Quotes by Umberto Eco

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The court jester had the right to say the most outrageous things to the king. Everything was permitted during carnival, even the songs that the Roman legionnaires would sing, calling Julius Caesar 'queen,' alluding, in a very transparent way, to his real, or presumed, homosexual escapades. more...

The comic is the perception of the opposite; humor is the feeling of it. more...

What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. more...

We are never racist against somebody who is very far away. I don't know any racism against the Eskimos. To have a racist feeling, there must be an other who is slightly different from us - but is living close to us. more...

The mobile phone... is a tool for those whose professions require a fast response, such as doctors or plumbers. more...

When the poet is in love, he is incapable of writing poetry on love. He has to write when he remembers that he was in love. more...

A secret is powerful when it is empty. more...

My maternal grandmother - she was a compulsive reader. She had only been through five grades of elementary school, but she was a member of the municipal library, and she brought home two or three books a week for me. They could be dime novels or Balzac. more...

The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. more...

When someone has to intervene to defend the liberty of the press, that society is sick. more...

Media populism means appealing to people directly through media. A politician who can master the media can shape political affairs outside of parliament and even eliminate the mediation of parliament. more...

Does the novel have to deepen the psychology of its heroes? Certainly the modern novel does, but the ancient legends did not do the same. Oedipus' psychology was deduced by Aeschylus or Freud, but the character is simply there, fixed in a pure and terribly disquieting state. more...

Semiotics is a general theory of all existing languages... all forms of communication - visual, tactile, and so on... There is general semiotics, which is a philosophical approach to this field, and then there are many specific semiotics. more...

The good of a book lies in its being read. A book is made up of signs that speak of other signs, which in their turn speak of things. Without an eye to read them, a book contains signs that produce no concepts; therefore it is dumb. more...

The thought that all experience will be lost at the moment of my death makes me feel pain and fear... What a waste, decades spent building up experience, only to throw it all away... We remedy this sadness by working. For example, by writing, painting, or building cities. more...

History is rich with adventurous men, long on charisma, with a highly developed instinct for their own interests, who have pursued personal power - bypassing parliaments and constitutions, distributing favours to their minions, and conflating their own desires with the interests of the community. more...

We are a pluralist civilisation because we allow mosques to be built in our countries, and we are not going to stop simply because Christian missionaries are thrown into prison in Kabul. If we did so, we, too, would become Taliban. more...

A transposable aphorism is a malaise of the urge to be witty, or in other words, a maxim that is untroubled by the fact that the opposite of what it says is equally true so long as it appears to be funny. more...

Conspiracies do exist. Probably in this moment in New York there is an economic group making a conspiracy in order to buy three banks. But if they succeed, they are immediately discovered. more...

Entering a novel is like going on a climb in the mountains: You have to learn the rhythms of respiration - acquire the pace. Otherwise you stop right away. more...

To play the trumpet, you must train your lips for a long time. When I was twelve or thirteen I was a good player, but I lost the skill and now I play very badly. I do it every day even so. The reason is that I want to return to my childhood. For me, the trumpet is evidence of the sort of young man I was. more...

Narrativity presumes a special taste for plot. And this taste for plot was always very present in the Anglo-Saxon countries and that explains their high quality of detective novels. more...

The most interesting letters I received about 'The Name of the Rose' were from people in the Midwest that maybe didn't understand exactly, but wanted to understand more and who were excited by this picture of a world which was not their own. more...

There are books on our shelves we haven't read and doubtless never will, that each of us has probably put to one side in the belief that we will read them later on, perhaps even in another life. more...

Poetry is not a matter of feelings, it is a matter of language. It is language which creates feelings. more...

Political satire is a serious thing. In democratic newspapers throughout the world there are daily cartoons that often are not even funny, as is the case especially in many English-language newspapers. Instead, they contain a political message, and the artist takes full responsibility. more...

After years of practice, I can walk into a bookstore and understand its layout in a few seconds. I can glance at the spine of a book and make a good guess at its content from a number of signs. more...

If western culture is shown to be rich, it is because, even before the Enlightenment, it has tried to 'dissolve' harmful simplifications through inquiry and the critical mind. more...

We like lists because we don't want to die. more...

I don't see the point of having 80 million people online if all they are doing in the end is talking to ghosts in the suburbs. more...

Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them. more...

A dream is a scripture, and many scriptures are nothing but dreams. more...

It comes down to a question of attention: it's difficult to use the Net distractedly, unlike the television or the radio. more...

Every European goes on the streets and sees medieval churches. Not if you live in Indianapolis. The most exciting letters I received were from people in places like that. more...

I think every professor and writer is in some way an exhibitionist because his or her normal activity is a theatrical one. When you give a lesson the situation is the same as writing a book. You have to capture the attention, the complicity of your audience. more...

There is nothing more difficult to define than an aphorism. more...

If people buy my books for vanity, I consider it a tax on idiocy. more...

Our life is full of empty space. more...

The function of memory is not only to preserve, but also to throw away. If you remembered everything from your entire life, you would be sick. more...

Libraries can take the place of God. more...

Many people who no longer go to church end up falling prey to superstition. more...

The French, the Italians, the Germans, the Spanish and the English have spent centuries killing each other. more...

Today, political events are nullified unless they're on TV. more...

Dan Brown is a character from 'Foucault's Pendulum!' I invented him. He shares my characters' fascinations - the world conspiracy of Rosicrucians, Masons, and Jesuits. The role of the Knights Templar. The hermetic secret. The principle that everything is connected. I suspect Dan Brown might not even exist. more...

The grandeur of Jerusalem is also... its problem. more...

The United States needed a civil war to unite properly. more...

When one starts writing a book, especially a novel, even the humblest person in the world hopes to become Homer. more...

With all of its defects, the global market makes war less likely, even between the U.S.A. and China. more...

Beauty is boring because it is predictable. more...

Berlusconi is a genius in communication. Otherwise, he would never have become so rich. more...

Every European goes on the streets and sees medieval churches. Not if you live in Indianapolis. more...

I developed a passion for the Middle Ages the same way some people develop a passion for coconuts. more...

I like nicotine because it excites my brain and helps me work. more...

If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for the survival of that book, he's an imbecile. more...

My father was an accountant and his father was a typographer. more...

One can be a great poet and be politically stupid. more...

