Michael Ondaatje quotes

  • She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Shapes #Clarity #Reason

  • She is a woman of honour and smartness whose wild leaves out luck, always taking risks, and there is something in her brow now, that only she can recognize in a mirror. Ideal and idealistic in that shiny dark hair! People fall in love with her. She is a woman I don’t know well enough to hold in my wing, if writers have wings, to harbour for the rest of my life.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Falling In Love #Dark #Mirrors

  • She entered the story knowing she would emerge from it feeling she had been immersed in the lives of others, in plots that stretched back twenty years, her body full of sentences and moments, as if awaking from sleep with a heaviness caused by unremembered dreams.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Dream #Sleep #Years

  • I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant who reminisces or remembers a meeting when the other has passed by innocently…but all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Falling In Love #Believe #One Direction

  • Everyone has to scratch on walls somewhere or they go crazy
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Wall #Crazy #Scratches

  • We are expanded by tears, we are told, not reduced by them.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Tears

  • We all have an old knot in the heart we wish to untie.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Love #Heart #Loss

  • I love the performance of a craft, whether it is modest or mean-spirited, yet I walk away when discussions of it begin - as if one should ask a gravedigger what brand of shovel he uses or whether he prefers to work at noon or in moonlight. I am interested only in the care taken, and those secret rehearsals behind it. Even if I do not understand fully what is taking place.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Taken #Mean #Secret

  • There is a story, always ahead of you. Barely existing. Only gradually do you attach yourself to it and feed it. You discover the carapace that will contain and test your character. You will find in this way the path of your life.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Character #Tests #Way

  • The trouble with all of us is we are where we shouldn't be.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Trouble

  • How does this happen? To fall in love and be disassembled.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Falling In Love #Fall #Doe

  • There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Borders #Crosses

  • A love story is not about those who lost their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing—not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Heart #Mean #Sleep

  • Could you fall in love with her if she wasn't smarter than you? I mean, she may not be smarter than you. But isn't it important for you to think she is smarter than you in order to fall in love? Think now.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Falling In Love #Mean #Thinking

  • ...sometimes we enter art to hide within it. It is where we can go to save ourselves, where a third-person voice protects us.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Art #Voice #Sometimes

  • He has been disassembled by her. And if she has brought him to this, what has he brought her to?
    -- Michael Ondaatje

  • For the first forty days a child is given dreams of previous lives. Journeys, winding paths, a hundred small lessons and then the past is erased.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Dream #Children #Past

  • Everything is biographical, Lucian Freud says. What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border we cross.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Dog #Borders #Forget

  • Moments before sleep are when she feels most alive, leaping across fragments of the day, bringing each moment into the bed with her like a child with schoolbooks and pencils. The day seems to have no order until these times, which are like a ledger for her, her body full of stories and situations.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Children #Sleep #Order

  • A writer uses a pen instead of a scalpel or blow torch,
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Blow #Use #Torches

  • Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Romantic #Book #Reflection

  • It doubles your perception, to write from the point of view of someone you're not.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Writing #Views #Perception

  • He was a man who wrote, who interpreted the world. Wisdom grew out of being handed just the smallest sliver of emotion. A glance could lead to paragraphs of theory.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Men #World #Emotion

  • when someone speaks he looks at a mouth, not eyes and their colors, which, it seems to him, will always alter depending on the light of a room, the minute of the day. Mouths reveal insecurity or smugness or any other point on the spectrum of character. For him they are the most intricate aspect of faces. He's never sure what an eye reveals. but he can read how mouths darken into callousness, suggest tenderness. One can often misjudge an eye from its reaction to a simple beam of sunlight.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Character #Eye #Simple

  • And it would be a spare life he would be certain to lead as a schoolteacher in some urban location. But he had a serenity that came with the choice of the life he wanted to live. And this serenity and certainty I have seen only among those who have the armour of books close by.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Book #Serenity #Choices

  • Every night I cut out my heart. But in the morning it was full again
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Morning #Heart #Cutting

  • Over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Light #Years #Confusing

  • Love is so small it can tear itself through the eye of a needle
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Eye #Love Is #Tears

  • It's a discovery of a story when I write a book, a case of inching ahead on each page and discovering what's beyond in the darkness, beyond where you're writing.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Book #Writing #Discovery

  • A man in a desert can hold absence in his cupped hands, knowing it is something that feeds him more than water.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Men #Hands #Knowing

  • All I ever wanted was a world without maps.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Life #World #Maps

  • The first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Trust #Order #Firsts

  • A novel is a mirror walking down a road
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Mirrors #Novel #Walking

  • From this point on, she whispered, we will either find or lose our souls.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Life #Soul

  • One of the things that happens in novels it's almost like a continual debate with yourself. That's why you're writing the book. It's why you create characters: so you can argue with yourself.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Book #Character #Writing

  • Don't we forgive everything of a lover? We forgive selfishness, desire, guile. As long as we are the motive for it...There are some European words you can never translate properly into another language.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Long #Forgiving #Desire

  • Why are you not smarter? It's only the rich who can't afford to be smart. They're compromised. They got locked years ago into privilege. They have to protect their belongings. No one is meaner than the rich. Trust me. But they have to follow the rules of their shitty civilised world. They declare war, they have honour, and they can't leave. But you two. We three. We're free.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #War #Smart #Years

  • We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Relationship #Believe #Book

  • Death means you are in the third person.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Mean #Third Person #Persons

  • He walked out of the hospital into the sun, into open air for the first time in months, out of the green-lit rooms that lay like glass in his mind. He stood there breathing everything in, the hurry of everyone. First, he thought, I need shoes with rubber on the bottom. I need gelato.
    -- Michael Ondaatje

    #Air #Breathing #Shoes