On Lies, Secrets, and Silence Quotes

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On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978 On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978 by Adrienne Rich
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On Lies, Secrets, and Silence Quotes Showing 1-30 of 35
“An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word "love" – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Women have been driven mad, "gaslighted," for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each others' sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other.

Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Re-vision – the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction – is for woman more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978
“The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“In a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppression, is violence.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language - this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Sexist grammar burns into the brains of little girls and young women a message that the male is the norm, the standard, the central figure beside which we are all deviants, the marginal, the dependent variables. It lays the foundation for androcentric thinking, and leaves men safe in their solipsistic tunnel-vision.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“A lot is being said today about the influence that the myths and images of women have on all of us who are products of culture. I think it has been a peculiar confusion to the girl or woman who tries to write because she is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world, since she too has been putting words and images together; she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over in the ‘words’ masculine persuasive force’ of literature she comes up against something that negates everything she is about: she meets the image of Woman in books written by men.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Most women have not even been able to touch this anger, except to drive it inward like a rusted nail.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Feminism means finally that we renounce our obedience to the fathers and recognise that the world they have described is not the whole world. Masculine ideologies are the creation of masculine subjectivity; they are neither objective, nor value-free, nor inclusively "human." Feminism implies that we recognise for us, the distortion, of male-created ideologies, and that we proceed to think, and act, out of that recognition.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“It is always what is under pressure in us, especially under pressure of concealment--that explodes in poetry.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“We are not supposed to go down into the darkness of the core. Yet, if we can risk it, the something born of that nothing is the beginning of truth.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
tags: truth
“She had to possess the courage to enter, through language, states which most people deny or veil with silence.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“In a world dominated by violent and passive-aggressive men, and by male institutions dispensing violence, it is extraordinary to note how often women are represented as the perpetrators of violence, most of all when we are simply fighting in self-defense or for our children, or when we collectively attempt to change the institutions that are making war on us and our children.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“The urge to leap across feminism to "human liberation" is a tragic and dangerous mistake. It deflects us from our real sources of vision, recycles us back into old definitions and structures, and continues to serve the purposes of the patriarchy, which will use "women's lib," as it contemptuously phrases it, only to buy more time for itself—as both capitalism and socialism are now doing. Feminism is a criticism and subversion of all patriarchal thought and institutions—not merely those currently seen as reactionary and tyrannical.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“It isn’t that to have an honorable relationship with you, I have to understand everything, or tell you everything at once, or that I can know, beforehand, everything I need to tell you.

It means that most of the time I am eager, longing for the possibility of telling you. That these possibilities may seem frightening, but not destructive, to me. That I feel strong enough to hear your tentative and groping words. That we both know we are trying, all the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us.

The possibility of life between us.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“The possibilities that exist between two people, or among a group of people, are a kind of alchemy. They are the most interesting thing in life. The liar is someone who keeps losing sight of these possibilities”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Poetry is, among other things, a criticism of language.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“if you unquestioningly accept one piece of the culture that despises and fears you, you are vulnerable to other pieces.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“My own luck was being born white and middle-class into a house full of books, with a father who encouraged me to read and write. So for about twenty years I wrote for a particular man, who criticized and praised me and made me feel I was indeed "special." The obverse side of this, of course, was that I tried for a long time to please him, or rather, not to displease him. And then of course there were other men - writers, teachers - the Man, who was not a terror or a dream but a literary master and a master in other ways less easy to acknowledge. And there were all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women frequently inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth - the fate worse than death. Or, they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or, the woman was like Maud Gonne, cruel and disastrously mistaken, and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“An honorable human relationship--that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word "love"--is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
tags: truth
“Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe. It is as if forces we can lay claim to in no other way, become present to us in sensuous form. The knowledge and use of this magic goes back very far: the rune; the chant; the incantation; the spell; the kenning; sacred words; forbidden words; the naming of the child, the plant, the insect, the ocean, the configuration of stars, the snow, the sensation in the body. The ritual telling of the dream. The physical reality of the human voice; of words gouged or incised in stone or wood, woven in silk or wool, painted on vellum, or traced in sand.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“But nothing less than the most radical imagination will carry us beyond this place, beyond the mere struggle for survival, to that lucid recognition of our possibilities which will keep us impatient, and unresigned to mere survival.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Any woman who has moved from the playing fields of male discourse into the realm where women are developing our own descriptions of the world knows the extraordinary sense of shedding, as it were, the encumbrance of someone else's baggage, of ceasing to translate.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“Re-vision--the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction--is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. A radical critique of literature, feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name--and therefore live--afresh. A change in the concept of sexual identity is essential if we are not going to see the old political order reassert itself in every new revolution. We need to know the writing of the past, and know it differently than we have ever known it; not to pass on a tradition but to break its hold over us.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“her choice to be, not only a poet but a woman who explored her own mind, without any of the guidelines of orthodoxy. To say "yes" to her powers was not simply a major act of nonconformity in the nineteenth century; even in our own time it has been assumed that Emily Dickinson, not patriarchal society, was "the problem." The ore we come to recognise the unwritten and written laws and taboos underpining patriarchy, the less problematical, surely, will seem the methods she chose.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“But it is the subjects, the conversations, the facts we shy away from, which claim us in the form of writer's block, as mere rhetoric, as hysteria, insomnia, and constriction of the throat.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“In all societies, women are in double jeopardy; on the one hand we are expected to conform to certain emotional standards in our relationships with others at the penalty of being declared insane; on the other, our political perceptions are labeled "irrational" and "hysterical.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“The unconscious wants truth, as the body does. The complexity and fecundity of dreams come from the complexity and fecundity of the unconscious struggling to fulfill that desire. The complexity and fecundity of poetry come from the same struggle.”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
“In a world dominated by violent and passive-aggressive men, and by male institutions dispensing violence, it is extraordinary to note how often women are represented as the perpetrators of violence, most of all when we are simply fighting in self-defense or for our children, or when we collectively attempt to change the institutions that are making war on us and on our children. In reality, the feminist movement could be said to be trying to visualize and make way for a world in which abortion would not be necessary; a world free from poverty and rape, in which young girls would grow up with intelligent regard for and knowledge of their bodies and respect for their minds, in which the socialization of women into heterosexual romance and marriage would no longer be the primary lesson of culture; in which single women could raise children with a less crushing cost to themselves, in which female creativity might or might not choose to express itself in motherhood. Yet, when radical feminists and lesbian/feminists begin to speak of such a world, when we begin to sketch the conditions of a life we have collectively envisioned, the first charge we are likely to hear is a charge of violence: that we are “man-haters.” We hear that the women’s movement is provoking men to rape; that it has caused an increase in violent crimes by women; and when we demand the right to rear our children in circumstances where they have a chance for more than mere physical survival, we are called fetus-killers. The beating of women in homes across this country, the rape of daughters by fathers and brothers, the fear of rape that keeps old—as well as young—women off the streets, the casual male violence that can use a car to run two jogging women off a country road, the sadistic exploitation of women’s bodies to furnish a multibillion-dollar empire of pornography, the decision taken by powerful white males that one-quarter of the world’s women shall be sterilized or that certain selected women—poor and Third World—shall be used as subjects for psychosurgery and contraceptive experiments—these ordinary, everyday events inevitably must lead us to ask: who indeed hates whom, who is killing whom, whose interest is served, and whose fantasies expressed, by representing abortion as the selfish, willful, morally contagious expression of woman’s predilection for violence?”
Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978

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