“Wittgenstein did not argue; he merely thought himself into subtler and deeper problems The record which three of his students have made of his lectures and conversations at Cambridge discloses a man tragically honest and wonderfully, astoundingly absurd. In every memoir of him we meet a man we are hungry to know more about, for even if his every sentence remains opaque to us, it is clear that the archaic transparency of his thought is like nothing that philosophy has seen for thousands of years. It is also clear that he was trying to be wise and to make others wise. He lived in the world, and for the world. He came to believe that a normal, honest human being could not be a professor. It is the academy that gave him his reputation of impenetrable abstruseness; never has a man deserved a reputation less. Disciples who came to him expecting to find a man of incredibly deep learning found a man who saw mankind held together by suffering alone, and he invariably advised them to be as kind as possible to others. He read, like all inquisitive men, to multiply his experiences. He read Tolstoy (always getting bogged down) and the Gospels and bales of detective stories. He shook his head over Freud. When he died, he was reading Black Beauty. His last words were: “Tell them I’ve had a wonderful life.”—Guy Davenport,The Geography of the Imagination (via clericalerror)
“I write: I write because we lived together, because I was one amongst them, a shadow amongst their shadows, a body close to their bodies. I write because they left in me their indelible mark, whose trace is writing. Their memory is dead in writing; writing is the memory of their death and the assertion of my life.”—George Perec, W, or the Memory of Childhood. (via clericalerror)
“There must be another life, she thought, sinking back into her chair, exasperated. Not in dreams; but here and now, in this room, with living people. She felt as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice with her hair blown back; she was about to grasp something that just evaded her. There must be another life, here and now, she repeated. This is too short, too broken. We know nothing, even about ourselves.”—Virginia Woolf, The Years (via afortressaroundmyheart)
“You grieve someone because you love them. Grief sharpens the edge of that love to something excruciating. Love amplifies that grief to something deafening.”—Rebecca Lindenberg, from an interview with The Believer
“I sensed that in truth I had neither memory nor the power of thought, nor even any existence, that all my life had been a constant process of obliteration, a turning away from myself and the world.”—W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz (translated by Anthea Bell)
“Men’s voices in the darkness
—once in a temple—
men’s voices in the sun
—I was once caryatid
men’s voices in the park
—I was a statue
with no other mirror
than fingers of air
moving from thought to thought
with no other sorrow
than the rustle of leaves—
men’s voices in the park:
why have they wakened me?”—Inger Christensen, “Men’s Voices” (translated by Nadia Christensen)
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” That quote is from Kurt Vonnegut. Would you say that you've built such a community for yourself?
I love that Vonnegut quote. Yes, I do think I’ve created a community for myself on tumblr. To be honest, at the time that I created my blog, I was probably at the lowest point of my life. I felt isolated, alone, and empty, but I discovered this site and it completely transformed me. I met people who loved Virginia Woolf as much as I did, who were passionate about feminism, who watched films that I adored, and it’s just such a pleasure and privilege to log on each day and know that so many people like what I post. It does feel like a community and it’s a beautiful one. I have a feeling many people agree. I think so many of us struggle with loneliness and, despite what critics of the internet say, meaningful connection does happen through this website and many others. Tumblr makes me feel less alone. I am who I am today because of this blog and the kind and wonderful people it brought into my life.
“Memory was that woman on the train. Insane in the way she sifted through the dark things in a closet and emerged with the most unlikely ones- a fleeting look, a feeling. The smell of smoke. A windscreen wiper. A mother’s marble eyes. Quite sane in the way she left huge tracts of darkness veiled. Unremembered.”—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (via inherwar)
“Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.”—Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride (via helplesslyamazed)
“These and other inanimate things she saw and experienced. They were real to her. She knew them. They were the codes and touchstones of the world, capable of translation and possession. She owned the crack that made her stumble; she owned the clumps of dandelions whose white heads, last fall, she had blown away; whose yellow heads, this fall, she peered into. And owning them made her part of the world, and the world a part of her.”—Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“In college, I used to underline sentences that struck me, that made me look up from the page. They were not necessarily the same sentences the professors pointed out, which would turn up for further explication on an exam. I noted them for their clarity, their rhythm, their beauty and their enchantment. For surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.”—Jhumpa Lahiri, My Life’s Sentences (via azspot)
“All night I hear
so many echoes in the forest I’m tempted
to look back, to save myself in hindsight,
where all I see is the absence of me.
Where all I hear is your voice…”—Chard deNiord, from “This Ecstasy” (via proustitute)
Poetry is concerned with using and abusing, with losing with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun. It is doing that always doing that, doing that and doing nothing but that. Poetry is doing nothing but losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns. That is what poetry does, that is what poetry has to do no matter what kind of poetry it is. And there are a great many kinds of poetry.
When I said.
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
And then later made that into a ring I made poetry and what did I do I caressed completely caressed and addressed a noun.
”—Gertrude Stein, Lectures in America, “Poetry and Grammar” (via semperaugustus)
“Oh, to be a writer, a real writer given up to it and to it alone! Oh, I failed to-day; I turned back, looked over my shoulder, and immediately it happened. I felt as though I too were struck down. The day turned cold and dark on the instant. It seemed to belong to summer twilight in London, to the clang of the gates as they close the garden, to the deep light painting the high houses, to the smell of leaves and dust, to the lamp-light, to that stirring of the senses, to the langour of twilight, the breath of it on one’s cheek, to all those things which (I feel to-day) are gone from me for ever.”—Katherine Mansfield, diary entry (29th February 1920)
“She was carrying a large bunch of rust-coloured chrysanthemums in the crook of her right arm, and when we had walked side by side across the yard without a word and were standing in the doorway, she raised her free hand and put the hair back from my forehead, as if she knew, in this one gesture, that she had the gift of being remembered.”—W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz (translated by Anthea Bell)
“The blue river is gray at morning
and evening. There is twilight
at dawn and dusk. I lie in the dark
wondering if this quiet in me now
is a beginning or an end.”—Jack Gilbert, “Waking at Night” (via apoetreflects)
“That was the strange thing, that one did not know where one was going, or what one wanted, and followed blindly, suffering so much in secret, always unprepared and amazed and knowing nothing; but one thing led to another and by degrees something had formed itself out of nothing, and so one reached at last this calm, this quiet, this certainty, and it was this process that people called living.”—Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out
“These hours of beauty have meant so much to me, somewhat in the writing, but much more in the long incalculable hours and days out of which the writing has risen like the blue smoke out of woods …”—Fiona Macleod (via apoetreflects)
“I’ve seen a Dying Eye
Run round and round a Room—
In search of Something—as it seemed—
Then Cloudier become—
And then—obscure with Fog—
And then—be soldered down
Without disclosing what it be
‘Twere blessed to have seen—”—Emily Dickinson
me. Do you
In the night’s windowless darkness
when I am lying cold and numb
and no one’s fiddling with the lock, or
shining flashlights in my eyes,
although I never write, secretly
I long to die with you”—Franz Wright, from “Dedication” (via ahuntersheart)
In my garden,
the winds have beaten
the ripe lilies;
in my garden, the salt
has wilted the first flakes
of young narcissus,
and the lesser hyacinth
and the salt has crept
under the leaves of the white hyacinth.
In my garden
even the wind-flowers lie flat,
broken by the wind at last.
“When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?”—Amy Lowell, “The Taxi”
“Far from looking bored or absent-minded, her eyes were concentrated almost sternly upon the page, and from her breathing, which was slow but repressed, it could be seen that her whole body was constrained by the working of her mind. At last she shut the book sharply, lay back, and drew a deep breath, expressive of the wonder which always marks the transition from the imaginary world to the real world.”—Virginia Woolf,The Voyage Out. (via fuckyeahvirginiawoolf)
“Cities at daybreak are no one’s,
and have no names.
And I, too, have no name,
dawn, the stars growing pale,
the train picking up speed.”—Adam Zagajewski, from “At Daybreak” (translated by Renata Gorczynski, Bejamin Ivry, and C.K. Williams)