Archive for the ‘Favorite Quotes’ Category

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.  If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?  So that it can make us happy, as you put it?  Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves.  What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide.  A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.


"Lesendes Mädchen" by Franz Eybl, 1850

“Lesendes Mädchen” by Franz Eybl, 1850


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Angry people acted as if she was wresting herself away from them: stealing herself.  They told her to forget the M.A. in creative writing….Her stories, full of love and roads and music, were the only company she sought, more than enough.  She wanted to sustain this for a lifetime….This is what writing demands of writers: time.  Energy.  Courage.  The fury of many and the rudeness of the rest.

~ Anneli Rufus, Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto


Anonymous (19th century, French)

Anonymous (19th century, French)

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Herself, a day, an hour ago; and herself now. For we have every one of us felt how a very few minutes of the months and years called life, will sometimes suffice to place all time past and future in an entirely new light; will make us see the vanity or the criminality of the by-gone, and so change the aspect of the coming time that we look with loathing on the very thing we have most desired. A few moments may change our character for life, by giving a totally different direction to our aims and energies.


~ From Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1848


"The Seamstress" by Joseph DeCamp, 1916

“The Seamstress” by Joseph DeCamp, 1916

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Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.


~ Nathaniel Hawthorne


"Beauty and the Butterfly" by Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1933

“Beauty and the Butterfly” by Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1933

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I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night?  Let me think.  Was I the same when I got up this morning?  I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.  But if I’m not the same, the next question is “Who in the world am I?”  Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

~ Lewis Carroll, born on this day in 1832


John Tenniel, 1865

John Tenniel, 1865

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Welcome, old aspirations, glittering creatures of an ardent fancy, to your shelter underneath the holly!  We know you, and have not outlived you yet.  Welcome, old projects and old loves, however fleeting, to your nooks among the steadier lights that burn around us.  Welcome, all that was ever real to our hearts; and for the earnestness that made you real […].  Welcome, everything!  Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits openhearted!


~ Charles Dickens, “What Christmas Is As We Grow Older”


Marcel Rieder, 1898

Marcel Rieder, 1898

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Winter dawn is the color of metal,

The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.


                        ~ Sylvia Plath


"The Frosty Morning" by Nikolay Dubovskoy, 1894

“The Frosty Morning” by Nikolay Dubovskoy, 1894

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This is my 500th post on Archetype.  When I created this weblog in 2009, I had recently begun the dual English and Creative Writing graduate program at Chapman University and wanted to maintain a virtual writing workshop or MAB (multi-author blog) for artistic experimentation.  At the time, I was immersed in the process of literary coursework, reveling in each newly discovered or rediscovered text and learning to conduct scholarly research and master’s level composition.  And, most importantly, I was writing fiction again and risking what seemed the ultimate rejection and ridicule by (gads!) sharing my work with peers and professors.  I was a first-year MA/MFA student, and I was terrified and exhilarated and self-conscious and buoyed.  It was glorious.

My classmates spoke often of graduation, calculating with anticipation how much longer until they finished their degrees and could get on with their lives.  I understood their eagerness to graduate; it is the objective, after all.  But my situation was different.  Pardon the cliché, but I was there for the journey, not the destination.  For me, graduation signified the end of a creative existence I had spent half a lifetime trying to resume.  I was high on academia, and degree conferral loomed like an ambiguous buzzkill.  Consequently, I took my time through the program and didn’t think about finishing; I wanted merely to be in the moment, sitting in classes and attending readings and flying to conferences and looking for hidden treasures in the library and studying and writing in blissful perpetuity.

Just as I never imagined actually graduating, I couldn’t foresee beyond perhaps a year of posting when I launched Archetype into the blogosphere.  I didn’t have a long-range plan for the site or even a vision of an audience; I simply wanted a space in which to articulate the moments of joy and angst I was experiencing and share the poems, passages, and images that have moved me in some grand way, a probable void accessible to everyone and accessed by no one.  And here I am, over four years and five hundred posts later, both trapped and liberated by “an unseizable force” that impels some of us to observe and question and reflect and write in a silent abyss with no end in sight.


It is thus that we live, they say, driven by an unseizable force.  They say that the novelists never catch it; that it goes hurtling through their nets and leaves them torn to ribbons.  This, they say, is what we live by – this unseizable force.

~ Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room


Five hundred posts and counting…     


Photo by NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi

Photo by NASA, ESA, and E. Sabbi


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All life seen from the hole of invisibility is absurd.  So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down?  Because in spite of myself I’ve learned some things.  Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled “file and forget,” and I can neither file nor forget. […] Now that I’ve tried to put it all down the old fascination with playing a role returns, and I’m drawn upward again. […] The hibernation is over.  I must shake off the old skin and come up for breath.  There’s a stench in the air, which, from this distance underground, might be the smell either of death or of spring – I hope of spring. 

As I said before, a decision has been made.  I’m shaking off the old skin and I’ll leave it here in the hole.  I’m coming out, no less invisible without it, but coming out nevertheless.  And I suppose it’s damn well time.  Even hibernations can be overdone, come to think of it.  Perhaps that’s my greatest social crime, I’ve overstayed my hibernation.


~ Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man


"Paris Catacombs" by Viktor Hartmann (1834-1873)

“Paris Catacombs” by Viktor Hartmann (1834-1873)

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At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen.  Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon.  She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it to her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes.  But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.


~ Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, born on this day in 1821


"Madame Bovary" by Charles Leandre, 1931

“Madame Bovary” by Charles Leandre, 1931

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