A Natural History of the Senses Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
A Natural History of the Senses A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
6,516 ratings, 4.16 average rating, 645 reviews
Open Preview
A Natural History of the Senses Quotes Showing 1-22 of 22
“Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Words are small shapes in the gorgeous chaos of the world.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Symbolic of life, hair bolts from our head[s]. Like the earth, it can be harvested, but it will rise again. We can change its color and texture when the mood strikes us, but in time it will return to its original form, just as Nature will in time turn our precisely laid-out cities into a weed-way.”
Diane Ackerman , A Natural History of the Senses
“That evening, as I watched the sunset’s pinwheels of apricot and mauve slowly explode into red ribbons, I thought: The sensory misers will inherit the earth, but first they will make it not worth living on. When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are. It probably doesn’t matter if a passerby sees us dipping a finger into the moist pouches of dozens of lady’s slippers to find out what bugs tend to fall into them, and thinks us a bit eccentric. Or a neighbor, fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand and a seismically red autumn leaf in the other its color hitting our sense like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of the leaf to move.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“In our heart we know that life loves life. Yet we feast on some of the other life-forms with which we share our planet; we kill to live. Taste is what carries us across that rocky moral terrain, what makes the horror palatable, and the paradox we could not defend by reason melts into a jungle of sweet temptations.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“For me, life offers so many complexly appealing moments that two beautiful objects may be equally beautiful for different reasons and at different times. How can one choose?”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“The sensory misers will inherit the earth, but first they will make it not worth living on. When you consider something like death, after which we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably won’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Don't think of night as the absence of day; think of it as a kind of freedom. Turned away from our sun, we see the dawning of far flung galaxies. We are no longer sun blinded to the star coated universe we inhabit.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“There is a furnace in our cells, and when we breathe we pass the world through our bodies, brew it lightly, and turn it loose again, gently altered for having known us.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Much of life becomes background, but it is the province of art to throw buckets of light into the shadows and make life a new again.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Words are small shapes in the gorgeous chaos of the world. But they are shapes, they bring the world into focus, they corral ideas, they hone thoughts, they paint watercolors of perception.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“If there are words for all the pastels in a hue—the lavenders, mauves, fushsias, plums, and lilacs—who will name the tones and tints of a smell? It's as if we were hypnotized en masse and told to selectively forget. It may be, too, that smells move us so profoundly, in part, because we cannot utter their names. In a world sayable and lush, where marvels offer themselves up readily for verbal dissection, smells are often right on the tip of our tongues—but no closer—and it gives them a kind of magical distance, a mystery, a power without a name, a sacredness.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Music, the perfume of hearing, probably began as a religious act, to arouse groups of people.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“We carry the ocean within us; our veins mirror the tides.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“The senses don’t just make sense of life in bold or subtle acts of clarity, they tear reality apart into vibrant morsels and reassemble them into a meaningful pattern.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Nature rarely wastes a winning strategy.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Weightlessness makes astronauts lose taste and smell in space. In the absence of gravity, molecules cannot be volatile, so few of them get into our noses deeply enough to register as odors. This is a problem for nutritionists designing space food.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“Seres tan encariñados con su libertad como los seres humanos saben cómo volver a plantear casi cualquier tema. Si hay una cosa en la que realmente nos mostramos magistrales, es en empujar los límites, inventar estrategias, encontrar caminos para rodear las verdades más impías, tomar a la vida por las solapas y sacudirla sin piedad. Es cierto que la vida tiende a devolver los golpes, pero eso nunca ha bastado para deternos.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
“El arte es más complejo, por supuesto. La emoción intensa crea tensión, y queremos que el artista la sienta por nosotros, que sufra, que goce y describa las cimas de su respuesta apasionada a la vida de modo que podamos apreciarla a distancia segura y podamos saber mejor cuáles son las dimensiones del espectro completo de la experiencia humana.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
tags: arte
“La variedad es la promesa que la materia hace a los seres vivos.”
Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses