Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Quotes

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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? Quotes Showing 1-30 of 190
“Why is the measure of love loss?”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me.

So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realise that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else's terms.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I've always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I've worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn't know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“We bury things so deep we no longer remember there was anything to bury. Our bodies remember. Our neurotic states remember. But we don't.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home – they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn't a hiding place. It is a finding place.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“To tell someone not to be emotional is to tell them to be dead.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“She was a monster, but she was my monster.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Pursuing happiness, and I did, and still do, is not at all the same as being happy- which I think is fleeting, dependent on circumstances, and a bit bovine.

If the sun is shining, stand in it- yes, yes, yes. Happy times are great, but happy times pass- they have to- because time passes.

The pursuit of happiness is more elusive; it is lifelong, and it is not goal-centred.

What you are pursuing is meaning- a meaningful life. There's the hap- the fate, the draw that is yours, and it isn't fixed, but changing the course of the stream, or dealing new cards, whatever metaphor you want to use- that's going to take a lot of energy. There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realize that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else's terms.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I had lines inside me, a string of guiding lights. I had language. Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination. I had been damaged, and a very important part of me had been destroyed - that was my reality, the facts of my life. But on the other side of the facts was who I could be, how I could feel. And as long as I had words for that, images for that, stories for that, then I wasn't lost.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Yes, the stories are dangerous, she was right. A book is a magic carpet that flies you off elsewhere. A book is a door. You open it. You step through. Do you come back?”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Truth for anyone is a very complex thing. For a writer, what you leave out says as much as those things you include. What lies beyond the margin of the text? The photographer frames the shot; writers frame their world. Mrs Winterson objected to what I had put in, but it seemed to me that what I had left out was the story’s silent twin. There are so many things that we can’t say, because they are too painful. We hope that the things we can say will soothe the rest, or appease it in some way. Stories are compensatory. The world is unfair, unjust, unknowable, out of control. When we tell a story we exercise control, but in such a way as to leave a gap, an opening. It is a version, but never the final one. And perhaps we hope that the silences will be heard by someone else, and the story can continue, can be retold. When we write we offer the silence as much as the story. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken. Mrs Winterson would have preferred it if I had been silent.

Do you remember the story of Philomel who is raped and then has her tongue ripped out by the rapist so that she can never tell? I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words. I needed words because unhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven. He or she has to learn to forgive him or herself.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Growing up is difficult. Strangely, even when we have stopped growing physically, we seem to have to keep on growing emotionally, which involves both expansion and shrinkage, as some parts of us develop and others must be allowed to disappear...Rigidity never works; we end up being the wrong size for our world.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Living with life is very hard. Mostly we do our best to stifle life - to be tame or to be wanton. to be tranquillised or raging. Extremes have the same effect; they insulate us from the intensity of life.

And extremes - whether of dullness or fury - successfully prevent feeling. I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies - unconscious strategies- to keep those feelings away. We do a feelings-swap, where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead. It can work the other way, too - sometimes you do need to feel angry, not inadequate; sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life.

It takes courage to feel the feeling - and not trade it on the feelings-exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person. You know how in couples one person is always doing all the weeping or the raging while the other one seems so calm and reasonable?

I understood that feelings were difficult for me although I was overwhelmed by them.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Books, for me, are a home. Books don't make a home - they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and space. There is warmth there too - a hearth. I sit down with a book and I am warm.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“The more I read, the more I felt connected across time to other lives and deeper sympathies. I felt less isolated. I wasn’t floating on my little raft in the present; there were bridges that led over to solid ground. Yes, the past is another country, but one that we can visit, and once there we can bring back the things we need.
Literature is common ground. It is ground not managed wholly by commercial interests, nor can it be strip-mined like popular culture—exploit the new thing then move on.
There’s a lot of talk about the tame world versus the wild world. It is not only a wild nature that we need as human beings; it is the untamed open space of our imaginations.
Reading is where the wild things are.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I believe in fiction and the power of stories because that way we speak in tongues. We are not silenced. All of us, when in deep trauma, find we hesitate, we stammer; there are long pauses in our speech. The thing is stuck. We get our language back through the language of others. We can turn to the poem. We can open the book. Somebody has been there for us and deep-dived the words.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I have noticed that doing the sensible thing is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things you must risk it.
And here is the shock- when you risk it, when you do the right thing, when you arrive at the borders of common sense and cross into unknown territory, leaving behind you all the familiar smells and lights; then you do not experience great joy and huge energy.
You are unhappy. Things get worse.
It is a time of mourning. Loss. Fear. We battle ourselves through with questions. And then we feel shot and wounded.
And then all the cowards come out and say, 'See I told you so.' In fact, they have told you nothing.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“A tough life needs a tough language—and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I didn't want to be in the teeming mass of the working class.[...] I didn't want to live and die in the same place with only a week at the seaside in between. I dreamed of escape - but what is terrible about industrialisation is that it makes escape necessary. In a system that generates masses, individualism is the only way out. But then what happens to community - to society?”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Sometimes you have to live in precarious and temporary places. Unsuitable places. Wrong places. Sometimes the safe place won't help you.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I wasn’t reading poetry because my aim was to work my way through English Literature in Prose A–Z.

But this was different.

I read [in, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot]: This is one moment, / But know that another / Shall pierce you with a sudden painful joy.

I started to cry.

(…)The unfamiliar and beautiful play made things bearable that day, and the things it made bearable were another failed family—the first one was not my fault, but all adopted children blame themselves. The second failure was definitely my fault.

I was confused about sex and sexuality, and upset about the straightforward practical problems of where to live, what to eat, and how to do my A levels.

I had no one to help me, but the T.S. Eliot helped me.

So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language—and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I needed words because unhappy families are conspiracies of silence. The one who breaks the silence is never forgiven. He or she has to learn to forgive him or herself.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“Memory loss is one way of coping with damage.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“I did not realize that when money becomes a core value, then education drives towards utility or that the life of the mind will not be counted as good unless it produces measurable results. That public services will no longer be important. That an alternative life to getting and spending will become very difficult as cheap housing disappears. That when communities are destroyed only misery and intolerance are left.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
tags: money
“Creativity is on the side of health - it isn't the thing that drives us mad; it is the capacity in us that tries to save us from madness.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
“...there are two kinds of writing: the one you write and the one that writes you.”
Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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