There are more people than you think who want to have a challenging experience, in which they are obliged to reflect about the past. more...

Young people do not watch television; they are on the Internet. more...

How does a person feel when looking at the sky? He thinks that he doesn't have enough tongues to describe what he sees. Nevertheless, people have never stopping describing the sky, simply listing what they see. more...

When I went from being an academic to being a member of the community of writers some of my former colleagues did look on me with a certain resentment. more...

I love the secrecy of writing fiction. When I write a novel, I don't tell anybody what I'm doing. I'm living in my private world. And it's a great sensation. more...

Religion has nothing to do with God. It's a fundamental attitude of human beings, who ask about the origins of life and what happens after death. For many, the answer is a personal god. In my opinion, it's religion that produces God, not the other way round. more...

I started to work in television for three or four years, in 1954. There was one channel of television, black and white. But it could be entertaining and educational. During the evening they showed important plays, opera or Shakespeare's tragedies. more...

Certainly, light fiction exists and encompasses mysteries or second-class romance novels, books that are read on the beach, whose only aim is to entertain. These books are not concerned with style or creativity - instead they are successful because they are repetitive and follow a template that readers enjoy. more...

We invented the car, and it made it easier for us to crash and die. If I gave a car to my grandfather, he would die in five minutes, while I have grown up slowly to accept speed. more...

Homer's work hits again and again on the topos of the inexpressible. People will always do that. more...

You die, but most of what you have accumulated will not be lost; you are leaving a message in a bottle. more...

From lies to forgeries the step is not so long, and I have written technical essays on the logic of forgeries and on the influence of forgeries on history. more...

Better reality than a dream: if something is real, then it's real and you're not to blame. more...

Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious. more...

It is a myth of publishers that people want to read easy things. more...

As a scholar I am interested in the philosophy of language, semiotics, call it what you want, and one of the main features of the human language is the possibility of lying. more...

Human beings are religious animals. more...

I think a book should be judged 10 years later, after reading and re-reading it. more...

It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. more...

At a certain moment, I decided to write a story. I had no more small children to tell them stories. more...

I could work in the shower if I had plastic paper. more...

I feel that I am a scholar who only with the left hand writes novels. more...

Our most noted satirists are true columnists, and their opinions can be worth more than any well-documented expose. more...

The author may not interpret. But he must tell why and how he wrote his book. more...

Because of lies, we can produce and invent a possible world. more...

I have to admit that I only read 'War and Peace' when I was 40. But I knew the basics before then. more...

I was a fervent Catholic, and I belonged to the national organizations, even becoming one of the national leaders, until the age of 21, 22. more...

I write what I write. more...

Perhaps I am not as wise as I like to think I am. more...

The question of manuscript changes is very important for literary criticism, the psychology of creation and other aspects of the study of literature. more...

I would define the poetic effect as the capacity that a text displays for continuing to generate different readings, without ever being completely consumed. more...

There are more books in the world than hours in which to read them. We are thus deeply influenced by books we haven't read, that we haven't had the time to read. more...

I don't want to write a novel per year. I know that I need a break of one or two years. So maybe I invent some new, urgent activity so I don't fall into the trap of starting a new novel. more...

It is clear that when you write a story that takes place in the past, you try to show what really happened in those times. But you are always moved by the suspicion that you are also showing something about our contemporary world. more...

There is no great sport in having bullets flying about one in every direction, but I find they have less horror when among them than when in anticipation. more...

Every time that I write a novel I am convinced for at least two years that it is the last one, because a novel is like a child. It takes two years after its birth. You have to take care of it. It starts walking, and then speaking. more...

My grandfather had a particularly important influence on my life, even though I didn't visit him often, since he lived about three miles out of town and he died when I was six. He was remarkably curious about the world, and he read lots of books. more...

Nothing is more fleeting than external form, which withers and alters like the flowers of the field at the appearance of autumn. more...

Whenever a poet or preacher, chief or wizard spouts gibberish, the human race spends centuries deciphering the message. more...

The Art of the Romance, though warning us that it is providing fictions, opens a door into the Palace of Absurdity, and when we have lightly stepped inside, slams it shut behind us. more...

In the construction of Immortal Fame you need first of all a cosmic shamelessness. more...

And what would we be, we sinful creatures, without fear, perhaps the most foresighted, the most loving of the divine gifts? more...

I was in a maze. No matter which way I turned, it was the wrong way. more...

A writer writes for writers, a non-writer writes for his next-door neighbor or for the manager of the local bank branch, and he fears (often mistakenly) that they would not understand or, in any case, would not forgive his boldness. more...

I believe all sin, love, glory are this: when you slide down the knotted sheets, escaping from Gestapo headquarters, and she hugs you, there, suspended, and she whispers that she's always dreamed of you. The rest is just sex, copulation, the perpetuation of the vile species. more...

A library's ideal function is to be a little bit like a bouquiniste's stall, a place for trouvailles. more...

History is a blood-drenched enigma and the world an error. more...

They [the Templars] had read Avicenna, and they were not ignorant, like the Europeans. How could you live alongside a tolerant, mystical, libertine culture for two centuries without succumbing to its allure, particularly when you compared it to Western culture, which was crude, vulgar, barbaric, and Germanic? more...

Beauty is, in some way, boring. Even if its concept changes through the ages... a beautiful object must always follow certain rules. A beautiful nose shouldn't be longer than that or shorter than that, on the contrary, an ugly nose can be as long as the one of Pinocchio, or as big as the trunk of an elephant, or like the beak of an eagle, and so ugliness is unpredictable, and offers an infinite range of possibility. Beauty is finite, ugliness is infinite like God. more...

Man's principle trait is a readiness to believe anything. Otherwise, how could the Church have survived for almost two thousand years in the absense of universal gullibility? more...

There must be a connection between the lust for power and impotentia coeundi. I liked Marx, I was sure that he and his Jenny had made love merrily. You can feel it in the easy pace of his prose and in his humor. On the other hand, I remember remarking one day in the corridors of the university that if you screwed Krupskaya all the time, you'd end up writing a lousy book like Materialism and Empiriocriticism. more...

Every thing thinks, but according to its complexity. If this is so, then stones also think...and this stone thinks only I stone, I stone, I stone. But perhaps it cannot even say I. It thinks: Stone, stone, stone... God enjoys being All, as this stone enjoys being almost nothing, but since it knows no other way of being, it is pleased with its own way, eternally satisfied with itself. more...

Books always speak of other books. more...

For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying 'lepers' we would understand 'outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.' But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign. more...

At most, recognizing that our history was inspired by many tales we now recognize as false should make us alert, ready to call to constantly into question the very tale we believe true, because the criterion of the wisdom of the community is based on constant awareness of the fallibility of our learning. more...

Naturally, everything depends on one's background books and on what one is looking for. more...

Authors frequently say things they are unaware of; only after they have gotten the reactions of their readers do they discover what they have said more...

For Mallarme naming an object meant suppressing three-quarters of its poetic pleasure (which consists in the joy of guessing bit by bit - "le suggerer, voila le reve!"). more...

Stopgaps do belong to the internal economy of the form, since the Whole requires them, even if only in a subordinate position ... The stopgap Luigi Paryson's 'zeppa' accepts its own banality, because without the speed that the banal allows up, it would slow up a passage that is crucial for the outcome of the work and its interpretation. more...

I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the methodical path of the Jesuits.... It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation. DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that all can reach salvation. more...

But laughter is weakness, corruption, the foolishness of our flesh. more...

Daytime sleep is like the sin of the flesh; the more you have the more you want, and yet you feel unhappy, sated and unsated at the same time. more...

But it has often happened that I have found the most seductive depictions of sin in the pages of those very men of incorruptible virtue who condemned their spell and their effects. more...

Not bad, not bad at all," Diotallevi said. "To arrive at the truth through the painstaking reconstruction of a false text. more...

I returned to the courtyard and saw that the sun had grown weaker. Beautiful and clear as it had been, the morning (as the day approached the completion of its first half) was becoming damp and misty. Heavy clouds moved from the north and were invading the top of the mountain, covering it with a light brume. It seemed to be fog, and perhaps fog was also rising from the ground, but at that altitude it was difficult to distinguish the mists that rose from below and those that come down from above. It was becoming hard to discern the bulk of the more distant buildings. more...

Each of us is sometimes a cretin, a fool, a moron, or a lunatic. A normal person is just a reasonable mix of these components, these four ideal types. more...

I discovered ... that a novel has nothing to do with words in the first instance. Writing a novel is a cosmological matter, like the story told by Genesis (we all have to choose our role models, as Woody Allen puts it). more...

Someone said that patriotism is the last refuge of cowards; those without moral principles usually wrap a flag around themselves, and those bastards always talk about the purity of race. more...

A mystic is a hysteric who has met her confessor before her doctor. more...

libraries are fascinating places: sometimes you feel you are under the canopy of a railway station, and when you read books about exotic places there's a feeling of travelling to distant lands more...

How clear everything becomes when you look from the darkness of a dungeon. more...

I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing. more...

But why do some people support [the heretics]?" "Because it serves their purposes, which concern the faith rarely, and more often the conquest of power." "Is that why the church of Rome accuses all its adversaries of heresy?" "That is why, and that is also why it recognizes as orthodoxy any heresy it can bring back under its own control or must accept because the heresy has become too strong. more...

Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used "to tell" at all. more...

To read fiction means to play a game by which we give sense to the immensity of things that happened, are happening, or will happen in the actual world. By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something true about the world. This is the consoling function of narrative - the reason people tell stories, and have told stories from the beginning of time. more...

A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks. more...

After so many years even the fire of passion dies, and with it what was believed the light of the truth. Who of us is able to say now whether Hector or Achilles was right, Agamemnon or Priam, when they fought over the beauty of a woman who is now dust and ashes? more...

I dared, for the first and last time in my life, to express a theological conclusion: "But how can a necessary being exist totally polluted with the possible? What difference is there, then, between God and primogenial chaos? Isn't affirming God's absolute omnipotence and His absolute freedom with regard to His own choices tantamount to demonstrating that God does not exist? more...

Is it possible to say "It was a beautiful morning at the end of November" without feeling like Snoopy? more...

I think that at a certain age, say fifteen or sixteen, poetry is like masturbation. But later in life good poets burn their early poetry, and bad poets publish it. Thankfully I gave up rather quickly. more...

Since I became a novelist I have discovered that I am biased. Either I think a new novel is worse than mine and I don't like it, or I suspect it is better than my novels and I don't like it. more...

Hypotyposis is the rhetorical effect by which words succeed in rendering a visual scene. more...

You always want someone to hate in order to feel justified in your own misery. Hatred is the true primordial passion. It is love that's abnormal. That is why Christ was killed: he spoke against nature. You don't love someone for your whole life - that impossible hope is the source of adultery, matricide, betrayal of friends ... But you can hate someone for your whole life - provided he's always there to keep your hatred alive. Hatred warms the heart. more...

...we can only add to the world, where we believe it ends, more parts similar to those we already know (an expanse made again and always of water and land, stars and skies). more...

A book is a fragile creature. It suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements, clumsy hands. more...

I wrote a novel because I had a yen to do it. I believe this is sufficient reason to set out to tell a story. more...

... luckily, Eden is soon populated. The ethical dimension begins when the other appears on the scene. more...

The Fundamental Principle that governs - or ought to govern -human affairs if we wish to avoid misunderstandings, conflicts, or pointless utopias, is negotiation. more...

The truth is a young maiden as modest as she is beautiful, and therefore she is always seen cloaked. more...

Terrorism [is] a biological consequence of the multinationals, just as a day of fever is the reasonable price of an effective vaccine . . . The conflict is between great powers, not between demons and heroes. Unhappily, therefore, is the nation that finds the "heroes" underfoot, especially if they still think in religious terms and involve the population in their bloody ascent to an uninhabited paradise. more...

Libraries have always been humanities' way of preserving its collective wisdom more...

A narrator should not supply interpretations of his work; otherwise he would have not written a novel, which is a machine for generating interpretations. more...

A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection - not an invitation for hypnosis. more...

There, Master Niketas,' Baudolino said, 'when I was not prey to the temptations of this world, I devoted my nights to imagining other worlds. A bit with the help of wine, and a bit with that of the green honey. There is nothing better than imagining other worlds,' he said, 'to forget the painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I hadn't yet realized that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one. more...

The truth is an anagram of an anagram. more...

Is it worth it to be born if you cannot remember it later? And, technically speaking, had I ever been born? Other people, of course, said that I was. As far as I know, I was born in late April, at sixty years of age, in a hospital room. more...

New Orleans is not in the grip of a neurosis of a denied past; it passes out memories generously like a great lord; it doesn't have to pursue "the real thing." more...

And so I fell devoutly asleep and slept a long time, because young people seem to need sleep more than the old, who have already slept so much and are preparing to sleep for all eternity. more...

I was the type who looked at discussions of What Is Truth only with a view toward correcting the manuscript. If you were to quote "I am that I am," for example, I thought that the fundamental problem was where to put the comma, inside the quotation marks or outside. more...

The older I grow and the more I abandon myself to God's will, the less I value intelligence that wants to know and will that wants to do; and as the only element of salvation I recognize faith, which can wait patiently, without asking too many questions. more...

How beautiful was the spectacle of nature not yet touched by the often perverse wisdom of man! more...

I don't know, maybe we're always looking for the right place, maybe it's within reach, but we don't recognize it. Maybe to recognize it, we have to believe in it. more...

Fools are in great demand, especially on social occasions. They embarrass everyone but provide material for conversation. In their positive form, they become diplomats. more...

I write stories about conspiracies and paranoid characters while I am, in fact, a very skeptical person. more...

Sometimes my characters are not myself. more...

For many years I have devoted articles and essays to newspapers, from the inside. So criticism of the newspapers was a topic that I practiced for a long time. more...

One of the problems I have always discussed is the refusal to distinguish between comment and fact. The newspaper wraps every fact into a comment. It is impossible to give mere fact without establishing point of view. more...

It is obvious that the newspaper produces the opinion of the readers. more...

A newspaper can follow the compulsions, the desires of the readers. Take the English evening newspapers - they are following the readers' desires when they are interested only in the royal family gossip. But even the most objective, serious newspaper in the world designs the way in which the reader could or should think. That's unavoidable. more...

I have always been fascinated by paranoid people imagining conspiracies. I am fascinated by this in a critical way. more...

We are always remaking history. Our memory is always an interpretive reconstruction of the past, so is perspective. more...

All the theories of conspiracy were always a way to escape our responsibilities. It is a very important kind of social sickness by which we avoid recognizing reality such as it is and avoid our responsibilities. more...

My collection of rare books concerns only books that don't tell the truth. more...

Conspiracies and all the theories of conspiracy are a part of the canon of fakes. And I'm involved, in all of my writings, the theoretical ones as well as the novels, with the production of fakes. more...

To establish what is true is very difficult. Frequently it is easier to establish what is false. And, passing through the false, it's possible to understand something about truth. more...

Ugliness is more inventive than beauty. Beauty always follows certain camps. I think it's more amusing - ugliness - than beauty. more...

To imagine secret societies and conspiracy is a way not to react to the social and political life. Because you say, "We don't know who they are. We cannot react without reasoning." So it is a way to keep people far from the political environment. more...

I have a good memory. But I would be interested in memory even if I had a bad memory, because I believe that memory is our soul. If we lose our memory completely, we are without a soul. more...

My generation knew pretty well what happened 50 years before our birth. Now I follow all the quiz programs because they are a paramount example of the span of memory of the young generation - they are able to remember everything that happened in their life but not before. more...

If Bush had read all the documents about the Russians and British in Afghanistan in the 19th century, he would have not done what he did in the 21st. He would have understood how difficult it was to control this territory. He probably didn't read them. more...

All the blogs, Facebook, Twitter are made by people who want to show their own private affairs at the price of making fakes, to try to appear such as they are not, to construct another personality, which is a veritable loss of identity. more...

I am an old consumer of papers. I cannot avoid reading my newspapers every morning. more...

I am not on Facebook and on Twitter because the purpose of my life is to avoid messages. I receive too many messages from the world, and so I try to avoid that. more...

Given that there are seven billion people living on this earth, there is a consistent quantity of imbecile or idiot, okay. Previously, these people could express themselves only with their friends or at the bar after two or three glasses of something, and they said every silliness, and people laughed. Now they have the possibility to show up on the internet. And so, on the internet, along with the messages of a lot of interesting and important people - even the Pope is writing on Twitter - we have a great quantity of idiots. more...

A great problem of the internet is how to filter information, how to discard what is not relevant or what is silly and to keep only the important information. more...

Once you reach your fifties, you have to stop being interested in the present and write only on Elizabethan poets. more...

That is a real attitude - to see everything as being meaningful, even the less important things, to prove something, even the greater problems of life. more...

Being a professional philosopher is, I would say, feeling natural to think about small and great problems. It is the only pleasure. more...

I'm always fascinated by losers. Also, in my "Foucault's Pendulum," the main characters, who are in a way losers, they are more interesting than the winners. more...

"You cannot believe what you are saying." "Well, no. Hardly ever. But the philosopher is like the poet. The latter composes ideal letters for an ideal nymph, only to plumb with his words the depths of passion. The philosopher tests the coldness of his gaze, to see how far he can undermine the fortress of bigotry." more...

Listening doesn't mean trying to understand. Anything, however trifling, may be of use one day. What matters is to know something that others don't know you know. more...

You are always born under the wrong sign, and to live in this world properly you have to rewrite your own horoscope day by day. more...

A novel is a machine for generating interpretations. more...

In this new book, I open with a Hebrew quotation nobody is able to understand. This is in order to say, O.K., do you want to play this game? You are my friend, and we go. Otherwise, too bad for me or for you. I think it is untrue that my books are impenetrable. On the contrary, I think I am a sort of great vulgarizer. I put down certain difficult stuff, but I give my readers clues to understand what this kind of stuff is. more...

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. more...

There are no stories without meaning. And I am one of those men who can find it even when others fail to see it. Afterwards the story becomes the book of the living, like a blaring trumpet that raises from the tomb those who have been dust for centuries... more...

Terrorism is a biological consequence of the multinationals, just as a day of fever is the reasonable price of an effective vaccine... The conflict is between great powers, not between demons and heroes. Unhappily, therefore, is the nation that finds the heroes underfoot, especially if they still think in religious terms and involve the population in their bloody ascent to an uninhabited paradise. more...

I suspect that there is no serious scholar who does' like to watch television. I'm just the only one who confesses more...

There, Master Niketas," Baudolino said, "when I was not prey to the temptations of this world, I devoted my nights to imagining other worlds. A bit with the help of wine, and a bit with that of the green honey. There is nothing better than imagining other worlds," he said, "to forget the painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I had' yet realized that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one. more...

Since I became a novelist I have discovered that I am biased. Either I think a new novel is worse than mine and I do' like it, or I suspect it is better than my novels and I do' like it. more...

You"ll come back To me . . . It's written in the stars, you see, you"ll come back. You"ll come back, it's a fact that I am strong because I do believe in you. more...

Captain Cook discovered Australia looking for the Terra Incognita. Christopher Columbus thought he was finding India but discovered America. History is full of events that happened because of an imaginary tale. more...

But Italy is not an intellectual country. On the subway in Tokyo everybody reads. In Italy, they don't. Don't evaluate Italy from the fact that it produced Raphael and Michelangelo. more...

Sometimes you say things with a smile with the precise intention of making it clear that you are not being serious, and are only kidding. If I salute a friend with a smile and say, 'How are you, you old scoundrel!' clearly I don't really mean he's a scoundrel. more...

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else. more...

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. more...

Nothing gives a fearful man more courage than another's fear. more...

People are tired of simple things. They want to be challenged. more...

A book is a fragile creature, it suffers the wear of time, it fears rodents, the elements and clumsy hands. so the librarian protects the books not only against mankind but also against nature and devotes his life to this war with the forces of oblivion. more...

All the religious wars that have caused blood to be shed for centuries arise from passionate feelings and facile counter-positions, such as Us and Them, good and bad, white and black. more...

Translation is the art of failure. more...

Creativity can only be anarchic, capitalist, Darwinian. more...

Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth. more...

In the United States there's a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner. more...

Musical compositions can be very sad - Chopin - but you have the pleasure of this sadness. The cheap consolation is: you will be happy. The higher consolation is the pleasure and recognition of your unhappiness, the pleasure of having recognised that fate, destiny and life are such as they are and so you reach a higher form of consciousness. more...

The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon... The book has been thoroughly tested, and it's very hard to see how it could be improved on for its current purposes. more...

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. more...

When men stop believing in God, it isn't that they then believe in nothing: they believe in everything. more...

The problem with the Internet is that it gives you everything - reliable material and crazy material. So the problem becomes, how do you discriminate? more...

It is sometimes hard to grasp the difference between identifying with one's own roots, understanding people with other roots, and judging what is good or bad. more...

I have lost the freedom of not having an opinion. more...

I think of myself as a serious professor who, during the weekend, writes novels. more...

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. more...

Followers of the occult believe in only what they already know, and in those things that confirm what they have already learned. more...

As an adolescent I wrote comic books, because I read lots of them, and fantasy novels set in Malaysia and Central Africa. more...

To read a paper book is another experience: you can do it on a ship, on the branch of a tree, on your bed, even if there is a blackout. more...

When you are on the dancefloor, there is nothing to do but dance. more...

I love the smell of book ink in the morning. more...

We were clever enough to turn a laundry list into poetry. more...

The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or like a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless. more...

Show not what has been done, but what can be. How beautiful the world would be if there were a procedure for moving through labyrinths. more...

But the purpose of a story is to teach and to please at once, and what it teaches is how to recognize the snares of the world. more...

All the stories I would like to write persecute me. When I am in my chamber, it seems as if they are all around me, like little devils, and while one tugs at my ear, another tweaks my nose, and each says to me, 'Sir, write me, I am beautiful. more...

Love flourishes in expectation. Expectation strolls through the spacious fields of Time towards Opportunity. more...

the first quality of an honest man is contempt for religion, which would have us afraid of the most natural thing in the world, which is death; and would have us hate the one beautiful thing destiny has given us, which is life. more...

It is necessary to meditate early, and often, on the art of dying to succeed later in doing it properly just once. more...

To survive, you must tell stories. more...

Then why do you want to know?" "Because learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do. more...

The real hero is always a hero by mistake. more...

All poets write bad poetry. Bad poets publish them, good poets burn them. more...

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. more...

For what I saw at the abbey then (and will now recount) caused me to think that often inquisitors create heretics. And not only in the sense that they imagine heretics where these do not exist, but also that inquisitors repress the heretical putrefaction so vehemently that many are driven to share in it, in their hatred for the judges. Truly, a circle conceived by the Devil. God preserve us. more...

You can be obsessed by remorse all your life, not because you chose the wrong thing- you can always repent, atone : but because you never had the chance to prove to yourself that you would have chosen the right thing. more...

To escape the power of the unknown, to prove to yourself that you don't believe in it, you accept its spells. Like an avowed atheist who sees the Devil at night, you reason: He certainly doesn't exist; this is therefore an illusion, perhaps a result of indigestion. But the Devil is sure that he exists, and believes in his upside-down theology. What, then, will frighten him? You make the sign of the cross, and he vanishes in a puff of brimstone. more...

I lacked the courage to investigate the weaknesses of the wicked, because I discovered they are the same as the weaknesses of the saintly. more...

What did I really think fifteen years ago? A nonbeliever, I felt guilty in the midst of all those believers. And since it seemed to me that they were in the right, I decided to believe, as you might decide to take an aspirin: It can't hurt and you might get better. more...

Your masters at Oxford have taught you to idolize reason, drying up the prophetic capacities of your heart! more...

I always assume that a good book is more intelligent than its author. It can say things that the writer is not aware of. more...

For the enemy to be recognized and feared, he has to be in your home or on your doorstep. more...

When your true enemies are too strong, you have to choose weaker enemies. more...

He who falls in love in bars doesn't need a woman all his own. He can always find one on loan. more...

My poetry had the same functional origin and the same formal configuration as teenage acne. more...

A secret is powerful when it is empty. People often mention the "Masonic secret." What on earth is the Masonic secret? No one can tell. As long as it remains empty it can be filled up with every possible notion, and it has power. more...

Every man is obsessed by the memories of his own youth. more...

There are four kinds of people in this world: cretins, fools, morons, and lunatics. more...

I do not remember where I read that there are two kinds of poets: the good poets, who at a certain point destroy their bad poems and go off to run guns in Africa, and the bad poets, who publish theirs and keep writing more until they die. more...

Not long ago, if you wanted to seize political power in a country you had merely to control the army and the police. Today it is only in the most backward countries that fascist generals, in carrying out a coup d'etat, still use tanks. If a country has reached a high degree of industrialization the whole scene changes.... Today a country belongs to the person who controls communications. more...

I enjoyed your article, but I preferred my own. more...

I started to write [ The Name of the Rose ] in March of 1978, moved by a seminal idea. I wanted to poison a monk. more...

In the United States, politics is a profession, whereas in Europe it is a right and a duty . more...

Reflecting on these complex relationships between reader and story, fiction and life, can constitute a form of therapy against the sleep of reason, which generates monsters. more...

I don't miss my youth. I'm glad I had one, but I wouldn't like to start over. more...

There are magic moments, involving great physical fatigue and intense motor excitement, that produce visions of people known in the past. As I learned later from the delightful little book of the Abbe de Bucquoy, there are also visions of books as yet unwritten. more...

If you want to become a man of letters and perhaps write some Histories one day, you must also lie and invent tales, otherwise your History would become monotonous. But you must act with restraint. The world condemns liars who do nothing but lie, even about the most trivial things, and it rewards poets, who lie only about the greatest things. more...

I seal that which was not to be said in the tomb that I become. more...

We live for books. more...

What is life if not the shadow of a fleeting dream? more...

I felt like poisoning a monk. more...

Idiot. Above her head was the only stable point in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum's business. A moment later the couple went off - he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter - their first and last encounter - with the One, the Ein-Sof, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude? more...

Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told. more...

I seem to know all the cliches, but not how to put them together in a believable way. Or else these stories are terrible and grandiose precisely because all the cliches intertwine in an unrealistic way and you can't disentangle them. But when you actually live a cliche, it feels brand new, and you are unashamed. more...

The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text. more...

When the writer (or the artist in general) says he has worked without giving any thought to the rules of the process, he simply means he was working without realizing he knew the rules. more...

Rem tene, verba sequentur: grasp the subject, and the words will follow. This, I believe, is the opposite of what happens with poetry, which is more a case of verba tene, res sequenter: grasp the words, and the subject will follow. more...

In the Middle Ages, cathendrals and convents burned like tinder; imagining a medieval story without a fire is like imagining a World War II movie in the Pacific without a fighter plane shot down in flames. more...

What is love? There is nothing in the world, neither man nor Devil nor any thing, that I hold as suspect as love, for it penetrates the soul more than any other thing. Nothing exists that so fills and binds the heart as love does. Therefore, unless you have those weapons that subdue it, the soul plunges through love into an immense abyss. more...

The lunatic is all idee fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars. more...

Whoever reflects on four things I would be better if he were never born: that which is above, that which is below, that which is before, that which is after. more...

Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big. more...

Where else? I belong to a lost generation and am comfortable only in the company of others who are lost and lonely. more...

Monsters exist because they are part of the divine plan, and in the horrible features of those same monsters the power of the creator is revealed. more...

I should be at peace. I have understood. Don't some say that peace comes when you understand? I have understood. I should be at peace. Who said that peace derives from the contemplation of order, order understood, enjoyed, realized without residuum, in joy and truimph, the end of effort? All is clear, limpid; the eye rests on the whole and on the parts and sees how the parts have conspired to make the whole; it perceives the center where the lymph flows, the breath, the root of the whys... more...

You must overcome any shyness and have a conversation with the librarian, because he can offer you reliable advice that will save you much time. You must consider that the librarian (if not overworked or neurotic) is happy when he can demonstrate two things: the quality of his memory and erudition and the richness of his library, especially if it is small. The more isolated and disregarded the library, the more the librarian is consumed with sorrow for its underestimation. A person who asks for help makes the librarian happy. more...

but I had also learned that freedom of speech means freedom from rhetoric. more...

Any fact becomes important when it's connected to another. more...

If you want to use television to teach somebody, you must first teach them how to use television. more...

We stopped to browse in the cases, and now that William - with his new glasses on his nose - could linger and read the books, at every title he discovered he let out exclamations of happiness, either because he knew the work, or because he had been seeking it for a long time, or finally because he had never heard it mentioned and was highly excited and titillated. In short, for him every book was like a fabulous animal that he was meeting in a strange land. more...

Well, Diotallevi and I are planning a reform in higher education. A School of Comparative Irrelevance, where useless or impossibe courses are given. The school's aim is to turn out scholars capable of endlessly increasing the number of unnecessary subjects. more...

American coffee can be a pale solution served at a temperature of 100 degrees centigrade in plastic thermos cups, usually obligatory in railroad stations for purposes of genocide, whereas coffee made with an American percolator, such as you find in private houses or in humble luncheonettes, served with eggs and bacon, is delicious, fragrant, goes down like pure spring water, and afterwards causes severe palpitations, because one cup contains more caffeine than four espressos. more...

By means of the sign, man frees himself from the here and now for abstraction. more...

When we traded the results of our fantasies, it seemed to us-and rightly-that we had proceeded by unwarranted associations, by shortcuts so extraordinary that, if anyone had accused us of really believing them, we would have been ashamed. more...

All of us were slowly losing that intellectual light that allows you always to tell the similar from the identical, the metaphorical from the real. more...

Usually naive interviewers hover between two mutually contradictory convictions: one, that a text we call creative develops almost instantaneously in the mystic heat of inspirational raptus; or the other, that the writer has followed a recipe, a kind of secret set of rules that they would like to see revealed. There is no set of rules, or, rather, there are many, varied and flexible rules. more...

When all the archetypes burst out shamelessly, we plumb the depths of Homeric profundity. Two cliches make us laugh but a hundred cliches moves us because we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, celebrating a reunion. . . . Just as the extreme of pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the Sublime. more...

What we honor as prudence in our elders is simply panic in action. more...

The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently. I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, I love you madly, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly. more...

The ideology of this America wants to establish reassurance through Imitation. But profit defeats ideology, because the consumers want to be thrilled not only by the guarantee of the Good but also by the shudder of the Bad. more...

Every great thinker is someone else's moron. more...

In other words, although I don't like them, we do need noble-spirited souls. more...

The followers must feel besieged. more...

I am a professor who writes novels on Sundays more...

If two things don't fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that's credulity. more...

The pleasures of love are pains that become desirable, where sweetness and torment blend, and so love is voluntary insanity, infernal paradise, and celestial hell - in short, harmony of opposite yearnings, sorrowful laughter, soft diamond. more...

