Lullaby (Palahniuk novel)

2002 novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Lullaby (2002) is a horror satire novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

Quotes edit

  • The problem with every story is you tell it after the fact. Every play-by-play description on the radio, the home runs and strikeouts, even that's delayed a few minutes. Even live television is postponed a couple seconds. Even Sound and light can only go so fast.
    • Chapter 1
  • The muffled thunder of dialogue comes through the walls, then a chorus of laughter. Then more thunder. Most of the laugh tracks on television were recorded in the early 1950s. These days, most of the people you hear laughing are dead.
    • Chapter 3
  • You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound You don't win with a lot of treble. This isn't about quality. It's about volume. This isn't about music. This is about winning. You stomp the competition with the bass line. You rattle windows. You drop the melody line, and shout the lyrics. You put in foul language and come down hard on each cussword. You dominate. This is really about power.
    • Chapter 3
  • These people so scared of silence. These are my neighbors. These sound-oholics. These quiet-ophobics.
    • Chapter 3
  • We come from a generation of people who need their TV or stereo playing all the time. These people so scared of silence. These soundaholics, these quietophobics.
    • Chapter 3
  • No one wants to admit we're addicted to music. That's just not possible. No one's addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can't bear to be without it, but no, nobody's addicted. We could turn it off anytime we wanted. I fit a window frame into a brick wall. With a little brush, the size for fingernail polish, I glue it. The window is the size of a fingernail. The glue smells like hair spray. The smell tastes like oranges and gasoline
    • Chapter 3
  • No detail is too minor to note.
  • Anymore, no one's mind is their own. You can't concentrate. You can't think. There's always some noise worming in. Singers shouting. Dead people laughing. Actors crying. All these little doses of emotion. Someone's always spraying the air with their mood.
    • Chapter 3
  • There are worse things than finding your wife and child dead. You can watch the world do it. You can watch your wife get old and bored. You can watch your kids discover everything in the world you've tried to save them from. Drugs, divorce, conformity, disease. All the nice clean books, music, television. Distraction. These people with dead children, you want to tell them, go ahead. Blame yourself. There are worse things you can do to the people you love than kill them. The regular way is just to watch the world do it. Just read the newspaper.
    • Chapter 3
  • Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing. He's pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're always distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed. He's making sure your imagination withers. Until it's as useful as your appendix. He's making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed, it's worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what's in your mind. With everyone's imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
    • Chapter 3
  • When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy them, but now they call this free will. At least the Greeks were being honest.
    • Chapter 3
  • The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.
    • Chapter 3
  • In journalism school, what they want you to be is a camera. A trained, objective, detached professional. Accurate, polished, and observant. They want you to believe that the new and you are always two separate things. Killers and reporters are mutually exclusive. Whatever the story, this isn't about you.
  • You don't become a journalist because you're good at keeping secrets. Being a Journalist is about telling. It's about bearing the bad news. Spreading the contagion. The biggest story in history. This could be the end of mass media. The Culling song would be a plague unique to the Information Age. Imagine a world where people shun the television, the radio, movies, the Internet, magazines, and newspapers. People have to wear earplugs the way they wear condoms and rubber gloves. In the past, nobody worried too much about sex with strangers. Or before that, bites from fleas. Or untreated drinking water. Mosquitoes. Asbestos.
    • Chapter 7
  • Imagine the books burning. And tapes and films and files, radios and televisions, will all go into that same bonfire. All those libraries and bookstores blazing away in the night. People will attack microwave relay stations. People with axes will chop every fiber-optic cable.
    • Chapter 7
  • Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    So just relax, Helen Boyle told me, and just enjoy the ride.
    She said, "Even absolute corruption has its perks.
    • Chapter 9
  • Our footsteps echo against the concrete floor. The steel roof hums with rain. And she says, 'Don't you feel, somehow, buried in history?'
    • Chapter 10
  • These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics."
    • Chapter 14
  • Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can hurt like hell.
    • Chapter 14
  • Here's Big Brother, singing and dancing, force-feeding you, so your mind never goes hungry enough to think.
    • Chapter 14
  • Until you deal with your real personal issues, you'll never be able to control yourself.
    • Chapter 14
  • Down through the ceiling comes a fire siren and people screaming that we're supposed to ignore. The gunshots and tires squeeling, sounds wee have to pretend are okay. They don't mean anything. It's just television. An explosion vibrates down from the upstairs. A woman begs someone not to rape her. It's not real. It's just a movie. We're the culture that cried wolf.
    • Chapter 17
  • "When you think about it from a native plant perspective," Oyster says."Johnny Apple seed was a fucking biological terrorist."
    • Chapter 19
  • The way you can go to Paris or Beijing, Oyster says, and everywhere there's a McDonald's hamburger, this is the ecological equivalent of franchised life-forms. Every place is the same place. Kudzu. Zebra mussels. Water hyacinths. Starlings. Burger Kings. The local natives, anything unique gets squeezed out.. He says, "We're landscaping the whole world one stupid mistake at a time."
    • Chapter 19
  • Sure, everybody wants to play God, but for me it's a full-time job.
    • Chapter 20
  • According to Mona, you shouldn't kill people, because that drives you away from humanity. In order to justify killing, you have to make the victim your enemy. To justify any crime, you have to make the victim your enemy.

