Sunday, July 21, 2013

#Quotes: Quotes from Bessie Head's The Cardinals (with Meditations and Short Stories)

You have a beautiful soul that was nurtured on a dung heap. [22]

I was thinking a while ago, Johnny, that half the trouble in the world is caused by the difficulty we have in communicating with each other. It's practically impossible to say what you really mean and to be sure that the other person is understanding you. Word communication is dependent on reason and logic but there are many things in life that are not reasonable or logical. A jazz musician can say something to me in his music but it would be quite beyond me to translate into words what he is communicating through music. What he has to say touches the most vital part of my life but I can only acknowledge his message silently. [24]

Do you think life will care about you if you do not show that you care about it? [37]

They pursued their love with a wild abandon, unprotected against the treachery of the insecure foundation on which it was based and too young to bridge the gap that would suddenly and unexpectedly fling them miles apart.

The greatest crime in this world is to be a moral coward. [49]

People don't fall in love these days. The movies have made that kind of thing stale. They have robbed us of our capacity to feel through feeding us with cheap sensation. Ask any man and he will tell you that he can't kiss his wife because she wants him to kiss her the way Richard Widmark kisses. [56]

A human life is limited so it has to identify itself with a small corner of this earth. Only then is it able to shape its destiny and present its contribution. This need of a country is basic and instinctive in every living being. [62]

The whole principle of living and learning is dependent on what is going on in the mind. The mind is like a huge, living tapestry. Everything we see, hear, learn and experience gets being imprinted on it. As we grow we begin to see that we can correlate those impressions into a definite pattern and so we call that our life. [65]

Life's one hell of a joke. It dresses us up with insatiable yearnings and high-flying ambitions and then flings the fact of our insignificance in our faces. Half of us fall for the joke and start the mad rush after the big prizes. Some, like you and me can't fall for the joke. We've been hit too hard at too early an age. [73]

Half of humanity is running like hell away from slavery while the other half is chasing behind, figuring out ways and means of maintaining the slave system. [75-6]

Above all the necessities of life, human beings need love and it is often the one thing most denied to them. [79]

You are young and might prefer to believe that love is moonlight and rosy sunsets. It is not. It is brutal, violent, ugly, possessive and dictatorial. It makes no allowances for the freedom and individuality of the loved one. Lovers become one closely knit unit in thought and feeling. Should you eventually find that this love is beyond your capacity or that you cannot rise to its demands, you may leave but please make sure that you go to some place where I will never be able to find you. [89]

Once a man involves himself with women there's always some kind of retribution. They're the most vengeful creatures on this earth. [99]

There's only one way to make yourself shock-proof. Do not be impressed by evil and do not be impressed by good. [100]

The task of the writer is to serve humanity and not party politicians and their temporary fixations. But it's a hard path to follow. I'm having headaches over it because I'm too intensely aware of the pressures and issues and yet at the same time wish to retain my right to think for myself. [100]

She was hardly conscious of her agonised cry as his hard kisses ravaged her mouth. For her it was like a dissolution of body and bones; with only a heart left; a pulsing heart awash in an ocean of rushing tornadic darkness; helpless at its own forward rushing... [115]

Life is not in bits and pieces. It is a magnificent, rhythmic, pulsating symphony. [116]

Life is a treacherous quicksand with no guarantee of safety anywhere. We can only try to grab what happiness we can before we are swept off into oblivion. [118]

Not now, not ever, shall I be complete; and though the road to find you has been desolate with loneliness, still more desolate is the road that leads away from you. It is as though pain piles on pain in an endless, unbroken stream, until it is the only reality. What do they do, those who love? [Africa, 121]

The only reason why I always admit pain is that it seems the only constructive emotion. [Africa, 122] 

A basically timid and cowardly person dare not presume to speak for others. He can only speak for himself. [A Personal View of the Survival of the Unfittest, 125]

There were once highway robbers, who said: 'Your money or your life!' Today, they say: 'Your politics or your life!' [A Personal View of the Survival of the Unfittest, 126]

Who am I? What am I? In past and present, the answer lies in Africa; in part it lies within the whole timeless, limitless, eternal universe. How can I discover the meaning and purpose of my country if I do not first discover the meaning and purpose of my own life? Today there are a thousand labels. One of them is 'crazy crank'. I do not mind being a 'crazy crank', as long as I am sure that I am a crank of my own making, as long as I resist environmental, societal, and political attempts to control and suppress my mind. [A Personal View of the Survival of the Unfittest, 127]

All life flows continuously like water in the stream and I am only some of the water in the stream, never able to gauge my depth. The hours, the years, the eternities slip by too quickly, moving, changing, never the same thing. I move with this current to the ocean only to be flung back again to the stream. The cycle seems unending, repetitive. [Where is the Hour of the Beautiful Dancing of Birds in the Sun-wind?, 128]

The holy order of doing the right thing is incompatible with love, which does all the wrong things. Love can never learn to choose the woman who has the highest price, or whose father possesses the greatest number of cattle. Love strikes the outcast, the beggar, the stranger, and leaves the dull, dead, complacent conformer to his safety. [Where is the Hour of the Beautiful Dancing of Birds in the Sun-wind?, 129]

The body is a positive thing, and love without a body is negative, useless, purposeless. [Where is the Hour of the Beautiful Dancing of Birds in the Sun-wind?, 132]

A woman is a maker of pottery, feeling life with her hands, keeping it whole, moulding it from the depths upwards. Her vision is constant, unchanging. [Where is the Hour of the Beautiful Dancing of Birds in the Sun-wind?, 135]
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