Surrealpolitik: As She Climbed Across the Table

Author: Jonathan Lethem

New York: Vintage Contemporaries (1998, first published in 1997)

Quick Summary

A fun and funny novel about real and alternative, visible and invisible realities.


There are 11 quotes currently associated with this book.

The physics department, Alice included, specialized in the pursuit of tiny nothingness. Soft had the audacity to pursue a big nothingness. If his work succeeded the inflationary bubble would detach and grow into a universe tangential to ours. Another world. It would be impossible to detect, but equally real. (page 3-4)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Lead Quote Candidate, Literary/Poetic]
My new work was irrelevant and strong. (page 8)
Tags: [Literary/Poetic]
"I have to see this through. It's how I am. I like to be on the edge of the territory."

"The horizon of the real," I whispered.

Alice and I were the same size. We displaced the same amount of air. But when we embraced she became elusive and darting, like a remora fish. When I held her I imagined that I could crane my neck and kiss the small of her back, or reach around to clasp my own shoulders in my hands. (page 12)
Tags: [Surrealism, Truth & Real, Literary/Poetic]
"You like perceptible things," I suggested. "You like to make measurements."

"Not easily perceptible," she pointed out. "Just barely present." (page 19)
Tags: [Literary/Poetic]
It didn't matter if Cynthia Jalter didn't believe me. At that moment Dale Overling was truer than I was. Heartier, more substantial. (page 63)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Literary/Poetic]
"I help them understand it," she said. "They can make their own choices. The goal is to develop an awareness, from inside, of how dual cognitive systems form, how they function, how they respond to hostile or contradictory data. Threats to stability, inequal growth by one member. Cognitive dissonance. I'm sure these concepts are familiar." (page 87-88)
Tags: [Surrealism, Surrealism's Promise, The Other, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
It was good to see my student so busy doing what I'd taught him to do. Looking for the hidden data, the facts that hide inside obvious things. The interdisciplinary dark matter. And a protégé confirmed my existence in the world. I felt grateful. (page 100)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Lead Quote Candidate, Literary/Poetic]
"See is just a movie in your eyes," said Garth. "It's not out in the world."

"A movie?"

"It's not out there, it's not dark matter or anything else. It's just in your eyes. A movie. And the only difference is that everyone else has the same movie playing. Cynthia, Philip, Alice, their movies agree. So they can see. You and I are watching the wrong movie, so we're blind."

Evan and I were silent. (page 134)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Culture, Universality, Rationality, Lead Quote Candidate, Disinformation, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]
I was already lost. "You're saying there's no world where there isn't a mentality to consider a world."


"There's just a gap," I suggested. "A lack."

"Hah! Very good. Yes. A lack, exactly. A potential event horizon. Everything is only potential until consciousness wakes up and says, let me have a look. Take for example the big bang. We explore the history of the creation of our universe, so the big bang becomes real. But only because we investigate. Another example: There are subatomic particles as far as we are willing to look. We create them. Consciousness writes reality, in any direction it looks -- past, future, big, small. Wherever we look we find reality forming in response." (page 170)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Literary/Poetic]
Laughter bubbled up like clouds of smoke...Smoke bubbled up like clouds of laughter...Bubbles smoked up like the laughter of clouds. I imagined the bobbling heads that made up the maze as balloons, tied to the floor by the strings of our bodies. Then I pictured them cut loose, to bob and roll, still laughing and smoking, along the surface of the ceiling. (page 179)
Tags: [Surrealism, Literary/Poetic]
It was hard to force Evan and Garth to notice my questions, but I learned a few things. They'd lived in the Dada-ready-made reality for about a week, wading through the ball bearings and wool, feeding on ice cream and barbecued duck. Then they'd climbed back over the table, into Lack, and emerged here, where they settled unquestioningly. Sure, they argued about whether they were alive or dead, whether they'd woken from a long dream or fallen into one, but they also argued over the location of specific fire hydrants, and about the chances of judging the amount of ink left in a ballpoint pen by weighing it in your hand. They were happy here. They were home. (page 203)
Tags: [Surrealism, Realism, Literary/Poetic, Dreams]