He had prepared his death much earlier, in his imagination, unaware that his imagination, more creative than he, was planning the reality of that death. more...

The faith a movement proclaims doesn't count: what counts is the hope it offers. All heresies are the banner of a reality, an exclusion. Scratch the heresy and you will find the leper. Every battle against heresy wants only this: to keep the leper as he is. more...

Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us. For we sense dimly that the cliches are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion. more...

That day, I began to be incredulous. Or, rather, I regretted having been credulous. I regretted having allowed myself to be borne away by a passion of the mind. Such is credulity. more...

Mystical additions and subtractions always come out the way you want. more...

Jacopo Belbo didnt understand that he had had his moment and that it would have to be enough for him, for all his life. Not recognizing it, he spent the rest of his days seeking something else, until he damned himself. more...

The monkish vows keep us far from that sink of vice that is the female body, but often they bring us close to other errors. Can I finally hide from myself the fact that even today my old age is still stirred by the noonday demon when my eyes, in choir, happen to linger on the beardless face of a novice, pure and fresh as a maidens? more...

The print does not always have the same shape as the body that impressed it, and it doesn't always derive from the pressure of a body. At times it reproduces the impression a body has left in our mind: it is the print of an idea. more...

Only an unhinged movie survives as a disconnected series of images, of peaks, of visual icebergs. It should display not one central idea but many. It should not reveal a coherent philosophy of composition. It must live on, and because of, its glorious ricketiness. more...

For such is the fate of parody: it must never fear exaggerating. If it strikes home, it will only prefigure something that others will then do without a smile-and without a blush-in steadfast virile seriousness. more...

We have a limit, a very discouraging, humiliating limit: death. That's why we like all the things that we assume have no limits and, therefore, no end. It's a way of escaping thoughts about death. We like lists because we don't want to die. more...

If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you're an idiot. more...

Beauty has never been absolute and immutable but has taken on different aspects depending on the historical period and the country more...

The more elusive and ambiguous a symbol is, the more it gains significance and power. more...

The hand of God creates; it does not conceal. more...

The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came. more...

The only truths that are useful are instruments to be thrown away. more...

A human best, which is very little. Its hard to accept the idea that there cannot be an order in the universe because it would offend the free will of God and His omnipotence. So the freedom of God is our condemnation, or at least the condemnation of our pride. more...

For, I must tell you, in this world where today all lose their minds over many & wondrous Machines - some of which, alas, you can see also in this Siege - I construct Aristotelian Machines, that allow anyone to see with Words... more...

It takes a little time, but the pleasures of cooking begin before the pleasures of the palate, and preparing means anticipating ... more...

The Roseicrucians were everywhere, aided by the fact that they didn't exist. more...

National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same. more...

I felt no passion, no jealousy, no nostalgia. I was hollow, clear-headed, clean, and as emotionless as an aluminum pot. more...

You don't fall in love because you fall in love; you fall in love because of the need, desperate, to fall in love. when you feel that need, you have to watch your step: like having drunk a philter, the kind that makes you fall in love with the first thing you meet. It could be a duck-billed platypus. more...

Nothing can shake my belief that this world is the fruit of a dark god whose shadow I extend. more...

The Internet gives us everything and forces us to filter it not by the workings of culture, but with our own brains. This risks creating six billion separate encyclopedias, which would prevent any common understanding whatsoever. more...

They say that a cat, if it falls from a window and hits its nose, can lose its sense of smell and then, because cats live by their ability to smell, it can no longer recognize things. I'm a cat that hit its nose. more...

Never affirm, always allude: allusions are made to test the spirit and probe the heart. more...

There is only one thing that you write for yourself, and that is a shopping list. more...

The art of splitting hairs four ways. This is the department of useless techniques. Mechanical Avunculogratulation, for example, is how to build machines for greeting uncles. We're not sure, though, if Pylocatabasis belongs, since it's the art of being saved by a hair. Somehow that doesn't seem completely useless. more...

"Then we are living in a place abandoned by God," I said, disheartened. "Have you found any places where God would have felt at home?" William asked me, looking down from his great height. more...

There are four types: the cretin, the imbecile, the stupid and the mad. Normality is a balanced mixture of all four. more...

And we, inhabitants of the great coral of the Cosmos, believe the atom (which still we cannot see) to be full matter, whereas, it too, like everything else, is but an embroidery of voids in the Void, and we give the name of being, dense and even eternal, to that dance of inconsistencies, that infinite extension that is identified with absolute Nothingness and that spins from its own non-being the illusion of everything. more...

I've always said that I learned the English I know through two sources - Marvel Comics and Finnegans Wake. more...

There are no stories without meaning. And I am one of those men who can find it even when others fail to see it. Afterwards the story becomes the book of the living, like a blaring trumpet that raises from the tomb those who have been dust for centuries.... more...

There is only one thing that arouses animals more than pleasure, and that is pain. Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell. Under torture you say not only what the inquisitor wants, but also what you imagine might please him, because a bond (this, truly, diabolical) is established between you and him. more...

There are two kinds of friendship: one is genuine affection, the other is inability to refuse. more...

American coffee can be a pale solution served at a temperature of 100oC more...

There is a constant in the average American imagination and taste, for which the past must be preserved and celebrated in full-scale authentic copy; a philosophy of immortality as duplication. It dominates the relation with the self, with the past, not infrequently with the present, always with History and, even, with the European tradition. more...

Contemporary societies have lost the sense of the feast but have kept the obscure drive for it. more...

But why doesn't the Gospel ever say that Christ laughed?" I asked, for no good reason. "Is Jorge right?" "Legions of scholars have wondered whether Christ laughed. The question doesn't interest me much. I believe he never laughed, because, omniscient as the son of God had to be, he knew how we Christians would behave. . . . more...

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. more...

Today I realize that many recent exercises in "deconstructive reading" read as if inspired by my parody. This is parody's mission: it must never be afraid of going too far. If its aim is true, it simply heralds what others will later produce, unblushing, with impassive and assertive gravity. more...

Writing doesn't mean necessarily putting words on a sheet of paper. You can write a chapter while walking or eating. more...

The cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopedia. more...

We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. more...

On sober reflection, I find few reasons for publishing my Italian version of an obscure, neo-Gothic French version of a seventeenth century Latin edition of a work written in Latin by a German Monk toward the end of the fourteenth century...First of all, what style should I employ? more...

