Tag Archives: Siri Hustvedt

The fertility of doubt

 . . . . she “trumpets doubt and ambiguity, not because we are incapable of knowing things,” but because “doubt is fertile.”

Vivien Gornick , reviews Siri Hustvedt’s, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women in The New York Times, December 16th 2016

(from here)

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Humanity in an unexpected moment

Sometimes a brief exchange with an unknown person marks you forever, not because it is profound but because it is uncommonly vivid. Over twenty years ago, I saw a man lying on the sidewalk at Broadway and 105th Street. I guessed that he was in his early sixties, but he may have been younger. Unshaven, filthy, and ragged, he lay on his side in an apparent stupor, clutching a bottle in a torn and wrinkled paper bag. As I walked past him, he suddenly propped himself up on his elbow and called out to me, “Hey, beautiful! Want to have dinner with me?” His question was so loud, so direct, I stopped. Looking down at the man at my feet, I said, “Thank you so much for the invitation, but I’m busy tonight.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he grinned up at me, lifted the bottle in a mock toast, and said, “Lunch?”

 Siri Hustvedt ,  A Plea  for Eros, 2003

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The mirror (2)

Mirrors are where I check myself – for parsley stuck in my teeth, for blemishes and dirty hair – where I ponder which shoes go with which dress. But every once in a while, they become something more than that – the site of a body I know will eventually give up the ghost. As in fairy tales and folklore, the mirror displays for an instant my ghost double, and I don’t like seeing her. It is a moment when I am a stranger to myself. But a foreign reflection in a mirror is not always a shock. There is something appealing about transformations, and clothes are the fastest route to leaping out of your own life and into someone else’s. The whalebone corset I wore for eight days catapulted me into another time and another aesthetic, and I liked it.

                                                                                                  Siri Hustvedt, Pulling power: (from here) 

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What paintings can do for us

I love painting because in its immutable stillness it seems to exist outside time in a way no other art can. The longer I live the more I would like to put the world in suspension and grip the present before it’s eaten by the next second and becomes the past. A painting creates an illusion of an eternal present, a place where my eyes can rest as if the clock has magically stopped ticking.

Siri Hustvedt,  The Mysteries of the Rectangle

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fear of writing

I am afraid of writing . . . because when I write I am always moving toward the unarticulated, the dangerous, the place where the walls don’t hold. I don’t know what’s there, but I am pulled toward it. Is the wounded self the writing self? Is the writing self an answer to the wounded self? Perhaps that is more accurate. The wound is static, a given. The writing self is multiple and elastic, and it circles the wound. Over time, I have become more aware of the fact that I must try not to cover that speechless, hurt core, that I must fight my dread of the mess and violence that are also there. I have to write the fear. The writing self is restless and searching, and it listens for voices. Where do they come from, these chatterers who talk to me before I fall asleep? My characters. I am making them and not making them, like people in my dreams.   Siri Hustvedt A Plea For Eros

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the unknown

In Art, knowing isn’t everything – the unknown often pushes its way to the surface . . . a huge part of what the brain does is unconscious. And every novelist can tell you that while writing, things happen. You don’t know why the characters or their words appear to you or where they come from, but there they are, and often these peculiar ghosts and their voices, rising up from nowhere, are exactly the ones that are most crucial to the story. Siri Hustvedt on Charles Dickens

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