Olga Tokarczuk Flights Quotes

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I wasn’t in a hurry. I never have to be in any particular place at any particular time. Let time watch me, not me it.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that—in spite of all the risks involved—a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Drawing is never reproducing - in order to see, you have to know how to look, and you have to know what you’re looking at.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Then you realize: night gives the world back its natural, original appearance, without suger-coating it; day is a flight of fancy, light a slight exception, an oversight, a disruption of the order. The world in fact is dark, almost black. Motionless and cold.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Move. Get going. Blessed is he who leaves.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Nothing is innocent, and nothing is insignificant, it's all a big endless puzzle.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
I believe, unswervingly, agonizingly, that it is in freaks that Being breaks through to the surface and reveals its true nature.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There is too much world, so it's better to concentrate on particulars, rather than the whole.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She’s a loner, she doesn’t care about being around people. So neither failure nor success concerns her.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There are countries out there where people speak English. But not like us - we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries, to foreign people. It's hard to imagine, but English is the real language! Oftentimes their only language. They don't have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt. How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lurics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures - even the buttons in the lift! - are in their private language. They may be understood by anuone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them - they are accessible to everyone and everything! I heard there are plans in the works to get them some little language of their own, one of those dead ones no one else is using anyway, just so that for once they can have something just for them.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
perhaps solitude has stretched out his thoughts into long strands, and accustomed him to internal dialogues.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
(...) maybe in our bodies there's a whole world of mythology? Maybe there exists some sort of reflection of the great and the small, the human body joining within itself everything with everything - stories and heroes, gods and animals, the order of plants and the harmony of minerals?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
to someone from nowhere, every movement turns into a return
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The best place for this kind of training is Holland where people, convinced of their utter innocence, do not use curtains. After dusk the windows turn into little stages on which actors act out their evenings. Sequences of images bathed in yellow, warm light are the individual acts of the same production entitled 'Life'. Dutch painting. Moving lives.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
This is why tyrants of all stripes, infernal servants, have such deep-seated hatred for the nomads - this is why they persecute the Gypsies and the Jews, and why they force all free peoples to settle, assigning the addresses that serve as our sentences. What they want is to create a frozen order, to falsify time's passage. They want for the days to repeat themselves, unchanging, they want to build a big machine where every creature will be forced to take its place and carry out false actions. Institutions and offices, stamps,newsletters, a hierarchy, and ranks, degrees, applications and rejections, passports, numbers, cards, elections results, sales and amassing points, collecting, exchanging some things for others. What they want is to pin down the world with the aid of barcodes, labelling all things, letting it be known that everything is a commodity, that this is how much it will cost you. Let this new foreign language be illegible to humans, let it be read exclusively by automatons, machines. That way by night, in their great underground shops, they can organize reading of their own barcoded poetry. Move. Get going. Blesses is he who leaves.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Fluidity, mobility, illusoriness -- these are precisely the qualities that make us civilised. Barbarians don't travel. They simply go to destinations or conduct raids.
Olga Tokarczuk
Someday he would write his memoirs, when his adventures had arranged themselves into a suitably attractive package.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
They weren’t real travelers: they left in order to return. And they were relieved when they got back, with a sense of having fulfilled an obligation.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In a certain sense this was true, and truth is always true in a certain sense;
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
the truest argument was an old one—the earth is round, let us not be too attached, then, to directions.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Anyone who has ever tried to write a novel knows what an arduous task it is, undoubtedly one of the worst ways of occupying oneself. You have to remain within yourself all the time, in solitary confinement. It's a controlled psychosis, an obsessive paranoia manacled to work completely lacking in the feather pens and bustles and Venetian masks we would ordinarily associate with it, clothed instead in a butcher's apron and rubber boots, eviscerating knife in hand. You can only barely see from that writerly cellar the feet of passers-by, hear the rapping of their heels. Every so often someone stops and bends down and glances in through the window, and then you get a glimpse of a human face, maybe even exchange a few words. But ultimately the mind is so occupied with its own act, a play staged by the self ofr the self in a hasty, makeshift cabinet of curiosities peopled by author and character, narrator and reader, the person describing and the person described, that feet, shoes, heels, and faces become, sooner or later, mere components of that act.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Postcards of landscapes, panoramas of old ruins, postcards ambitiously prepared so as to show as much as possible on that flat space, are slowly being replaced by photographs focusing on details. This is no doubt a good idea, because they relieve tired minds. There is too much world, so it’s better to concentrate on particulars, rather than the whole.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
What makes us most human is the possession of a unique and irreproducible story, that we take place over time and leave behind our traces.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She is happy, because she doesn’t have a single thought in her head, a single care, a single expectation or hope. It’s a good feeling.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Describing something is like using it – it destroys; the colours wear off, the corners lose their definition, and in the end what’s been described begins to fade, to disappear. This applies most of all to places. Enormous damage has been done by travel literature – a veritable scourge, an epidemic. Guidebooks have conclusively ruined the greater part of the planet; published in editions numbering in the millions, in many languages, they have debilitated places, pinning them down and naming them, blurring their contours. Even I, in my youthful naiveté, once took a shot at the description of places. But when I would go back to those descriptions later, when I’d try to take a deep breath and allow their intense presence to choke me up all over again, when I’d try to listen in on their murmurings, I was always in for a shock. The truth is terrible: describing is destroying.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She thought about how no one had taught us to grow old, how we didn’t know what it would be like. When we were young we thought of old age as an ailment that affected only other people. While we, for reasons never entirely clear, would remain young. We treated the old as though they were responsible for their condition somehow, as though they’d done something to earn it, like some types of diabetes or arteriosclerosis. And yet this was an ailment that affected the absolute most innocent.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Obsession is, in any case, the premonition of the existence of an individual language, an irreproducible language through the attentive use of which we will be able to uncover the truth. We must follow this premonition into regions that to others might seem absurd and mad. I don’t know why this language of truth sounds angelic to some, while to others it changes into mathematical signs or notations. But there are also those to whose whim it speaks in a very strange way.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Then you realize: night gives the world back its natural, original appearance, without sugar-coating it; day is a flight of fancy, light a slight exception, an oversight, a disruption of the order. The world in fact is dark, almost black. Motionless and cold.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Sometimes a figure carves itself out of the crowd, and then I deviate from my itinerary to follow it for a moment, start on its story. It’s a good method; I excel at it. With the years, time has become my ally, as it does for every woman—I’ve become invisible, see-through. I am able to move around like a ghost, look over people’s shoulders, listen in on their arguments and watch them sleep with their heads on their backpacks or talking to themselves, unaware of my presence, moving just their lips, forming words that I will soon pronounce for them.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
They weren’t real travelers: they left in order to return.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Everything is hypothetical in hell.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The truth is terrible: describing is destroying.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
It is widely known, after all, that real life takes place in movement.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Annushka also needs to feel someone’s gaze on her, to feel that her crying is witnessed by someone, to feel it isn’t just addressing a void.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
