comes, Sam’s fruit suddenly ripens. But it turns out that on the planet the fruit is murderous. A berry opens its jaws and fatally bites Sam on the neck. All the while the moon is crying, missing Sam, not knowing that Sam is already dead and he will never see him again.

“These apricots and these peaches make me and to come water in mouth.” – Jose Da Fonseca & Pedro Carolino, English as She is Spoke



(“The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Me, and Senor Xolotl, 1949” by Frida Kahlo)

“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.” – François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

“Let us share eternity in order to make it transitory.” – Maurice Blanchot

“Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.” – Truman Capote

“Those who hate most fervently must have once loved deeply; those who want to deny the world must have once embraced what they now set on fire.” – Kurt Tucholsky

“You know quite well, deep within you, that there is only a single magic, a single power, a single salvation…and that is called loving. Well, then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.” – Unknown

“That desert of loneliness and recrimination that men call love.” – Samuel Beckett



(“Forest Detail, 2003” by Chris MacWhinnie)

“The forest is the poor man’s overcoat.” – New England Proverb

“If you want comfort you should give up learning; if you desire to acquire learning you should abandon comfort. How can a person who wants comfort acquire learning? And how can a person enjoy comfort who wants to learn?” – Sanskrit proverb

“If rich people could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.” – Yiddish proverb

“If you believe everything you read, better not read.” – Japanese proverb

“The nagging of a wife is like the endless dripping of water.” – Hebrew Bible, proverb 19.13

“The worst things: to be in bed and sleep not, to want for one who comes not, to try to please and please not.” – Egyptian proverb

“If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.” – German proverb

“If it’s drowning you’re after, don’t torment yourself in shallow water.” – Irish proverb

“If you want to love without hurting somebody, learn to walk through the snow without leaving tracks.” – Turkish proverb

“When the ax comes into the forest, the trees think: ‘at least the handle is one of ours.’” – Turkish proverb



“The brain is the ultimate storytelling machine, and consciousness is the ultimate story.” – Richard Powers

“All of these declarations of what writing ought to be, which I had myself— though, thank god I had never committed them to paper—I think are nonsense. You write what you write, and then either it holds up or it doesn’t hold up. There are no rules or particular sensibilities. I don’t believe in that at all anymore.” – Jamaica Kincaid

“Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.” – E.M. Forster

“Within restraint lies great intensity.” – William Butler Yeats

“A chemist can say how atoms bond. A molecular biologist can say how a mutagen disrupts a chemical bond and causes a mutation. A geneticist can identify a mutation and develop a working screen for it. Clergy and ethicists can debate the social consequences of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. A journalist can interview two parents in a Chicago suburb who are wrestling with their faith while seeking to bear a child free of inheritable disease. But only a novelist can put all these actors and dozens more into the shared story they all tell, and make that story rearrange some readers’ viscera.” – Richard Powers

“A novel is a basket that carries inside it a dreamworld we wish to keep forever alive…” – Orhan Pamuk

“Fiction, as a vehicle, has often been used by occultists… Ideas not acceptable to the everyday mind, limited by prejudice and spoiled by a ‘bread-winning’ education, can be made to slip past the censor, and by means of the novel, the poem, the short story be effectually planted in soil which would otherwise reject or destroy them.” – Kenneth Grant



“Life has always taken place in a tumult without apparent cohesion, but it only finds its grandeur and its reality in ecstasy and in ecstatic love.” – Georges Bataille

“Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer demoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous.” – Arthur Jermyn

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

“By now she knew that this life, despite all its pain, could be lived, that one must travel through it slowly; passing from the sunset to the penetrating odor of the stalks; from the infinite calm of the plain to the singing of a bird lost in the sky; yes, going from the sky to that deep reflection of it that she felt within her own breast, as an alert and living presence.” – Andrei Makine, from Dreams of My Russian Summers

“Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.” – Oscar Wilde



(“Sucks to be Her, 2004” by Zack Hennessy)

“Art sucks but something else is great.” – Antonio

“Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” – Rainer Maria Rilke.

