Total found: 80
Annie Dillard
The surest sign of age is loneliness.
Annie Dillard
There is a certain age at which a child looks at you in all earnestness and delivers a long, pleased speech in all the true inflections of spoken English, but with not one recognizable syllable.
Annie Dillard
It's a little silly to finally learn how to write at this age. But I long ago realized I was secretly sincere.
Annie Dillard
People love pretty much the same things best. A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all.
Annie Dillard
Buddhism notes that it is always a mistake to think your soul can go it alone.
Annie Dillard
As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
Annie Dillard
It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator, our very self-consciousness, is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution.
Annie Dillard
You can't test courage cautiously.
Annie Dillard
I would like to learn, or remember, how to live.
Annie Dillard
Eskimo: 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?' Priest: 'No, not if you did not know.' Eskimo: 'Then why did you tell me?'
Annie Dillard
Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
Annie Dillard
There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind.
Annie Dillard
As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
Annie Dillard
A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
Annie Dillard
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Annie Dillard
Spend the afternoon, you can't take it with you.
Annie Dillard
You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.
Annie Dillard
Could two live that way? Could two live under the wild rose, and explore by the pond, so that the smooth mind of each is as everywhere present to the other, and as received and as unchallenged, as falling snow?
Annie Dillard
Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell? Priest: No, not if you did not know. Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?
Annie Dillard
The soul may ask God for anything, and never fail.
Annie Dillard
The mountains are great stone bells; they clang together like nuns. Who shushed the stars? There are a thousand million galaxies easily seen in the Palomar reflector; collisions between and among them do, of course, occur. But these collisions are very long and silent slides. Billions of stars sift amont each other untouched, too distant even to be moved, heedless as always, hushed. The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out. But God knows I have tried.
Annie Dillard
What have we been doing all these centuries but trying to call God back to the mountain, or, failing that, raise a peep out of anything that isn't us? What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are not they both saying: Hello? We spy on whales and on interstellar radio objects; we starve ourselves and pray till we're blue.
Annie Dillard
We are here to witness. There is nothing else to do with those mute materials we do not need. Until Larry teaches his stone to talk, until God changes his mind, or until the pagan gods slip back to their hilltop groves, all we can do with the whole inhuman array is watch it.
Annie Dillard
The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But- and this is the point- who gets excited by a mere penny? But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.
Annie Dillard
There are 1,198,500,000 people alive now in China. To get a feel for what that means, simply take yourself - in all your singularity, importance, complexity, and love - and multiply by 1,198,500,000. See? Nothing to it.
Annie Dillard
At the time of Lewis and Clark, setting the prairies on fire was a well-known signal that meant, 'Come down to the water.' It was an extravagant gesture, but we can't do less. If the landscape reveals one certainty, it is that the extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go. I come down to the water to cool my eyes. But everywhere I look, I see fire: that which isn't flint is tinder, and the whole world sparks and flames.
Annie Dillard
Those of us who read carried around with us like martyrs a secret knowledge, a secret joy and a secret hope: There is a life worth living where history is still taking place; there are ideas worth dying for, and circumstances where courage is still prized.
Annie Dillard
Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation's short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.
Annie Dillard
If you ask a twenty-one-year-old poet whose poetry he likes, he might say, unblushing, Nobody's, In his youth, he has not yet understood that poets like poetry, and novelists like novels; he himself likes only the role, the thought of himself in a hat.
Annie Dillard
The secret is not to write about what you love best, but about what you, alone, love at all.
Annie Dillard
Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? Can the writer isolate and vivify all in experience that most deeply engages our intellects and our heats? Can the writer renew our hope for literary forms? Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?
Annie Dillard
For writing a first draft requires from the writer a peculiar internal state which ordinary life does not induce. ... how to set yourself spinning?
Annie Dillard
There is neither a proportional relationship, nor an inverse one, between a writer's estimation of a work in progress & its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, & the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.
Annie Dillard
Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.
Annie Dillard
So it is that a writer writes many books. In each book, he intended several urgent and vivid points, many of which he sacrificed as the book's form hardened.
Annie Dillard
We teach our children one thing only, as we were taught: to wake up. We teach our children to look alive there, to join by words and activities the life of human culture on this planet's crust. As adults we are almost all adept at waking up. We have so mastered the transition we make a hundred times a day, as, like so many will-less dolphins, we plunge and surface, lapse and emerge. We live half our waking lives and all of our sleeping lives in some private, useless, and insensible waters we never mention or recall. Useless, I say. Valueless, I might add
Annie Dillard
I like to be aware of a book as a piece of writing, and aware of its structure as a product of mind, and yet I want to be able to see the represented world through it. I admire artists who succeed in dividing my attention more or less evenly between the world of their books and the art of their books . . . so that a reader may study the work with pleasure as well as the world that it describes.
