Happy birthday, Djuna Barnes! Here are some quotes from her writing.
“‘An image is a stop the mind makes between uncertainties.'”
“‘So love, when it has gone, taking time with it, leaves a memory of its weight.'”
“Love becomes the deposit of the heart, analogous in all degrees to the ‘findings’ in a tomb. As in one will be charted the taken place of the body, the raiment, the utensils necessary to its other life, so in the heart of the lover will be traced, as an indelible shadow, that which he loves.”
“‘None of us suffers as much as we should, or loves as much as we say. Love is the first lie; wisdom the last.'”
“We are but skin about a wind, with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pastures in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death.”
“A strong sense of identity gives man an idea he can do no wrong; too little accomplishes the same.”
“The night is a skin pulled over the head of day that the day may be in torment.”
“Morbid? You make me laugh. This life I write and draw and portray is life as it is, and therefore you call it morbid. Look at my life. Look at the life around me. Where is this beauty that I am supposed to miss? The nice episodes that others depict? Is not everything morbid? I mean the life of people stripped of their masks. Where are the relieving features? Often I sit down to work at my drawing board, at my typewriter. All of a sudden my joy is gone. I feel tired of it all because, I think, ‘What’s the use?’ Today we are, tomorrow dead. We are born and don’t know why. We live and suffer and strive, envious or envied. We love, we hate, we work, we admire, we despise. Why? And we die, and no one will ever know that we have been born.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.