“Art takes us inside other minds, like a space capsule swooping down across Jupiter while the passengers can see strangeness and newness through the portholes, meanwhile enjoying all the comforts of Standard Temperature and Pressure. Of all the arts, although photography presents best, painting and music convey best, and sculpture looms best, I believe that literature articulates best.” – William T. Vollmann, from the section “The Rhapsody of Desserts” from the essay “American Writing Today: A Diagnosis of the Disease”

“The greatest art form is a plane ticket. With it you go there and have as much as your senses can carry. All you have to do is train those senses to carry as much as they can.” – Andrei Codrescu, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans”

“Nature is a haunted house—but Art—is a house that tries to be haunted.” – Emily Dickinson

“We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have. Our doubt is our passion. Our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.” – Henry James

“The painter is condemned to please. By no means can he transform a painting into an object of aversion. The purpose of a scarecrow is to frighten birds from the field where it is planted, but the most terrifying painting is there to attract visitors. Actual torture can also be interesting, but in general that can’t be considered its purpose. Torture takes place for a variety of reasons. In principle its purpose differs little from that of the scarecrow: unlike art, it is offered to sight in order to repel us from the horror it puts on display. The painted torture, conversely, does not attempt to reform us. Art never takes on itself the work of the judge. It does not interest us in some horror for its own sake: that is not even imaginable. […] When horror is subject to the transfiguration of an authentic art, it becomes a pleasure, an intense pleasure, but a pleasure all the same.” – Georges Bataille, from “The Cruel Practice of Art”



“Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.” – Unknown

“I had always expected death would have no spatial qualities, but it turns out that death is a little room. I had similarly anticipated that death would involve the eradication of every last trace of the self. But it seems that death will bring the multiplication of the self. In death there will be more self to deal with, and thus death will be even more difficult than life.” – Alistair McCartney, from a dream

“This is the most uncomfortable coffin I’ve ever been in.” – Bela Lugosi, from Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994)

“All deaths, in the end, are drownings in the body.” – James Richardson

“I’d rather take the air in a graveyard.” – Samuel Beckett

“Nobody owns life, but anybody who can pick up a frying pan owns death.” – William Burroughs

“My speech is a warning that at this very moment death is loose in the world, that it has suddenly appeared between me, as I speak, and the being I address: it is there between us as the distance that separates us, but this distance is also what prevents us from being separated, because it contains the condition for all understanding. Death alone allows me to grasp what I want to attain; it exists in words as the only way they can have meaning. Without death, everything would sink into absurdity and nothingness.” – Maurice Blanchot, from The Work of Fire

“While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.”
– Edgar Allan Poe, from “The City in the Sea”



“A duck is one of the most beautiful animals. If you study a duck, you’ll see certain things: the bill is a certain texture and a certain length; the head is a certain shape; the texture of the bill is very smooth and it has quite precise detail and reminds you somewhat of the legs (the legs are a little more rubbery). The body is big, softer, and the texture isn’t so detailed. The key to the whole duck is the eye and where it is placed. It’s like a little jewel. It’s so perfectly placed to show off a jewel – right in the middle of the head, next to this S-curve with the bill sitting out in front, but with enough distance so that the eye is very well secluded and set out. When you’re working on a film, a lot of times you can get the bill and the legs and the body and everything, but this eye of the duck is a certain scene, this jewel, that if it’s there, it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s just fantastic.” – David Lynch

“I would travel down to Hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary.” – Werner Herzog

“Interviewer: What do you think of [Errol Morris’s] approach to the documentary film?

Werner Herzog: Thank God he does it that way, because I’ve always postulated a new position in documentary filmmaking—but let’s say filmmaking generally, because I’m sick and tired of what I see on television. And I’m also sick and tired of cinema vérité, because it confounds fact and truth. And they claim to have the truth and I keep saying, “This is only the accountant’s truth.” And of course you always influence your subject. There’s no such thing as cinema vérité per se. You’ve got to be very careful… And you must seek out and search for deeper strata of truth that are possible, for example, in great poetry. When reading a great poem… you sense there’s a deep, deep truth inherent in it, and you can never name it. It’s the same thing as what I call the “Ecstatic Truth.” An Ecstatic Truth is possible in documentaries and of course in my feature films—I’ve always striven for that. It is something deeply inherent, where you recognize yourself as a human being again, where you find images that have been dormant inside of you for so many years and all of a sudden it becomes visible and understandable for you—you read the world differently, your perceptions change.”

