ralph ellison Quotes

So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I've learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled "file and forget," and I can neither file nor forget. Nor will certain ideas forget me; they keep filing away at my lethargy, my complacency. Why should I be the one to dream this nightmare?
tags: action possibility write dreams ideas
— Ralph Ellison
You start Saul, and end up Paul,' my grandfather had often said. 'When you're a youngun, you Saul, but let life whup your head a bit and you starts to trying to be Paul - though you still Sauls around on the side.
— Ralph Ellison
Eclecticism is the word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him, I play by ear.
— Ralph Ellison
If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to bind, imprison and destroy.
tags: power
— Ralph Ellison
I do not know if all cops are poets, but I know that all cops carry guns with triggers.
tags: poet
— Ralph Ellison
Perhaps to lose a sense of where you are implies the danger of losing a sense of who you are.
tags: danger
— Ralph Ellison
Power, for the writer....lies in his ability to reveal if only a little bit more about the complexity of humanity.
tags: humanity power
— Ralph Ellison
I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time being ashamed.
tags: time
— Ralph Ellison
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
tags: lost
— Ralph Ellison
At best Americans give but a limited attention to history. Too much happens too rapidly, and before we can evaluate it, or exhaust its meaning or pleasure, there is something new to concern us. Ours is the tempo of the motion picture, not that of the still camera, and we waste experience as we wasted the forest.
— Ralph Ellison
When I discover who I am, I'll be free.
— Ralph Ellison
Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form...without light I am not only invisible but formless as well; and to be unaware of one's form is to live a death...the truth is the light and light is the truth.
tags: truth reality live birth
— Ralph Ellison
Education is all a matter of building bridges.
tags: education
— Ralph Ellison
If you can show me how I can cling to that which is real to me, while teaching me a way into the larger society, then and only then will I drop my defenses and hostility, and I will sing your praises and help you to make the desert bear fruit.
tags: society help real praise teaching
— Ralph Ellison
Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.
tags: power
— Ralph Ellison
Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.
tags: humanity
— Ralph Ellison
Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
— Ralph Ellison
I suspect that all the agony that goes into writing is borne precisely because the writer longs for acceptance-but it must be acceptance on his own terms.
tags: acceptance writing
— Ralph Ellison
the world is just as concrete, ornery, vile, and sublimely wonderful as before, only now I better understand my relation to it and it to me.
tags: world
— Ralph Ellison
I feel the need to reaffirm all of it, the whole unhappy territory and all the things loved and unloveable in it, for it is all part of me.
— Ralph Ellison
I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
tags: people
— Ralph Ellison
Perhaps everyone loved someone; I didn't now, I couldn't give much thought to love; in order to travel far you had to be detached, and I had the long road back to the campus before me.
tags: travel thoughts
— Ralph Ellison
And I knew that it was better to live out one's absurdity than to die for that of others.
tags: live die
— Ralph Ellison
Life is as the sea, art a ship in which man conquers life's crushing formlessness, reducing it to a course, a series of swells, tides and wind currents inscribed on a chart.
tags: men
— Ralph Ellison
And while the ice was melting to form a flood in which I threatened to drown I awoke one afternoon to find that my first northern winter had set.
tags: winter
— Ralph Ellison
Every serious novel is, beyond its immediate thematic preoccupations, a discussion of the craft, a conquest of the form, a conflict with its difficulties and a pursuit of its felicities and beauty.
tags: beauty conflict craft novel
— Ralph Ellison
It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself.
tags: time realization expectation achieve
— Ralph Ellison
The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.
tags: personal experience philosophy
— Ralph Ellison
The world is a possibility if only you'll discover it.
tags: world possibility
— Ralph Ellison
The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances, whether created by others or by one's own human failing.
tags: human
— Ralph Ellison
Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.
— Ralph Ellison
We look too much to museums. The sun coming up in the morning is enough.
— Ralph Ellison
Good fiction is made of that which is real, and reality is difficult to come by.
tags: reality real fiction
— Ralph Ellison
There must be possible a fiction which, leaving sociology and case histories to the scientists, can arrive at the truth about the human condition, here and now, with all the bright magic of the fairy tale.
tags: truth magic human fiction scientist
— Ralph Ellison
I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me?
tags: denial
— Ralph Ellison
I remember that I'm invisible and walk softly so as not awake the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.
tags: world awake dangerous
— Ralph Ellison
Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it." Stephen Covey "It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.
tags: commitment
— Ralph Ellison
The end is in the beginning and lies far ahead.
tags: lies
— Ralph Ellison
I blundered into writing.
tags: writing
— Ralph Ellison
We don't all dig Shakespeare uniformly, or even 'Little Red Riding Hood.' The understanding of art depends finally upon one's willingness to extend one's humanity and one's knowledge of human life.
tags: humanity understanding human
— Ralph Ellison