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Words

Tag: Literature

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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

They were so different to the clothes my mother wore, none of these English drawing room colours she was all open-heart crises and burnt vivid oranges, colours that made your pupils dilate and were deep enough to enter your belly and sit there like the aftertaste of a good meal. No flowers, none that I could name, but dancing elephants strutting peacocks and long-necked birds who looked as if they were kissing their own backs, shades and cloth which spoke of bare feet on dust, roadside smokey dhabas, honking taxi horns and heavy sudden rain beating a bhangra on deep green leaves. But when I looked at Mrs Christmas’ frocks, I thought of tea by an open fire with an autumn wind howling outside, horses’ hooves, hats and gloves, toast, wartime brides with cupid bow mouths laughing and waving their hankies to departing soldiers, like I’d seen on that telly programme, All Our Yesterdays.

— Meera Sayal, Anita & Me

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

Here then may be lived a life of the sense so pure, so untouched by any mode of apprehension but their own, that the body may be said to think.

— Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain, 1977

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

I am struck by a sudden thought: memories have ways of becoming independent of the reality they evoke. They can soften us against those we were deeply hurt by or they can make us resent those we once accepted and loved unconditionally.

— Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

The thing to be known grows with the knowing.

— Nan Shepherd, The Living Mountain, 1977

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered

— Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead

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

We are reminded of the old Persian curse: “May your every desire be immediately fulfilled.”

— The Te of Piglet
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