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Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (65 items)

  • There are no original ideas. There are only original people.

  • Beware of people carrying ideas. Beware of ideas carrying people.

  • The past is a sorry country.

  • Violence is its own anesthetist. The numbness it induces feels very much like calm.

  • There is something worse than dying, and that is humiliation — at least so it seemed to me ...

  • To sleep is an act of faith.

  • My mother was my first jealous lover ...

  • I love medieval cities; they do not clamor for attention; they possess their souls — their riches — in quiet; formal, courteous, they reveal themselves slowly, stone by stone, garden by garden; hidden treasures wait calmly to be loved and yield to introspective wandering.

  • ... there are no inanimate objects ...

  • ... desire creates its own object.

  • All is waiting and all is work; all is change and all is permanence.

  • ... fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Talking Dirty," in Ms. ()
  • Women's propensity to share confidences is universal. We confirm our reality by sharing.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Secrets Women Tell Each Other," in McCall's ()
  • ... to have a crisis, and act upon it, is one thing. To dwell in perpetual crisis is another.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Secrets Women Tell Each Other," in McCall's ()
  • Kindness and intelligence don't always deliver us from the pitfalls and traps: there are always failures of love, of will, of imagination. There is no way to take the danger out of human relationships.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Secrets Women Tell Each Other," in McCall's ()
  • To live exhilaratingly in and for the moment is deadly serious work, fun of the most exhausting sort.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Oh, How We Worshiped the Gods of the Fifties!" Off Center ()
  • I made the mistake of thinking that if you add up the past, you sum up the future; I forgot how frequently life astonishes us.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Consciousness-Raising: Truth and Consequences," Off Center ()
  • ... the most painful moral struggles are not those between good and evil, but between the good and the lesser good.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Moral Ambiguity," Off Center ()
  • [On Werner Erhard, founder of est:] If I wanted a new belief system, I'd choose to believe in God — He's been in business longer than Werner, and He has better music.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Invasion of the Mind-Stealers," Off Center ()
  • One feels a quickening of the pulse when one crosses a border.

  • Italians do not regard food as merely fuel. They regard it as medicine for the soul, one of life's abiding pleasures.

  • Weather creates character.

  • Children hold us hostage; they represent our commitment to the future.

  • Insanity is a lack of proportion.

  • In memory Venice is always magic.

  • Italians' relationship to food is loving, informal, and gay ...

  • The past can be tamed and controlled.

  • There are places one comes home to that one has never been to ...

  • Italy offers one the most priceless of all one's possessions — one's own soul.

  • Rome is all things high and low. It is like God, it accommodates so much.

  • Belief sometimes precedes understanding; faith sometimes precedes scientific evidence.

  • Unhappiness makes beggars or accountants of us all.

  • If there is one lesson Rome teaches, it is that matter is good; in Rome the holy and the homely rise and converge.

  • One can be tired of Rome after three weeks and feel one has exhausted it; after three months one feels that one has not even scratched the surface of Rome; and after six months one wishes never to leave it.

  • Every house we have lived in, every building to which our hands have lent their work, belongs to us by virtue of love or of regret.

  • Facts mean nothing to wounded feelings ...

  • ... the gardens of our childhood are all beautiful.

  • ... my love of water ... is mingled with and almost indistinguishable from a fear of water (I can float in a vertical position — I enter a fugue state — but I cannot bear to bury my face in water).

  • ... the islands of Italy combine all the elements — fire, water, earth, and air — and that is irresistible.

  • Silence is the garment of light.

  • The best work is a fusion of love and praise.

  • ... belief in the absence of illusions is itself an illusion ...

  • In the face of evil, detachment is a dubious virtue.

  • ... truth ... is the first casualty of tyranny.

  • Persecution always acts as a jell for members of cults; it proves to them, in the absence of history, liturgy, tradition, and doctrine, that they are God's chosen.

  • Sometimes I think that just not thinking of oneself is a form of prayer ...

  • I love cloisters, which are the architectural equivalent of a theological concept: perfect freedom within set boundaries.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "The Passionate Mind," in Mirabella ()
  • ... it's perfectly possible to hate one's fat and to love one's body at the same time.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Food, Flesh, and Fashion," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • I don't think I know a single woman who knows what she looks like.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Food, Flesh, and Fashion," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • ... illness is regarded as a crime, and crime is regarded as illness ...

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Food, Flesh, and Fashion," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • How do you think it would feel to be obliged to ask for a seat-belt extender on an airplane? For the unfashionably bulgy, life is a series of small humiliations.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Food, Flesh, and Fashion," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Food is my drug of choice.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Food, Flesh, and Fashion," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Every generation reinvents the wheel — and in the process it often adds to rather than subtracts from a woman's burdens.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Home Economics," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • It's the perpetually unfinished quality of housework that makes it oppressive — it never ends, like bad psychoanalysis, or a dream interrupted. It is paradoxically true that it is exactly this daily re-creation of the world that lends housekeeping its nobility and romance.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Home Economics," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • What you desire you call into being ...

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Loot and Lists and Lust (and Things)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Collecting is like sex; satisfaction renews and creates new appetites.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Loot and Lists and Lust (and Things)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Great unhappiness is incompatible with the belief that it will ever end.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Men and God(s)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • All our loves are contained in all our other loves.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Men and God(s)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Love is the only game that is not called on account of darkness.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Men and God(s)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Grief does not end and love does not die and nothing fills its graven place. With grace, pain is transmuted into the gold of wisdom and compassion and the lesser coin of muted sadness and resignation; but something leaden of it remains, to become the kernel arond which more pain accretes (a black pearl): one pain becomes every other pain ... unless one strips away, one by one, the layers of pain to get to the heart of the pain — and this causes more pain, pain so intense as to feel like evisceration.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Men and God(s)," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • The dream police will not let me have sexual fantasies.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Notes From Abroad," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • The real reason women fall in love abroad is not that they are free of domestic inhibitions but that they translate their love of stone and place into love of flesh. ... Is this true?

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Notes From Abroad," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Porches are America's lost rooms.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Rooms: Signs and Symbols," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • To surrender one's vulnerable body to water has always seemed to me a limpid act of will that has no counterpart or equal, unless it is sex.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Swimming Lessons," An Accidental Autobiography ()
  • Nothing is more democratic, less judgmental, than water. Water doesn't care whether flesh is withered or fresh; it caresses aged flesh and firm flesh with equal love.

    • Barbara Grizzuti Harrison,
    • "Swimming Lessons," An Accidental Autobiography ()

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, U.S. writer, journalist

(1934 - 2002)