When we were young we thought of old age as an ailment that affected only other people.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
But children aren’t people. Children become people when they wriggle out of your arms and say “no.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
This is in essence what interested him the most: In what way do such distinct substances as the body and the soul connect in the human body and act upon one another?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
me, a homegrown detective, a private investigator of signs and coincidences. He evidently noticed my unease,
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
checks the sick soggy plaster with his finger, the wet paint leaving a mark on his skin. The stains on the walls make maps of countries he can’t recognize, he can’t name.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Change is the nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity. (P4)
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
(the face turns out to be one of the most superficial characteristics of the whole human form),
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Fluidity, mobility, illusoriness—these are precisely the qualities that make us civilized.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The last time I had brought him maps, for I had heard that nothing cures melancholy like looking at maps.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
People are always far away.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Reject everything, do not look, shut your eyes and change your gaze, awaken another one that almost everyone has, but that few use.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In reality, movement doesn’t exist. Like the turtle in Zeno’s paradox, we’re heading nowhere, if anything we’re simply wandering into the interior of a moment, and there is no end, nor any destination.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The planet’s witnessing the appearance of a new creature now, ones that have already conquered all continents and almost every ecological niche. They travel in packs and are anemophilous, covering large distances without difficulty. Now I see them from the window of the bus, these airborne anemones, whole packs of them, roaming the desert. Individual specimens cling on tight to brittle little desert plants, fluttering noisily-perhaps this is the way they communicate. The experts say these plastic bags open up a whole new chapter of earthly existence, breaking nature’s age-old habits. They’re made up of their surfaces exclusively, empty on the inside, and this historic forgoing of all content unexpectedly affords them great evolutionary benefits.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
A syndrome is small, portable, not weighed down by theory, episodic. You can explain something with it and then discard it. A disposable instrument of cognition. Mine is called Recurrent Detoxification Syndrome. Without the bells and whistles, its description boils down to the insistence of one’s consciousness on returning to certain images, or even the compulsive search for them. It is a variant of the Mean World Syndrome, which has been described fairly exhaustively in neuropsychological studies as a particular type of infection caused by the media. It’s quite a bourgeois ailment, I suppose. Patients spend long hours in front of the TV, thumbing at their remote controls through all the channels till they find the ones with the most horrendous news: wars, epidemics, and disasters. Then, fascinated by what they’re seeing, they can’t tear themselves away. The symptoms themselves
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
They are more than travel hubs: this is a special category of city-state, with a stable location, but citizens in flux.They are airport-republics...(a)n example of an extroverted system,where the constitution is spelled out on every ticket, and where one's boarding pass is one's only identification as a citizen.
Olga Tokarczuk
Constellation, not sequencing, carries truth. This is why travel psychology envisions man in equivalently weighted situations, without trying to lend his life any—even approximate—continuity. Life is made up of situations. There is, of course, a certain inclination toward the repetition of behaviors. This repetition does not, however, mean that we should succumb in our imaginations to the appearance of any sort of consistent whole.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Anyone who has ever tried to write a novel knows what an arduous task it is, undoubtedly one of the worst ways of occupying oneself. You have to remain within yourself all the time, in solitary confinement. It’s a controlled psychosis, an obsessive paranoia manacled to work, completely lacking in the feather pens and bustles and Venetian masks we would ordinarily associate with it, clothed instead in a butcher’s apron and rubber boots, eviscerating knife in hand.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
He thought of his old name. He’d almost forgotten it. He said it out loud, and it sounded as though he were being called by some stranger. He felt the familiar pressure in his head after yesterday’s drinking. Because it must be noted that Chinese people have two names: one given by their families, used to summon the child, scold and punish him, but also the basis for affectionate nicknames. But when the child goes out into the world, he or she takes another name, an outside name, a world name, a personage name. Donned like a uniform, a surplice, a prison jumpsuit, an outfit for a formal cocktail party. This outside name is useful and easy to remember. From here on out it will corroborate its person. Best if it’s worldly, universal, recognizable to everyone; down with the locality of our names. Down with Oldrzich, Sung Yin, Kazimierz, and Jyrek; down with Blażen, Liu, and Milica. Long live Michael, Judith, Anna, Jan, Samuel, and Eryk!
