I passed my driving tests! I’ll be getting my driver’s license tomorrow!
So for today’s interim post, I realized I had five moderately long quotes from various pieces of fiction lying around in various places for various abandoned purposes in my draft folder, so I decided I could maybe salvage them by throwing them up here together and adding an alliterative title. I’m working on a long-ish interesting post that you can argue a lot with me over, I promise. I don’t know whether I’ll finish it tomorrow though.
“Hi, Harry,” Hermione said… “How are you?”
“Within one standard deviation of my own peculiar little average,” Harry automatically replied.
— Eliezer Yudkowsky, Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (Chapter 78)
This is excellent because it can be used as an equally accurate and, judiciously applied, equally annoying automatic reply to almost anything. “How’d you do on the final exam?” “Within one standard deviation of my own peculiar little average.” (“So, like, 100?”) “How’s the weather up there in Antarctica?” “Within one standard deviation of its peculiar little average.” “How many fries would you like with that burger?” “Within one standard deviation of your own peculiar little average.” It works every time, 68.3% of the time.
Okay, this is me being stupid and there have definitely been more meaningful quotes in the 77 chapters before this, but maybe nothing with the same stunning generic applicability and lack of spoilers even when lifted out of context. I can’t, for example, quote the entire second half of Chapter 45 here.
And okay, I probably wasn’t going to blog about this quote in particular, but whatever.
Murt snagged an apple from the fruit bowl. “Look,” he said. “Life is like an apple.”
… Murt stared at the apple for several moments, then ate it in half a dozen bites. “OK, I can’t finish that simile.”
— Eoin Colfer, Half-Moon Investigations
I don’t know why this is here. It might have been a stab at a not-overly-famous segue into some rambling about the meaning of life. I spent a lot of time searching for its source, because I couldn’t remember where I read it or who the character was, and assumed for a while it was from H2G2. It does seem like something Ford Prefect would have said, right?
This planet has—or rather had—a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This one is actually from H2G2 and might be one of my favorite quotes ever. Maybe I wanted to quote it in the college decision aftermath post but decided the poem at the start was enough quotes. I don’t know.
If that is a poem
about the red wheelbarrow
and the white chickens
then any words
can be a poem.
You’ve just got to
— Jack, Love That Dog (by Sharon Creech)
I think I found this quote in preparation for an essay about poetry, which I did not write a single word of, so I don’t feel pressured to post it.
I’m certainly not as cynical as Jack (who grows to like poetry — some types, anyway — by the end of the book (and there’s a sequel to it, which I don’t think I’ve read)) but this always struck me as a brilliant (and, ironically, quite poetic) summary of the natural reactions that certain poems provoke.
Finally, finally, finally, my humble vote for Best Aesop ever:
No. People SHOULD be doubted. Many people misunderstand this concept. Doubting people is simply a part of trying to get to know them.
“Trust.” That act is without a doubt a very noble one… But you know, what many people do that they call “trust” is actually giving up on trying to understand others. And that has nothing to do with “trust”, but is rather… apathy. — Akiyama Shinichi, Liar Game Ch. 29 (by Shinobu Kaitani)
I still remember reading this and thinking that it was the only time I could remember when a work of fiction imparted a lesson that wasn’t obvious or clichéd in hindsight (you know, “war is bad”, “self-confidence is good”, “love is better than hate”, “family first”, and so on ad nauseam).
This manga is like the psychological dual of Transformers.
P.S. There is no consensus on the Internet how to cite quotes by fictional characters if I also want to include the authors. Get on it, folks.
P.P.S. I totally lied when I called this post “quick” because I ended up reliving half a dozen of Liar Game‘s Crowning Moments of Awesome when I got to this point, oooooops. My excuse is that there is also no consensus on the Internet whether the guy’s name is Akiyama Shinichi or Shinichi Akiyama. Get on that too, folks.
Edit/P.P.P.S. Actually, after thinking about it and comparing with Detective Conan, it seems pretty clear that Shinichi is the given name and Akiyama is the family name and the discrepancy arises from the different order in which the two are written in English and Japanese, so it depends on how far the translator wants to change names to accommodate custom. I inverted Chinese names into English order when I translated them for our school newsletter, first without much thought on the matter and then out of consistency. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.