Annie Dillard
At night on land migrating monarchs slumber on certain trees, hung in festoons with wings folded together, thick on the trees and shaggy as bearskin. [p. 244]
Annie Dillard
It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale. So many things have been shown so to me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags, that the pouring from ever-renewable sources is endless, impartial, and free.
Annie Dillard
If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell? No, said the priest, not if you did not know. Then why, asked the Eskimo earnestly, did you tell me?
Annie Dillard
What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab? Are not they both saying: Hello? We spy on whales and on interstellar radio objects; we starve ourselves and pray till we're blue.
Annie Dillard
You can live as a particle crashing about and colliding in a welter of materials with god, or you can live as a particle crashing about and colliding in a welter of materials without god. But you cannot live outside the welter of colliding materials.
Annie Dillard
I am no scientist. I explore the neighbourhood. An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn't the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it: he'll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighbourhood, view the landscape, to discover at least WHERE it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can't learn why.
Annie Dillard
Under her high brows, she eyed him straight on and straight across. She had gone to girls' schools, he recalled later. Those girls looked straight at you.
Annie Dillard
She is nine, beloved, as open-faced as the sky and as self-contained. I have watched her grow. As recently as three or four years ago, she had a young child's perfectly shallow receptiveness; she fitted into the world of time, it fitted into her, as thoughtlessly as sky fits its edges, or a river its banks. But as she has grown, her smile has widened with a touch of fear and her glance has taken on depth. Now she is aware of some of the losses you incur by being here--the extortionary rent you have to pay as long as you stay.
Annie Dillard
Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth. A piece of protein could be a snail, a sea lion, or a systems analyst, but it had to start somewhere. This is not science; it is merely metaphor. And the landscape in which the protein starts shapes its end as surely as bowls shape water.
Annie Dillard
In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.
Annie Dillard
I think science works the way a tightrope walker works: by not looking at its feet. As soon as it looks at its feet, it realizes its operating in midair.
Annie Dillard
She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.
Annie Dillard
She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live. She read books as one would breathe ether, to sink in and die.
Annie Dillard
Books swept me away, this way and that, one after the other; I made endless vows according to their lights for I believed them.
Annie Dillard
It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.
Annie Dillard
Private life, book life, took place where words met imagination without passing through the world.
Annie Dillard
The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fiords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock
Annie Dillard
You cannot mend the chromosome, quell the earthquake, or stanch the flood. You cannot atone for the dead tyrants' murders and you alone cannot stop living tyrants. As Martin Buber saw it, the world of ordinary days affords us that precise association with god that redeems both us and our speck of world. God entrusts and allots to everyone an area to redeem: this creased and feeble life, the world in which you live, just as it is, and not otherwise. Insofar as he cultivates and enjoys them in holiness, he frees their souls…he who prays and sings in holiness, eats and speaks in holiness…through him the sparks which have fallen will be uplifted, and the worlds which have fallen will be delivered and renewed.
Annie Dillard
The secret of seeing is, then the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. I return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. I return form the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name. Litanies hum in my ears; my tongue flaps in my mouth. Ailinon, alleluia!
Annie Dillard
I am a fugitive and a vagabond, a sojourner seeking signs.
Annie Dillard
I am a sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the world's rock altar, waiting for worms. I take a deep breath, I open my eyes. Looking, I see there are worms in the horns of the altar like live maggots in amber, there are shells of worms in the rock and moths flapping at my eyes. A wind from no place rises. A sense of the real exults me; the cords loosen: I walk on my way.
Annie Dillard
Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.
Annie Dillard
The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fiords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock
Annie Dillard
This is what I had come for, just this, and nothing more. A fling of leafy motion on the cliffs, the assault of real things, living and still, with shapes and powers under the sky- this is my city, my culture, and all the world I need.
Annie Dillard
Yes, it's tough, it's tough, that goes without saying. But isn't waiting itself and longing a wonder, being played on by wind, sun, and shade?
Annie Dillard
I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly. I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering, and like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild, glitt'ring eye and say, Do you know that in the head of the caterpillar of the ordinary goat moth there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles? The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life.