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
it must be noted that Chinese people have two names: one given by their families, used to summon the child, scold and punish him, but also the basis for affectionate nicknames. But when the child goes out into the world, he or she takes another name, an outside name, a world name, a personage-name. Donned like a uniform, a surplice, a prison jumpsuit, an outfit for a formal cocktail. This outside name is useful and easy to remember. From here on out it will corroborate its person. Best if it’s worldly, universal, recognizable to everyone; down with the locality of our names.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
I often dreamed of watching without being seen. Of spying. Of being the perfect observer. Like that camera obscura I once made out of a shoebox. It photographed for me a part of the world through a black closed space with a microscopic pupil through which light sneaks inside. I was training. The best place for this kind of training is Holland, where people, convinced of their utter innocence, do not use curtains. After dusk the windows turn into little stages on which actors act out their evenings. Sequences of images bathed in yellow, warm light are the individual acts of the same production titled Life.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
He said that death marks places like a dog marking its territory. Some people can sense it right away, while others simply start to feel uncomfortable after a time. Every stay in any place betrays the quiet ubiquitousness of the dead. As he said: ‘At first you always see what’s alive and vibrant. You’re delighted by nature, by the local church painted in different colours, by the smells and all that. But the longer you’re in a place, the more the charm of those things fades. You wonder who lived here before you came to this home and this room, whose things these are, who scratched the wall above the bed and what tree the sills were cut from. Whose hands built the elaborately decorated fireplace, paved the courtyard? And where are they now? In what form? Whose idea led to these paths around the pond and who had the idea of planting a willow out the window? All the houses, avenues, parks, gardens and streets are permeated with the deaths of others. Once you start feeling this, something starts to pull you elsewhere, you start to think it’s time to move on.’ He added that when we are in motion, there’s no time for such idle meditations. Which is why to people on trips everything seems new and clean, virginal, and, in some sense, immortal.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The internet itself led him from one word to the next, giving links, pointing out. When it didn’t know something it tactfully kept quiet or stubbornly showed him the same pages, ad nauseam. Then Kunicki had the impression that he had just landed at the border of the known world, at the wall, at the membrane of the heavenly firmament. There wasn’t any way to break through it with his head and look through. The internet is a fraud. It promises so much—that it will execute your every command, that it will find you what you’re looking for; execution, fulfillment, reward. But in essence that promise is a kind of bait, because you immediately fall into a trance, into hypnosis. The paths quickly diverge, double and multiply, and you go down them, still chasing an aim that will now get blurry and undergo some transformations. You lose the ground beneath your feet, the place where you started from just gets forgotten, and your aim finally vanishes from sight, disappears in the passage of more and more pages, businesses that always promise more than they can give, shamelessly pretending that under the flat plane of the screen there is some cosmos. But nothing could be more deceptive, dear Kunicki. What are you, Kunicki, looking for? What are you aiming at? You feel like spreading out your arms and plunging into it, into that abyss, but there is nothing more deceptive: the landscape turns out to be a wallpaper, you can’t go any farther.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Older ladies dressed like hippies would maintain that they knew what they were doing.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
his letters came in light blue envelopes with stamps the color of whole-wheat bread.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
He also gave her the name of his illness, but in Polish, so she had no idea what it was, because she just didn’t know the Polish name for it. “Do you remember our promise?” he wrote.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Dear brothers, we give you the right to choose your death.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Within two years they’d realized that Sweden was too close, that the Baltic Sea brought in certain fluids, nostalgias, miasmas, a kind of unpleasant air.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In her family they used to say that you always had to sit for a minute before heading off on any kind of trip—an old provincial Polish habit—
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In the last few years she has realized that all you have to do to become invisible is be a woman of a certain age, without any outstanding features: it’s automatic.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
That life is not for me. Clearly I did not inherit whatever gene it is that makes it so that when you linger in a place you start to put down roots. I’ve tried, a number of times, but my roots have always been shallow; the littlest breeze could always blow me right over. I don’t know how to germinate, I’m simply not in possession of that vegetable capacity. I can’t extract nutrition from the ground, I am the anti-Antaeus. My energy derives from movement—from the shuddering of buses, the rumble of planes, trains’ and ferries’ rocking.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
