So much of life is indirect
— Emma Sedlak, ‘Peripheries’
There are these views
We get of other lives,
Insights, illusions, sidelong glances
— Andrew Wynn Owen, ‘Mirrors and Windows’
and that’s why nobody ever finds what they’re looking for, because they don’t even know what that is, and nor do they know that it’s futile trying to reveal the whole, yeah, it’s the parts that count
— Alia Trabucco Zerán, The Remainder
The creative writer, composer, or visual artist conveys, often obliquely by abstraction or deliberate distortion, his own perceptions and the feelings he hopes to evoke – about something, about anything, real or imagined. He seeks to bring forth in an original way some truth or other about the human experience.
— E. O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence
When one artist talks about another, he is always taking (indirectly, in a roundabout way) of himself, and that is what’s valuable in his judgment.
— Milan Kundera, Encounter
she had forgotten how roundabout scholars could be. It was difficult to tell them the truth when a lie would have been so much easier for them to understand.
— Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife
Always catching him out with her sidelong consciousness, her way of listening to the sides of what you say and responding to what you didn’t know you were saying, or to what you were trying but failing to say.
— Ali Smith, Winter
The route is rarely direct.
— Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
Sometimes the quickest way to your rebel goals ends up being indirect and circuitous.
— Lois Kelly & Carmen Medina, Rebels at Work
The path to the truth is doubled, masked, ironic. This is my path, not straight, but twisted!
— Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World
I’d only manage to stalk it down if I moved surreptitiously: not in straight lines and in blocks and wedges but askew – diagonally, slyly, creeping up on it from sideways.
— Tom McCarthy, Remainder
The oblique solution involves recasting the problem – often described as lateral thinking – and then it becomes direct.
— John Kay, Obliquity
Lateral knowledge is knowledge that’s from a wholly unexpected direction, from a direction that’s not even understood as a direction until the knowledge forces itself upon one.
— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension.
— Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
I want obliquity, essays that approach their targets, for there must be targets, slantwise, or with a hail of conflicted attitudes.
— Brian Dillon, Essayism
Obliquity is a process of experiment and discovery. Successes and failures and the expansion of knowledge lead to reassessment of our objectives and goals and the actions that result.
— John Kay, Obliquity
Our insistence on seeing progress as a line hides our world’s aversion to straight lines.
— David Weinberger, Everday Chaos
Yet straight-line thinking has co-opted Western thought to the point that we have trouble understanding cause and effect. We forget that the world isn’t linear. It’s full of arcs and loops and spirals.
— Marty Neumeier, Metaskills
Straight lines – how humiliating they were. How they destroyed the mind. What perfidious geometry, how it makes us into idiots – there and back, a parody of travel. Going forth merely in order to return again. Speeding up just to put on the brakes.
— Olga Tokarczuk, Flights
It is, however you look at it, whatever you think of it, a classic statement of the fundamentals of Cartesianism – the fetishisation of the perfect geometry of the straight line, wrapped up and disguised as the most self-evident common sense.
— Will Ashon, Strange Labyrinth
The line that describes the beautiful is elliptical. It has simplicity and constant change. It cannot be described by a compass, and it changes direction at every one of its points.
— Attributed to Johann Joachim Winckelmann in Rudolf Arnhem’s ‘Entropy and Art’
I grasp and find there are no completions,
Nothing in straight lines
— Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles
One need not be a mystic to accept that certain old paths are linear only in a simple sense. Like trees, they have branches & like rivers they have tributaries. They are rifts within which time might exist as pure surface, prone to recapitulation & rhyme, weird morphologies, uncanny doublings.
— Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood & Dan Richards, Holloway
nature has no straight lines. Nature flows, nature is more connected, grassroots and interdependent.
— Alan Moore, No Straight Lines
There are no straight lines but those of lineage, and on maps and spider’s webs.
— Preti Taneja, We That Are Young
My funny old brain, like those of many poets, has always done its best work sideways, seeking out tricky enjambments and surprising slant rhymes to craft lines capable of pulling their own weight.
— Kathleen Rooney, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
— Seamus Heaney, ‘Postscript’