Best 88 of Essays quotes - MyQuotes
The photographer is now charging real beasts, beleaguered and too rare to kill. Guns have metamorphosed into cameras in this earnest comedy, the ecology safari, because nature has ceased to be what it always had been - what people needed protection from. Now nature - tamed, endangered, mortal - needs to be protected from people. When we are afraid, we shoot. But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures.
William H. Gass
My stories are malevolently anti-narrative, and my essays are maliciously anti-expository, but the ideology of my opposition arrived long after my antagonism had become a trait of character." -- William H. Gass, "Finding a Form
A good writer should be able to communicate to the reader, 'I know your life. I know what you have truly experienced. It’s not right or wrong. It’s survival. It’s making mistakes, and trying to redeem yourself. It’s imperfections, and trying to make yourself better. It’s outrages, and crimes, and insults, which often are not righted, which you have to fix yourself, in your own mind, in your own heart, so that you are not poisoned'.
In 2013 there were 7,427 poetry readings in April, many on a Thursday. For anyone born in 1928 who pays attention to poetry, the numerousness is astonishing. In April 1948, there were 15 readings in the United States, 12 by Robert Frost. So I claim. The figures are imaginary, but you get the point.
Some people are so sexually unattractive that the thought of masturbating turns them off.
Then you look at her and smile a smile your dissembling face will remember until the day you die. Baby, you say, baby, this is part of my novel. This is how you lose her.
Dante Alighieri wrote his first book in the prosimetrum genre – La Vita Nuova – in 14th century Florence. Since I’m compiling this collection – my first indie publication – in Florence, just blocks from Dante’s house, and since his book involves a lost love, and ‘A New Life,’ I thought it fitting to emulate this style in my own casual, intuitive fashion. My hope is that the juxtaposition of poems, journal entries, essays and prose will create a story; a memoir in anarchistic vignettes.
Michel De Montaigne
...were these Essays of mine considerable enough to deserve a critical judgment, it might then, I think, fall out that they would not much take with common and vulgar capacities, nor be very acceptable to the singular and excellent sort of men; the first would not understand them enough, and the last too much; and so they may hover in the middle region.
In this essay, John Zwerenz gives amazingly objective political insights into what makes our current President tick.
The point of the essay is to change things.
Maybe love is something we’re meant to say casually and not regard as a prize from a treasure chest that a person earns.
How can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time. The Moralist and the Revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite under the Moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are are work and fresh dynamite is being tamped un place to blow Marx to the moon.
Fiction and essays can create empathy for the theoretical stranger.
For the modern consciousness, the artist (replacing the saint) is the exemplary sufferer. And among artists, the writer, the man of words, is the person to whom we look to be able best to express his suffering.
Nothing is more complex than avoiding the obvious
Rudyard Kipling was the only popular writer of this century who was not at the same time a thoroughly bad writer.
G. K. Chesterton
Now in sober truth there is a magnificent idea in these monsters of the Apocalypse. It is, I suppose, the idea that beings really more beautiful or more universal than we are might appear to us frightful and even confused. Especially they might seem to have senses at once more multiplex and more staring; an idea very imaginatively seized in the multitude of eyes. I like those monsters beneath the throne very much. But I like them beneath the throne. It is when one of them goes wandering in deserts and finds a throne for himself that evil faiths begin, and there is (literally) the devil to pay--to pay in dancing girls or human sacrifice. As long as those misshapen elemental powers are around the throne, remember that the thing that they worship is the likeness of the appearance of a man.
Some men do not know the father of 'their' children.
I don't understand how I can always want to sleep, hate waking up, and yet be afraid of death.
The law of the innermost form of the essay is heresy
Coco Chanel is said to have said that a girl should be two things: who and what she is. I say a girl should do two things: what and who she wants.
What makes us endure pain so poorly is that we are not accustomed to find our principal contentment in the soul, and that we do not concentrate enough on it; for the soul is the one and sovereign mistress of our condition and conduct. The body has, except for differences of degree, only one gait and one posture. The soul may be shaped into all varieties of forms, and molds to itself and to its every condition the feelings of the body, and all other accidents. Therefore we must study the soul and look into it, and awaken in it its all-powerful springs. There is no reason, prescription, or might that has power against its inclination and its choice. Out of the many thousands of attitudes at its disposal, let us give it one conducive to our repose and preservation, and we shall be not only sheltered from all harm, but even gratified and flattered, if it please, by ills and pains. The soul profits from everything without distinction. Error and dreams serve it usefully, being suitable stuff for giving us security and contentment.
As far as I am concerned, all reading is for pleasure.
There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay.
William H. Gass
These Claudines, then…they want to know because they believe they already do know, the way one who loves fruit knows, when offered a mango from the moon, what to expect; and they expect the loyal tender teasing affection of the schoolgirl crush to continue: the close and confiding companionship, the pleasure of the undemanding caress, the cuddle which consummates only closeness; yet in addition they want motherly putting right, fatherly forgiveness and almost papal indulgence; they expect that the sights and sounds, the glorious affairs of the world which their husbands will now bring before them gleaming like bolts of silk, will belong to the same happy activities as catching toads, peeling back tree bark, or powdering the cheeks with dandelions and oranging the nose; that music will ravish the ear the way the trill of the blackbird does; that literature will hold the mind in sweet suspense the way fairy tales once did; that paintings will crowd the eye with the delights of a colorful garden, and the city streets will be filled with the same cool dew-moist country morning air they fed on as children. But they shall not receive what they expect; the tongue will be about other business; one will hear in masterpieces only pride and bitter contention; buildings will have grandeur but no flowerpots or chickens; and these Claudines will exchange the flushed cheek for the swollen vein, and instead of companionship, they will get sex and absurd games composed of pinch, leer, and giggle—that’s what will happen to “let’s pretend.” 'The great male will disappear into the jungle like the back of an elusive ape, and Claudine shall see little of his strength again, his intelligence or industry, his heroics on the Bourse like Horatio at the bridge (didn’t Colette see Henri de Jouvenel, editor and diplomat and duelist and hero of the war, away to work each day, and didn’t he often bring his mistress home with him, as Willy had when he was husband number one?); the great affairs of the world will turn into tawdry liaisons, important meetings into assignations, deals into vulgar dealings, and the en famille hero will be weary and whining and weak, reminding her of all those dumb boys she knew as a child, selfish, full of fat and vanity like patrons waiting to be served and humored, admired and not observed. 'Is the occasional orgasm sufficient compensation? Is it the prize of pure surrender, what’s gained from all that giving up? There’ll be silk stockings and velvet sofas maybe, the customary caviar, tasting at first of frog water but later of money and the secretions of sex, then divine champagne, the supreme soda, and rubber-tired rides through the Bois de Boulogne; perhaps there’ll be rich ugly friends, ritzy at homes, a few young men with whom one may flirt, a homosexual confidant with long fingers, soft skin, and a beautiful cravat, perfumes and powders of an unimaginable subtlety with which to dust and wet the body, many deep baths, bonbons filled with sweet liqueurs, a procession of mildly salacious and sentimental books by Paul de Kock and company—good heavens, what’s the problem?—new uses for the limbs, a tantalizing glimpse of the abyss, the latest sins, envy certainly, a little spite, jealousy like a vaginal itch, and perfect boredom. 'And the mirror, like justice, is your aid but never your friend.' -- From "Three Photos of Colette," The World Within the Word, reprinted from NYRB April 1977
It wasn’t enough that I had to worry about playing well and winning the game, but I also had to deal with possibility that one of my teammates could be dragged off the field by the inhabitants of the mental hospital.
Modern man is rather like a bisected wasp which goes on sucking jam and pretends that the loss of its abdomen does not matter
It is usually unbearably painful to read a book by an author who knows way less than you do, unless the book is a novel.
REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
Alison Hawthorne Deming
I'm always trying to bring as many poetic properties as possible to the essay without making it too overburdened.
My whole life I grew up never belonging to any place. I grew up being different from anything I held dear to me. You see, the people I loved the most would reject my self-ness. I was not like anybody. I was a term they could not define. The people I loved the most made me the most lonely. I struggled to be lovable. I would have so much to offer. but it meant nothing, no one could sustain me anyway. My soul would struggle to escape my body at the thought of it. I got to twenty-one and I still felt like running away. I was bold in my sacrifices for my people in return for their acceptance. I wanted them to stop the ache I felt in my heart. Desperately and foolishly. I felt different all the time. I knew what kind of effect I had on people, but it was not enough for me to stay. I cannot count how many times I almost packed my bags for the love of me. I truly only belonged to my heart. I only wanted to eat my heart out on my own.
In writing choose the common words; avoid rhapsody and eloquence – yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.
Gazing from the moon, we see one earth, without borders, Mother Earth, her embrace encircling one people, humankind.
Life isn't like coursework, baby. It's one damn essay crisis after another.
T. S. Eliot
I am alive to a usual objection to what is clearly part of my programme for the metier of poetry. The objection is that the doctrine requires a ridiculous amount of erudition (pedantry), a claim which can be rejected by appeal to the lives of poets in any pantheon. It will even be affirmed that much learning deadens or perverts poetic sensibility. While, however, we persist in believing that a poet ought to know as much as will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary laziness, it is not desirable to confine knowledge to whatever can be put into a useful shape for examinations, drawing rooms, or the still more pretentious modes of publicity. Some can absorb knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it. Shakespeare acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men could from the whole British Museum. What is to be insisted upon is that the poet must develop this consciousness throughout his career. What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
The essays are different because ultimately it's things I'm interested in, and I'm really just writing about myself and using those subjects as a prism.
Some writers write to forget. Some forget to write.
What I'm exploring right now is the subject of my own mortality, It's an area that I'm curious about, and I'm researching it to see if there's a photographic essay in it for me. If images don't start to come, I'll go to something else.
The last time I was asked that, I said "A Year Without Spoons." Normally you get asked the same questions over and over, so it feels boring to say the same thing. But then I was like, I don't even know another essay I like. They're all good.
New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on CNN if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. Well, the station was flooded with emails, and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad, because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! Worst of all, Bill O'Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which (a) proves my point, and (b) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him. Now, before I go about demonstration how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness that's dragging us down, let me just say that ignorance has life-and-death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, seventy percent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Six years later, thirty-four percent still do. Or look at the health-care debate: At a recent town hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross-country to protest highways. This country is like a college chick after two Long Island iced teas: We can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget the town halls, and replace them with study halls. Listen to some of these stats: A majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. Twenty-four percent could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket. Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators, and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only three got their wife's name right on the first try. People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes more twenty-four percent of our budget. It's actually less than one percent. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen ad a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence, because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge." Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll say eighteen percent of us think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. And I haven't even brought up religion. But here's one fun fact I'll leave you with: Did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which came first. I rest my case.
Don't deliver an essay with so many points. No one can absorb it. Just say one thing... Of course, you can say the point in many different ways over and over again with different illustrations.
In my defense, I was left unsupervised.
Daniel C. Dennett, un filosofo della Tufts University che ne sa sia di neuroscienze che di informatica, sostiene che la coscienza stessa ha un aspetto essenzialmente narrativo, radicato nell’evoluzione biologica del cervello. Non ho la competenza per riassumere le argomentazioni di Dennett, ma vengo persuaso d’acchito dalle sue conclusioni – perlomeno se considerate come una narrazione esplicativa. Egli concepisce la coscienza essenzialmente come «creatrice di situazioni immaginarie in stesure multiple»; concepisce il sé come un come se, un «ipotetico Centro di Gravità Narrativa» – in breve, una fantastica e incessante narrazione. «Noi siamo le storie che raccontiamo a noi stessi e agli altri riguardo a chi siamo», afferma il professor Dennett – storie che rivediamo e rettifichiamo in continuazione e che in continuazione rivedono e rettificano noi stessi. A questo punto vi chiedo: il meditare su domande del genere ha mai reso chicchessia uno scrittore migliore? Non sarebbe più saggio se un narratore meditasse sulla casistica dell’amore, sui particolari di un tramonto, o magari sulle vicissitudini della nave spaziale U.S.S. Enterprise? Forse sì, forse no. Ma nel porci domande del genere, come nel creare di continuo situazioni ipotetiche, facciamo quello che ci viene naturale – che forse viene più naturale ad alcune persone che ad altre.
I was by now used to people being surprised by me and my background, and their surprise offended me. I was always having to be what I was looking for in the world, wishing the person I would become already existed — some other I before me. I was forever finding even the tiniest way to identify with someone to escape how empty the world seemed to be of what I was.
Jorge Luis Borges
I think—the hero observes that nothing is so frightening as a labyrinth with no center.
A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs—especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past—are incitements to reverie. The sense of the unattainable that can be evoked by photographs feeds directly into the erotic feelings of those for whom desirability is enhanced by distance.
Dickens seems to have succeeded in attacking everybody and antagonizing nobody.
The house-cat is a four-legged quadruped, the legs as usual being at the corners. It is what is sometimes called a tame animal, though it feeds on mice and birds of prey. Its colours are striped, it does not bark, but breathes through its nose instead of its mouth. Cats also mow, which you all have heard. Cats have nine liveses, but which is seldom wanted in this country, coz' of Christianity. Cats eat meat and most anythink speshuelly where you can't afford. That is all about cats." (From a schoolboy's essay, 1903.)
Can Religion Cure Our Troubles: Mankind is in mortal peril, and fear now, as in the past, is inclining men to seek refuge in God. Throughout the West there is a very general revival of religion. Nazis and Communists dismissed Christianity and did things which we deplore. It is easy to conclude that the repudiation of Christianity by Hitler and the Soviet Government is at least in part the cause of our troubles and that if the world returned to Christianity, our international problems would be solved. I believe this to be a complete delusion born of terror. And I think it is a dangerous delusion because it misleads men whose thinking might otherwise be fruitful and thus stands in the way of a valid solution. The question involved is not concerned only with the present state of the world. It is a much more general question, and one which has been debated for many centuries. It is the question whether societies can practise a sufficient modicum of morality if they are not helped by dogmatic religion. I do not myself think that the dependence of morals upon religion is nearly as close as religious people believe it to be. I even think that some very important virtues are more likely to be found among those who reject religious dogmas than among those who accept them. I think this applies especially to the virtue of truthfulness or intellectual integrity. I mean by intellectual integrity the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive. This virtue, though it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organised beliefs.
Joyce Carol Oates
Only where there is life can there be home.