It might appear that we are actors in a great bodily theater, as though those wars we wage were merely civil wars. This-what other word to use?-lives, has a million traits and qualities, so that everything is contained within it, and there is nothing that might lie outside of it, all death is part of life, and in some sense there is no death. There are no errors. There are no guilty parties and no innocents, either, no merits, no sins, no good or evil; whoever thought up those notions led humankind astray.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In the last few years she had realized that all you have to do to become invisible is be a woman of a certain age, without any outstanding features: it’s automatic. Not only invisible to men, but also to women, who no longer treat her as competition in anything. It is a new and surprising sensation, how people’s eyes just sort of float right over her face, her cheeks and her nose, not even skimming the surface. They look straight through her, no doubt looking past her at ads and landscapes and schedules. Yes, yes, all signs point to her having become invisible, though now she thinks, too, of all the opportunities that this invisibility might afford – she simply has to learn how she can take them. For example, if something crazy were to happen, nobody on the scene would even remember her having been there, or if they did all they’d say would be, ‘some woman’, or ‘somebody else was over there…’ Men are more ruthless here than women, who sometimes still paid her compliments on things like earrings, if she wore them, while men don’t even try to hide it, never looking at her longer than a second. Just occasionally some child would fixate on her for some unknown reason, making a meticulous and dispassionate examination of her face until finally turning away, towards the future.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There is a certain well-known syndrome named after Stendhal in which one arrives in a place known from literature or art and experiences it so intensely that one grows weak or faints.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There are two points of view in the world: the frog’s perspective and bird’s-eye view. Any point in between just leads to chaos.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Infants and old people look the same.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
МОБИЛЬНОСТЬ СТАНОВИТСЯ РЕАЛЬНОСTЮ
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There is only one thing we cannot have—eternal life, and, by God, whence did that concept come into our heads, that idea of being immortal?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Learning intuitively, we will immediately notice the deterministic necessity of the existence of all things. Everything that is necessary cannot be otherwise.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In essence, one becomes what one participates in. In other words, I am what I look at.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
His only regret is that the little camera can’t take a picture of itself.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
he sees immortal blackberry bushes, darkened by the sun, clinging to the rocks with their long shoots.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
There’s a couple—she is nestled up into his chest, eyes closed, like she’s trying to top off an interrupted night’s sleep.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Whenever I set off on any sort of journey I fall off the radar. No one knows where I am.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Am I like that lost day when you fly east, and that regained night that comes from going west?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Or to a different law that hasn’t been demonstrated and that we haven’t even thought of yet that says that you can doubly not exist in the same place?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
female friends over the age of forty who have left their boring husbands in search of some excitement.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
أدركتُ أن الشئ المتحرك -رغم كل المخاطر- يظلّ دائمًا أفضل من الشئ المستكين؛ أن التغير يظل دائمًا أنبل من الديمومة؛ أن الساكن سيتفكك ويتحلّل، يتحول إلى تراب، بينما المتحرك قادرٌ على البقاء إلى أبد الآبدين.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
her hands are hennaed in a complex design made less legible by each passing day.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
But nomads and merchants, as they set off on journeys, had to think up a different type of time for themselves, one that would better respond to the needs of their travels.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Their clothes have become transparent, so she watches them wed entropy. Our bodies are poor, dirty, grist—without exception—for the mill.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Although there have been instances of people managing to save the whales. In response to the great and dedicated efforts of dozens of volunteers, these whales would take deep breaths and head back into the open sea. Their famous fountains could be seen springing joyfully up toward the sky, and then they would dive down into the depths of the ocean. The crowd would break into applause. • • • A few weeks later they’d be caught off the coast of Japan, and their gentle, pretty bodies would be turned into dog food.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Radio stations broadcast without interruption the music of Chopin, since it is thought that this favors concentration and serious reflection.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She squeezes my shoulder and leaves, disappearing between shelves labeled “Drama” and “Action.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Simply by the eternal laws of coincidence the key to room number nine gets lost most often by distracted travelers.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
That was a new generation of literature—text without spine, fleeting copy, something like the Kleenex that took the helm after the abdication of cloth handkerchiefs.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
It has to do instead with the presentiment men have at every moment of their lives, a foreboding adamantly hushed and hidden—that left to their own devices, in the dull, quiet company of passing time, they would atrophy faster. As though they’d been designed for a brief spurt of intensity, a high-stakes race, a triumph and, immediately afterward, exhaustion
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She often reflected on how her life had turned out, and she was coming to the conclusion that the truth was simple: men needed women more than women needed men.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In fact, thought Karen, women could get along perfectly fine without men altogether.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Philosophical concepts—those were what kept him up at night; they belonged to him.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Contuition,” repeated the professor, his irritation painstakingly concealed, “is, as I said, a variety of insight that spontaneously reveals the presence of some larger-than-human strength, some unity above heterogeneity.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
