Inspirational Quotes by Rachel Cusk

By | December 17, 2018

Shame is something you’ll find a lot of – particularly Catholic – girls feel about their bodies, about their sexuality, about their diet, about anything you like. Shame is the way you keep them down. That’s the way to crush a girl.

Rachel Cusk

The old world of England was picturesque and safe in a way that L.A. wasn’t, but it was so amazingly socially cruel. I had never experienced that in America – never in school, nowhere.

Rachel Cusk

As it stands, motherhood is a sort of wilderness through which each woman hacks her way, part martyr, part pioneer; a turn of events from which some women derive feelings of heroism, while others experience a sense of exile from the world they knew.

Rachel Cusk

The ‘good’ mother, with her fixed smile, her rigidity, her goody-goody outlook, her obsession with unnecessary hygiene, is in fact a fool. It is the ‘bad’ mother, unafraid of a joke and a glass of wine, richly self-expressive, scornful of suburban values, who is, in reality, good.

Rachel Cusk

It’s a pretty brutal process, having a baby.

Rachel Cusk

Help is dangerous because it exists outside the human economy: the only payment for help is gratitude.

Rachel Cusk

I was aware, in those early days of motherhood, that my behaviour was strange to the people who knew me well. It was as though I had been brainwashed, taken over by a cult religion. And yet this cult, motherhood, was not a place where I could actually live. Like any cult, it demanded a complete surrender of identity to belong to it.

Rachel Cusk

Society in the English countryside is still strangely, quaintly divided. If black comedy and a certain type of social commentary are what you want, I think English rural communities offer quite a lot of material.

Rachel Cusk

I don’t go to church any more, but I think that Catholicism is rather like the brand they use on cattle: I feel so formed in that Catholic mould that I don’t think I could adopt any other form of spirituality. I still get feelings of consolation about churches.

Rachel Cusk

The true self seeks release, not constraint. It doesn’t want to be corseted in a sonnet or made to learn a system of musical notations. It wants liberation, which is why very often it fastens on the novel, for the novel seems spacious, undefined, free.

Rachel Cusk

There is always shame in the creation of an object for the public gaze.

Rachel Cusk

I was born abroad, but my parents were both English. Still, those few years of separation, and then coming back to England as an outsider, did give me an ability to see the country in a slightly detached way. I suppose I was made aware of what Englishness actually is because I only became immersed in it later in life.

Rachel Cusk

The distinctive feature of my family was intolerance of sensitivity and emotion – ‘Everything’s great, it all has to be great all the time and why do you have to spoil it?’ Whereas probably the most fundamental and important thing to me has been defending my right to tell the truth about how I feel.

Rachel Cusk

Hope is like one of those orchids that grows around toxic waste: lovely in itself – and an assertion, if you like, of indefatigable good – but a sure sign that something nasty lies underneath.

Rachel Cusk

You could time a suburban story by your watch: it lasts as long as it takes a small furry animal that’s lonely to find friends, or a small furry animal that’s lost to find its parents; it lasts as long as a quick avowal of love; it lasts precisely as long as the average parent is disposed on a Tuesday night to spend reading aloud to children.

Rachel Cusk

I think men and women are the same. Even as parents, I think we’re the same. We’re just conditioned to think that we’re different. Having said that, it’s true that motherhood is a particularly vulnerable area. It’s an open wound, really. A woman is exposed to being turned into a different kind of person by the experience of motherhood.

Rachel Cusk

Some people are better at maths than others: no one thinks you can be ‘taught’ to be a mathematical genius. And no one thinks of teaching, in that context, as a kind of forcing of the will. But there seems to be an idea of writing as an intuitive pastime which is being dishonestly subjected to counterintuitive methods.

Rachel Cusk

Childhood, after all, is not an ending, but rather a state full of potent curiosity.

Rachel Cusk

Like the child, the creative writing student is posited as a centre of vulnerable creativity, needful of attention and authority.

Rachel Cusk

I’m waiting for the day when my children cease to find my domestic propriety reassuring and actually find it annoying.

Rachel Cusk

If I know somebody is coming ’round, it is incredibly difficult for me to work because I’m waiting for this interruption – even the children’s comings and goings are interruptions. Cake-making is a good way of coming out of that space.

Rachel Cusk

Leaving things behind and starting again is a way of coping with difficulties. I learnt very early in my life that I was able to leave a place and still remain myself.

Rachel Cusk

Human beings have a need, generally, to destroy things. The Freudian principle of civilisation is correct. There’s always, always a difference between the family image and the reality.

Rachel Cusk

I’m a novelist, not a social scientist or a commentator.

Rachel Cusk

I sometimes feel that the world is a very uncivilised place where it is meant to be at its most civilised. Where it’s meant to be intellectual or artistic or compassionate, it isn’t, and that makes me very angry.

