“Don't let the bastards grind you down.”
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don't let the bastards grind you down.”
“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
“Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.”
“Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely. God is love, they once said, but we reversed that, and love, like heaven, was always just around the corner. The more difficult it was to love the particular man beside us, the more we believed in Love, abstract and total. We were waiting, always, for the incarnation. That word, made flesh.
And sometimes it happened, for a time. That kind of love comes and goes and is hard to remember afterwards, like pain. You would look at the man one day and you would think, I loved you, and the tense would be past, and you would be filled with a sense of wonder, because it was such an amazing and precarious and dumb thing to have done; and you would know too why your friends had been evasive about it, at the time.
There is a good deal of comfort, now, in remembering this.”
“When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”
“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.”
“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”
“There is more than one kind of freedom," said Aunt Lydia. "Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.”
“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.”
“But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.
Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn't really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn't about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it's about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”
“The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you've been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil”
“But people will do anything rather than admit that their lives have no meaning. No use, that is. No plot.”
“We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?”
“You can think clearly only with your clothes on.”
“Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. Wool blanket.”
“I am not your justification for existence.”
“I want to be held and told my name. I want to be valued, in ways that I am not; I want to be more than valuable. I repeat my former name; remind myself of what I once could do, how others saw me. I want to steal something.”
“It's impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.”
“I feel like the word shatter.”
“If it's a story I'm telling, then I have control over the ending...
But if it's a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone.
You don't tell a story only to yourself. There's always someone else. Even when there is no one.”
“All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn't be that hard.”
“We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?”
“Maybe the life I think I'm living is a paranoid delusion...Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes.”
“Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.”
“Knowing was a temptation. What you don't know won't tempt you.”
“I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.”
“In the kitchens of love, after all, vice is like the pepper in a good sauce; it brings out the flavor, it’s indispensable.”
“Sure, it sucked to be lost, but I'd long ago realized I preferred it to depending on anyone else to get me where I needed to go. That was the thing about being alone, in theory or in principle. Whatever happened- good, bad, or anywhere in between- it was always, if nothing else, all your own.”
“Fear is unnatural. Lightning and thunder are unnatural. Pain, death, reality, these are all unnatural. We can't bear these things as they are. We know too much. So we resort to repression, compromise and disguise. This is how we survive the universe. This is the natural language of the species.”
“We think there are limits to the dimensions of fear. Until we encounter the unknown. Then we can all feel boundless amounts of terror.”
“Let's just say you may regret that second piece of cake.'
Oh my God. Regret cake? Whatever was about to happen must be truly evil.”
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