After long enough, everyone in the world will be your enemy. With every crime, Mona says, you're more and more alienated from the world. More and more, you imagine the whole world is against you.

    • Chapter 22
  • Doctor Sarah didn't start out by attacking and berating everybody who called her radio show," Mona says. "She used to have a little time slot and a little audience, and she seemed to really care about helping people."

And maybe it was after years and years of getting the same calls about unwanted pregnancies, about divorces, about family squabbles. Maybe it was because her audience grew and her show moved to prime time. Maybe it was the more money she earned. Maybe power corrupts, but she wasn't always a bitch.

    • Chapter 22
  • Still, he deserved to die. He called me an asshole.
    • Chapter 22
  • Centuries ago, sailors on long voyages used to leave a pair of pigs on every deserted island. Or they'd leave a pair of goats. Either way, on any future visit, the island would be a source of meat. These islands, they were pristine. These were home to breeds of birds with no natural predators. Breeds of birds that lived nowhere else on earth. The plants there, without enemies they evolved without thorns or poisons. Without predators and enemies, these islands, they were paradise. The sailors, the next time they visited these islands, the only things still there would be herds of goats or pigs. .... Does this remind you of anything? Maybe the ol' Adam and Eve story? .... You ever wonder when God's coming back with a lot of barbecue sauce?
    • Chapter 23
  • The masochist bullies the sadist into action. The most person person is actually the aggressor. Every day, just you living means the misery and death of plants and animals- and even some people. "Slaughterhouses, factory farms, sweatshops," she says, "like it or not, that's what your money buys."
  • In order to save the world, Jesus Christ suffered for about thirty-six hours on the cross. I am willing to suffer an eternity in hell for the same cause.
    • Chapter 26
  • Every generation wants to be the last. Every generation hates the next trend in music they can't understand. We hate to give up the reins of our culture. To find our own music playing in elevators. The ballad for our revolution, turned into background music for a television commercial. To find our generation's clothes and hair suddenly retro.
    • Chapter 26
  • Maybe you don't go to hell for the things you do. Maybe you go to hell for the things you don't do.
    • Chapter 28
  • History is is filled with brilliant people who wanted to fix things and just made them worse.
    • Chapter 39
  • I need to rebel against myself. It's the opposite of following your bliss. I need to do what I most fear.
    • Chapter 39
  • The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.
  • The more people die, the more things stay the same.
  • Imagine immortality, where even a marriage of fifty years would feel like a one-night stand. Imagine seeing trends and fashions blur past you. Imagine the world more crowded and desperate every century. Imagine changing religions, homes, diets, careers, until none of them have any real value.Imagine traveling the world until you're bored with every square inch. Imagine your emotions, your loves and hates and rivalries and victories, played out again and again until life is nothing more than a melo-dramatic soap opera. Until you regard the birth and death of other people with no more emotion than the wilted cut flowers you throw away.
  • Maybe this is why so many serial killers work in pairs. It's nice not to feel alone in a world full of victims or enemies.
  • Sticks and stones will break your bones, but now words can kill, too.This is how we must look to God. As if everything's just fine.
  • This culling poem is a blessing. Why do you think it was created in the first place? It will save millions of people from the slow terrible death we're headed for from disease, from famine, drought, from solar radiation, from war, from all the places we're headed.
  • "The best way to waste your life is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch.
  • Either an ancient cursed Egyptian mummy has come back to life and is trying to kill the people next door, or they're watching a movie.

External Links edit

  Encyclopedic article on Lullaby (Palahniuk novel) on Wikipedia

Works by Chuck Palahniuk
  Novels     Fight Club (1996) · Survivor (1999) · Invisible Monsters (1999) · Choke (2001) · Lullaby (2002) · Diary (2003) · Haunted (2005) · Rant (2007) · Snuff (2008) · Pygmy (2009) · Tell-All  
  (2010) · Damned (2011) · Invisible Monsters Remix (2012) · Doomed (2013) · Beautiful You (2014) · Make Something Up (2015)  
  Non‑fiction     Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (2003) · Stranger than Fiction: True Stories (2004)  
  Comic books     Fight Club 2 (2015–2016)  
  Film adaptations     Fight Club (1999) · Choke (2008)