Katherine Anne Porter quotes

  • Civilization, let me tell you what it is. First the soldier, then the merchant, then the priest, then the lawyer. The merchant hires the soldier and priest to conquer the country for him. First the soldier, he is a murderer; then the priest, he is a liar; then the merchant, he is a thief; and they all bring in the lawyer to make their laws and defend their deeds, and there you have your civilization!
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Country #Liars #Law

  • Childhood is the fiery furnace in which we are melted down to essentials and that essential shaped for good.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Children #Childhood #Essentials

  • The past is never where you think you left it.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Past #Thinking

  • Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Life #Artist #Giving

  • You waste life when you waste good food.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Waste #Good Food

  • A story is like something you wind out of yourself. Like a spider, it is a web you weave, and you love your story like a child.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Children #Wind #Spiders

  • The real sin against life is to abuse and destroy beauty, even one's own even more, one's own, for that has been put in our care and we are responsible for its well-being.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Beauty #Real #Abuse

  • If I didn't know the ending of a story, I wouldn't begin. I always write my last lines, my last paragraph first, and then I go back and work towards it. I know where I'm going. I know what my goal is. And how I get there is God's grace.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #Goal #Grace

  • I was right not to be afraid of any thief but myself, who will end by leaving me nothing.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Self #Leaving #Thieves

  • Miracles are instantaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves, usually at unlikely moments and to those who least expect them.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Angel #Character #Miracle

  • The greatest art comes out of warmth and conviction and deep feeling, but then, very few people, even geniuses, have all that.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Art #People #Feelings

  • Death cancels our engagements, but it does not affect the consequences of our acts in life.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Doe #Engagement #Consequence

  • The nose is surely one of the most impressionable, if not positively erotic, of all our unruly members.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Noses #Faces #Unruly

  • Life is a game of piquet played in a bramble bush in very bad weather ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Games #Weather #Life Is

  • We have the bad habit, some of us, of looking back to a time - almost any time will do - when society was stable and orderly, family ties stronger and deeper, love more lasting and faithful, and so on. Let me be your Cassandra prophesying after the fact, and a long study of the documents in the case: it was never true, that is, no truer than it is now.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Family #Past #Ties

  • Freedom, remember, is not the same as liberty.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Freedom #Liberty #Remember

  • advance money is really a delusion, that is to say, I get no more until it is paid out in sales, but still, living from hand to mouth and day to day as I do, a nickel in the hand is more useful than the same nickel next year. What do I know about next year? I've never been there. I don't know any one who has.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Future #Hands #Years

  • There are only a few bits of absolute knowledge in the world, people can learn only one or two fundamental facts about each other, the rest is decoration and prejudice.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Knowledge #Two #People

  • we do know now, all of us, that the most appalling cruelties are committed by apparently virtuous governments in expectation of a great good to come, never learning that the evil done now is the sure destroyer of the expected good.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Government #Evil #Expectations

  • I think joy is just as instructive as pain, and I like it better. I never meant to suffer any more than I could help; my nature was meant for happiness, a daylight art and living.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Art #Pain #Thinking

  • First impressions are often signals from the deep that we should credit oftener than we do ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #First Impression #Credit #Firsts

  • The very thing about people that makes the human race interesting is also the thing that makes it so hard to get anything done without the most horrible confusions: no two people think exactly the same way about anything ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Thinking #Race #Two

  • Physical infidelity is the signal, the notice given, that all fidelities are undermined.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Infidelity #Fidelity #Signals

  • I have not much interest in anyone's personal history after the tenth year, not even my own. Whatever one was going to be was all prepared before that.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Years #Biographies #Interest

  • All the old houses that I knew when I was a child were full of books, bought generation after generation by members of the family. Nobody told you to read this or not to read that.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Children #Book #House

  • Even St. Teresa said, "I can pray better when I'm comfortable," and she refused to wear her haircloth shirt or starve herself. I don't think living in cellars and starving is better for an artist than it is for anybody else.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Artist #Thinking #Praying