“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.” – Robert Bresson


Psychedelic Drugs

(“Kiss Kiss, 2006” by Robbie)

“I ask of cinema what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.” – Alexandro Jodorowsky, 1971

“As far as your question about the possible emptiness of ideas/knowledge gained through drugs, absolutely not for me. Drugs are just collaborators with you. I think my body gets plenty of credit for what I learned from drugs, albeit not total credit. I also think, as I’ve said before, that my body can do it without drugs now, maybe partly because the drugs taught my body how to reveal things that were hidden before, true. Actually, I seem to be failing myself completely at the moment, but I don’t think drugs would give me the answers. They’ve already given the answers. The answers are: create them yourself.” – Dennis Cooper

“All the vegetable sedatives and narcotics, all the euphoric that grow on trees, the hallucinogens that ripen in berries or can be squeezed from roots—all, without exception, have been known and systematically used by human beings from time immemorial.” – Aldous Huxley, 1954

“Psychedelic experience is only a glimpse of genuine mystical insight, but a glimpse which can be matured and deepened by the various ways of meditation in which drugs are no longer necessary or useful. When you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope; he goes away and works on what he has seen.” – Alan Watts, 1962

—-“Indeed, the psychedelic can pull the old switcheroo, turning on you after starting out on a soft and beatific note. Such an about-face may seem like a trick or something more sinister, a function of some hellish private twilight zone. (Aptly enough, Rod Serling himself, in a circa 1970 public-service spot, warned youngsters that the LSD capsule he held between thumb and forefinger could be an express ticket to the sort of turmoil and alienation he immortalized in his classic television show.
—-Just as you might feel baptized and cleansed by a beatific archetype, so too can you feel charred and singed by a negative one, as if the mark of Cain has been branded into you. In the film version of Paddy Chavefsky’s Altered States [1980], the sensory-deprived protagonist Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) has a horrifying hallucination of himself nailed to a cross with a satanic goat’s head over his own—flailing vainly to break out of the damnation and the suffocation, as he drifts off through the infinity of the cosmos. Although the vision was not drug-induced, it echoed one of my own that had been, and thus had my heart pounding when I first saw it on the big screen.
—-The sublime side of the psychedelic experience is amply extolled in stories that relay the soaring joys of kissing the creatures of the sun, copulating with the galaxy, cleansing one’s callused heart in the clear blue stream of the Redeemer’s gaze, and other elations. For sure, the psychedelic can offer glimpses of heavenly radiance, but also of its shadows: awful plummets through flaming caves of pain, the moral vertigo that rips through your soul like some heinous phallic-vein out of Alien [1979] and tries to snuff you out. ‘…I cam loose from the sky,’ writes Ken Kesey in a story from Demon Box [1986], describing a steep fall he took from a chemical high, vexed by ‘the chilly hiss of decaying energy.’ The psychedelic can fray the tissues that hold your ego and self-esteem together, allowing you to sink into the loneliest, most inhospitable hole in your being, where you may find yourself cascading helplessly into the unholy depths of the human mind.” – From the chapter entitled “Basic Features of the Psychedelic Experience” from Tripping: An Anthology of True-Life Psychedelic Adventures edited by Charles Hayes


The Devil

“The Devil always shits on the biggest heap.” – German proverb

“It simply goes without saying that the falling of a human hair must matter more to the devil than to God, since the devil really loses that hair and God does not.” – Franz Kafka from his diary on July 9, 1912

“Interviewer: Is there a moment in one of your plays that you really didn’t know was there?

David Mamet: Yes. I wrote this play called Bobby Gould in Hell. Greg Mosher did it on a double bill with a play by Shel Silverstein over at Lincoln Center. Bobby Gould is consigned to hell, and he has to be interviewed to find out how long he’s going to spend there. The Devil is called back from a fishing trip to interview Bobby Gould. And so the Devil is there, the Assistant Devil is there, and Bobby Gould. And the Devil finally says to Bobby Gould, ‘You’re a very bad man.’ And Bobby Gould says, ‘Nothing’s black and white.’ And the Devil says, ‘Nothing’s black and white, nothing’s black and white—what about a panda? What about a panda, you dumb fuck! What about a fucking panda!’ And when Greg directed it, he had the assistant hold up a picture of a panda, kind of pan it 180 degrees to the audience at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. That was the best moment I’ve ever seen in any of my plays.” – from a 1997 interview in The Paris Review

