Quotes Harlan has Used
Harlan's own words, kept brief for the sake of both
your monitor-blasted eyeballs and the copyright laws.
The Webderland opening quotation
Old opening quotations
Quotes courtesy of Webderland's good buddy Mara
There is a collective unconscious working in me that is absolutely true;
I trust it absolutely; I give myself up to it; I will go anywhere it takes
There are these wonderful, doomed, blessed few who have come our way through
the ages who are able to tie up the universe in words and present them
to us and say: if you will but immerse yourself, you will be washed clean
and come forth anew.
I talk about the things people have always talked about in stories: pain,
hate, truth, courage, destiny, friendship, responsibility, growing old,
growing up, falling in love, all of these things. What I try to write
about are the darkest things in the soul, the mortal dreads. I try to
go into those places in me that contain the cauldrous. I want to dip up
the fire, and I want to put it on paper. The closer I get to the burning
core of my being, the things which are most painful to me, the better
is my work.
It is a love/hate relationship I have with the human race. I am an elitist,
and I feel that my responsibility is to drag the human race along with
me- that I will never pander to, or speak down to, or play the safe game.
Because my immortal soul will be lost.
D.T. Shindler on the "Perfect Ellison
This one, which Ellison coined himself, is even used in his bio in the
"Who's Who in America" books found in most libraries:
The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen...and stupidity.
Stuff from Seth Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[These quotes from Ellison interviewing Clive Barker, a transcript
of a 1988 broadcast of Hour 25 on LA radio station KPFK, with Harlan
as host. I read the transcript as it was printed in _Midnight Graffitti_
Special, Winter 94-95.]
There's the curse under which I have been suffering for twenty years:
Should I write, if not the same way, then in the same area. We write
about the dark night of the soul. And evverything that we write, as
far as I percieve, having read your books and everything I write, is
really what Faulkner calls "the study of the human heart in conflict
[Publishers] have grown accustomed to slipping things into genres. It's
either a best-seller or it's in genre. There's no longer a midlist.
So you're either going to be a horror writer or a Western writer or
a science fiction writer or a detective writer, or you're going to be
Judith Krantz and write that shit.
I have this great idea of combining genres, the much-maligned genre
movie, and the monster movie, and we could call it _Boogie 'Til You
Puke On My Grave_. . .with Kung-Fu vampires, it would be good.
Coppola says, 'I perceive of myself as a writer who also directs.' He
said it is the writer who concieves of the man walking up the stairs,
seeing the man walking down the stairs, and the look they exchange.
All of that is in the writing. When I write a script, every shot is
there. I have not abrogated that responsibility to the director.
Ellison: "Joanna Russ was admiring one of my stories--I
think it was 'Pretty Maggie Money-Eyes'--before it had been published.
And she said it was just wonderful. 'But your stories,' she said, 'they
have an assault on you, but they're not like a piece of sculpture that
you can stop and walk around and look at from all sides.' I said, 'Absolutely
not. I want them to grab you by the throat and tear off parts of your
Clive Barker: "Any particular parts, or does it change
from story to story?"
Ellison: "No, the moist parts, the nasty bits."
There are two things I found when I did the Merv Griffin show, the two
things I said that got them really crazy, was that I didn't believe
in god, and that I really believe there are some people who are better
Vargas says writers are exorcists of their own demons.
Stuff from me (email@example.com):
WOOF WOOF A GOLDFISH
There is a word in Yiddish for the way this guy is coming on. The word
is broygess. It's pronounced something like rhyming with
"Boy Gus" who would be, of course, sibling to Boy George.
He's all chest and flapping lips. Broygess. Fulla hot air
and warm owl shit.
My mother, dear lady that she was, had an instant response when someone
came on broygess with her. The offensive party would run
his/her mouth and roll dem eyes, and when a spot was hit where breath
had to be taken, my momma would squint at the geek and say, "Woof
woof a goldfish."
K is for KENGHIS KHAN
He was a very nice person. History has no record of him. There is a
moral in that, somewhere.
from PunkVix@aol.com (Tracy)
You are not alone. We are all the same, all in this fragile skin, suffering
the ugliness of simply being human, all prey to the same mortal dreads.
One of my favorites, which I believe was Harlan quoting someone else,
I used as my .sig for years: "Everyone is entitled to an *informed*
Kimberly B. Churchwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I couldn't find anything on Unca Harlan's feelings about Chanukkah,
but he *loathes* Christmas. He expounds on the subject in _The Harlan
Ellison Hornbook_, particularly in the column dated 28 December 1972
(cheerily titled, "No Offense Intended, But F*ck Xmas!").
A brief quote:
Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably
with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the
feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness,
guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion,
by friends and relatives, by the utterly artifical responsiblities
of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicated
gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family
one avoids all the rest of the year...in short, of being brutalized
by a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings
and has become a merchandising ploy for color tv set manufacturers
and ravagers of the woodlands.
Harlan Ellison, in an interview with Maggie
Thompson, printed in Sci-Fi Universe (June 1995):
I have no love for Paramount. Paramount is not a studio that I think
is steeped in ethical behavior...The fanatics who feed off that whole
money-making Trek franchise, who live it and breathe it, who don't merely
watch the show, are to me the most pathetic creatures in the world;
suckers being mulcted by venal Paramount, publishers of garbage novels
with stock characters, hustlers and inheritors of Roddenberry's scam,
and cult-like gurus who prey on Star Trek obsessives and Trekkies and
Trekkers and Treksters and Trekoids and Treknoids and Trekiloids and
Diploids and Dippies. They're like those sad couch potatoes who worship
at the TV altars of The 700 Club and Home Shopping Channel, which are
one and the same, whether the viewers are being fleeced in the name
of Consumerism or Jesus. They are, in my view, absolutely the most pathetic
creatures in the world. I mean, they talk about a TV series as if it
were real life. They wear damned Star Trek uniforms. People change their
names so they have the same names as the characters. Doesn't anyone
else see the resemblance this all bears to the Branch Davidians or the
These are not people that I care to spend an evening with, thank you.
