siri-hustvedt

‘I think about your thighs,’ he wrote in the second letter, and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things..or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved

The recollections of an older man are different from those of a young man. What seemed vital at forty may lose its significance at seventy. We manufacture stories, after all, from the fleeting sensory material that bombards us at every instant, a fragmented series of pictures, conversations, odors, and the touch of things and people. We delete most of it to live with some semblance of order, and the reshuffling of memory goes on until we die.
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
‘I think about your thighs,’ he wrote in the second letter, 'and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things, Bill, or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.’
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
The girl in the hospital wasn’t a conversion patient. I don’t know what her diagnosis was, but she was obviously traumatized by her memories of having been hurt and violated. True stories can’t be told forward, only backward. We invent them from the vantage point of an ever-changing present and tell ourselves how they unfolded. Why one person who has been badly treated by a parent turns into a psychopath and another with similar treatment suffers from severe depression and yet another develops an inexplicable paralysis isn’t clear. What is clear is that memory is essential to who we are, and memories can be both implicit and explicit–unconscious and conscious.
—  Siri Hustvedt, The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves
Every book is for someone. The act of writing may be solitary, but it is always a reach toward another person – a single person – since every book is read alone. The writer does not know for whom she writes. The reader’s face is invisible, and yet, every sentence inscribed on a page represents a bid for contact and a hope for understanding.
—  Siri Hustvedt, from “Living, Thinking, Looking: Author’s Note”
‘I think about your thighs,’ he wrote in the second letter, 'and the warm, moist smell of your skin in the morning, and the tiny eyelash in each corner of your eye that I always notice when you first roll over to look at me. I don’t know why you are better and more beautiful than anybody else. I don’t know why your body is something I can’t stop thinking about, why those little flaws and ridges on your back are lovely to me or why the pale soft bottoms of your New Jersey feet that always wore shoes are more poignant than any other feet, but they are. I thought I would have more time to chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrains, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone. I didn’t tell you, but I imagined a lifetime as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. It would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you. I’m sure I’ve missed things, Bill, or forgotten them, because half the time I’ve been wandering around your body blind drunk with happiness. There are still places I haven’t seen.’
—  Siri Hustvedt, What I Loved
I’ve decided that mixing is a key term. It’s better than suggestion which is one-sides. It explains what people rarely talk about, because we define ourselves as isolated, closed bodies who bump up against each other but stay shut. Descartes was wrong. It isn’t: I think, therefore I am. It’s: I am because you are.
—  What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, page 91