Talk:Annie Dillard

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  • Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. When I furnished this study seven years ago, I pushed the long desk against a blank wall, so I could not see from either window. Once, fifteen years ago, I wrote in a cinder-block cell over a parking lot. It overlooked a tar-and-gravel roof. This pine shed under the trees is not quite so good as the cinder-block study, but it will do. 'The beginning of wisdom,' according to a West African proverb, 'is to get you a roof.'
  • As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
  • Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?"
Priest: "Not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"
  • Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles.
  • It could be that our faithlessness is a cowering cowardice born of our very smallness, a massive failure of imagination... If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed.
  • So this was adolescence. Is this how the people around me had died on their feet - inevitably, helplessly? Perhaps their own selves eclipsed the sun for so many years the world shriveled around them, and when at last their inescapable orbits had passed through these dark egoistic years it was too late, they had adjusted. Must I then lose the world forever, that I had so loved? Was it all, the whole bright and various planet, where I had been so ardent about finding myself alive, only a passion peculiar to children, that I would outgrow even against my will?
  • The surest sign of age is loneliness.
  • Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute?
  • We sleep to time's hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of time uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it's time to toss things, like our reason, and our will; then it's time to break our necks for home.
  • It is the best joke there is, that we are here, and fools - that we are sown into time like so much corn, that we are souls sprinkled at random like salt into time and dissolved here, spread into matter, connected by cells right down to our feet, and those feet likely to fell us over a tree root or jam us on a stone. The joke part is that we forget it. Give the mind two seconds alone, and it thinks it's Pythagoras. We wake up a hundred times a day and laugh.
  • Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly. Probe and search each object in a piece of art. Do not leave it, do not course over it, as iff it were understood, but instead follow it down until you see it in the mystery of its own specificity and strength.
  • The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, and God. The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs overeasy.
  • Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.
  • "According to visitors, Antarctic penguins are ... adorable. They are tame! The are funny! Tourists in Antarctica are mostly women of a certain age. They step from the cruise ship's rubber Zodiacs wearing bright ship's issue parkas; they stalk around on the gravel and squint into the ice glare; they exclaim over the penguins, whom they find tame, funny, and adorable; they take snapshots of each other with the penguins, and look around cheerfully for something else to look at. The penguins are adorable ... because in each case their impersonations of human dignity so evidently fail. What are the chances that God finds our failed impersonation of human dignity adorable? Or is he fooled? What odds do you give me?"
  • "We do need reminding, not of what God can do, but of what he cannot do, or will not, which is to catch time in its free fall and stick a nickel's worth of sense into our days. And we need reminding of what time can do, must only do: churn out enormities at random and beat them, with God's blessing, into our heads - that we are created, created, sojourners in a land we did not make, a land with no meaning of itself and no meaning we can make for it alone. Who are we to demand explanations of God? (And what monsters of perfection should we be if we did not?) we forget ourselves, picnicking; we forget where we are. There is no such things as a freak accident. "God is at home, says Meister Eckhart, "We are in the far country." We are most deeply asleep at the switch when we fancy we control any switches at all. We sleep to time's hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of light uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it's time to toss things, like our reason, and our will; then it's time to break our necks for home."
  • What if we the people had the sense and grace to live as cooled islands in an archipelago live, with dignity, passion, and no comment?
  • Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.

A quote from The Writing Life: "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives"[edit]

  • How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.

Attributed to Dillard's book The Writing Life here -

(I haven't confirmed this myself)

-- 14:14, 11 June 2013 (UTC)