"My philosophy of life is that the meek shall inherit
nothing but debasement, frustration and ignoble deaths; that there is
security in personal strength; that you CAN fight City Hall and WIN;
that any action is better than no action, even if it's the wrong action;
that you never reach glory or self-fulfillment unless you're willing
to risk everything, dare anything, put yourself dead on the line every
time; and that once one becomes strong or rich or potent or powerful
it is the responsibility of the strong to help the weak BECOME strong."
-- The Harlan Ellison Hornbook, Aug. 9, 1973
"I think love and sex are separate and only vaguely similar. Like
the word bear and the word bare. You can get in trouble mistaking one
for the other." - from the introduction of "How's the Night
Life on Cissalda" in Shatterday
"Lizard dragon beast with eyes of oil-slick pools, ultraviolet
death colors smoking in their depths. Corded silk-flowing muscles sliding
beneath the black hairless hide, trained sprinter from a lost land,
smoothest movements of choreographed power. The never-sleeping guardian
of the faith, now gentlestepping down through mists of potent barriers
erected to separate men from their masters." - from "Basilisk"
in Deathbird Stories
"Dira, Snake, shadow...took the man down and let the spark of light
change itself to energy as the man became one with the Earth. His flesh
melted and became quiet, cool soil. His eyes glowed with the light that
shines in the darkest centers of the planet and he saw the way the mother
cared for her young: the worms, the roots of plants, the rivers that
cascaded for miles over great cliffs in enormous caverns, the bark of
trees. He was taken once more to the bosom of that great Earth mother,
and understood the joy of her life.
Remember this, Dira said to the man." - from "The Deathbird"
in Deathbird Stories
"Altamont, the Angels, Meredith Hnter, The Bank of America, the
Chicago 7 convictions, repression, solidarity, and Ed Sullivan. Does
anyone else out there see the horrifying connections? Or are we so used
to holding those little transistor radios up to our ears as we walk
the Strip that the noise level has grown too high for us to detect the
wail of ourselves, dying along with our dying culture?" - from
The Other Glass Teat, 6 March 1970 column
Tales of Harlan from his own work and the recollections
Harlan Meets the Guys What Made Robocop
source: "Harlan Ellison's Watching" column, Magazine of F/SF,
"So there I am at this elegant party that Stan Lee of Marvel Productions
threw, back in December of 1987, and his and Joan's home up in the Hollywood
Hills was jammed to the walls with the hoi and the polloi, and at one
point I'm introduced to these two young guys named Ed Neumeier and Michael
Miner, and Stan or somebody says, "These are the guys who wrote
Robocop. Didn't you just write a piece on Robocop?"
Well, they knew damned well I'd just written a review
of Robocop, and I'd worked it over like a slab of beef
jerky, because forty-something minutes into the damned flick, I'd had
it up to here with the idiot violence and the low animal steam heat
of the audience and the after-the-fact addition of "socially relevant
satire" and I'd said, in effect, this is mean widdle kids pulling
the wings off butterflies and setting fire to pussycats and nailing
spaniels to ironing boards, and frankly Scarlett, this is like a pavane
for perverts...so lemme outta here!
And well, hell, you know me: the kind of pain in the ass who, when he's
asked by guests at a party what did you think of our incredibly successful,
extremely popular, critically drooled-over movie that has made us two
smartasses real hot tickets in this town, answers as charmingly as a
cactus spine in your tongue "I think they ought to nuke you two
until you glow".
Well, not exactly. I didn't exactly say that. But Stan
and Joan haven't attended a dinner invitation since 1987, so I am driven,
lashed if you will, toward the conclusion that I acted in a somewhat
less than glit-edged fashion."
Text File of other experiences with
Quotes from Other People (gasp) found in Harlan's work
If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen
to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will
deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.
What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate
as a child?
Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet
high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western
summit is called the Masai 'Ngaje Ngai,' the House of God. Close to
the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard.
No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.
(The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1938)
Jules Renard (1864-1910)
(submitted by Sebastian Thaler)
Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep
proving your talent to people who have none.
(submitted by email@example.com
, from the opener to "A Love Song for Jerry Fallwell")
If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but
if you really make them think, they'll hate you.
(submitted by David
Loftus, from HE's introduction to Shatterday)
Attaining success in Hollywood is like climbing a gigantic mountain
of cow flop, in order to pluck one perfect rose from the summit. And
you find when you've made that hideous climb . . . you've lost the
sense of smell.
Dame Margot Fonteyn, 1976
(submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org,
from the introduction of "The New York Review of Bird" in
The one important thing I have learnt over the years is the difference
between taking one's work seriously and taking oneself seriously.
The first is imperative and the second disastrous.
(submitted by email@example.com)
The gargoyles have taken over the catherdral.
(submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org,
from "Delusion for a Dragon Slayer")
Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away.
T. S. Eliot
(submitted by email@example.com,
from "Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude
38° 54' N, Longitude 77° 00' 13" W")
We shall not cease from exploration
And in the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.