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Janet Frame quotes (showing 1-30 of 59)

“There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.”
Janet Frame
“I don't want to inhabit the human world under false pretenses.”
Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer
“Writing a novel is not merely going on a shopping expedition across the border to an unreal land: it is hours and years spent in the factories, the streets, the cathedrals of the imagination. ”
Janet Frame
“People dread silence because it is transparent; like clear water, which reveals every obstacle—the used, the dead, the drowned, silence reveals the cast-off words and thoughts dropped in to obscure its clear stream. And when people stare too close to silence they sometimes face their own reflections, their magnified shadows in the depths, and that frightens them. I know; I know.”
Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind
“Life is hell, but at least there are prizes. Or so one thought.”
Janet Frame, The Reservoir: Stories and Sketches
tags: life
“I have always disliked the morning, it is too responsible a time, with the daylight demanding that it be 'faced' and (usually when I wake for I wake late) with the sun already up and in charge of the world, with little hope of anyone usurping or challenging its authority. A shot of light in the face of a poor waking human being and another slave limps wounded into the light-occupied territory.”
Janet Frame, Daughter Buffalo
“All writers--all beings--are exiles as a matter of course. The certainty about living is that it is a succession of expulsions of whatever carries the life force...All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey towards the lost land..”
Janet Frame, Janet Frame: An Autobiography
“She grew more and more silent about what really mattered. She curled inside herself like one of those black chimney brushes, the little shellfish you see on the beach, and you touch them, and then go inside and don’t come out.”
Janet Frame, Owls Do Cry
“I don't wish to inhabit the world under false pretences. I'm relieved to have discovered my identity after being so confused about it for so many years. Why should people be afraid if I confide in them? Yet people will always be afraid and jealous of those who finally establish their identity; it leads them to consider their own, to seclude it, cosset it, for fear it may be borrowed or interfered with, and when they are in the act of protecting it they suffer the shock of realising that their identity is nothing, it is something they dreamed and never knew; and then begins the painstaking search - what shall they choose - beast? another human being? insect? bird?”
Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer
“Language, at least, may give up the secrets of life and death, leading us through the maze to the original Word as monster or angel, to the mournful place where we may meet Job and hear his cry, 'How long will you vex my soul and break me in pieces with words?”
Janet Frame
“Much of living is an attempt to preserve oneself by annexing and occupying others.”
Janet Frame, Faces in the Water
“Everything is always a story, but the loveliest ones are those that get written and are not torn up and are taken to a friend as payment for listening, for putting a wise keyhole to the ear of my mind”
Janet Frame
“Listening to her, one experienced a deep uneasiness as of having avoided an urgent responsibility, like someone who, walking at night along the banks of a stream, catches a glimpse in the water of a white face or a moving limb and turns quickly away, refusing to help or to search for help. We all see the faces in the water. We smother our memory of them, even our belief in their reality, and become calm people of the world; or we can neither forget or help them. Sometimes by a trick of circumstances or dream or a hostile neighborhood of light we see our own face.”
Janet Frame, Faces in the Water
“So we went to bed, assaulted by sleep that fumed at us from medicine glasses, or was wielded from small sweet-coated tablets -- dainty bricks of dream wrapped in the silk stockings of oblivion.”
Janet Frame
“Possibility was not a bag or box that could be closed and sealed, it was a vast open chute which received everything, everything; one could not choose or direct or destroy the powerful flow of possibility.”
Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer
“The strain of constant adaptation to so many fearful events and discoveries is already too much to bear with sanity; one has to keep pretending to slip successfully into the new mould; a time will come when the tailored and camouflaged mind breaks beneath the burden; the stick insect in our brains no longer cares to resemble a twig on the same habitual human tree in the mere hope that it may survive extinction.”
Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer
“I had a cousin once who lived in your dictionary, inside the binding, and there was a tiny hole which he used for a door, and it led out between trichotomy and trick. Now what do you think of that? It was only a few minutes walk to trigger, then over the page to trinity, trinket and trional, and there my cousin used to fall asleep.”
Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind
“I must go down to the seas again
to find where I
buried the hatchet with Yesterday.”
Janet Frame
“What, in all the world, could I do to earn my living and still live as myself, as I knew myself to be. Temporary masks, I knew, had their place; everyone was wearing them, they were the human rage; but not masks cemented in place until the wearer could not breathe and was eventually suffocated.”
Janet Frame, An Angel at my Table
“...there must be an inviolate place where the choices and decisions, however imperfect, are the writer's own, where the decision must be as individual and solitary as birth or death.”
Janet Frame, Janet Frame: An Autobiography
“I inhabited a territory of loneliness which resembles the place where the dying spend their time before death, and from where those who do return, living, to the world bring, inevitably, a unique point of view that is a nightmare, a treasure, and a lifelong possession.[It is] equal in its rapture and chilling exposure [to] the neighbourhood of the ancient gods and goddesses.”
Janet Frame, Janet Frame: An Autobiography
“But it is imperative, for our own survival, that we avoiid one another, and what more successful means of avoidance are there than words? Language will keep us safe from human onslaught, will express for us our regret at being unable to supply groceries or love or peace.”
Janet Frame
“The idea was to have a basin inverted on his head and his hair cut to the shape of it. Skill and money were not needed. Then the idea grew that it was more convenient to leave the basin on his head. Stray thoughts were trimmed along with stray hair; brain-vines, tentacles of thought, were not encouraged to wander. Then, in the interests of human economy, the head of adaptable man became a basin of uniform shape—a basin, a crash helmet. Safe at last; no more thought-cuts.”
Janet Frame
“...When our thoughts revolve we are so often deceived into supposing that their violent movement is an indication of their vigorous originality, the upheaval of prejudice and fixed ideas, when all the time it is more likely that the machine which contains them is only an elaborate cement-mixer, and when the thinking is finished, those whirling thoughts are smoothed into the unchanged conventional mould and seeing them set solid enough to dance, to build, to travel upon, we would never dream of their first deceit, of the hope once roused by their apparently violent reorganisation...”
Janet Frame, Towards Another Summer
“Then I rise disembodied from the dark to grasp and attach myself like a homeless parasite to the shape of my identity and its position in space and time. At first, I cannot find my way, I cannot find myself where I left myself, someone has removed all trace of me.”
Janet Frame
“Life is hell, but there are prizes. ”
Janet Frame
“He sees the land of meaning, and one path to it, and the so-called “normal” people traveling swiftly and in comfort to the land; he does not include the shipwrecked people who arrive by devious lonely routes, and the many who dwell in the land in the beginning.”
Janet Frame
“The sun is all love and murder, judgement, the perpetual raid of conscience, paratrooping light which opens like a snow-blossom in the downward drift of death. Wherever I turn - the golden cymbals of judgement, the summoning of the torturers of light.”
Janet Frame, Scented Gardens for the Blind
“I knew then that I would have to be careful. I would have to wear gloves, to leave no trace when I burgled the crammed house of feeling and took for my own use exuberance depression suspicion terror.”
Janet Frame
“Timmy, who made a daring escape, also made a mistake of paying the taxi driver with a check made out of toilet paper.”
Janet Frame

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