• Who would deduce the dragonfly from the larva, the iris from the bud, the lawyer from the infant? ...We are all shape-shifters and magical reinventors. Life is really a plural noun, a caravan of selves

    Diane Ackerman
  • At some point, one asks, "Toward what end is my life lived?" A great freedom comes from being able to answer that question. A sleeper can be decoyed out of bed by the sheer beauty of dawn on the open seas. Part of my job, as I see it, is to allow that to happen. Sleepers like me need at some point to rise and take their turn on morning watch for the sake of the planet, but also for their own sake, for the enrichment of their lives. From the deserts of Namibia to the razor-backed Himalayas, there are wonderful creatures that have roamed the Earth much longer than we, creatures that not only are worthy of our respect but could teach us about ourselves

    Diane Ackerman
  • Metaphor isn't just decorative language. If it were, it wouldn't scare us so much. . . . Colorful language threatens some people, who associate it, I think, with a kind of eroticism (playing with language in public = playing with yourself), and with extra expense (having to sense or feel more). I don't share that opinion. Why reduce life to a monotone? Is that truer to the experience of being alive? I don't think so. It robs us of life's many textures. Language provides an abundance of words to keep us company on our travels. But we're losing words at a reckless pace, the national vocabulary is shrinking. Most Americans use only several hundred words or so. Frugality has its place, but not in the larder of language. We rely on words to help us detail how we feel, what we once felt, what we can feel. When the blood drains out of language, one's experience of life weakens and grows pale. It's not simply a dumbing down, but a numbing

    Diane Ackerman
  • Invisible prose only!" rules out the sparkling style of [writers]. . . For [whom] vivid prose, and the visionary mind it evinces, rich with speculation, insight, and subjectivity, is the craft and offers a unique caliber of truth. Is there any other art form one would praise by saying it's "invisible"? By definition, art transcends the ordinary, calls attention to itself, and offers virtuosity as its calling card. One that makes it possible to do what metaphor does so well: illuminate what can't be wholly understood

    Diane Ackerman
  • For if I do something, I never do it thoughtlessly

    Diane Ackerman
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