Respectful Insolence

The wit and wisdom of G’Kar

Since the death of Andreas Katsulas, I’ve been thinking just how many great lines he had as G’Kar in the series and how well he delivered them. Here, culled from the web, is but a sampling of some of them. Some are very serious; some are humorous, but all are quintessential G’Kar. I can’t think of a better tribute:

G’Quon wrote, “There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities; it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.”

The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest.

Our thoughts form the universe. They are always important.

[To Londo after it has been discovered that the Centauri are still building warships during peace time]: Well, with everyone now on the same side, perhaps you’re planning to invade yourselves for a change. I find the idea curiously appealing. Once you’ve finished killing each other, we can plow under all the buildings and plant rows of flowers that spell out the words, “Too annoying to live” in letters big enough to be seen from space.

If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search – who does not bring a lantern – sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light… pure and unblemished… not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe – God looks astonishingly like we do – or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.

Citizen G’Kar: Do you want to be president?
Captain John Sheridan: Yes.
Citizen G’Kar: Then put your hand on the book and say I do.
Captain John Sheridan: I do.
Citizen G’Kar: Good, let’s eat!

We all believe in something greater than ourselves, even if it’s just the blind forces of chance.

Oh, why does the universe hate me?

It is said that the future is always born in pain. The history of war is the history of pain. If we are wise, what is born of that pain matures into the promise of a better world, because we learn that we can no longer afford the mistakes of the past.

Narns, Humans, Centauri… we all do what we do for the same reason: because it seems like a good idea at the time.

Mr. Garibaldi, I have been on this station long enough to know that you don’t ask leading questions unless you already know the answers. So, why don’t we just pretend I’ve lied about it, you’ve caught me in your web of insufferable logic, and cut to the point.

I believe that when we leave a place a part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in these halls, when it is quiet and just listen. After a while you will hear the echoes of all of our conversations, every thought and word we’ve exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit that the part of me that is going will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there; too much, the best of us is washed away.

Londo: I was… never a child. I had responsibilities. I’ve had responsibilities for as long as I can remember. Duty. Honor. Family.
G’Kar: Ah. That explains a great deal.
Londo: Really? And what exactly does it explain, G’Kar?
G’Kar: I spent my years in one shelter after another. But sooner or later, I was able to leave the shelter and walk out into the daylight. You do not have that luxury. You carry your shelter with you… every day. You didn’t grow up. You grew old.

[To Ta'Lon]: All my life I have been responsible only for myself. When I risked, I risked alone to avoid making others pay the price for my mistakes. They want me to show them another way. What if I show them the wrong way? What if they come to me not because of the lesson but because of the teacher? I worry, Ta’Lon, that my shadow may become greater than the message.

But we can’t be free, until we learn to laugh at ourselves. Once you look in the mirror and see just how foolish we can be, laughter is inevitable. And from laughter comes wisdom. [Note: This one seems particularly apt today, given the reaction by Muslims to the Danish cartoons.]

Tu’Pari: Are you ambassador G’Kar?
G’Kar: This is Ambassador G’Kar’s quarters. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s table. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s dinner. What part of this progression escapes you?

We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile and nothing can grow there; too much, the best of us is washed away.

Why does any advanced civilization seek to destroy less advanced one? Because the land is strategically valuable, because there are resources that can be cultivated and exploited, but most of all, simply because they can.

Londo: There, you see! I’m going to live.
G’Kar: So it would seem. Well, it’s an imperfect universe.

It’s bad luck to die on empty stomach.

G’Kar: I would be dead if not for you. You risked your life to save mine.
Londo: You would have done the same.
G’Kar: Yes, but I’m a better person.

[To Londo]: Mollari… understand that I can never forgive your people for what they did to my world. My people can never forgive your people. But I… can forgive… you.

[And, my absolute favorite G'Kar quote, to Londo Mollari after the Centauri bombed the Narn homeworld to rubble and resubjugated his people:]: No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power tyrants and dictators cannot stand. The Centauri learned that lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Although it take a thousand years, we will be free.

Comments

  1. #1 TheSquire
    February 17, 2006

    Geribaldi: “I’ve got it. I’ve got it. I’ve got it. It’s right here. It’s right here.”
    G’Kar: “Do not thump the book of G’Quon. It is disrespectful.”

  2. #2 Aerik
    February 17, 2006

    I just thougth I’d let you know that none of your new entries on this site are showing up on the front page. At least I think some of these things are new…

  3. #3 Orac
    February 17, 2006

    I’m quite aware of this problem and not happy about it. The situation will not be fixed before next week. My blog does not show up on the main ScienceBlogs page, and my posts do not show up on the ScienceBlogs feed.

  4. #4 Catana
    February 17, 2006

    Thanks. Whatever faults B5 had were more than compensated for by the presence of G’Kar.

  5. #5 BronzeDog
    February 17, 2006

    Mr. Garibaldi, I have been on this station long enough to know that you don’t ask leading questions unless you already know the answers. So, why don’t we just pretend I’ve lied about it, you’ve caught me in your web of insufferable logic and cut to the point?

    I remember that line. I still laugh at it. Maybe sometime I should try something like that on Fore Sam, when he gets back to asking loaded questions.

  6. #6 Indyellen
    February 17, 2006

    In case you hadn’t found it, there are several interesting memorials to Andreas on http://www.isnnews.com, including a video tribute and a message from JMS. I thought you’d appreciate knowing about it.

    “We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, the best of us is washed away. My rains have come and gone .. for now. Yours are just beginning.”

  7. #7 Katie
    February 17, 2006

    Such a shame. I always really enjoyed G’Kar.

  8. #8 wolfwalker
    February 17, 2006

    Some of my favorite G’Kar-isms all come from one episode, “Mind War”:

    G’kar: Why not?
    Sakai: That’s not an answer
    G’kar: It is; It’s just not the answer you wanted or expected.

    ——

    G’kar: No one here is exactly what they appear to be. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair, and not me.

    ——

    G’kar: “There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless, and if they are aware of us at all it is as little more than ants, and we have as much chance of communicating with them
    as an ant has with us. We know. We’ve tried, and we’ve learned that we can either stay out from underfoot–or be stepped on.”

    Sakai: “That’s it? That’s all you know?”

    G’Kar: “Yes. They are a mystery, and I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything. Whatever they are, Miss Sakai, they walk near Sigma
    957, and they must walk there alone.”

    ——-

    Among many other things, that last one is a wonderful explanation of why I study nature and evolution…

  9. #9 BronzeDog
    February 17, 2006

    Lots of good quotes here. Think they’re worthy of being on the List of Most Profound Things Said by a Guy in Too Much Makeup.

    Maybe I should bump Babylon 5 onto my list of DVD purchases. Would let me begin at the beginning if I got season 1.

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