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Maggie Nelson quotes (showing 1-30 of 60)

“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“96. For a prince of blue is a prince of blue because keeps 'a pet sorrow, a blue-devil familiar, that goes with him everywhere' (Lowell, 1870) This is how a prince of blue becomes a pain devil.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Am I sitting here now, months later, in Los Angeles, writing all this down, because I want my life to matter? Maybe so. But I don't want it to matter more than others.

I want to remember, or to learn, how to live as if it matters, as if they all matter, even if they don't.”
Maggie Nelson, The Red Parts: A Memoir
“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
“32. When I say "hope," I don't mean hope for anything in particular. I guess I just mean thinking that it's worth it to keep one's eyes open. "What are all those / fuzzy-looking things out there? / Trees? Well, I'm tired / of them": the last words of William Carlos Williams's English grandmother.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“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
“I awoke from this nightmare into a freezing cold motel room: the heater had broken at some point during the night, and the fan was now blowing icy air into the room.

At first I tried to keep warm under the crappy motel bedspread by thinking about the man I loved. At the time he was traveling in Europe, and was thus unreachable. I didn't know it yet, but as I lay there, he was traveling with another woman. Does it matter now? I tried hard to feel his body wrapped tightly around mine.

Next I tried to imagine everyone I had ever loved, and everyone who had ever loved me, wrapped around me. I tried to feel that I was the composite of all these people, instead of alone in a shitty motel room with a broken heater somewhere outside of Detroit, a few miles from where Jane's body was dumped thirty-six years ago on a March night just like this one.

'Need each other as much as you can bear,' writes Eileen Myles. 'Everywhere you go in the world.'

I felt the wild need for any or all of these people that night. Lying there alone, I began to feel - perhaps even to know - that I did not exist apart from their love and need of me.

Of this latter I felt less sure, but it seemed possible, if the equation worked both ways.

Falling asleep I thought, 'Maybe this, for me, is the hand of God.”
Maggie Nelson, The Red Parts: A Memoir
“I remember that day very clearly: I had received a phone call. A friend had been in an accident. Perhaps she would not live. She had very little face, and her spine was broken in two places. She had not yet moved; the doctor described her as “a pebble in water.” I walked around Brooklyn and noticed that the faded peri-winkle of the abandoned Mobil gas station on the corner was suddenly blooming. In the baby-shit yellow showers at my gym, where snow sometimes fluttered in through the cracked gated windows, I noticed that the yellow paint was peeling in spots, and a decent, industrial blue was trying to creep in. At the bottom of the swimming pool, I watched the white winter light spangle the cloudy blue and I knew together they made God. When I walked into my friend’s hospital room, her eyes were a piercing, pale blue and the only part of her body that could move. I was scared. So was she. The blue was beating.”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“Why should I feel lonely? is not our planet in the Milky Way?” (Thoreau).”
Maggie Nelson, Bluets
“As if keening on your knees

were somehow obscene



As if there were a control

so marvelous



you could teach it

to eat pain.”
Maggie Nelson, Jane: A Murder
“the mainstream thrust of anti-intellectualism, as it stands today, characterizes thinking itself as an elitist activity.”
Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning

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