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Toni Morrison quotes (showing 1-30 of 492)

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“You think because he doesn't love you that you are worthless. You think that because he doesn't want you anymore that he is right -- that his judgement and opinion of you are correct. If he throws you out, then you are garbage. You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Don't. It's a bad word, 'belong.' Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn't be like that. Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can't even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, beacuse the clouds let him; they don't wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him. You can't own a human being. You can't lose what you don't own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you? And neither does he. You're turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can't value you more than you value yourself.”
Toni Morrison
“Make up a story... For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief's wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul.”
Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993
“At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”
Toni Morrison
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“Sweet, crazy conversations full of half sentences, daydreams and misunderstandings more thrilling than understanding could ever be.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“Anger ... it's a paralyzing emotion ... you can't get anything done. People sort of think it's an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don't think it's any of that — it's helpless ... it's absence of control — and I need all of my skills, all of the control, all of my powers ... and anger doesn't provide any of that — I have no use for it whatsoever."

[Interview with CBS radio host Don Swaim, September 15, 1987.]”
Toni Morrison
“Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.”
Toni Morrison, Jazz
tags: love
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“Like any artist without an art form, she became dangerous.”
Toni Morrison, Sula
tags: art
“Let me tell you about love, that silly word you believe is about whether you like somebody or whether somebody likes you or whether you can put up with somebody in order to get something or someplace you want or you believe it has to do with how your body responds to another body like robins or bison or maybe you believe love is how forces or nature or luck is benign to you in particular not maiming or killing you but if so doing it for your own good. Love is none of that. There is nothing in nature like it. Not in robins or bison or in the banging tails of your hunting dogs and not in blossoms or suckling foal. Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn - by practice and careful contemplations - the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it. Which is to say you have to earn God. You have to practice God. You have to think God-carefully. And if you are a good and diligent student you may secure the right to show love. Love is not a gift. It is a diploma. A diploma conferring certain privileges: the privilege of expressing love and the privilege of receiving it. How do you know you have graduated? You don't. What you do know is that you are human and therefore educable, and therefore capable of learning how to learn, and therefore interesting to God, who is interested only in Himself which is to say He is interested only in love. Do you understand me? God is not interested in you. He is interested in love and the bliss it brings to those who understand and share the interest. Couples that enter the sacrament of marriage and are not prepared to go the distance or are not willing to get right with the real love of God cannot thrive. They may cleave together like robins or gulls or anything else that mates for life. But if they eschew this mighty course, at the moment when all are judged for the disposition of their eternal lives, their cleaving won't mean a thing. God bless the pure and holy. Amen.”
Toni Morrison, Paradise
tags: god, love
“I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
Toni Morrison
“You are your best thing”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“You can't own a human being. You can't lose what you don't own. Suppose you did own him. Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don't, do you? And neither does he. You're turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can't value you more than you value yourself.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”
Toni Morrison
“She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third, the one you drink because it's there, because it can't hurt, and because what difference does it make?”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?”
Toni Morrison
“Love is never any better than the lover. ”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship's, smooths and contains the rocker. It's an inside kind--wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one's own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.”
Toni Morrison, Beloved
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”
Toni Morrison
“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another--physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.”
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”
Toni Morrison
“I never asked Tolstoy to write for me, a little colored girl in Lorain, Ohio. I never asked [James] Joyce not to mention Catholicism or the world of Dublin. Never. And I don't know why I should be asked to explain your life to you. We have splendid writers to do that, but I am not one of them. It is that business of being universal, a word hopelessly stripped of meaning for me. Faulkner wrote what I suppose could be called regional literature and had it published all over the world. That's what I wish to do. If I tried to write a universal novel, it would be water. Behind this question is the suggestion that to write for black people is somehow to diminish the writing. From my perspective there are only black people. When I say 'people,' that's what I mean.”
Toni Morrison
“Lonely, ain't it?
Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else's. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain't that something? A secondhand lonely.”
Toni Morrison, Sula
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
“There is really nothing more to say-except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.”
Toni Morrison
“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.”
Toni Morrison

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Beloved Beloved
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