Basho's Haiku
Elizabeth Costello

Outline Quotes

I thought I'd share some of the lines and phrases I underlined in Rachel Cusk's Outline:

among other things a marriage is a system of belief, a story, and though it manifests itself in things that are real enough, the impulse that drives it is ultimately mysterious.

From a passage describing her infant children crying when they dropped an object from their high chair, yet constantly repeating the action:

The memory of suffering had no effect whatever on what they elected to do: on the contrary, it compelled them to repeat it, for the suffering was the magic that caused the object to come back and allowed the delight in dropping it to become possible again.

From one character describing a walk to see the Parthenon, "airing the shaded crevices of his being."

The same character drawing a maxim "What Ryan had learned from this is that your failures keep returning to you, while your successes are something you always have to convince yourself of."

Another male character remarking on the same subject "It seems success takes you away from what you know, he said, while failure condemns you to it."

This character says of marriage--"I supposed it's a bit like marriage, he said.  You build a whole structure on a period of intensity that's never repeated.  It's the basis of your faith and sometimes you doubt it, but you never renounce it because too much of your life stands on that ground."

"I said that I thought most of us didn't know how truly good or truly bad we were, and most of us would never be sufficiently tested to find out."

"for people are at their least aware of others when demonstrating their own power over them."

About hate:

when peace becomes war, when love turns to hatred, something is born into the world, a force of pure mortality.  If love is what is held to make us immortal, hatred is the reverse.  And what is astonishing is how much detail it gathers to itself, so that nothing remains untouched by it.

One character consoling the other for what she thought of as failures in her parenting, "family life was bittersweet no matter what you did."

"Writer's need to hide in bourgeois life like ticks need to hide in an animal's fur: the deeper they're buried the better."

One character commenting on his divorce, "the war we were embroiled in . . . was something far more evil, something that had destruction, annihilation, non-existence as its ambition."

The same character describing a delightful experience with his children, "for those were moments so intense that in a way we will be living them always, while other things are completely forgotten.  Yet there is no particular story attached to them."

Discussing one female character who feels trapped, "All she wishes is for her life to be integrated, to be one thing, rather than an eternal series of oppositions that confound her whichever way she looks."

The protagonist at one time says she is trying to live by "the virtues of passivity, and of living a life as unmarked by self-will as possible."


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