Respectful Insolence

The wit and wisdom of G’Kar

i-e7a12c3d2598161273c9ed31d61fe694-ClassicInsolence.jpgUnfortunately, as we have been dreading for the last four months or so since her relapse was diagnosed, my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer in hospice. She died peacefully, with my wife and the rest of her family at her side. As you might expect, I do not much feel like blogging. Because I foresaw this day coming, however, I did set up a series of reposts to autopost for you while I am in mourning. Some, I have even updated and spiffed up. If you’ve been reading less than a year or two, they’re new to you. If not, I hope you enjoy them again. I don’t know when I’ll be back, other than maybe a brief update or two. It could be a couple of days; it could be a couple of weeks. Since it’s been three years since Andreas Katsulas died of lung cancer, I thought I’d repost this; somehow I find that these quotes lift my spirits somewhat.

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 Charlie B.
    February 14, 2009

    Two things – first, my condolences.

    Second, G’kar was one of the best-drawn characters in sf, maybe in television. His anger, his fall, and his revelation, along with his humour (very black humour, at times) has lead to some genuinely great pieces of monologue and dialogue. Just wonderful. Bitter, witty and wise. The writers of B5 did well indeed.

  2. #2 Strider
    February 14, 2009

    A peaceful death with our loved ones at our side is the best for which any of us could hope. My condolences!

  3. #3 DLC
    February 14, 2009

    B-5 had some good stories to tell.
    And fancier FX than Star Trek, Dr Who or Blake’s 7.

  4. #4 Michael
    February 15, 2009

    Awesome. Man, do I love B5. And G’Kar definitely had some of the best lines, especially in the last 2 seasons.

  5. #5 Dave T
    February 15, 2009

    I confess that you missed my favourite G’Kar quote – ‘By G’Quan, I can’t recall the last time I was in a fight like that. No moral ambiguity, no… hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces. They were the bad guys, as you say, we were the good guys. And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor’

  6. #6 mary
    February 15, 2009

    Oh, Dave T beat me to it! G’Kar was one of the best characters ever. Katsoulas, who also played a great Romulan character on Star Trek TNG, has been and will be sorely missed.

  7. #7 marion
    February 15, 2009

    G’Kar: With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain…
    Na’Toth: And you will know fear.
    Citizen G’Kar: And then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.

    And the timing of the delivery of the lines was perfect.

    Boy, I miss that show.

  8. #8 Propter Doc
    February 16, 2009

    Echoing condolences.

    I’ve just been buying B5 on DVD and we’re in between wars at the moment in season 4 – just finished with the shadows, just about to start on Earth.

    I never appreciated, 10 years ago when first watching the series, the transitions that G’Kar went through. I love these quotes, I loved the writing.

  9. #9 cthulhus minion
    February 16, 2009

    One of the things i loved about B5 was the poetry quotes sprinkled here and there. I can’t think of another show where you could hear several lines of Yeats or Tennyson. My favorite G’kar line is from season one when he quotes Yeats.

  10. #10 NumbNut
    July 22, 2011

    Condolences on your loss. My mom, too, passed away due to recurring illness. I know how it feels. Going back, G’Kar is, I agree, one of the best drawn characters in sci-fi and television in general. His eloquence is ever a source of inspiration and reflection; his wit, a source of joy. Babylon 5 is one of the best sci-fi series ever. Along with Star Trek, it’s one of my favorites. I’m glad I have the complete DVD set of all 5 seasons so that I can continue to enjoy it.

  11. #11 Kenneth Knerr
    December 21, 2011

    You missed the one about the ant and the age of other races in the universe.