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Eva Hoffman quotes Showing 1-30 of 43

“Laughter is the lightning rod of play, the eroticism of conversation.”
Eva Hoffman
“A woman should love with her mind. Let men love with their hearts.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“Anger can be borne - it can even be satisfying - if it can gather into words and explode in a storm, or a rapier-sharp attack. But without these means of ventilation, it only turns back inward, building and swirling like a head of stream - building to an impotent, murderous rage.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“The more words I have, the more distinct, precise my perceptions become--and such lucidity is a form of joy.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“Sometimes I long to forget… It is painful to be conscious of two worlds.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“I want to tell A Story, Every Story, everything all at once, not anything in particular that might be said through the words I know, and I try to roll all sounds into one, to accumulate more and more syllables, as if they might make a Möbius strip of language in which everything, everything is contained. There is a hidden rule even in this game, though - that the sounds have to resemble real syllables, that they can't disintegrate into brute noise, for then I wouldn't be talking at all. I want articulation - but articulation that says the whole world at once.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“When my turn on the program comes, I am not nervous at all—because all this is happening out of time, out of space. I am, for a moment, a figure of my own fantasy, and I play my appointed role as if I were in the movies.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“No, I’m no patriot, nor was I ever allowed to be. And yet, the
country of my childhood lives within me with a primacy that is
a form of love. It lives within me despite my knowledge of our
marginality, and its primitive, unpretty emotions. Is it blind
and self-deceptive of me to hold on to its memory? I think it
would be blind and self-deceptive not to. All it has given me is
the world, but that is enough. It has fed me language, percep-
tions, sounds, the human kind .... no geometry of landscape,
no haze in the air, will live in us as intensely as the landscapes
that we saw as the fi rst, and to which we gave ourselves wholly,
without reservation.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“To be an adult is to be close to death.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“For me, therapy is partly translation therapy, the talking cure a second-language cure. My going to a shrink is, among other things, a rite of initiation: initiation into the language of the subculture within which I happen to live, into a way of explaining myself to myself. But gradually, it becomes a project of translating backward.
The way to jump over my Great Divine is to crawl backward over it in English. It's only when I retell my whole story, back to the beginning, and from the beginning onward, in one language, that I can reconcile the voices within me with each other; it is only then that the person who judges the voices and tells the stories begins to emerge.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“It is a sunny fall afternoon and I’m engaged in one of my favorite pastimes—picking chestnuts. I’m playing alone under the spreading, leafy, protective tree. My mother is sitting on a bench nearby, rocking the buggy in which my sister is asleep. The city, beyond the lacy wall of trees, is humming with gentle noises. The sun has just passed its highest point and is warming me with intense, oblique rays. I pick up a reddish brown chestnut, and suddenly, through its warm skin, I feel the beat as if of a heart. But the beat is also in everything around me, and everything pulsates and shimmers as if it were coursing with the blood of life. Stooping under the tree, I’m holding life in my hand, and I am in the center of a harmonious, vibrating transparency. For that moment, I know everything there is to know. I have stumbled into the very center of plenitude, and I hold myself still with fulfillment, before the knowledge of my knowledge escapes me.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
tags: life
“Why look any further if you've discovered complete satisfaction.”
Eva Hoffman
“I know that language will be a crucial instrument, that I can overcome the stigma of my marginality, the weight of presumption against me, only if the reassuringly right sounds come out of my mouth.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“Like so many children who read a lot, I begin to declare rather early that I want to be a writer. But this is the only way I have of articulating a different desire, a desire that I can’t yet understand. What I really want is to be transported into a space in which everything is as distinct, complete, and intelligible as in the stories I read. And, like most children, I’m a literalist through and through. I want reality to imitate books – and books to capture the essence of reality. I love words insofar as they correspond to the world, insofar as they give it to me in a heightened form. The more words I have, the more distinct, precise my perceptions become – and such lucidity is a form of joy. Sometimes, when I find a new expression, I roll it on the tongue, as if shaping it in my mouth gave birth to a new shape in the world. Nothing fully exists until it is articulated.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“The thing about fanatics is they have charisma.” “They have no scruples that’s what makes them irresistable.” “There’s no one like an intellectual to become fanatical with ideas.” “Madness is most dangerous when it is rational”
Eva Hoffman, Appassionata
“A power struggle is always better than absolute power.”