Rachel Cusk

It’s a taboo that comes back over and over, to suggest that women can feel divided – that you can love your child and want to do everything for it, and at the same time want to put it away from you and reclaim something of yourself.

Rachel Cusk

Feminism remains something that needs to be explained to people.

Rachel Cusk

I’m particularly drawn to actors in their own little drama. I find it’s that area I’m very alive to. And I don’t encounter it that often. You have to be far from civilization, you have to be far from New York or London to find people who do that.

Rachel Cusk

I have absolutely no concept of work, except for university. But I like to talk to people a lot about their jobs.

Rachel Cusk

I don’t think I knew that you could be a novelist. I think a lot of my students are in the same condition. I thought it was unreachable, that it was sort of dead people. It took me a long time – I think I was well into novel writing before I really thought, ‘Actually, this is a valid pastime.’

Rachel Cusk

The reaction to ‘Aftermath’ has been far worse than to ‘A Life’s Work,’ yet I find I’m perhaps a little less touched by it. In both cases, I’ve coped artistically by believing the criticisms weren’t right. They upset me, but they didn’t challenge my understanding of how to write, nor of how morality functions in literature.

Rachel Cusk

I have no sense of a model or predecessor when I write a memoir: For me, the form exists as a method of processing material that retains too many connections to life to be approached strictly and aesthetically. A memoir is a risk, a one-off, a bastard child.

Rachel Cusk

What I increasingly felt, in marriage and in motherhood, was that to live as a woman and to live as a feminist were two different and possibly irreconcilable things.

Rachel Cusk

I have some pretty forceful ideas about the world – obviously I do. But I suppose I can only really speak about them from within the protection of a literary form.

Rachel Cusk

A feminist man is a bit like a vegetarian: it’s the humanitarian principle he’s defending, I suppose.

Rachel Cusk

The woman who thinks she can choose femininity, can toy with it like the social drinker toys with wine – well, she’s asking for it, asking to be undone, devoured, asking to spend her life perpetrating a new fraud, manufacturing a new fake identity, only this time it’s her equality that’s fake.

Rachel Cusk

I remain fascinated by where you go as a woman once you are a mother, and if you ever come back.

Rachel Cusk

I am a good and interested mother – which has surprised me.

Rachel Cusk

The anorexic is out to prove how little she needs, how little she can survive on; she is out, in a sense, to discredit her nurturers, while at the same time making a public crisis out of her need for nurture. Such vulnerability and such power: it brings the whole female machinery to a halt.

Rachel Cusk

An eating disorder epidemic suggests that love and disgust are being jointly marketed, as it were; that wherever the proposition might first have come from, the unacceptability of the female body has been disseminated culturally.

Rachel Cusk

For years I had lived in my body half-consciously, ignoring it mostly, dismissing its agendas wherever I could, and forever pressing it into the service of mental conceptions that resulted, almost as a by-product, sometimes in its pleasuring and sometimes in its abuse.

Rachel Cusk

The anorexic body is held in the grip of will alone; its meaning is far from stable. What it says – ‘Notice me, feed me, mother me’ – is not what it means, for such attentions constitute an agonising test of that will, and also threaten to return the body to the dreaded ‘normality’ it has been such ecstasy to escape.

Rachel Cusk

The creativity of childhood was often surrendered amid feelings of unworthiness. So the idea that others are demanding to be given it back – to be ‘taught’ – is disturbing.

Rachel Cusk

Writing, more than any other art, is indexed to the worthiness of the self because it is identified in people’s minds with emotion.

Rachel Cusk

Honest criticism, I suppose, has its place. But honest writing is infinitely more valuable.

Rachel Cusk

Every time I write a book, I’ve probably taken five years off my life.

Rachel Cusk

To be optimistic about something that is absolutely unknown to you is unfounded.

Rachel Cusk

There are certain types of slightly hysterical human characters who, rather than creating, walk around with a sense of their own potential – it’s as if they themselves were art objects. They feel as if their lives are written narratives, or pieces of music.

Rachel Cusk

It is living, not thinking, as a feminist that has become the challenge.

Rachel Cusk

Writing is a discipline: it’s almost all about holding back.

Rachel Cusk

In memoir, you have to be particularly careful not to alienate the reader by making the material seem too lived-in. It mustn’t have too much of the smell of yourself, otherwise the reader will be unable to make it her own.

Rachel Cusk

There is always shame in the creation of an expressive work, whether it’s a book or a clay pot. Every artist worries about how they will be seen by others through their work. When you create, you aspire to do justice to yourself, to remake yourself, and there is always the fear that you will expose the very thing that you hoped to transform.

Rachel Cusk

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