Friday, May 22, 2015

In Other Words

Reading Priya Parmar's novel, I often set the book down and pick up my notebook to copy one of her sentences. She writes beautifully (though the quotes below are not examples of it) and captures many subtle understandings that I recognize but have never put into words.

Writing as Vanessa, about Roger Fry: “I do not mind the stamp of ignorance, as I know he could never feel contempt. It is not within his spectrum of emotions.”
Plainly put, but it hits home. Contempt is a common attitude, and people who are not that way about others are the kind I prefer to be with.  It's no wonder Fry was so well loved by his friends.

Stopping to copy out excerpts slows down my reading, but with some books I am doing it every five minutes. About the writing of E.M.Forster:

“Morgan’s ideal is to bring the muddle into the open. He does not try to solve the muddle, he just hopes not to hide it. What a small, important thing he is doing.”
Yes. To face truths, but also accept rather than try to change or control.

“Virginia was trapped in a cyclone of anger and resentment by then and too far gone to hear.”
Again, so simply yet well put! I have never thought of it just that way, but of course that’s exactly how it is sometimes. People get trapped in intense, swirling emotion  and can’t or don’t know how to get out during those moments.

“Surprising that sincere affection can exist where there is no trust.” Again, simple yet true. We may be very disappointed in people but still care very much about them.

“The small day-to-day details of a family continue even when the heart of a marriage has been broken.” Vanessa’s new husband had a crush on her sister and had an affair with an old love, and so his intimacy with Vanessa was damaged. They carried on for some time with the everyday things, though, in spite of her broken heart.

“I do not owe the world a happy marriage, a perfect family. That is not my job.” Again, a truth so plainly put. How often do we women feel we are failures when our relationships and families don't fit the ideal!


  1. “Surprising that sincere affection can exist where there is no trust.”

    I have just encountered this but not known what words described the joy I felt when I saw someone whose acts caused me grief for a year and a half.

    Knowing you is so serendipitous. XX

    1. Yes; it's great when someone can articulate these things. I used to feel I was somehow being hypocritical when I expressed affection or caring toward someone whom I am also slightly repulsed by. I've learned that one can feel all things even when they seem to contradict each other.

      And we have known each other many years now! Do you remember where we discovered each other?

  2. P.S. I never feel that my comments need be visible---I'm writing to you


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