Toni on Love
If you have stronger, more vivid quotes on love, SEND THEM MY WAY. But, I bet you can’t because all of these were written by my aunt (in my head), the incomparable Toni Morrison!!
1. Long ago she had given up trying to be deft or profound or anything in the company of people she was not interested in, who didn’t thrill her.
Tar Baby, © 1981
2. Being good to somebody is just like being mean to somebody. Risky. You don’t get nothing for it.
Sula, © 1973
3. Lonely, ain’t it? Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.
Sula, © 1973
4. Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought. Both originated in envy, thrived in insecurity, and ended in disillusion.
The Bluest Eye, © 1970
5. She was the third beer. Not the first one, which the throat receives with almost tearful gratitude; nor the second, that confirms and extends the pleasure of the first. But the third,the one you drink because it’s there, because it can’t hurt, and because what difference does it make.
Song of Solomon, © 1977
6. Don’t ever think I fell for you or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.
7. Your your best thing, Sethe. You are.
Beloved, © 1987
8. A good man is a good thing, but there is nothing in the world better than a good woman. She can be your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, or somebody you work next to. Don’t matter. You find one, stay there. You see a scary one, make tracks.
Love, © 2003
9. It takes a certain intelligence to love like that — softly, without props. But the world is such a showpiece, maybe that’s why folks try to outdo it, put everything they feel onstage just to prove they can think up things too: handsome scary things like fights to the death, adultery, setting sheets afire. They fail, of course. The world outdoes them every time.
Love, © 2003
10. Let me tell you about love, that silly word you believe is about whether you like somebody or whether somebody likes you or whether you can put up with somebody in order to get something or someplace you want or you believe it has to do with how your body responds to another body like robins or bison or maybe you believe love is how forces or nature or luck is benign to you in particular not maiming or killing you but if so doing it for your own good. Love is none of that. There is nothing in nature like it. Not in robins or bison or in the banging tails of your hunting dogs and not in blossoms or suckling foal. Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God. You do not deserve love regardless of the suffering you have endured. You do not deserve love because somebody did you wrong. You do not deserve love just because you want it. You can only earn – by practice and careful contemplations – the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it. Which is to say you have to earn God. You have to practice God. You have to think God-carefully. And if you are a good and diligent student you may secure the right to show love. Love is not a gift. It is a diploma. A diploma conferring certain privileges: the privilege of expressing love and the privilege of receiving it. How do you know you have graduated? You don’t. What you do know is that you are human and therefore educable, and therefore capable of learning how to learn, and therefore interesting to God, who is interested only in Himself which is to say He is interested only in love. Do you understand me? God is not interested in you. He is interested in love and the bliss it brings to those who understand and share the interest. Couples that enter the sacrament of marriage and are not prepared to go the distance or are not willing to get right with the real love of God cannot thrive. They may cleave together like robins or gulls or anything else that mates for life. But if they eschew this mighty course, at the moment when all are judged for the disposition of their eternal lives, their cleaving won’t mean a thing. God bless the pure and holy. Amen.”
Paradise, © 1997
When I heard…
I was settling in at my desk and heard what could not have been true come through the radio speaker: Author Toni Morrison has died. Immediately, my face crumpled, and I walked toward the radio to turn it up. That couldn’t have been true because we knew when Maya Angelou was dying. We knew when Aretha was. How could this just sneak up on us? On me? I had been low-level stalking Ms. Morrison for years. I kept waiting for the BBC reporter to tell me more, but she’d moved on to a different topic. I returned to my desk and typed, “Toni Morrison Dead.” To my shock and dismay, the headlines, though few, made the unwelcomed truth true. August 5, 2020.
As much as I revered Maya Angelou, still rever Nikki Giovanni (and others), and detest comparisons of the sort that I am making because genius does not come in only one form, I can think of no other writer whose work has affirmed who I am as a black woman. Sisters, do you feel me? Who are your favorite writers?
Fast forward to November, it was no surprise to any of my friends when I posted that I’d learned about her long-awaited public memorial service, and that I was going. I did just that. I cancelled my commitments for that day as if she were my own aunt. It was so worth it: this was an historic event! We will NEVER have another silver loc’d, velvet voice of the same conviction and who will truth without flinching: what are you without racism?
I appreciated her work so much because…it’s hard to articulate. Her writing was informed by history in obvious and subtle ways. Further, her work was provocative in how it pointed out contradictions and ironies in both regular people and the power structures of our country and the world. Finally, I love how brazen and bold, but eloquent her work is. I mean, her characters say and do things that can gut punch you! See quotes #2 and #3 below from Sula. While Sula is my absolute fav Toni Morrison character, all of her characters are powerful. I think I was probably stunned most by Violet, in Jazz, who cut a dead woman’s face during the woman’s funeral because she’d slept with the Violet’s husband. I mean, that’s some kind of pissed off! When you’ll cut a dead woman, damn. She meant that. Likewise, as Consolata, in Paradise, prepared for the lover who stood her up, I could see in my mind’s eye the spices and candles that she set out. I also felt the silent hurt she felt when he didn’t show up.
An extra treat! In this folder, you’ll find pictures from Ms. Morrison’s memorial service. You’ll also find some video clips; HOWEVER, focus on the audio because the visual is terrible quality. I forgot my camera, so I had to use my phone :).
Footage Toni Morrison’s Memorial Service: