Terry Pratchett

Hogfather


"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.
But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder aloud how the snowplough driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of the words. Yet there is the constant desire to find some point in the twisting, knotting, ravelling nets of space-time on which a metaphorical finger can be put to indicate that here, here is the point where it all began ..."

"`And there's the sign, Ridcully,' said the Dean. `You have read it, I assume. You know ? The sign which says "Do not, under any circumstances, open this door" ?
`Of course I've read it,' said Ridcully.`Why d'yer think I want it opened ?'
`Er ... why ?' said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.
`To see why they wanted it shut, of course.' *
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* This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilisation. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking."

"`This one's mental.'
`Eccentric.'
`What's the difference ?'
`A bag of cash.'"

"They were entering that scorned little corner of Ankh-Morpork that had long been the site of the University's rubbish pits and was now known as the Unreal Estate."

"It was understood that it wasn't exactly what you where, it was merely a way of passing the time until you did what every girl, or gel, was supposed to do in life, i.e. marry some man. It was understood that you were playing."

"A man might spend his life peering at the private life of elementary particles and then find he either knew who he was or where he was, but not both."

"Many people are aware of the Weak and Strong Anthropic Principles. The Weak One says, basically, that it was jolly amazing of the universe to be constructed in such a way that humans could evolve to a point where they make a living in, for example, universities, while the Strong One says that, on the contrary, the whole point of the universe was that humans should not only work in universities but also write for huge sums books with words like `Cosmic' and `Chaos' in the titles. +
The UU Professor of Anthropics had developed the Special and Inevitable Anthropic Principle, which was that the entire reason for the existence of the universe was the eventual evolution of the UU Professor of Anthropics. But this was only a formal statement of the theory which absolutely everyone, with only some minor details of a `Fill in name here' nature, secretly believes to be true.
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+ And they are correct. The universe clearly operates for the benefit of humanity. This can be readily seen from the convenient way the sun comes up in the morning, when people are ready to start the day."

"`Not difficult at all, if you don't mind the side effects.'
`Tell me about the side effects,' said Susan, who had met wizards before."

"Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time."

"Like most people with no grasp whatsoever of real economics, Mustrum Ridcully equated `proper financial control' with the counting of paperclips. Even senior wizards had to produce a pencil stub to him before they were allowed a new one out of the locked cupboard below his desk. Since of course hardly anyone retained a half-used pencil, the wizards had been reduced to sneaking out and buying new ones with their own money."

"They were grown men or at least had lived for several decades, which in some societies is considered the same thing."

"`I am a remarkably truthful man, sir. Things said at University council meetings don't count.'"

"I SELDOM JOKE, said Death."

"MERE ACCUMULATION OF OBSERVATIONAL EVIDENCE IS NOT PROOF."

"IT GETS UNDER YOUR SKIN, LIFE, said Death, stepping forward. SPEAKING METAPHORICALLY, OF COURSE. IT'S A HABIT THAT'S HARD TO GIVE UP. ONE PUFF OF BREATH IS NEVER ENOUGH. YOU'LL FIND YOU WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER."