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Age
Engrave this Quote Nothing seems to matter quite as much. I no longer think about death in the concentrated way I once did. I don't know… you get so old and you sort of give up in some way. You've had your period of angst, your period of religious desperation, and you've arrived at a philosophical position where you don't need, or you can't bear, to look at it.
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-John Updike, Interview with Daily Telegraph's Mick Brown, October, 2009
Engrave this Quote Now that I am sixty, I see why the idea of elder wisdom has passed from currency.
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-John Updike
America
Engrave this Quote America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.
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-John Updike
Art
Engrave this Quote Art imitates Nature in this; not to dare is to dwindle.
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-John Updike
Engrave this Quote I would rather have as my patron a host of anonymous citizens digging into their own pockets for the price of a book or a magazine than a small body of enlightened and responsible men administering public funds. I would rather chance my personal vision of truth striking home here and there in the chaos of publication that exists than attempt to filter it through a few sets of official, honorably public-spirited scruples.
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-John Updike
Atheism
Engrave this Quote Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been its drastic uninterestingness as an intellectual position. Where was the ingenuity, the ambiguity, the humanity (in the Harvard sense) of saying that the universe just happened to happen and that when we're dead we're dead?
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-John Updike
Authors & Writing
Engrave this Quote My father was a scared man. And he communicated his anxiety to me, so that perhaps more than most writers I wanted to make a practical go of it. And my career was eminently practical. I fastened on to this magazine, the New Yorker, that seemed to me to be the top of its class and I tried to get into it, and I did get into it. It was kind of calculating. Kind of crass.
But I framed it to myself as a kind of altruistic ambition. Most jobs in the world were competitive, you had to push someone aside, but writing and art I thought weren't like that. You brought something new into the world without displacing anything else. To entertain people, or to hold out a standard of beauty or to even inform them seemed so self-evidently out of what my father called the rat race. Dog eat dog, in his phrase. He had a despairing picture of the capitalist world, as losers in that system tend to do.
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-John Updike
Engrave this Quote I complain a lot. That's one way of coping. But I'm in a profession where nobody tells you to quit. No board of other partners tells you it's time to get your gold watch, and no physical claim is made on you like an athlete or an actress. So I try to plug along on the theory that I can still do it. I still keep trying to produce prose, and some poetry, in the hope that I can find something to say about being alive, this country, but generally the human condition.
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-John Updike, (on being an old writer)
Engrave this Quote When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas.
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-John Updike, Quoted in Writers at Work (George Plimpton, ed.), 1976
Business
Engrave this Quote By the time a partnership dissolves, it has dissolved.
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-John Updike
Celebrity
Engrave this Quote Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face. As soon as one is aware of being somebody, to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf in his overanimation. One can either see or be seen.
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-John Updike, Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, ch. 6, 1989
Children
Engrave this Quote If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and for earning money.
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-John Updike
Christianity
Engrave this Quote Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books.
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-John Updike
City Life, Cities
Engrave this Quote The city overwhelmed our expectations. The Kiplingesque grandeur of Waterloo Station, the Eliotic despondency of the brick row in Chelsea
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-John Updike, On London, in, "New Yorker", December 22, 1962
Consumerism
Engrave this Quote When we try in good faith to believe in materialism, in the exclusive reality of the physical, we are asking our selves to step aside; we are disavowing the very realm where we exist and where all things precious are kept -- the realm of emotion and conscience, of memory and intention and sensation.
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-John Updike
Creativity
Engrave this Quote Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better.
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-John Updike
Criticism
Engrave this Quote Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea.
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-John Updike
Customs
Engrave this Quote Customs and convictions change; respectable people are the last to know, or to admit, the change, and the ones most offended by fresh reflections of the facts in the mirror of art.
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-John Updike
Debt / Borrow / Loan
Engrave this Quote Bankruptcy is a sacred state, a condition beyond conditions, as theologians might say, and attempts to investigate it are necessarily obscene, like spiritualism. One knows only that he has passed into it and lives beyond us, in a condition not ours.
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-John Updike
Dreams
Engrave this Quote Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.
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-John Updike
Education
Engrave this Quote School is where you go between when your parents can't take you, and industry can't take you.
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-John Updike
Facts
Engrave this Quote Facts are generally overesteemed. For most practical purposes, a thing is what men think it is. When they judged the earth flat, it was flat. As long as men thought slavery tolerable, tolerable it was. We live down here among shadows, shadows among shadows.
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-John Updike
Fame
Engrave this Quote Being a famous writer is a little like being a tall dwarf. You're on the edge of normality.
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-John Updike
Fashion
Engrave this Quote Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it cost them.
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-John Updike
Fools, Foolishness
Engrave this Quote Looking foolish does the spirit good. The need not to look foolish is one of youth's many burdens; as we get older we are exempted from more and more, and float upward in our heedlessness, singing Gratia Dei sum quod sum.
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-John Updike

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