Best 119 of Ralph Ellison quotes - MyQuotes

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Ralph Ellison
By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

There must be possible a fiction which, leaving sociology and case histories to the scientists, can arrive at the truth about the human condition, here and now, with all the bright magic of the fairy tale.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

When American life is most American it is apt to be most theatrical.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I'd like to hear five recordings of Louis Armstrong playing and singing "What Did I Do to Be so Black and Blue"-all at the same time. Sometimes now I listen to Louis while I have my favorite dessert of vanilla ice cream and sloe gin. I pour the red liquid over the white mound, watching it glisten and the vapor rising as Louis bends that military instrument into a beam of lyrical sound.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

For now I had begun to believe, despite all the talk of science around me, that there was a magic in spoken words.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I can hear you say, "What a horrible, irresponsible bastard!" And you're right. I leap to agree with you. I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me? And wait until I reveal how truly irresponsible I am. Responsibility rests upon recognition, and recognition is a form of agreement.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Ralph Ellison

What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? What a waste, what a senseless waste! But what of those things which you actually didn't like, not because you were not supposed to like them, not because to dislike them was considered a mark of refinement and education - but because you actually found them distasteful? The very idea annoyed me. How could you know? It involved a problem of choice. I would have to weigh many things carefully before deciding and there would be some things that would cause quite a bit of trouble, simply because I had never formed a personal attitude toward so much. I had accepted the accepted attitudes and it had made life seem simple ...

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

the world is just as concrete, ornery, vile, and sublimely wonderful as before, only now I better understand my relation to it and it to me.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Deep at the dark bottom of the melting pot, where the private is public and the public private, where black is white and white black, where the immoral becomes moral and the moral is anything that makes one feel good (or that one has the power to sustain), the white man's relish is apt to be the black man's gall.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Meaning grows in the mind, but the shape and form of the act remains.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Can it be, I thought, can it actually be? .......could he be all of them: Rine the runner and Rine the gambler and Rine the briber and Rine the lover and Rinehart the Reverend? Could he himself be both rind and heart? .....Rinehart the rounder. It was true as I was true. His world was possibility and he knew it. He was years ahead of me and I was a fool. I must have been crazy and blind. The world in which we lived was without boundaries...All boundaries down, freedom was not only the recognition of necessity, it was the recognition of possibility. And sitting there trembling I caught a brief glimpse of the possibilities posed by Rinehart’s multiple personalities…

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Such was the short bitter life of Brother Tod Clifton. Now he's in this box with the bolts tightened down. He's in the box and we're in there with him, and when I've told you this you can go. It's dark in this box and it's crowded. It has a cracked ceiling and a clogged-up toilet in the hall. It has rats and roaches, and it's far, far too expensive a dwelling. The air is bad and it'll be cold this winter. Tod Clifton is crowded and he needs the room. 'Tell them to get out of the box', that's what he would say if you could hear him. 'Tell them to get out of the box and go teach the cops to forget that rhyme. Tell them to teach them that when they call you nigger to make a rhyme with trigger it makes the gun backfire.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

My hole is warm and full of light.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Perhaps to lose a sense of where you are implies the danger of losing a sense of who you are.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

And while the ice was melting to form a flood in which I threatened to drown I awoke one afternoon to find that my first northern winter had set.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

To hell with being ashamed of what you liked.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Was it that she understood that we resented having others think that we were all entertainers and natural singers? But now after the mutual laughter something disturbed me: Shouldn't there be some way for us to be asked to sing? Shouldn't the short man have the right to make a mistake without his motives being considered consciously or unconsciously malicious? After all, he was singing, or trying to. What if I asked him to sing?

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Having tried to give pattern to the chaos which lives within the pattern of your certainties, I must come out, I must emerge.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to bind, imprison and destroy.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Many of the rites of passage, those rituals of growing up found in our society, are in the form of such comic, practical joking affairs--which we ignore in the belief that they possess no deeper significance. Yet it is precisely in their being regarded as unimportant that they take on importance. For in them we ritualize and dramatize attitudes which contradict and often embarrass the sacred values which we proclaim through our solemn ceremonies and rituals of nationhood.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Our task, then always, is to challenge the apparent forms of reality-that is, the fixed manner and values of the few, and to struggle with it until it reveals its mad, vari-implicated chaos, its false face, and so on until it surrenders its insight, its truth.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me?

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Man's hope can paint a purple picture, can transform a soaring vulture into a noble eagle or moaning dove.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Commercial rock 'n' roll music is a brutalization of the stream of contemporary Negro church music an obscene looting of a cultural expression.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Tell them to teach them that when they call you nigger to make a rhyme with trigger it makes the gun backfire

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me, that they would have begged the pardon of Jack the Bear, never glancing his way if the bear happened to be walking along minding his business. It was confusing. I did not know if it was desirable or undesirable.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Perhaps everyone loved someone; I didn't now, I couldn't give much thought to love; in order to travel far you had to be detached, and I had the long road back to the campus before me.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I was no longer afraid. Not of important men, not of trustees and such; for knowing now that there was nothing which I could expect from them, there was no reason to be afraid.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Please, a definition: A hibernation is a covert preparation for a more overt action.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

He only wanted to use me for something. Everyone wanted to use you for some purpose.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled 'file and forget.'

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

But what a feeling can come over a man just from seeing the things he believes in and hopes for symbolized in the concrete form of a man. In something that gives a focus to all the other things he knows to be real. Something that makes unseen things manifest and allows him to come to his hopes and dreams through his outer eye and through the touch and feel of his natural hand.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Words are your business, boy. Not just the word. Words are everything. The key to the rock, the answer to the question.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I suddenly recall the arpeggios of laughter lilting across the tender, springtime grass-gay-welling, far-floating, fluent, spontaneous, a bell-like feminine fluting, then suppressed; as though snuffed swiftly and irrevocably beneath the quiet solemnity of the vespered air now vibrant with somber chapel bells.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

At best Americans give but a limited attention to history. Too much happens too rapidly, and before we can evaluate it, or exhaust its meaning or pleasure, there is something new to concern us. Ours is the tempo of the motion picture, not that of the still camera, and we waste experience as we wasted the forest.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway? – diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states . Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness? But seriously, and without snobbery, think of what the world would lose if that should happen. America is woven of many strands. I would recognize them and let it so remain.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

For man without myth is Othello with Desdemona gone: chaos descends, faith vanishes and superstitions prowl in the mind.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

We don't all dig Shakespeare uniformly, or even 'Little Red Riding Hood.' The understanding of art depends finally upon one's willingness to extend one's humanity and one's knowledge of human life.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority. The universal in the novel-and isn't that what we're all clamoring for these days?-is reached only through the depiction of the specific man in a specific circumstance.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances, whether created by others or by one's own human failing.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Stephen’s problem, like ours, was not actually one of creating the uncreated conscience of his race, but of creating the uncreated features of his face. Our task is that of making ourselves individuals. The conscience of a race is the gift of its individuals who see, evaluate, record… We create the race by creating ourselves and then to our great astonishment we will have created something far more important: We will have created a culture. Why waste time creating a conscience for something that doesn't exist? For, you see, blood and skin do not think!

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.