The devil “licks everything before killing it.” – Tomaz Salamun, “To Have a Friend”

“In time of war the devil makes more room in hell.” – A German saying

“The devil knows more from being old than from being the devil.” – Spanish proverb



(The March 11, 1906 page of Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay)

“We are turning electric dreams into reality.” – Hawkwind

“We are like the spider. We weave our life then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe.” – from The Upsanishads translated by Alistair Shearer and Peter Russell

“But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travelers notoriously false?” – H.P. Lovecraft

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” – Werner Herzog on Incident at Loch Ness



(“A painting of an alien with a dog licking its face” by Antonio)

A dog’s philosophy: If you can’t fuck it, piss on it.

“Take our dogs and ourselves, connected as we are by a tie more intimate than most ties in this world; and yet, outside of that tie of friendly fondness, how insensible, each of us, to all that makes life significant for the other!—we to the rapture of bones under hedges, or smells of trees and lamp-posts, they to the delights of literature and art. As you sit reading the most moving romance you ever fell upon, what sort of a judge is your fox-terrier of your behavior? With all his good will toward you, the nature of your conduct is absolutely excluded from his comprehension. To sit there like a senseless statue, when you might be taking him to walk and throwing sticks for him to catch!” – William James, “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings”

“There’s your dog; your dog’s dead. But where’s the thing that made it move? It had to be something, didn’t it?” – A mourning pet owner in the film Gates of Heaven (1978)

“The dog barking at the moon is the only poet.” – Charles Simic, “Folk Songs”

Joke: Where do you find a dog with no legs? Right where you left him.



“Beauty does not lose its allure under the spell of grief.” – Andrew Holleran

“Grief is a hole you walk around in the daytime and at night you fall into it.” – Denise Levertov

“Between grief and nothing, I will take grief.” – William Faulkner, the last sentence of The Wild Palms

“I had anticipated the shadows of the towers might fade while I was slowly sorting through my grief and putting into boxes.” – Art Spiegelman from In the Shadow of No Towers

“Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. Virtually everyone who has ever experienced grief mentions this phenomenon of ‘waves.’ Eric Lindemann, who was chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in the 1940s and interviewed many family members of those killed in the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire, defined the phenomenon with absolute specificity in a famous 1944 study: ‘sensations of somatic distress occurring in waves lasting from twenty minutes to an hour at a time, a feeling of tightness in the throat, choking with shortness of breath, need for sighing, and an empty feeling in the abdomen, lack of muscular power, and an intense subjective distress described as tension or mental pain.’” – Joan Didion, from The Year of Magical Thinking

“Do not be daunted by the world’s grief. Walk humbly, now. Love mercy, now. Do justly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – from The Talmud

“Grief is nature’s most powerful aphrodisiac.” – Chazz Reinhold, from Wedding Crashers