  • I look upon literature as an art, and I believe that if you misuse it or abuse it, it will leave you. It is not a thing that you can nail down and use as you want. You have to let it use you, too.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Art #Believe #Abuse

  • I think I've only spent about ten percent of my energies on writing. The other ninety percent went to keeping my head above water.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #Thinking #Water

  • But my belief is growing that our political and social evils are remediable, if only all of us who want a change for the better just get up and work for it, all the time, with as much knowledge and intelligence as we can muster for it. Half the wrongs of human life exist because of the inertia of people who simply will not use their energies in fighting for what they believe in. And finally the wrongs roll up into world catastrophes and millions of deaths and a terrible set-back for all mankind ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Believe #Fighting #People

  • In the arts, you simply cannot secure your bread and your freedom of action too. You cannot be a hostile critic of society and expect society to feed you regularly.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Art #Bread #Action

  • Life comes first, an art not rooted in human experience is not worth a damn, but different kinds of minds have different kinds of experience, and all I ask of any man is validity; and there should be place for every type and kind of mind.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Art #Men #Mind

  • Perhaps the habit which distinguishes civilized people from others is that of discussion, exchange of opinion and ideas, the ability to differ without quarrelling, to say what you have to say civilly and then to listen civilly to another speaker.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Ideas #People #Opinion

  • It is as hard to find a neutral critic as it is a neutral country in time of war. I suppose if a critic were neutral, he wouldn't trouble to write anything.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Country #War #Writing

  • We are born knowing death.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Knowing #Born

  • Education must be taken out of the hands of rich illiterates, third rate politicians, and put where it belongs: in the care of scholars. At present the whole University system is rotten to the core, and an appalling waste of time, energy and money ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Education #Taken #Hands

  • All life worth living is difficult, nobody promised us happiness; it is not a commodity you have earned, or shall ever earn. It is a by-product of brave living, and it never comes in the form we expect, or at the season we hoped for, or as the result of our planning for it ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Brave #Planning #Commodity

  • There have been many times when I have been so entirely sickened of life it was very hard to work to keep on, a half dozen times I have been tempted to suicide, but I am glad I did not give way, for I have always felt that the last half of my life would somehow atone for the first half, and I still think it may ... It is not possible to live in this world without suffering unless one is a born stone. But it is also possible to have a great deal of happiness in spite of the suffering.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Suicide #Thinking #Giving

  • Be respectful of words. They mean something.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Mean #Respectful #Be Respectful

  • I will never again attempt to tell any young person what to do - the really gifted don't need advice and the others can't take it.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Advice #Needs #Young

  • I started out with nothing in the world but a kind of passion, a driving desire. I don't know where it came from, and I don't know why - or why I have been so stubborn about it that nothing could deflect me. But this thing between me and my writing is the strongest bond I have ever had - stronger than any bond or any engagement with any human being or with any other work I've ever done.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Passion #Writing #Desire

  • Two-thirds of my energies go in trying to save one-third for work.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Two #Trying #Energy

  • Writing does not exclude the full life; it demands it.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #Doe #Demand

  • I work whenever I'm let.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

  • I always write a story in one sitting.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #Sitting #Stories

  • [On Gertrude Stein's Making of Americans:] I doubt if all the people who should read it will read it for a great while yet, for it is in such a limited edition, and reading it is anyhow a sort of permanent occupation.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Reading #People #Doubt

  • No man can be explained by his personal history, least of all a poet.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Men #Poet

  • We have this mistaken notion that everybody in the world has to go to college. The colleges are already crowded with people who never in this world will absorb more than a rudimentary education, and we dilute everything to meet this low standard.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #College #People #World

  • You are right, none of us live enough, and sometimes I think it is because we mistake hurrah and hullabaloo for experience, we get a sock in the eye and think it is a broken heart ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Mistake #Heart #Eye

  • If you are required to kill someone today, on the promise of a political leader that someone else shall live in peace tomorrow, believe me, you are not only a double murderer, you are a suicide, too.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Suicide #Believe #Leader

  • words can never get at the truth.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Truth

