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Maggie Nelson quotes (showing 1-30 of 117)

“Mostly I have felt myself becoming a servant of sadness. I am still looking for the beauty in that.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. 'Love is not consolation,' she wrote. 'It is light.'

All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Loneliness is solitude with a problem.”
Maggie Nelson
“156. Why is the sky blue? -A fair enough question, and one I have learned the answer to several times. Yet every time I try to explain it to someone or remember it to myself, it eludes me. Now I like to remember the question alone, as it reminds me that my mind is essentially a sieve, that I am mortal.

157. The part I do remember: that the blue of the sky depends on the darkness of empty space behind it. As one optics journal puts it, "The color of any planetary atmosphere viewed against the black of space and illuminated by a sunlike star will also be blue." In which case blue is something of an ecstatic accident produced by void and fire.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Eventually I confess to a friend some details about my weeping—its intensity, its frequency. She says (kindly) that she thinks we sometimes weep in front of a mirror not to inflame self-pity, but because we want to feel witnessed in our despair. (Can a reflection be a witness? Can one pass oneself the sponge wet with vinegar from a reed?)”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“53. 'We mainly suppose the experiential quality to be an intrinsic quality of the physical object'-this is the so-called systematic illusion of color. Perhaps it is also that of love. But I am not willing to go there-not just yet. I believed in you.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“125. Of course, you could just take off the blindfold and say, 'I think this game is stupid and I'm not playing it anymore.' And it must also be admitted that hitting the wall or wandering off in the wrong direction or tearing off the blindfold is as much a part of the game as is pinning the tail on the donkey.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in it's focus. To find oneself trapped in any one bead, no matter what it's hue, can be deadly.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“238. I want you to know, if you ever read this, there was a time when I would rather have had you by my side than any one of these words; I would rather have had you by my side than all the blue in the world.

239. But now you are talking as if love were a consolation. Simone Weil warned otherwise. “Love is not consolation,” she wrote. “It is light.”

240. All right then, let me try to rephrase. When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing but of light.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“20. Fucking leaves everything as it is. Fucking may in no way interfere with the actual use of language. For it cannot give it any foundation either. It leaves everything as it is.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“7. But what kind of love is it, really? Don’t fool yourself and call it sublimity. Admit that you have stood in front of a little pile of powdered ultramarine pigment in a glass cup at a museum and felt a stinging desire. But to do what? Liberate it? Purchase it? Ingest it? . . . You might want to reach out and disturb the pile of pigment, for example, first staining your fingers with it, then staining the world. You might want to dilute it and swim in it, you might want to rouge your nipples with it, you might want to paint a virgin’s robe with it. But still you wouldn’t be accessing the blue of it. Not exactly.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“One thing they don’t tell you ’bout the blues when you got ’em, you keep on fallin’ ’cause there ain't no bottom,' sings Emmylou Harris, and she may be right. Perhaps it would help to be told that there is no bottom, save, as they say, wherever and whenever you stop digging. You have to stand there, spade in hand, cold whiskey sweat beaded on your brow, eyes misshapen and wild, some sorry-ass grave digger grown bone-tired of the trade. You have to stand there in the dirty rut you dug, alone in the darkness, in all its pulsing quiet, surrounded by the scandal of corpses.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“That’s what we both hate about fiction, or at least crappy fiction—it purports to provide occasions for thinking through complex issues, but really it has predetermined the positions, stuffed a narrative full of false choices, and hooked you on them, rendering you less able to see out, to get out.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“95. But please don't write again to tell me how you have woken up weeping. I already know how you are in love with your weeping.”
Maggie Nelson
“Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“WHAT IT IS

It is what
it is. But
what is it?

What it is—

Some soft
tautology

whose terms
are touch

Time to give, time
to give it up. ”
Maggie Nelson, Something Bright, Then Holes
“If he hadn't lied to you, he would have been a different person than he is.' She is trying to get me to see that although I thought I loved this man very completely for exactly who he was, I was in fact blind to the man he actually was, or is.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“So far as I can tell, most worthwhile pleasures on this earth slip between gratifying another and gratifying oneself. Some would call that an ethics.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
tags: ethics
“A day or two after my love pronouncement, now feral with vulnerability, I sent you the passage from Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes in which Barthes describes how the subject who utters the phrase “I love you” is like “the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name.” Just as the Argo’s parts may be replaced over time but the boat is still called the Argo, whenever the lover utters the phrase “I love you,” its meaning must be renewed by each use, as “the very task of love and of language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections which will be forever new.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“Like many self-help books, The Deepest Blue is full of horrifyingly simplistic language and some admittedly good advice. Somehow the women in the book learn to say: That’s my depression talking. It’s not “me.”

As if we could scrape the color off the iris and still see.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“And we have not yet heard enough, if anything, about the female gaze. About the scorch of it, with the eyes staying in the head.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“The half-circle of blinding turquoise ocean is this love’s primal scene. That this blue exists makes my life a remarkable one, just to have seen it. To have seen such beautiful things. To find oneself placed in their midst. Choiceless. I returned there yesterday and stood again upon the mountain.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“I can remember a time when I took Henry James's advice--'try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!'--deeply to heart. I think I was then imagining that the net effect of becoming one of those people would be one of accretion. Whereas if you truly become someone on whom nothing is lost, then loss will not be lost upon you, either.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“There’s something truly strange about living in a historical moment in which the conservative anxiety and despair about queers bringing down civilization and its institutions (marriage, most notably) is met by the anxiety and despair so many queers feel about the failure or incapacity of queerness to bring down civilization and its institutions.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“I beheld and still behold in anger and agony the eagerness of the world to throw piles of shit on those of us who want to savage or simply cannot help but savage the norms that so desperately need savaging.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“Evolution strikes me as infinitely more spiritually profound than Genesis.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, of persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one’s work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again—not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life.”
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
“For to wish to forget how much you loved someone-- and then, to actually forget-- can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart.”
Maggie Nelson
“51. You might as well act as if objects had the colors, The Encyclopedia says. –Well, it is as you please. But what would it look like to act otherwise?”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets

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