p.s. Hey. ** Ian, Hi. Yes, I’m always having to tell people here ‘two n’s’. You sound pretty good indeed between weather-related pleasantness, fine reading and novel advancing. Cool, looking forward to the interview’s drop. I hope your first vax is as uneventful as mine. I should really try to make an effort to keep up with baseball this season, but that’s not exactly a cakewalk being over here. Hm. Go you! Take it easy. ** Misanthrope, Oh, okay, about Rigby. The last time I saw him was with you in Paris, and him hiking is almost the last thing I would have imagined him doing with any realism. Good for him. Enjoy the heat of the excitement of the book collaboration. process. I can ‘hear’ it in your typing. ** The Black Prince, Hail, prince of darkness! I’m happy you liked it, and, of course, steal away. A favorite? Hm. I really like the LSD fountain, and I love Ron Nagle’s ceramics. Yep, two day countdown to the escorts. I suspect that the relative scarcity of the boy posts is a key to their success. They’re also a lot more work to make than they probably appear to be, so … I’m all right. You sound good. Things seem to be easing here, and we’re just under a week away from our long, long awaited semi-reopening. Have fun. ** Dominik, Hi!!!!! I think the dizziness is slightly better, and thank you. Yeah, I mean the old Louvre, …  it’s had its time in the sun. I think that Puppy Orgy Acid Party would take care of my dizziness problem or make it a million times worse maybe. Ha ha. Love making the facade of every store and shop in Budapest and Paris look like this, G. ** Bill, Very pleased to have de-grumped you. I love Ron Nagle’s ceramics. I want one bad. Also, back when he was a cult psychedelic-ish rock ‘n’ roll star back in the late 60s, he made one of the best faux-anti-marijuana songs, ‘Marijuana Hell’ ** Jeff J, Thanks, Jeff! Balm! Oh, man, so sorry to hear about the family health stuff. Sending toughness-infused vibes. The Skelley book is great. No, I know nothing about that Ashbery book. Whoa! That is extremely exciting news! I’ll see what I can find out. Working on? I’m a bit in-between. I’m dying to finish the little novella I co-wrote with Zac, but he’s away, and I can’t do anything until he returns. Gisele wants to do a version of her new Walser piece in English, and the translation is just awful, and she’s asked me to refine and improve it, and I guess I’ll do that. I have to write a text for the catalog of an exhibition that includes a couple of my GIF novels. Puce Mary just got to Paris for a residency, and we’re going to work with her on early ideas for the sound score of our new film, which she’s composing. That, and doing early ‘I Wished’ promo is kind of the story. I’m recording Wake the Island podcast on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to that. What constitutes your current work, and how’s it going? ** David Ehrenstein, RIP Norman Lloyd. ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie! I’m fairly okay, I guess, and you? Thanks about the psych post. Me too. I dream of doing psychedelics again, but I think they would make me obsess about my age and mortality and stuff, and that’s too dangerous a prospect. Yes, we start our reopening next Wednesday. I hope it’s not too soon. I think everyone here would literally lose their minds if the lockdown went on any longer. I’m kind of waiting for Wednesday like a kid pre-Xmas morning. Lots of love to you too, buddy! ** Jack Skelley, Jay-Ssssssss! Thank you ever so much again for making that rockin’ smash hit of a post, man! Through the roof! Love, me. ** Right. Today you get a lovely and very old — like 14 years old! — guest-post made for an earlier incarnation of this blog by Vomitingghosts, better known then and now as the writer Matthew Suss. Lotsa wisdom up there. Take advantage, yeah? See you tomorrow.


  1. prince of darkness?

    Oh, yes, the LSD fountain is stunning; I’d have it in my house. Some of these quotes are so beautiful. I can’t believe this post is 14 years old! I love the Cat section, esp this one: ‘Cats live in loneliness then die like falling rain.’ That photo for the Poetry section is great! No, I can totally imagine how much time & effort it takes to create those flawless boy posts. Honestly, twice a month is great, too. I’m just being a bit greedy. I just noticed at the time of the release of your upcoming boy post, I’ll be by the seaside…. hmmm even better! Hope you have some nice plans for the weekend, too xo

  2. LARRY Delinger

    Proverb: it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. (Old Nebraskan proverb).

  3. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yeah, the Rigby camping thing surprised me at first, but then I thought about it and it doesn’t. Of course, I know him so well, too. He’s really, really into it. Great for his health too. Also, there’s this community/camraderie that’s involved that’s really interesting.

    Thanks. Yeah, I’m quite excited about everything and will be working on it feverishly. The illustrator is a good guy, which helps.

  4. Bill

    Lots of fine quotes here! Some great images too. This predates my hanging on your blog(s), Dennis.

    That Ron Nagle song is hilarious.

    By the way, I’d always thought I first saw you “live” at Spew in Chicago. I was organizing some old writings, and found my review of the Skid Row Slashers (?) show at LACE in ’92 (?), which you MC-ed. Ha.


  5. Jamie

    Hey Dennis,
    I so hear you about redabbling in psychedelics, even reading your words about worrying about age or mortality whilst under the influence made me slightly panicky. Fuck that.
    I enjoyed reading through all these quotes above. At one point I even considered buying a new notepad to write out quotes I like, but who am I kidding. I’ve been trying to keep a one-thing-per-day diary for a couple of months now and even that ends up with huge blank chunks whilst I try to recall the previous week. The person who made that post is clearly pretty into comics, which I like.
    I’ve been pretty under the weather, trouble breathing, no sense of taste or smell, I’m sure you can guess my fear, plus a woman who works with Ari’s group at crèche caught Covid and all the kids had to be quarantined. Turned out Ari and I had a respiratory tract infection, which was a floorer, but not Covid. And we’re both on the mend.
    How are you? I imagine you’re awaiting Wednesday with bated breath? We’re going to meet some folk for a drink on Saturday and it seems wild.
    Hope you have a lovely day!

