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Words

I am an avid collector of words that hold meaning to me. This is a selection of what I have collected so far.

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She was thinking: If someone cracks up, what does that mean? At what point does a person about to fall to pieces say: I’m cracking up? And if I were to crack up, what form would it take?

— Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

I have to conclude that fiction is better at “the truth” than a factual record. Why this should be so is a very large subject and one I don’t begin to understand.

— Doris Lessing

What is terrible is that after every one of the phases of my life is finished, I am left with no more than some banal commonplace that everyone knows: in this case, that women’s emotions are all still fitted for a kind of society that no longer exists. My deep emotions, my real ones, are to do with my relationship with a man. One man. But I don’t live that kind of life, and I know few women who do. So what I feel is irrelevant and silly…I am always coming to the conclusion that my real emotions are foolish, I am always having, as it were, to cancel myself out. I ought to be like a man, caring more for my work than for people; I ought to put my work first, and take men as they come, or find an ordinary comfortable man for bread and butter reasons—but I won’t do it, I can’t be like that…

— Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

And history is vitally important because perhaps as much as, if not more than biology, the past owns us and however much we think we can, we cannot escape it. If you only knew how close you are to people who seem so far from you … it would astonish you. ‘Also, it’s a way of honouring those who came before us. We can tell their stories. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell your story? Ultimately, it’s the best proof there is that we mattered. And what else is life from the time you were born but a struggle to matter, at least to someone?

— Eliot Perlman, The Street Sweepers

There were times when the pressure to achieve happiness felt almost oppressive, as if happiness were something that everyone should and could attain, and that any sort of compromise in its pursuit was somehow your fault.

— Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

“I think it means,” I say, “that chance encounters are what keep us going. In simple terms.”

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realised through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

That’s fine. Look–what I’m getting at is no matter who or what you’re dealing with, people build up meaning between themselves and the things around them. The important thing is whether this comes about naturally or not. Being bright has nothing to do with it. What matters is that you see things with your own eyes.

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“Do you think Miss Saeki knew what all the lyrics mean?” Ashima looks up, listening to the thunder as if calculating how far away it is. He turns to me and shakes his head. “Not necessarily. Symbolism and meaning are two separate things. I think she found the right words by bypassing procedures like meaning and logic. She captured words in a dream, like delicately catching hold of a butterfly’s wings as it flutters around. Artists are those who can evade the verbose.”

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.

— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
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