  • who wants to read about success? It is the early struggle which makes a good story.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Success #Struggle #Stories

  • Each generation must get on the same old merry-go-round, only disguised in a fresh coat of paint.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Generations #Coats #Paint

  • There is no such thing as an exact synonym and no such thing as an unmixed motive.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Motivation #Motive #Synonym

  • One little human truth is that opinionated people don't hold much with other people's opinions, and it is a great pleasure to some of them to be able to ascribe incurable defects, such as belonging to a certain sex; or base motives, or lack of understanding, to anyone whose views they disagree with.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Sex #Views #People

  • We pity people too often for the wrong reasons.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #People #Pity #Reason

  • all working, practical political systems, even those professing to originate in moral grandeur, are based upon and operate by contempt of human life and the individual fate ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Fate #Political #Politics

  • Nothing is mine, I have only nothing but it is enough, it is beautiful and it is all mine. Do I even walk about in my own skin or is it something I have borrowed to spare my modesty?
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Beautiful #Skins #Modesty

  • I always knew one thing, that life is made bearable and possible and liveable by the relations of one human being to another, the individual love and gentleness between persons, or in any case, the unbreakable bond that grows and fastens lives together in all sorts of mysterious ways ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Together #Unbreakable #Way

  • Grant that the idea of God is the most splendid single act of the creative human imagination, and that all his multiple faces and attributes correspond to some need and satisfy some deep desire in mankind; still, for the Inquirers, it is impossible not to conclude that this mystical concept has been harnessed rudely to machinery of the most mundane sort, and has been made to serve the ends of an organization which, ruling under divine guidance, has ruled very little better, and in some respects, worse, than certain rather mediocre but frankly manmade systems of government.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Organization #Ideas #Government

  • Untrained minds have always been a nuisance to the military police of orthodoxy. God-intoxicated mystics and untidy saints with only a white blaze of divine love where their minds should have been, are perpetually creating almost as much disorder within the law as outside it.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Military #Law #White

  • Lovemaking surely must be, for human beings at our present state of development, one of the more private enterprises. Who would want a witness to that entire self-abandonment and helplessness?
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Self #Development #Want

  • I've been called a stylist until I really could tear my hair out. And I simply don't believe in style. The style is you.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Believe #Hair #Style

  • I love to praise what I love, and I won't for a minute believe that love is blind -- indeed, it gives clearness without sharpness, and surely that is the best light in which to look at anything.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Believe #Love Is #Light

  • A novel is really like a symphony where instrument after instrument has to come in at its own time, and no other.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Symphony #Instruments #Novel

  • You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Style

  • Death is loneliness in its purest form ...
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Loneliness #Form

  • And yet, we know how fatal the pursuit of liveliness may be: it may result in ... tiresome acrobatics. ... Flashy effects distract the mind. They destroy their persuasiveness; you would not believe a man was very intent on ploughing a furrow if he carried a hoop with him and jumped through it at every other step. ... When virtuosity gets the upper hand of your theme, or is better than your idea, it is time to quit.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Believe #Men #Ideas

  • Those who give the orders are not the ones to die The people who are doing the work and the fighting and the dying, and those who are doing the talking, are not all the same people.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #War #Fighting #Order

  • There are so many things that we are capable of, that we could be or do. The potentialities are so great that we never, any of us, are more than one-fourth fulfilled.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Action #Fulfilled #Fourth

  • Writing, in any sense that matters, cannot be taught. It can only be learned by each separate one of us in his own way, by the use of his own powers of imagination and perception, the ability to learn the lessons he has set for himself.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #Imagination #Perception

  • Most people won't realise that writing is a craft. You have to take your apprenticeship in it like anything else.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Writing #People #Crafts

  • Every young artist has to do it one way, his [or her] way, and the hell with patterns. Remember who you are and where you are and what you are doing.... And never take advice, including this.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Artist #Creative #Advice

  • Love must be learned and learned again; There is no end.
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #Love #Ends

  • I want to live in a world capital or the howling wilderness,
    -- Katherine Anne Porter

    #World #Want #Wilderness