commonplacing

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P12

Memory, even in the rest of us, is a shifting, fading, partial thing, a new that doesn’t catch all the fish by any means and sometimes catches butterflies that don’t exist.

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P13-14

Fairy tales are about trouble, about getting into it and out of it, and trouble seems to be a necessary stage on the route to becoming…Difficulty is always a school, though learning is optional.

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P30

They [places] give us continuity, something to return to, and offer a familiarity that allows some portion of our own lives to remain connected and coherent. They give us an expansive scale in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness. And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren’t so deeply entrenched and we can image other stories, other selves, or just drink up the quiet and respite.

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P82

Cooking is likewise a mode of transformation and a pleasure to which I often repair, and it sometimes seems so pleasurable because it is the opposite of writing; it’s immediate and unreproduceable and then it’s complete and eaten and over.

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P107

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged…

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P109

If numbness contracts the boundaries of the self, empathy expands it.

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P205

We divide up the world as though there were real borders rather than delicately shaded degrees between the crazy and the sane, the good and the destructive, and I think of cannibalism as also a matter of degree. To what extent, in which ways, are you a cannibal, and how careful are you about who you consume?