I feel despised there, for having so little money; also for once having had so much. I never actually had it, of course. Father had it, and then Richard. But money was imputed to me, the same way crimes are imputed to those who've simply been present at them.
The cicadas pierce the air with their searing one-note calls; dust eddies across the roads; from the weedy patches at the verges, grasshoppers whir. The leaves of the maples hang from their branches like limp gloves; on the sidewalk my shadow crackles.
Was that the beginning, that evening? It's hard to know. Beginnings are sudden, but also insidious. They creep up on you sideways, they keep to the shadows, they lurk unrecognized. Then, later, they spring.
I suppose it's everyone's fate to be reduced to quaintness by those younger than themselves.
The French are connoisseurs of sadness, they know all kinds. This is why they have bidets.
Was this a betrayal, or was it an act of courage? Perhaps both. Neither one involves forethought: such things take place in an instant, in an eyeblink. This can only be because they have been rehearsed by us already, over and over, in silence and darkness; in such silence, such darkness, that we are ignorant of them ourselves. Blind but sure-footed, we step forward as if into a remembered dance.
It wasn't so easy though, ending the war. A war is a huge fire; the ashes from it drift far, and settle slowly.
The ochre-yellow linoleum floor hasn't been scrubbed for some time; splotches of dirt bloom on it like grey pressed flowers.
What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves -- our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.
It's Paradise, but we can't get out of it. And anything you can't get out of is Hell.
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
What is the real breath of a man - the breathing out or the breathing in?
A hot wind was blowing around my head, the strands of my hair lifting and swirling in it, like ink spilled in water.
Just what the doctor ordered, he says. A bottle of lemonade, a hard-boiled egg, and Thou.
The young habitually mistake lust for love, they're infested with idealism of all kinds.
When you're unhinged, things make their way out of you that should be kept inside, and other things get in that ought to be shut out. The locks lose their powers. The guards to to sleep. The passwords fail.
A Paradox, the doughnut hole. Empty space, once, but now they've learned to market even that. A minus quantity; nothing, rendered edible. I wondered if they might be used-metaphorically, of course-to demonstrate the existence of God. Does naming a sphere of nothingness transmute it into being?
More powerful than God, more evil than the Devil; the poor have it, the rich lack it, and if you eat it you die?
There were a lot of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything.
Which does a man prefer? Bacon and eggs, or worship? Sometimes one, sometimes the other, depending how hungry he is.
Better not to invent her in her absence. Better to wait until she's actually here. Then he can make her up as she goes along.
Nevertheless, blood is thicker than water, as anyone knows who has tasted both.
There's nothing like a shovel full of dirt to encourage literacy.
Why does the mind do such things? Turn on us, rend us, dig the claws in. If you get hungry enough, they say, you start eating your own heart. Maybe it's much the same.
Blondes are like white mice, you only find them in cages. They wouldn't last long in nature. They're too conspicuous.
Paper isn't important. It's the words on them that are important.
They were new money, without a doubt: so new it shrieked. Their clothes looked as it they'd covered themselves in glue, then rolled around in hundred-dollar bills.
Wild geese fly south, creaking like anguished hinges; along the riverbank the candles of the sumacs burn dull red. It's the first week of October. Season of woolen garments taken out of mothballs; of nocturnal mists and dew and slippery front steps, and late-blooming slugs; of snapdragons having one last fling; of those frilly ornamental pink-and-purple cabbages that never used to exist, but are all over everywhere now.
But in the end, back she comes. There's no use resisting. She goes to him for amnesia, for oblivion. She renders herself up, is blotted out; enters the darkness of her own body, forgets her name. Immolation is what she wants, however briefly. To exist without boundaries.
Perhaps they were looking for passion; perhaps they delved into this book as into a mysterious parcel - a gift box at the bottom of which, hidden in layers of rustling tissue paper, lay something they'd always longed for but couldn't ever grasp.
Things might have been different if she hadn't been able to drift; if she'd had to concentrate on her next meal, instead of dwelling on all the injuries she felt we'd done her. An unearned income encourages self-pity in those already prone to it.
Women have curious ways of hurting someone else. They hurt themselves instead; or else they do it so the guy doesn't even know he's been hurt until much later. Then he finds out. Then his dick falls off.
But thoughtless ingratitude is the armour of the young; without it, how would they ever get through life? The old wish the young well, but they wish them ill also: they would like to eat them up, and absorb their vitality, and remain immortal themselves. Without the protection of surliness and levity, all children would be crushed by the past - the past of others, loaded on their shoulders. Selfishness is their saving grace.
She had her reasons. Not that they were the same as anybody else's reasons.
Things written down can cause a great deal of harm. All too often, people don't consider that.
Yes, it does feel deceptively safer with two; but Thou is a slippery character. Every Thou I've known has had a way of going missing. They skip town or turn perfidious, or else the drop like flies and then where are you?
Don't blame me, blame history, he says, smiling. Such things happen. Falling in love has been recorded, or at least those words have.
She who pays the undertaker calls the tune.
This is how the girl who couldn't speak and the man who couldn't see fell in love.
You want the truth, of course. You want me to put two and two together. But two and two doesn't necessarily get you the truth. Two and two equals a voice outside the window. Two and two equals the wind. The living bird is not its labeled bones.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not scoffing at goodness, which is far more difficult to explain than evil, and far more complicated. But sometimes it's hard to put up with.
Should is a futile word. It's about what didn't happen. It belongs in a parallel universe. It belongs in another dimension of space.
Those who live alone slide into the habit of vertical eating: why bother with the niceties when there's no one to share or censure? But laxity in one area may lead to derangement in all.
Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it's noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.
So much better to travel than to arrive.
Time rises and rises, and when it reaches the level of your eyes you drown.
For the children with their greedy little mouths represent the future, which like time itself will devour all now alive.
Stick a shovel into the ground almost anywhere and some horrible thing or other will come to light. Good for trade, we thrive on bones; without them there'd be no stories.
Time: old cold time, old sorrow, settling down in layers like silt in a pond.
He needed to exist only in the present, without guilt, without expectation.
More Margaret Atwood Quotations (Based on Topics)
Love - Man - Woman - Time - Mind - Power - Body - Nature - Education - God - Life - Future - Water - Past - World - War & Peace - People - Light - Thought & Thinking - View All Margaret Atwood Quotations
More Margaret Atwood Quotations (By Book Titles)
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- The Blind Assassin
- The Handmaid's Tale
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