Carolyn Gold Heilbrun Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 31 quotes)
We women have lived too much with closure: "If he notices me, if I marry him, if I get into college, if I get this work accepted, if I get this job" -- there always seems to loom the possibility of something being over, settled, sweeping clear the way for contentment. This is the delusion of a passive life. When the hope for closure is abandoned, when there is an end to fantasy, adventure for women will begin.
It is noteworthy that few works of fiction make marriage their central concern. As Northrup Frye puts it, with his accustomed clarity: 'The heroine who becomes a bride, and eventually, one assumes, a mother, on the last page of a romance, has accommodated herself to the cyclical movement: by her marriage...she completes the cycle and passes out of the story. We are usually given to understand that a happy and well-adjusted sexual life does not concern us as readers.' Fiction has largely rejected marriage as a subject, except in those instances where it is presented as a history of betrayal -- at worst an Updike hell, at best when Auden speaks of it as a game calling for 'patience, foresight, maneuver, like war, like marriage.' Marriage is very different than fiction presents it as being. We rarely examine its unromantic aspects.
The antithetical or perhaps mirror image to sadness is the experience, similarly unique to one's late years, of a swift, mysterious wave of happiness, also causeless, but of much shorter duration. I cannot remember a time, before my sixties, when the consciousness of happiness would sweep over me and, like a shower of cold water when one is desperately overheated, offer me a passing sensation very close to glee. Both sadness and fleeting happiness relate, I think, to mortality, to the consciousness of being old and of nearing the end of life. . . these sensations . . . surge up from the unconscious, to be a gift of long life or fortunate old age. Both sadness and happiness, but sadness more, are related to the fact that nothing of all this will endure for long. [p. 179]
Women, I believe, search for fellow beings who have faced similar struggles, conveyed them in ways a reader can transform into her own life, confirmed desires the reader had hardly acknowledge--desires that now seem possible. Women catch courage from the women whose lives and writings they read, and women call the bearer of that courage friend. [p. 138]
Today women live long into their children's adult lives . . . too little is made of the pleasure we women feel in conversing with our grown children, and in allowing ourselves, from time to time, to think of them as friends. I have been fortunate in having children with whom conversation is possible; the sheerest pleasure here, for me, has been in meeting with them each alone . . . [p. 185]
. . . the less androgynous the person, the likelier he or she was to be incapable of action if the appropriate action was not clearly delineated . . . How many women there were . . . who tore themselves or their families apart because they could not allow themselves any action or occupation that could appear manly, and might make their husbands appear less so. [pp. 132-133]
. . . for those retired, with too much time and no world, a world must be found, and not necessarily one that is heavily populated. One can join a group or work alone; the essential . . . is that the work be difficult, concentrated, and that definite progress can be measured . . . the purpose . . . is. . . to maintain a carefully directed intensity. . . . Here the question is one of time, and to what all that remaining time should be devoted. [pp. 45-46]
The rare, delicate flavor of a life after retiring in one's sixties, whatever one has "retired" from, the pleasure I experienced beyond my job at Columbia, is a gift of life in the last decades. but it is not easily learned. . . . But sometimes, the only way to live is to get out, or at least seriously to contemplate getting out, doing the impossible, flinging the conventional tea.
Sadness such as mine is not depression; it can be blown away by an interesting conversation, a welcome telephone call, or a compelling idea for an essay or piece of fiction. It returns without evident cause, however obvious the cause of its banishment, and it belongs, I have come to suspect, to both youth and age, less frequently to the years between.[pp.177-178]
. . . the most potent reward for parenthood I have known has been delight in my fully grown progeny. They are friends with an extra dimension of affection. True, there is also an extra dimension of resentment on the children's part, but once offspring are in their thirties, their ability to love their parents, perhaps in contemplation of the deaths to come, expands, and, if one is fortunate, grudges recede. p. 209]