Eva Hoffman, Appassionata
“The past depends on the angle from which it is seen and from which it has been lived”
Eva Hoffman, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews
“I wish I could breathe a Nabokovian air. I wish I could have the Olympian freedom of sensibility that disdains, in his autobiography, to give the Russian Revolution more than a passing mention, as if such common events did not have the power to wreak fundamental changes in his own life, or as if it were vulgar, tactless, to dwell on something so brutishly, so crudely collective. I wish I could define myself -a s Nabokov defines both himself and his characters - by the telling detail, as preference for months over lozenges, an awkwardness at cricket, a tendency to lose floes or umbrellas. I wish I could live in a world of prismatic reflections, carefully distinguished colours of sunsets and English scarves, synthetic repetitions and reiterative surprises - a world in which even a reddened nostril can be rendered as a delicious hue rather than a symptom of a discomfiting common cold. I wish I could attain such a world because in part that is our most real, and most loved world - the world of utterly individual sensibility, untrampled by history, or horrid intrusions of social circumstance. Oh ye, I think the Nabokovian world is lighted, lightened, and enlightened by the most precise affection. Such affection is unsentimental because it is free and because it attaches to free objects. It can notice what is adorable (or odious, for that matter), rather than what is formed and deformed by larger forces. Characters, in Nabokov's fiction, being perfectly themselves, attain the graced amorality of aesthetic objects.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“Mimesis, it seems, works smoothly in only one direction, and life refuses conveniently to mirror the art in which it's seemingly mirrored.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“The structures of collective and personal life in Polish shtetls were so exactly defined as to be infinitely replicable — as the structure of a honeycomb is replicable throughout a beehive. Each shtetl was a self-contained world, and each was utterly recognizable as an instance of its kind. This consistency, the patterned predictability of life, was undoubtedly part of the shtetl's strength. But it also meant that the shtetl was a deeply conservative organism, resistant to innovation, individuality, or rebellion. It is hard to think of any analogues to the early shtetl society, for its character was part untouchable and part Brahmin, simultaneously ancient and pioneering, both pragmatically materialistic and sternly religious. It was a peculiar, idiosyncratic form of a rural, populist theocracy.”
Eva Hoffman, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews
“Reading creates a sense of human fellowship. It is never (or rarely) a public activity, but in putting us in direct contact with other minds and sensibilities, it is a form of solitude which banishes loneliness. It can offer the consolation of knowing we are not alone, in our pleasures or in our suffering. It is in situations of deprivation that the value of reading – the deep need for books – becomes more vividly apparent.”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“Momentary pleasures of hedonism are distinct from deeper and more lasting satisfaction; and in order to achieve such satisfaction, we need to reflect on who we are and what our lives are for. We cannot be fully human without thinking about what being human means.”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“Observing what is around us and registering errant impressions is a state not so much of passive inaction as of alert receptivity. Allowing ourselves to notice, to be open to our surroundings, is a way of awakening our curiosity in the world outside ourselves. The”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“True engagement – the ability to give ourselves deliberately and unreservedly to a task or a personal interaction – arises from a clear sense of our own desires, goals and intentions. It is when our energies and our perspective are replenished that we can return to our active lives with a renewed sense of pleasure and commitment. In other words, it is only if we periodically disengage, that we can become truly and effectively engaged.”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“Happy! That will-o'-the-wisp.”
Eva Hoffman
“In the long term, the fragmentation of attention, a breaking up of focus and mental continuity, can disrupt neural connections in the brain and eventually lead to a literally ‘shallower’ neurological structure. It makes us – on the physiological level of the brain, as well as of the mind – less capable of concentration and continuous thought.”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“There is the great ocean below, and the great sky above, and nothing between me and pure possibility.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“If we rush ceaselessly through disconnected activities without checking in on our moods or motives, we can lose track of ourselves; in a sense, we lose the ability to experience our experiences. A”
Eva Hoffman, How to Be Bored
“The story isn't over, it isn't foreclosed, and that's the point: there's a tiny chink into the future that might be wedged open.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
“I'm writing a story in my journal, and I'm searching for a true voice. I make my way through layers of acquired voices, silly voices, sententious voices, voices that are too cool and too overheated. Then they all quiet down, and I reach what I'm searching for: silence.”
Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language
tags: mind

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Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language Lost in Translation
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How to Be Bored (The School of Life Book 4) How to Be Bored
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Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews Shtetl
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Appassionata Appassionata
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