  6. Dominik


    Some excellent quotes up there; thank you for the resurrection!

    I’m really glad to hear the dizziness is getting better! Maybe you’re already back to normal by now?

    Ah! Budapest is not an ugly city, but it’d look a lot more attractive with your love’s design! And it’d make me feel at home in Paris, too. Thank you! Love wearing pink diapers under his pants to work every day, Od. (I guess I’m looking forward to the next escort/slave post, haha.)

  7. Steve Erickson

    Some recent psychiatric research into psychedelics has suggested that they can help terminal cancer patients deal with their fear of death.

    I had a horrible day yesterday, where I really hit bottom in terms of depression. I’ve been feeling much better today. I tried to spend as much time outside as possible, but I also got a leak of St. Vincent’s DADDY’S HOME and wrote the rough draft of my review. To be honest, I’m just relieved I could think clearly enough to write an 800-word review, which I attempted yesterday and couldn’t manage. I’m also trying to get a referral to a cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in anxiety, though I have no idea if my health insurance covers this (in America, probably not!)

    My review of the lame thriller PROFILE, now getting a theatrical release in the US because of pandemic cinema scarcity, was published today:

    When will the Wake the Island podcast go up online?

    • Jack Skelley

      Steve — sending you positive vibes. Rebound is coming. Looking forward to your review of Daddy’s Home !-Jack Skelley

  8. Davdi Eherenstein

    “Everyone says ‘Forgive and Forget.’ Well I never forgive because I never forget” — Abraham Polonsky

    “Man will not be free until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest,” — Denis Diderot

  9. Gus Cali Girls

    Dennis!! I’ve been very slow keeping up with the blog with being out of town for a week visiting my family (and going slightly insane being back home), but I’m happily returned and caught up and wanted to say how sweet it was to see you put me in the last gig post! They’re always so good, so I enjoyed seeing myself amongst some great names :~)
    Also re yesterday’s post, the Jess Johnson and Simon Ward VR work was commissioned by the gallery I used to intern at, so I’ve seen (experienced?) it and it’s suuuuuper trippy – quite incredible the illusion that some goggles and headphones can create.
    What’s been going on with you? Happy to see via the blog that you’ll have freedom from lockdown soon AND you’re vaccinated. Hope some level of celebration is being prepared for. Any French amusement parks maybe?
    Sending my best,

  10. Jack Skelley

    Make DC a State!! That’s my quote. No, I’d actually like to add to the Ghosts list: “If you have ghosts then you have everything.” — Roky Erickson. More love, me….

  11. Montse

    Hi, Dennis!

    I miss you too!! But I’m happy to know you’re coping, despite the circumstances. I got confused with your updating times. And now it’s taken me a few days to reply. Sorry!

    I can imagine you can’t wait for the end of the restrictions. You’re nearly there. When are you getting the second shot of the vaccine? We no longer have curfew! Weirdly, I feel quite optimistic. I’m looking forward to things going back to normal soonish.

    Nothing much exciting about last year, I’m afraid. Xet’s mother passed away in July and that was hard, but she had been sick for a while and it was expected. He’s fine now.

    Next week we’re taking some time off. We’re going to a small town in the mountains. It’s just an hour distance from Barcelona, but we’re desperate to get out of the city, as you can imagine.

    Yes, please! Awesome! Let’s meet once we can travel! We’d love that. A trip to Paris would be lovely!

    Love these quotes!

    Hope your week is going as good as possible. Lots of love and hugs to you!

  12. David Ehrenstein

    The Stare of Cooper? Lovely . COOPERLAND! Sounds like a amusement Park.
    “Cooperland” recreates LA. in The Golden Age of promiscuity. Main exhbits include The Tropicana Motel, and Arthur J’s

  13. Jenni

    Love this! I keep a Word doc as a commonplace book on my desktop. The topic of cats made me think of one of my favorite items in there :

    “I would rather be petted than be part of a human social reality that’s all pretense and lies.” — Kathy Acker, Great Expectations

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