Diane Ackerman
Quotations


The purpose of ritual for men is to learn the rules of power and competition. Watching sports together, for example, they see the formal enactment of ritual, become loyal to a team, learn to conceal their vulnerability. The purpose of ritual for women (going to lunch together, sharing a favorite salon, etc.) is to learn how to make human connections. They are often more intimate and vulnerable with one another than they are with their men, and taking care of other women teaches them to take care of themselves. In these formal ways, men and women domesticate their emotional lives. But their strategies are different, their biological itineraries are different. His sperm needs to travel, her egg needs to settle down. It's astonishing that they survive happily at all.

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.

I don't want to be a passenger in my own life.

A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.

Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is.

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.

It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

Success produces success, just as money produces money.

Look in the mirror. The face that pins you with its double gaze reveals a chastening secret.

We live on the leash of our senses.

Though most of us don't hunt, our eyes are still the great monopolists of our senses. To taste or touch your enemy or your food, you have to be unnervingly close to it. To smell or hear it, you can risk being further off. But vision can rush through the fields and up the mountains, travel across time, country, and parsecs of outer space, and collect bushel baskets of information as it goes. Animals that hear high frequencies better than we do -- bats and dolphins, for instance -- seem to see richly with their ears, hearing geographically, but for us the world becomes most densely informative, most luscious, when we take it in through our eyes. It may even be that abstract thinking evolved from our eyes' elaborate struggle to make sense of what they saw. Seventy percent of the body's sense receptors cluster in the eyes, and it is mainly through seeing the world that we appraise and understand it. Lovers close their eyes when they kiss because, if they didn't, there would be too many visual distractions to notice and analyze.


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