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The Golden Notebook The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
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The Golden Notebook Quotes Showing 1-30 of 173
“What's terrible is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Do you know what people really want? Everyone, I mean. Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who'd be kind to me. That's what people really want, if they're telling the truth.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Very few people really care about freedom, about liberty, about the truth, very few. Very few people have guts, the kind of guts on which a real democracy has to depend. Without people with that sort of guts a free society dies or cannot be born.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I am a person who continually destroys the possibilities of a future because of the numbers of alternative viewpoints I can focus on the present.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Sometimes I dislike women, I dislike us all, because of our capacity for not-thinking when it suits us; we choose not to think when we are reaching our for happiness.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“For with my intuition I knew that this man was repeating a pattern over and over again: courting a woman with his intelligence and sympathy, claiming her emotionally; then, when she began to claim in return, running away. And the better a woman was, the sooner he would begin to run. I knew this with my intuition, and yet I sat there in my dark room, looking at the hazed wet brilliance of the purple London night sky, longing with my whole being.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Art is the Mirror of our betrayed ideals.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Because I was permanently confused, dissatisfied, unhappy, tormented by inadequacy, driven by wanting towards every kind of impossible future, the attitude of mind described by 'tolerantly amused eyes' was years away from me. I don't think I really saw people then, except as appendages to my needs. It's only now, looking back, that I understood, but at the time I lived in a brilliantly lit haze, shifting and flickering according to my changing desires. Of course, that is only a description of being young.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known. They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse. They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave. They have known it. We know it. But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it? No. It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them. Because the great men are too great to be bothered. They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon. That is what is important for our time. You and I are the boulder-pushers. All our lives, you and I, we’ll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain. The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“How boring these emotions are that we're caught in and can't get free of, no matter how much we want to...”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I'm going to make the obvious point that maybe the word neurotic means the condition of being highly conscious and developed. The essence of neurosis is conflict. But the essence of living now, fully, not blocking off to what goes on, is conflict. In fact I've reached the stage where I look at people and say - he or she, they are whole at all because they've chosen to block off at this stage or that. People stay sane by blocking off, by limiting themselves.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I was filled with such a dangerous delicious intoxication that I could have walked straight off the steps into the air, climbing on the strength of my own drunkeness into the stars. And the intoxication, as I knew even then, was the recklessness of infinite possibility.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“People are just cannibals unless they leave each other alone.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I don't know why I still find it so hard to accept that words are faulty and by their very nature innacurate”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want. Perhaps better with music? But music attacks my inner ear like an antagonist, it's not my world. The fact is, the real experience can't be described. I think, bitterly, that a row of asterisks, like an old-fashioned novel, might be better. Or a symbol of some kind, a circle perhaps, or a square. Anything at all, but not words. The people who have been there, in the place in themselves where words, patterns, order, dissolve, will know what I mean and others won't. But once having been there, there's a terrible irony, a terrible shrug of the shoulders, and it's not a question of fighting it, or disowning it, or of right or wrong, but simply knowing it is there, always. It's a question of bowing to it, so to speak, with a kind of courtesy, as to an ancient enemy: All right, I know you are there, but we have to preserve the forms, don't we? And perhaps the condition of your existing at all is precisely that we preserve the forms, create the patterns - have you thought of that?”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“For women like me, integrity isn't chastity, it isn't fidelity, it isn't any of the old words. Integrity is the orgasm. That is something I haven't any control over.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Free women," said Anna, wryly. She added, with an anger new to Molly, so that she earned another quick scrutinizing glance from her friend: "They still define us in terms of relationships with men, even the best of them.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel the roughness of a carpet under smooth soles, a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I am increasingly afflicted by vertigo where words mean nothing”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“Anna, there's something very arrogant about insisting on the right to be right.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I stood looking down out of the window. The street seemed miles down. Suddenly I felt as if I'd flung myself out of the window. I could see myself lying on the pavement. Then I seemed to be standing by the body on the pavement. I was two people. Blood and brains were scattered everywhere. I knelt down and began licking up the blood and brains”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“...We try to have things both ways. We’ve always refused to live by the book and the rule; but then why start worrying because the world doesn’t treat us by rule?”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“...She thinks, for the hundredth time, that in their emotional life all these intelligent men use a level so much lower than anything they use for work, that they might be different creatures.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I have you for being normal, I hate you for it. You’re a normal human being. What right have you to that?”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“I am always amazed, in myself and in other women, at the strength of our need to bolster men up. This is ironical, living as we do in a time of men’s criticizing us for being ‘castrating’, etc., — all the other words and phrases of the same kind. (Nelson says his wife is ‘castrating’ — this makes me angry, thinking of the misery she must have lived through.) For the truth is, women have this deep instinctive need to build a man up as a man. Molly for instance. I suppose this is because real men become fewer and fewer, and we are frightened, trying to create men.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“In fact I've reached the stage where I look at people and say - he or she, they are whole at all because they've chosen to block off at this stage or that. People stay sane by blocking off, by limiting themselves.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“He destroyed in her the knowing, doubting, sophisticated Ella, and again and again he put her intelligence to sleep, and with her willing connivance, so that she floated darkly on her love for him, on her naivety, which is another word for a spontaneous creative faith. And when his own distrust of himself destroyed this woman-in-love, so that she began thinking, she would fight to return to naivety.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag—and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement.”
Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

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