I suspect that there is no serious scholar who doesn't like to watch television. I'm just the only one who confesses more...

Yes, I know, it's not the truth, but in a great history little truths can be altered so that the greater truth emerges. more...

Yesterday's rose endures in its name, we hold empty names. more...

We live for books. A sweet mission in this world dominated by disorder and decay. more...

The light in her eyes was beyond description, yet it did not instill improper thoughts: it inspired a love tempered by awe, purifying the hearts it inflamed. more...

You'll come back To me . . . It's written in the stars, you see, you'll come back. You'll come back, it's a fact that I am strong because I do believe in you. more...

An idea you have might not be original. But by creating a novel out of that idea you can make it original. more...

Memory is a stopgap for humans, for whom time flies and what is passed is passed. more...

It was awkward, revisiting a world you have never seen before: like coming home, after a long journey, to someone else's house. more...

Thus we have on stage two men, each of whom knows nothing of what he believes the other knows, and to deceive each other reciprocally both speak in allusions, each of the two hoping (in vain) that the other holds the key to his puzzle. more...

This, in fact, is the power of the imagination, which, combining the memory of gold with that of the mountain, can compose the idea of a golden mountain. more...

Love is wiser than wisdom. more...

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn't ask ourselves what it says but what it means... more...

True learning must not be content with ideas, which are, in fact, signs, but must discover things in their individual truth. more...

Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treausre of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors. more...

The step between ecstatic vision and sinful frenzy is all too brief more...

I consider always the adult life to be the continuous retrieval of childhood. more...

Originality and creativity are nothing but the result of the wise management of combinations. The creative genius combines more rapidly, and with a greater critical sense of what gets tossed out and what gets saved, the same material that the failed genius has to work with. more...

You tell me these two were my parents, so now I know but it's a memory that you've given me. I'll remember the photo from now on, but not them. more...

The photograph [of Che Guevara], for a civilization now accustomed to thinking in images, was not the description of a single event... it was an argument. more...

If photography is to be likened to perception, this is not because the former is a natural process but because the latter is also coded. more...

We know that sensory phenomena are transcribed in the photographic emulsion in such a way that even if there is a causal link with the real phenomena, the graphic images can be considered as wholly arbitrary with respect to these phenomena. more...

The west has decided to channel money and effort into studying other customs and practices, but no one has really given other people the chance to study western customs and practices, except at schools maintained by white expatriates, or by allowing the rich from other cultures to study in Oxford or Paris. What happens then is that they return home to organise fundamentalist movements, because they feel solidarity with those of their compatriots who lack the opportunity for such education. more...

Deciding what is being talked about is a kind of interpretive bet. more...

Simple mechanisms do not love. more...

[In my writing] I know that I have made a caricature out of [others' academic] theories [but] I think that caricatures are frequently good portraits. more...

[I am fascinated by stupidity] because normal intelligence is boring. Two plus two makes four - finished. You have no possibilities! Stupidity is infinite. Two plus two can make billions of different numbers. more...

Socrates ... did not write. It seems academically obvious that he perished because he did not publish! more...

Living the same sorrows three times was a suffering, but it was a suffering to relive even the same joys. The joy of life is born from feeling, whether it be joy or grief, always of short duration, and woe to those who know they will enjoy eternal bliss. more...

And when someone suggests you believe in a proposition, you must first examine it to see whether it is acceptable, because our reason was created by God, and whatever pleases our reason can but please divine reason, of which, for that matter, we know only what we infer from the processes of our own reason by analogy and often by negation. more...

If culture did not filter, it would be inane - as inane as the formless, boundless Internet is on its own. And if we all possessed the boundless knowledge of the Web, we would be idiots! Culture is an instrument for making a hierarchical system of intellectual labor. more...

Not that the incredulous person doesn't believe in anything. It's just that he doesn't believe in everything. more...

The good of a book lies in its being read. more...

Books are menaced by books. Any excess of information produces silence. more...

You cannot escape one infinite, I told myself, by fleeing to another. You cannot escape the revelation of the identical by taking refuge in the illusion of the multiple. more...

He who laughs does not believe in what he laughs at, but neither does he hate it. Therefore, laughing at evil means not preparing oneself to combat it, and laughing at good means denying the power through which good is self-propagating. more...

A sure sign of a lunatic is that sooner or later, he brings up the Templars. more...

The only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth. more...

The Void is not being, but not being cannot be, ergo the Void cannot be. The reasoning was sound, because it denied the Void while granting that it could be conceived. In fact, we can quite easily conceive things that do not exist. Can a chimera, buzzing in the Void, devour second intentions? No, because chimeras do not exist, in the Void no buzzing can be heard, and intentions are mental things - an intended pear does not nourish us. And yet I can think of a chimera even if it is chimerical, namely, if it is not. And the same with the Void. more...

The poets did not win; the philosophers surrendered. more...

Once upon a time there were mass media, and they were wicked, of course, and there was a guilty party. Then there were the virtuous voices that accused the criminals. And Art (ah, what luck!) offered alternatives, for those who were not prisoners to the mass media. more...

The belief that time is a linear, directed sequence running from A to B is a modern illusion. In fact, it can also go from B to A, the effect producing the cause. more...

The more things you know, or pretend to know, the more powerful you are. It doesn't matter if the things are true. What counts, remember, is to possess a secret. more...

I have never doubted the truth of signs, Adso; they are the only things man has with which to orient himself in the world. What I did not understand was the relation among signs.... I behaved stubbornly, pursuing a semblance of order, when I should have known well that there is no order in the universe. more...

The wise man does not discriminate; he gathers all the shreds of light, from wherever they may come... more...

Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used to tell at all. more...

I started to write in March of 1978, moved by a seminal idea. I wanted to poison a monk. more...

In the United States, politics is a profession, whereas in Europe it is a right and a duty. more...

After all, the cultivated person's first duty is to be always prepared to rewrite the encyclopaedia. more...

That man is... odd, I dared say to William. He is, or has been, in many ways a great man. But for this very reason he is odd. It is only petty men who seem normal. more...

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus. more...

Fear prophets, Adso, and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them. more...

In short, Roberto privately concluded, if you would avoid wars, never make treaties of peace. more...

It was awkward, revisiting a world you have never seen before: like coming home, after a long journey, to someone else's house. more...


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