R. Scott Bakker Quotes

The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before?

A beggar’s mistake harms no one but the beggar. A king’s mistake, however, harms everyone but the king. Too often, the measure of power lies not in the number who obey your will, but in the number who suffer your stupidity.

Everyone thinks they’ve won the Magical Belief Lottery. Everyone thinks they more or less have a handle on things, that they, as opposed to the billions who disagree with them, have somehow lucked into the one true belief system.

This is the problem of all great revelations: their significance so often exceeds the frame of our comprehension. We understand only after, always after. Not simply when it is too late, but precisely because it is too late.

To be ignorant and to be deceived are two different things. To be ignorant is to be a slave of the world. To be deceived is to be the slave of another man. The question will always be: Why, when all men are ignorant, and therefore already slaves, does this latter slavery sting us so?

History. Language. Passion. Custom. All these things determine what men say, think, and do. These are the hidden puppet-strings from which all men hang.

Where no paths exist, a man strays only when he misses his destination. There is no crime, no transgression, no sin save foolishness or incompetence, and no obscenity save the tyranny of custom.

I tell you, guilt dwells nowhere but in the eyes of the accuser. This men know even as they deny it, which is why they so often make murder their absolution. The truth of crime lies not with the victim but with the witness.

Here we find further argument for Gotagga’s supposition that the world is round. How else could all men stand higher than their brothers?

Any fool can see the limits of seeing, but not even the wisest know the limits of knowing. Thus is ignorance rendered invisible, and are all Men made fools.

Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.

Love is lust made meaningful. Hope is hunger made human.

There was such a difference, he thought, between the beauty that illuminated, and the beauty that was illuminated.

There’s faith that knows itself as faith, Proyas, and there’s faith that confuses itself for knowledge. The first embraces uncertainty, acknowledges the mysteriousness of the God. It begets compassion and tolerance. Who can entirely condemn when they’re not entirely certain they’re in the right? But the second, Proyas, the second embraces certainty and only pays lip service to the God’s mystery. It begets intolerance, hatred, violence.

To be a student required a peculiar kind of capitulation, a willingness not simply to do as one is told, but to surrendor the movements of one’s soul to the unknown complexities of another’s. A willingness, not simply to be moved, but to be remade.

Doubt begets understanding, and understanding begets compassion. Verily, it is conviction that kills.

Exhaustion has a way of parting the veils between men, not so much because the effort of censoring their words exceeds them, but because weariness is the foe of volatility. Oft times insults that would pierce the wakeful simply thud against the sleepless and fatigued.

You know nothing of war. War is dark. Black as pitch. It is not a God. It does not laugh or weep. It rewards neither skill nor daring. It is not a trial of souls, not the measure of wills. Even less is it a tool, a means to some womanish end. It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.

I remeber asking a wise man, once . . . ‘Why do Men fear the dark?’ . . . ‘Because darkness’ he told me, ‘is ignorance made visable.’ ‘And do Men despise ignorance?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he said, ‘they prize it above all things–all things!–but only so long as it remains invisible.

Gods are but greater demons, the Cishaurim said, hungers across the surface of eternity, wanting only to taste the clarity of our souls. Can you not see this?

Sometimes the Nonman would climb upon some wild pulpit, the mossed remains of a fallen tree, the humped back of a boulder, and paint wonders with his dark voice. Wonders and horrors both.

If the world is a game whose rules are written by the God, and sorcerers are those who cheat and cheat, then who has written the rules of sorcery?


Darkness shields as much as it threatens.

The world is a big place and our brain is only three pounds.

Something … made him feel small, not in the way of orphans or beggars or children, but in a good way. In the way of souls.