"We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do. We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments— which I think can be a good thing— but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters boyfriends? ‘God forbid!’ But of course when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. We police girls, we praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because [laughs]
the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves [laughs]
We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs!’ ‘Cover yourself!’ We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something.
And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up—and this is the worst thing we do to girls—they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.
"It’s a very difficult thing to explain now … But that sense of the awesomeness of reality, the awesomeness of material existence goes back to my childhood. I can remember looking at the stars in the summertime, for instance, and feeling a tremendous sorrow from simply knowing that they are not permanent; the stars can blow up, can crumple, go away. And somehow that idea of the end of things, the changeability of things entered my mind, and my psyche, and my imagination at a very early stage. It was connected with a kind of universal sorrow that I perceived in nature everywhere, and in human nature everywhere. Now, probably, all I’m saying is that I’m a pessimist and a skeptic and, you know, an unlikely poet—for people who like to be cheered up anyway. And I guess that’s true."
Fritz Henle: Frida Kahlo at Xochimilco, Mexico, 1937
Arabic Star Lists, c. 1065 CE. The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
"And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long."
"If you look at a page of prose, it is crowded with words. If you look at a page of poetry, the slim word shapes are couched in the empty whiteness of the page. The page is a place of silence where the contour of the word is edged and the expression is heightened in an intimate way."
— quoted from John O’Donohue,
from “Taste and Speech,” in Anam Ċara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
(Cliff Street Books, 1997)
"People react primarily to direct experience and not to abstractions; it is very rare to find anyone who can become emotionally involved with an abstraction."
"Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life."