Monday, May 26, 2014

Is it not possible--I often wonder--that the things we have felt with great intensity have an existence independent of our minds; are in fact still in existence? And if so, will it not be possible, in time, that some device will be invented by which we can tap them? I see it--the past--as an avenue lying behind; a long ribbon of scenes, emotions. There at the end of the avenue still, are the garden and the nursery. Instead of remembering here a scene and there a sound, I shall fit a plug into the wall; and listen in to the past.

--Virginia Woolf, quoted in Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf: A Biography

"What shall I do?" she cried; but already, as her stricken parents
          begged her to stay, she had snatched up her cloak,
flung it over her shoulders, and mounted the dancing mare,
          who galloped headlong into the fog and vanished
before the father could gather strength or wits to hold her.

--from my poem "The White Bear," in Same Old Story

I am the daughter of a generation of ambitious women who believed that an education would set them free, who assumed that marriage could be a holy partnership of sex and security, who expected to glory in child rearing, who saw no reason why they couldn’t be artists as great as Shakespeare, if only they could drive themselves hard enough into the work. The end results featured various versions of disaster and disappointment. Some of these women did carve out long and illustrious careers—though, very often, as men have done for so many thousands of years, they succeeded at the expense of those who loved and depended on them. Others exploded like fire bombs. But most, for better or worse, made a compromise with mediocrity, trading the pursuit of greatness for family or financial stability; giving up restless exhaustion for a semblance of peace. This last is not necessarily a bad ending. Yet a child watches her parents, and their disappointments and distresses become their legacy. And an anger remains, dormant mostly, but wreaking its own damages.

--from an essay I'm writing

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