Annie Dillard
It looked as though the leaves of the autumn forest had taken flight, and were pouring down the valley like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, all the leaves of the hardwoods from here to Hudson's Bay. It was as if the season's colors were draining away like lifeblood, as if the year were molting and shedding. The year was rolling down, and a vital curve had been reached, the tilt that gives way to headlong rush. And when the monarch butterflies had passed and were gone, the skies were vacant, the air poised. The dark night into which the year was plunging was not a sleep but an awakening, a new and necessary austerity, the sparer climate for which I longed. The shed trees were brittle and still, the creek light and cold, and my spirit holding its breath.
Annie Dillard
I was in no tent under leaves, sleepless and glad. There was no moon at all; along the world's coasts the sea tides would be springing strong. The air itself also has lunar tides; I lay still. Could I feel in the air an invisible sweep and surge, and an answering knock in the lungs? Or could I feel the starlight? Every minute on a square mile of this land one ten thousandth of an ounce of starlight spatters to earth. What percentage of an ounce did that make on my eyes and cheeks and arms, tapping and nudging as particles, pulsing and stroking as waves?
Annie Dillard
Those people who shoot endless time-lapse films of unfurling roses and tulips have the wrong idea. They should train their cameras instead on the melting of pack ice, the green filling of ponds, the tidal swings…They should film the glaciers of Greenland, some of which creak along at such a fast clip that even the dogs bark at them. They should film the invasion of the southernmost Canadian tundra by the northernmost spruce-fir forest, which is happening right now at the rate of a mile every 10 years. When the last ice sheet receded from the North American continent, the earth rebounded 10 feet. Wouldn't that have been a sight to see?
Annie Dillard
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. The surface of mystery is not smooth, any more than the planet is smooth; not even a single hydrogen atom is smooth, let alone a pine. Nor does it fit together; not even the chlorophyll and hemoglobin molecules are a perfect match, for, even after the atom of iron replaces the magnesium, long streamers of disparate atoms trail disjointedly from the rims of the molecule's loops. Freedom cuts both ways. Mystery itself is as fringed and intricate at the shape of the air at times. Forays into mystery cut bays and fine fjords, but the forested mainland itself is implacable both in its bulk and in its most filigreed fringe of detail.
Annie Dillard
It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year's planting.The woods are acres of sticks: I could walk to the Gulf of Mexico in a straight line. When the leaves fall, the striptease is over; things stand mute and revealed. Everywhere skies extend, vistas deepen, walls become windows, doors open.
Annie Dillard
Shadow is the blue patch where the light doesn't hit. It is mystery itself, and mystery is the ancients' ultima Thule, the modern explorer's Point of Relative Inaccessibility, that boreal point most distant from all known lands. There the twin oceans of beauty and horror meet. The great glaciers are calving. Ice that sifted to earth as snow in the time of Christ shears from the pack with a roar and crumbles to water. It could be that our instruments have not looked deeply enough. The RNA deep in the mantis's jaw is a beautiful ribbon. Did the crawling Polyphemus moth have in its watery heart one cell, and in that cell one special molecule, and that molecule one hydrogen atom, and round that atom's nucleus one wild, distant electron that split showed a forest, swaying?
Annie Dillard
I want to think about trees. Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun, even, but I can't think about them. I live with trees. There are creatures under our feet, creatures that live over our heads, but trees live quite convincingly in the same filament of air we inhabit, and in addition, they extend impressively in both directions, up and down, shearing rock and fanning air, doing their real business just out of reach.
Annie Dillard
Love so sprang at her, she honestly thought no one had ever looked into it. Where was it in literature? Someone would have written something. She must not have recognized it. Time to read everything again.
Annie Dillard
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...
Annie Dillard
Nature's silence is its one remark, and every flake of world is a chip off that old mute and immutable block.
Annie Dillard
It is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate a grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree.
Annie Dillard
In nature, improbabilities are the one stock in trade. The whole creation is one lunatic fringe. If creation had been left up to me, I'm sure I wouldn't have had the imagination or courage to do more than shape a single, reasonably sized atom, smooth as a snowball, and let it go at that.
Annie Dillard
Were the earth smooth, our brains would be smooth as well; we would wake, blink, walk two steps to get the whole picture, and lapse into a dreamless sleep.
Annie Dillard
Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt, and then the shadow sweeps it away. You know you're alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet's roundness arc between your feet.
Annie Dillard
Nature's silence is its one remark, and every flake of world is a chip off that old mute and immutable block. The Chiense say that we live in the world of ten thousand things. Each of the ten thousand things cries out to us precisely nothing.
Annie Dillard
Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.
Annie Dillard
Lou asked point-blank, Can love last? (Rural people get to philosophizing, and will say anything.)