A brick is worth more than the words
that imitate it, resting
one on top of the other.
With poetry, I would like to make bricks.
— “Bricks”, Massimo Gezzi
What is so painful about that time is that nothing was disastrous. It was all wrong, ugly, unhappy and coloured with cynicism, but nothing was tragic, there were no moments that could change anything or anybody. From time to time the emotional lightning flashed and showed a landscape of private misery, and then — we went on dancing. — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
The novel has become a function of the fragmented society, the fragmented consciousness. Human beings are so divided, are becoming more and more divided, and more subdivided in themselves, reflecting the world, that they reach out desperately, not knowing they do it, for information about other groups inside their own country, let alone about groups in other countries. It is a blind grasping out for their own wholeness, and the novel-report is a means toward it. — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you. — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (introduction)
Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:
“You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (introduction)
I think it possible that Marxism was the first attempt, for our time, outside the formal religions, at a world-mind, a world-ethic. It went wrong, could not prevent itself from dividing and subdividing, like all the other religions, into smaller and smaller chapels, sects, and creeds. But it was an attempt. — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook (introduction)
He says, `If only I had unknown utterances
and extraordinary verses,
in a new language that does not pass away,
free from repetition,
without a verse of worn-out speech
spoken by the ancestors!
I shall wring my body for what is in it,
- a release of all my speech.
For what is already said can only be repeated;
what is said once has been said;
this is no vain boast of the ancients’ speech
that those who are later should find it good. — Ancient Egyptian scribe Khakheperraseneb
… il ne parlait plus que de peinture grasse et solide, que de morceaux de nature, jetés sur la toile, vivants, grouillants, tels qu’ils étaient … — Emile Zola, Les Rougon-Macquart
Actually, that’s what a life is, it’s the lives you don’t have. As if to say, Don’t worry, because that’s what a life is. Or just that missing all our supposed other lives is something modern people are keen to do. We are just addicted to alternatives, fascinated by what we can never do. As if we all had the wrong parents, or the wrong bodies, or the wrong luck. — Adam Phillips, The Paris Review interview
Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge. When you think, I’m agoraphobic, I’m a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. It’s only worth knowing about the things that make one’s life worth living, and whether there are in fact things that make it worth living. — Adam Phillips, The Paris Review interview
We all have self-cures for strong feeling. Then the self-cure becomes a problem, in the obvious sense that the problem of the alcoholic is not alcohol but sobriety. Drinking becomes a problem, but actually the problem is what’s being cured by the alcohol. By the time we’re adults, we’ve all become alcoholics. That’s to say, we’ve all evolved ways of deadening certain feelings and thoughts. One of the reasons we admire or like art, if we do, is that it reopens us in some sense—as Kafka wrote in a letter, art breaks the sea that’s frozen inside us. It reminds us of sensitivities that we might have lost at some cost. — Adam Phillips, The Paris Review interview
I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader. — Adam Phillips, The Paris Review interview
There’s something about these books that we want to go on thinking about, that matters to us. They’re not just fetishes that we use to fill gaps. They are like recurring dreams we can’t help thinking about. — Adam Phillips, The Paris Review interview
There are those stateless wanderers who, finding the larger world into which they have stumbled vast, varied and exciting, become confused in their loyalties and lose their sense of home. I am one of those wanderers. — Brian Moore (Irish-Canadian author)