James Lileks Quotes

In a few years the demonization of smoking will be so complete that a movie set in WW2 will feature a chain-smoking Hitler and an abstemious Churchill, just to telegraph to the audience who’s naughty and who’s nice.

Americans have an ambivalent attitude towards smells, evident in the fact that the very word “smell” has a negative connotation. We prefer aroma, which sounds romantic, or scents, which sounds useful and decorative. Aromas and scents mask smells, smother smells, replace them. “Aroma” conjures up warm fresh bread; “Scents” brings to mind curtains waving in […]

Smell is the most evocative of the senses, the one most closely tied to memory, but it’s taken for granted in most instances and suppressed in others. When we plug in an air-freshener or spray something in a room, it’s not so much because we want to experience an aroma – it’s because we want […]

I remember from my youth the thrill of unpacking new stereo equipment, how there was always the promise of New and Better Sound with this one, and the unspoken hope that somehow this would help you get a date in the sack, too. (Men seem to believe that about anything they can plug in, just […]

There are five reactions one could have to such acts, committed by a coreligionist: Endorsement, Indifference, Denial, Rejection, Participation. Denial: I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Islam is a religion of peace.” But those people committed horrible violence in the name of Islam. “Then they are not true Muslims. No Muslim could do this.” Rinse, […]

Sometimes you can remember people by remembering what they saw. When people die they take so much with them, so many details already lost in the fog of senescence. I’m not just talking about family stories, but commonplace facts of daily life – the brand name of an obscure chewing gum, the sound a parking […]

“Our unity is in our diversity.” You can smell the spilled bong-water, can’t you? There’s a certain mindset that automatically finds profundity in oxymorons – it’s as if they believe that something so manifestly false must be true… I’m not saying people of different faiths can’t live together; obviously, they can if they want to. […]

My point? Simple: we live in an era of non-contiguous information streams. I believe one thing; someone else believes another Ð and the bedrock assumptions are utterly contradictory. This is what drives me nuts about discussing current events with some people. It’s like discussing the Apollo program with people who think it was all faked, […]

Who’s more miserable – the far right or the far left? The former is likely to wash its hands of the modern world, lament how things have gone to hell since the Brits stopped shoving civilization down the ululating maws of Wogland, and announce that you’re all welcome to your polyglot mishmash – I’ll be […]

You believe in God or you don’t. If you do, how you believe in Him is a personal matter. Maybe you think He’s in the home office a dozen multiverses away working on a really big project while a little window we call reality is running in the corner of His screen, and He checks […]