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July 10, 2004 9:43 AM   Subscribe

What is the origin of the quote: "Life is just a swirling, sucking whirlpool of despair, filled with brief flashes of false hope, in an ever-blackening universe." [more inside]

I first read this in an anonymous classified ad in my college newspaper in 1982. I used it as my personal mantra for about the next 6 years. But in the last 16 years I haven't heard it, read it or even thought about it. Until just now. As it brought back many happy memeories, I decided to Google the phrase and find it origin. No luck. this page has a version of it, but the stated source looks to be too young to be the origin. Since it's survived largely unchanged over the last 22+ years, I assume it must be a literary source. Anyone know where this comes from?
posted by y6y6y6 to Writing & Language (19 answers total)
No, but it seems like it gets quoted a lot (according to google) by people of about college age, if that's a clue. IMDB does not have it on file as a movie quote, although that may not mean anything either. Probably, like you say, a book.
posted by Hildago at 10:25 AM on July 10, 2004

From what I can see, most people have it as "Life is a swirling eddy of despair in an ever blackening universe", and attribute it to my favourite writers: Unknown and Anonymous. I've got completely stuck with quotes like this quite a few times. Some of them just really do have unknown origins.
posted by reklaw at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2004

Couldn't get anything to show up in Amazon. They did offer to sell me replacement parts for Whirlpool appliances, though.
posted by gimonca at 10:41 AM on July 10, 2004

Some googling turns up a few variants (unattributed). I've seen "vortex" or "eddy" substituted for "whirlpool", and sometimes the quote continues for a fre more phrases about being dragged down to death.
posted by hattifattener at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2004

Trent Reznor.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:19 AM on July 10, 2004

Sounds like something from the Goth Quote Generator.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:21 AM on July 10, 2004

For some reason I associate this quote with Douglas Adams but can't substantiate that.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 2:06 PM on July 10, 2004

Isn't that from Animal House?
posted by jpburns at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2004

I first heard this during a comedy routine:

Dad: "Son, life is a black, swirling, sucking eddy of despair, illuminated only briefly by faint glimmers of false hope."

Son: "OK, Dad, OK! I won't ask Santa for a bicycle!"
posted by SPrintF at 3:35 PM on July 10, 2004

IshmaelGraves, I had the same thought. I can't back it up either, though.
posted by kenko at 4:43 PM on July 10, 2004

isnt it from the movie play it again sam ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:05 PM on July 10, 2004

Allan: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollack, isn't it?
Museum Girl: Yes, it is.
Allan: What does it say to you?
Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?
Museum Girl: Committing suicide.
Allan: What about Friday night?

posted by sgt.serenity at 6:08 PM on July 10, 2004

if it is a douglas adams thing i'd suggest looking for quotes from the robot (i'm spacing on a name) as it's the most likely character to say such a thing. Damn, i really should break that "trilogy" out and read it again.
posted by NGnerd at 11:47 PM on July 10, 2004

ngnerd: marvin.

but nothing's coming up.
posted by cheaily at 12:10 AM on July 11, 2004

if it is a douglas adams thing

It's definitely not in anything of his I've ever read, and I've read, I think, most of it.
posted by kindall at 2:48 AM on July 11, 2004

Nope, what kindall said. Doesn't really sound like DNA either, unless there was some witty followup to it. (Unless he was a closet goth, but somehow I doubt it.)
posted by fvw at 3:04 AM on July 11, 2004

Why are you eliminating the Mark Mundy option (as linked in your original question)?

Mark Mundy - 1971 - Very obscure hippie psych described as being in a Damon/Darius direction, except weirder.
posted by milovoo at 8:54 AM on July 11, 2004

Doesn't really sound like DNA either

Well, it could be Marvin, as NGnerd said, but I'm pretty sure it's not.
posted by kindall at 9:58 AM on July 11, 2004

Response by poster: Mark Mundy - This is actually one of the bandmembers at the site you linked. He looks to have been about 30 in 1998.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:31 PM on July 11, 2004

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