Pico Iyer


British-born Essayist and Novelist of Indian Origin

Author Quotes

The open road is the school of doubt in which man learns faith in man.

The quintessential Japanese balance, I thought: to surrender all of yourself to an illusion, and yet somewhere, in some part of yourself, to know all the while that it is an illusion.

Travel is a little bit like being in love. Suddenly all your senses are marked ?on.? You are alert to the secret patterns of the world.

Was it only through another that I could begin to get at myself?

We have more and more ways to communicate, as Thoreau noted, but less and less to say.

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.

What more could one ask of a companion? To be forever new and yet forever steady. To be strange and familiar all at once, with enough change to quicken my mind, enough steadiness to give sanctuary to my heart. The books on my shelf never asked to come together, and they would not trust or want to listen to one another; but each is a piece of a stained-glass whole without which I couldn?t make sense to myself, or to the world outside.

Now a kind of no-man's-land occupied by a neo-Elizabethan hugger-mugger of racketeers, drug dealers, gangsters and abortionists, the shark-toothed area seemed only a rowdier version of the city all around ? a freewheeling, free-spending center of free enterprise.

When you're hurrying around too quickly, he had said, there's a part of the world you can't see. If, for example, you're taking a wrong direction in your life, it's only when you stop and look at things clearly that you can revise your direction and take a more proper course. Then message of Zen is that in order to find ourselves, we've got to learn to stop.

One curiosity of being a foreigner everywhere is that one finds oneself discerning Edens where the locals see only Purgatory.

Writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.

Perhaps the greatest danger of our global community is that the person in LA thinks he knows Cambodia because he's seen The Killing Fields on-screen, and the newcomer from Cambodia thinks he knows LA because he's seen City of Angels on video.

You go into the dark to get away from what you know, and if you go far enough, you realize, suddenly, that you'll never really make it back into the light.

Serendipity was my tour guide, assisted by caprice.

You wind back the clock several decades when you visit a Lonely Place; and when you touch down, you half expect a cabin attendant to announce, we have now landed in Lonely Place's Down-at-Heels Airport, where the local time is 1943 and the temperature is... frozen.

She liked it? 'I love it--the way you'd love an orphan, or a bird with a broken foot.

So it is that Lonely Places attract as many lonely people as they produce, and the loneliness we see in them is partly in ourselves.

The average American teenager sends or receives 75 text messages a day, though one girl in Sacramento managed to handle an average of 10,000 every 24 hours for a month.

The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual.

The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug.

American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those who have seen America only in their dreams.

In our appetite for gossip, we tend to gobble down everything before us, only to find, too late, that it is our ideals we have consumed, and we have not been enlarged by the feasts but only diminished.

And just as it is common to hear how, when one is in love, anything one sees reminds one of that love?our feelings remake the world in a secular equivalent of the faith that sees the hand of God in everything?so I began to find that when one is thinking on a theme, everything seems to reflect on it. Suddenly, everything I saw or read, in this girlish city of temples, seemed to take me back to the theme of the lady and the monk.

Irreverence, independent-mindedness and a hunger for far-off cultures have defined it {San Francisco} ever since people began streaming into the area in 1849 in search of new fortunes from gold, and a settlement of 812 souls became within two years a city of almost 25,000, many from China, Korea and Australia, clustered around more than 1,000 gambling houses.

As I wandered around the room, with Sachiko by my side, I began to think how much we need space in those we love, space enough to accommodate growth and possibility. Knowledge must leave room for mystery; intimacy, taken too far, was the death of imagination. Keeping some little distance from her was, I thought, a way of keeping an open space, a silence for the imagination to fill.

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British-born Essayist and Novelist of Indian Origin