Yet this perhaps is what love does, or the memory of it; it sucks the life from the living, glorying body and leaves it, when love has gone, a shred, a simulacrum - dross, to be swept up from the factory floor, pitiful and dusty, useless... Do all men and women feel love before they die? This force, this source of light, that lies before the sun; glances off mountains and lakes, blinding and dazzling, on a Sunday afternoon; so brilliant you have to guard your soul, fold your arms to shield your heart from the very memory of it.
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Truly Alice, books are wonderful things; to sit alone in a room and laugh and cry, because you are reading, and still be safe when you close the book; and having finished it, discover you are changed, yet unchanged! To be able to visit the City of Invention at will, depart at will "" that is all, really, education is about, should be about.
Lucy could see that love unconfined, love outside convention, might well make a woman an unfit mother; you were one kind of woman or another: you were good or you were bad, as the world saw it, and no stations in between. They allowed you to choose; you could be the maternal or the erotic, but not a bit of both. The latter made you forget the former. Men married the maternal and then longed for the erotic. Or they married the erotic by mistake, and set about making it into the maternal, and then were just as disappointed.
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Another thing that seems quite helpful to the creative process is having babies. It does not detract at all from one's creativity. It reminds one that there is always more where that came from and there is never any shortage of ideas or of the ability to create. The process of being pregnant and then of having the baby and getting up in the night only puts one more in touch with this fecund part of one's self.
I have never got on with the quietist movements: they lapse too easily into self-congratulations: I have found the oneness, you have not. I prefer to look outside myself if I possibly can, not inside. Meditation reminds me too forcibly of being made to lie on a mat at nursery school and take an hour's nap.
Youth gives a sense of new days dawning bright, going on for ever, and a kind of tamped-down excitement which keeps breaking through even the worst days of poverty, depression and loneliness. But then youth is something which only exists in retrospect; you are barely conscious of it while you have it.
I know truth is more like a mountain that has to be scaled. The peak of the mountain pierces the clouds and can only rarely be seen, and has never been reached. And what you see of it, moreover, depends upon the flank of the mountain you stand upon, and how exhausted getting even so far has made you. Virtue lies in looking upwards, toiling upwards, and sometimes joyously leaping from one precarious crag of fact and feeling to the next.
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Letters crossing in the post, unfamiliar tunes heard three times in one day, the way that blows of fate descend upon the same bowed shoulders, and the beams of good fortune glow perpetually upon the blessed. Fairy tales, as I said, are lived out daily. There is far more going on in the world than we ever imagine.
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A woman's body works as if it knew something she didn't, and does not have her best interests at heart. If you need to look your best it will deliver you a pimple; if you don't want it to, your period will start early; if you want a baby badly your body refuses to give you one; if you are content in your life, lo, you are pregnant.
I learned that sex was not a question of victory or defeat, of pleasure or profit: of a hand's manipulation and a physical response: I learned that in its purest pleasure it belongs to neither of those who practise it, in the same way as a child belongs to neither parent: it is a free spirit: it simply exists.
It is easier for the reader to judge, by a thousand times, than for the writer to invent. The writer must summon his Idea out of nowhere, and his characters out of nothing, and catch words as they fly, and nail them to the page. The reader has something to go by and somewhere to start from, given to him freely and with great generosity by the writer. And still the reader feels free to find fault.
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