“What is a quote? A quote…. is a cut, a section, a slice of someone else’s orange. You suck the slice, toss the rind, skate away…..To loot someone else’s life or sentences and make off with a point of view.” ~ Anne Carson, “Foam (Essay with Rhapsody)” (from Decreation)
I love quotes. I looted this one from David Kanigan, but in the true spirit of the quote, I only took the parts that I wanted to illuminate, and left out some of the original quote, hence the dot dot dots……..
You can take quotes out of context and use them for whatever purpose you choose. The Bible, Shakespeare, and Hemingway all come to mind (those three in the same sentence is almost barbaric…)
As a journalist of sorts, I report on all manner of things, and know very well how to make someone sound stupid and mean, or intelligent and trustworthy—yet I do not use my powers, at least not consciously. I try to be objective—and have to admit that in being objective, sometimes I am not subjective enough. Sometimes people deserve to see their words highlighted so they can see how others see them, to see the effect their words have, to see that sometimes they assess a situation incorrectly, callously, with no compassion to their fellow man or woman.
I will never stop using quotes—but when I do use them, I keep in mind that I generally use words frozen out of their original context and moulded to meet my circumstances and put forth my perspective. What did Marie Antoinette really mean when she said “Let them eat cake”? In a cursory search of this phrase I found out that she never really said it. According to Wikipedia: “Let them eat cakes was said 100 years before her by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV. It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither.” This was from the 2002 writings of the Queen’s best-selling English language biographer, Lady Antonia Fraser.
Let that be a lesson to me. I will be careful not to “skate away” without forethought when I deign to quote other’s words in an attempt to “make off with a point of view”.
Do you ever think about the fact that in quoting someone, you are putting your mark on their words?