Posts Tagged ‘Erica Jong’

Quotes I’ve Loved, 2014

“…I attempted briefly to consecrate myself in the public library, believing every crack in my life could be chunked with a book.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

“…to this day there is something illusionistic and illusory about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in traveling, which is why whenever we come home from somewhere we never feel quite sure if we have really been abroad.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Darkness does not lift but becomes heavier as I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is constantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on.”
– W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz

“Although I had no regrets, I told myself sadly, that growing up was not the painless process one would have thought it to be.”
– Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

“The twenties are as frenetic a decade as the teens. You have a voice inside your head repeating I want, I want, I want,  but you don’t know what you want or how to get it. You hardly know who you are. You go on instinct. And your instinct mostly pushes you toward adventures you won’t grasp until you look back on them. Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward, some sage once said.”
– Erica Jongafterword, Fear of Flying

“What you imagine is what you remember, and what you remember is what you’re left with. So why not decide to imagine it a little differently?”
– Jennifer Dubois, A Partial History of Lost Causes

“‘Louis XVI was executed because they considered him to be a criminal, and a year later his judges were killed too for something. What is wrong? What is right? What must one love, what must one hate? What is life for, and what am I? What is life? What is death? What force controls it all?’ he asked himself. And there was no answer to one of these questions, except one illogical reply that was in no way an answer to any of them. That reply was: ‘One dies and it’s all over. One dies and finds it all out or ceases asking.’ But dying too was terrible.”
– Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
– James Joyce, Ulysses

“By eight Greg and I were in Truckee. By eleven we were still standing on the hot side of the road trying to hitch a ride to Sierra City.
‘HEY!’ I yelled maniacally at a VW bus as it whizzed past. We’d been snubbed by at least six of them over the past couple of hours. Not being picked up by those who drove VW buses made me particularly indignant. ‘Fucking hippies,’ I said to Greg.
‘I thought you were a hippy,’ he said.
‘I am. Kind of. But only a little bit.'”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”
– Cheryl Strayed, Wild

“I began then to think of time as having a shape, something you could see, like a series of liquid transparencies, one laid on top of another. You don’t look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Nothing goes away.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a chain on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”
– Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
– Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

“I’ve had the sort of day that would make Saint Francis of Assisi kick babies.”
– Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

“Works that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason — or at least they appeal to certain types of people. [. . .] You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart — or maybe we should say the work discovers you.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“You’re afraid of imagination. And even more afraid of dreams. Afraid of the responsibility that begins in dreams. But you have to sleep, and dreams are a part of sleep. When you’re awake you can suppress imagination. But you can’t suppress dreams.”
– Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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Book #87: Fear of Flying

Evidently Fear of Flying by Erica Jong is one of the classics of second-wave feminism. It’s also a pretty decent book for twenty-something women going through existential crises. In the afterword of the book, Jong writes, “The twenties are as frenetic a decade as the teens. You have a voice inside your head repeating I want, I want, I want, but you hardly know WHAT you want or how to get it. You hardly know who you are. You go on instinct. And your instinct mostly pushes you toward adventures you won’t grasp until you look back on them. Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward, some sage once said.”

In just a few sentences, she summed up twenty-somethings better than a thousand articles from Thought Catalog and every other place on the internet. I’m grateful to Jong for giving me a “sound byte” quote to go to if I need to express how I’m feeling. It’s nice.

I wasn’t quite as sold on Fear of Flying as I could have been, however.

It’s the story of the nervous young twenty-something named Isadora Wing, who always seems to find herself involved with psychoanalysts. Isadora is on a search for happiness and herself. She’s on her second marriage – to a psychoanalyst – and trying to figure out who she wants to be. When she meets an older, alluring British psychoanalyst, Isadora really starts to think about who she is and what she wants.

At times, it was gratifying to read the voice of a woman I could really relate to on a deep level. Isadora wants to go on adventures (she traveled the world with a girlfriend for awhile) and focuses on finding herself. Her family doesn’t understand why she won’t have children. As her mother and sisters question her about why she won’t have children already and Isadora repeatedly explains that she doesn’t want children, they insist that she doesn’t understand how fulfilled and happy she will be when she does.

Although this is a pretty minor part of the book, it’s interesting that all these years later, people are still bugging young women to settle down and have babies. It’s not like I constantly have people asking “when are you going to get married and have kids?”, but it’s been referenced several times. I don’t want children, but my mom and sister are still pretty convinced that I’ll have at least one kid. I suppose time will tell. I’m hoping they don’t hold their breaths.

That’s about all I have to say about Fear of Flying. It must have meant a lot to a lot of women back when it was first published. And I’m sure it’s probably still really life-changing to a lot of people. It’s not often you read things where women are so open about their sexual exploits and other issues. To be honest, I thought the book was a little bit disgusting, with all the references to bodily functions, fluids, and sex. It wasn’t what I’d call pornographic, I consider it disgusting the way I consider pretty much all Chuck Palahniuk books disgusting. Just a lot of references to bodily functions. Apparently I’m more of a Puritan than I realize; I prefer my books to be clean.

All in all, Isadora Wing was a very interesting female protagonist. If I was more into feminist writings (I’m not, at all) and things like that, I probably would have enjoyed the book more. Still, I’m glad I read Fear of Flying.

Rating: ***
Up Next: Christ Stopped At Eboli

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