It did take Odysseus twenty years.” “That doesn’t matter,” the professor replied merrily. “In today’s day and age you could do it in two weeks.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Iacchus, Iacchus,
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Оповідуванню властива якась своєрідна млявість, над якою годі запанувати. Оповідь домагається таких, як я - невпевнених у собі, нерішучих, таких, кого легко обвести круг пальця. Наївних.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
As long as people don’t find out how awful and abominable man can be to fellow man, their innocence will be left intact.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Many times Annushka had tried to barter with anyone she could, with God, with the Virgin, with Saint Parascheva, with the whole iconostasis, even with the closer, vaguer realm of fate.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Clambering up onto the embankment, I could see an undulating ribbon, a road that kept flowing outside of the frame, outside of the world. If you were lucky, you might catch sight of a boat there, one of those great flat boats gliding over the river in either direction, oblivious to the shores, to the trees, to the people who stand on the embankment, unreliable landmarks, perhaps, not worth remarking, just an audience to the boats’ own motion, so full of grace. I dreamed of working on a boat like that when I grew up—or even better, of becoming one of those boats.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
One discovers, and names. Conquers and civilizes.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
The worst are the Americans—most of them are overweight.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Clearly I did not inherit whatever gene it is that makes it so that when you linger in a place you start to put down roots.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
type of time for themselves, one that would better respond to the needs of their travels. That time is linear time, more practical because it was able to measure progress toward a goal or destination, rises in percentages. Every moment is unique; no moment can ever be repeated. This idea favors risk-taking, living life to the fullest, seizing the day. And yet the innovation is a profoundly bitter one: when change over time is irreversible, loss and mourning become daily things. This is why you’ll never hear them utter words like “futile” or “empty.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
I don’t collect anything.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
We have seen, ladies and gentlemen, how selfhood has grown and gained a foothold, become increasingly distinct and affecting. Previously barely marked, prone to being blurred, subjugated to the collective. Imprisoned in the stays of roles, conventions, flattened in the press of traditions, subjugated to demands. Now it swells and annexes the world. ‘Once the gods were external, unavailable, from another world, and their apparent emissaries were angels and demons. But the human ego burst forth and swept the gods up and inside, furnished them a place somewhere between the hippocampus and the brain stem, between the pineal gland and Broca’s area. Only in this way can the gods survive – in the dark, quiet nooks of the human body, in the crevices of the brain, in the empty space between the synapses. This fascinating phenomenon is beginning to be studied by the fledgling discipline of travel psychotheology. ‘This growing process is more and more powerful – influencing reality is equally what we have invented and what we have not. Who else moves in the real? We know people who travel to Morocco through Bertolucci’s film, to Dublin through Joyce, to Tibet through a film about the Dalai Lama. ‘There is a certain well-known syndrome named after Stendhal in which one arrives in a place known from literature or art and experiences it so intensely that one grows weak or faints. There are those who boast they have discovered places totally unknown, and then we envy them for experiencing the truest reality even very fleetingly before that place, like all the rest, is absorbed by our minds. ‘Which is why we must ask, once more, insistently, the same question: where are they going, to what countries, to what places? Other countries have become an external complex, a knot of significations that a good topographical psychologist can unravel just like that, interpret on the spot.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
She goes, for example, to Chistye Prudy, changes from Sokolnicheskaya to Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya, and goes to Medvedkovo and then back to the other side of the city.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
At the bridge the wind hits both of them like a kind of lady boxer.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
We speak of grown-ups being “tall,” but a child is “long.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
But I know that writing on bags is something people do only out of anxiety and uncertainty. Neither defeat nor the greatest success is conducive to writing.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
A Peloponnesian strait is what the earth gives to the water, and Crete what the water gives to the earth.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
A mind that seemed to be aware of everything, even things it didn’t really understand, but that moved fast—a quick, intelligent electric impulse without limits, linking everything with everything, convinced that all of it together must mean something, even if we couldn’t yet know what.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In their heads they perform mute examinations of conscience: Do they have everything, passport, ticket, and papers, have they exchanged money. And where is it they’re going. And what for.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Don’t they have men child psychologists in this city? Or have women established some kind of monopoly on children?
