I’m not going to waste any more time playing judge and jury over everybody else when I’ve never found myself completely not guilty.
In fact, compared to many? My hands are probably filthy.
So we can make devils of each other.
Or we can take that energy and make gods of ourselves.
And I’d rather live my life on a mission of building a heaven,
Than working demolition in hell.
Build big the beauty, build big the love
And I swear the hate, the fear will one day disappear
And it all starts right here.
— Andrea Gibson, “Evolution”
She’s eating her fifty square feet of death.
I’m eating my organic vegan local salad (no meat no cheese and please hold the dressing cause I don’t want to exploit the labour of the little honeybees).
But when we meet you, she will be a thousand times more likely to greet you with open arms than me.
…I’ve got a closet full of protest signs buried by all the times I wish I’d been kinder to a friend.
— Andrea Gibson, “Name That Meat”
If you are a woman writer from the Muslim world, like me, then you are expected to write the stories of Muslim women, and preferably the unhappy stories of unhappy Muslim women. You are expected to write “informative”, “poignant” and “characteristic” stories, leaving the experimental and avant-garde to your Western colleagues…There is a fuzzy category called “multicultural literature” in which all authors from outside the Western world are lumped together. I’ll never forget my first “multicultural reading”, in Harvard Square about ten years ago. We were three writers, one from the Phillipines, one Turkish, one Indonesian. Like a joke, you know? And the reason we were brought together was not because we shared an artistic style or literary taste, it was only because of our passports…Identity politics divides us, fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations, the other in nuances. One draws boundaries, the other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks, fiction is flowing water.
— Elif Shafak, The Politics of Fiction
“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.”
CHARLOTTE BRONTE, Jane Eyre
Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”
“All like ours?”
“I don’t know; but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound—a few blighted.”
“Which do we live on—a splendid one or a blighted one?”
“A blighted one.
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Behold, one of the greatest descriptions of a self-obsessed person ever.
Why is this novel not more famous, and why don’t people write like this anymore?
“He welcomed me politely, but was so full of his own importance that I was made to feel the value he attached to himself rather than to me. He invited me to lunch, and conversation was constrained and awkward, as it must always be with a man who has no genuine feelings about anything, and whose mind is at the exclusive service of his vanity.
He spoke to me solely about himself, without noticing in the slightest whether or not my interest corresponded to the liveliness of his own. When he thought he was about to make a witty remark, his little eyes shone with irrepressible joy; he looked at me after he spoke to judge whether I had managed to understand, and when his vanity was soothed, he resumed a commanding look out of respect for his own character…
After an hour devoted to lunch, he rose and carefully explained how he was obliged to leave me by imperative matters instigated by the goodness of his heart…I saw that he was looking at me benevolently to soften the pain I must certainly suffer from his absence.”
Another gem from this novel…
“I will smother everything that sets me apart from other women - spontaneous thoughts, passionate impulses, generous bursts of enthusiasm - but I shall avoid suffering, dreaded suffering. My existence will be concentrated entirely in my reason, and I shall pass through life thus armed against both myself and others.”
All from Mme Germaine de Stael’s Delphine, published in 1802.