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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…the widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction.

— Jaron Lanier, You are not a gadget

A new generation has come of age with a reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become.

— Jaron Lanier, You are not a gadget

Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” I’d like to show how “intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members” connects with “the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.” I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” I’ve never had the right words to describe my life.

— Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

From the very beginning he feels effortlessly incorporated into their lives. It is a different brand of hospitality from what he is used to; for though the Ratliffs are generous, they are people who do not go out of their way to accommodate others, assured, in his case correctly, that their life will appeal to him.

— Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she has never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way. This, in his opinion, is the biggest difference between them, a thing far more foreign to him than the beautiful house she’d grown up in, her education at private schools.

— Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

Never again will a single story be told as though it’s the only one

— John Berger

Sometimes he looked at himself in a mirror….and he wondered if he appeared as ludicrous to others as he did to himself.

— John Williams, Stoner

Also, when you are young, you think you can predict the likely pains and bleaknesses that age might bring. You imagine yourself being lonely, divorced, widowed; children growing away from you, friends dying…But all this is looking ahead. What you fail to do is look ahead, and then imagine yourself looking back from the future point. Learning the new emotions that time brings. Discovering for example, that as the witnesses to your life diminish, there is less corroboration, and therefore less certainty, as to what you are or have been. Even if you have assiduously kept records – in words, sound, pictures – you may find that you have attended to the wrong kind of record-keeping. What was the line Adrian used to quote? ‘History is the certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.’

— Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but – mainly – to ourselves.

— Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

I had given him a life not worth living, but I had also given him an iron will to live. This was a common combination on the planet Earth.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
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