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Fryderyk Chopin had always said he wanted to be buried in his native land,
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
What is the point of a law that applies only to some? The law should be observed for everyone without exception, wherever our ships and our money are able to take us.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Soon, excited by the smells of the mainland, with all their incredibly important tasks and obligations, they would disappear onto the little streets by the waterfront, ebbing away like the ninth wave that reaches furthest and soaks into the ground and never returns to sea.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Additional senses will appear: the feeling of lack, the taste of absence, the ability for particular precognition. Knowing what won’t happen. Being able to smell what doesn’t exist.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
On the walls hung black-and-white portraits of men—it was only in the physics department that you could find the single female face in the whole school, Madame Maria Skłodowska Curie’s, the sole indication of the equality of the sexes. These
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
He insisted that the highest sort of reason is intuitive, not logical. Learning intuitively, we will immediately notice the deterministic necessity of the existence of all things. Everything that is necessary cannot be otherwise. When we realize this, we will experience great relief and purification. We will no longer be unsettled by the loss of our belongings, by the passage of time, by aging or death. In this way we will gain control over our affects and attain some peace of mind. We must simply remember the primitive desire to judge what is good and what is bad, just as civilized man must remember primitive drives- revenge, greed, possessiveness. God, which is to say nature, is neither good nor bad; it's an ill used intellect that stains our emotions. Philip believed that all our knowledge of nature is in reality knowledge of God. This is what frees us from sorrow, the despair, the envy and anxiety that are our hell.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Just when estuaries started to blend into the open waters of the seas, just when he’d enlist for a ship heading home, suddenly some new opportunity would arise, more often than not in the exact opposite direction, and if he did hesitate for a moment, he would usually come to the conclusion that the truest argument was an old one—the earth is round, let us not be too attached, then, to directions. And this was understandable—to someone from nowhere, every movement turns into a return, since nothing exerts such a draw as emptiness.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Just when estuaries started to blend into the open waters of the seas, just when he’d enlist for a ship heading home, suddenly some new opportunity would arise, more often than not in the exact opposite direction, and if he did hesitate for a moment, he would usually come to the conclusion that the truest argument was an old one—the earth is round, let us not be too attached, then, to directions. And this was understandable—to someone from nowhere, every movement turns into a return, since nothing exerts such a draw as emptiness. During those years he worked under the flags of Panama,
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
From then on, the river was like a needle inserted into my formerly safe and stable surroundings, the landscape composed of the park, the greenhouses with their vegetables that grew in sad little rows, and the sidewalk with its concrete slabs where we would go to play hopscotch. This needle went all the way through, marking a vertical third dimension; so pierced, the landscape of my childhood world turned out to be nothing more than a toy made of rubber from which all the air was escaping, with a hiss.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
a complex hierarchy of cells for concubines opens up: the least desirable women are transferred upward, as though their bodies, forgotten by men, were undergoing a mysterious process of angelification;
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Думаю, нас таких много. Исчезнувших, отсутствующих. Вдруг возникающих в зале прилета и начинающих существовать в тот момент, когда пограничник ставит в паспорт штамп или любезный портье вручает ключ от номера.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
Fluidity, mobility, illusoriness-these are precisely the qualities that make us civilized. Barbarians don't travel. They simply go to destinations or conduct raids.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
After the wife died, he made a list of places that had the same name as her: Ruth. He found quite a few of them, not only towns, but also streams, little settlements, hills – even an island. He said he was doing it for her sake, and besides, it gave him strength to see that in some indefinable way she still existed in the world, even if only in name. And that furthermore, whenever he would stand at the foot of a hill called Ruth, he would get the sense she hadn’t died at all, that she was right there, just differently. (P309)
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
In the beginning, long ago, he fled his country, one of those bland, flat communist lands, and as a young immigrant got hired to work on a whaling ship. At that time, he had only a few English words under his belt, intermittent pinpoints between “yes” and “no,” just exactly enough to answer the simple grunts the guys on the ship would exchange among themselves.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)
we discussed the function of defense mechanisms and found that we were humbled by the power of that portion of our psyche, we began to understand that if it weren’t for rationalization, sublimation, denial—all the little tricks we let ourselves perform—if instead we simply saw the world as it was, with nothing to protect us, honestly and courageously, it would break our hearts.
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights)