Toni Morrison: I never use anyone I know. In The Bluest Eye I think I used some gestures and dialogue of my mother in certain places, and a little geography. I’ve never done that since. I really am very conscientious about that. It’s never based on anyone. I don’t do what many writers do.
Interviewer: Why is that?
Toni Morrison: There is this feeling that artists have—photographers, more than other people, and writers—that they are acting like a succubus … this process of taking from something that’s alive and using it for one’s own purposes. You can do it with trees, butterflies, or human beings. Making a little life for oneself by scavenging other people’s lives is a big question, and it does have moral and ethical implications.
In fiction, I feel the most intelligent, and the most free, and the most excited, when my characters are fully invented people. That’s part of the excitement. If they’re based on somebody else, in a funny way it’s an infringement of a copyright. That person owns his life, has a patent on it. It shouldn’t be available for fiction.
"If you don’t define yourself for yourself, then you will be crushed into other people’s fantasies of you and eaten alive." — Audre Lorde
Today would have been her 80th birthday. Ashe.
"If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down."
— Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon.
Happy Birthday, Toni Morrison. Our great American genius.
Morehouse College, founded in 1867 in Atlanta Georgia. Wishing our brothers a happy Founders Day, with love and appreciation. (source: Auburn Avenue Research Library)
Page in bloom
A herbary is a book on plants. I always thought that such books contained drawings or paintings of plants. Until I came across this object on the website of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Constructed around 1595, it is likely the oldest of its kind from England. The book is filled with about 300 real plants, which were gathered in Italy by a monk called Gregorio Reggio. Short descriptions accompany the specimens, which look like they were picked yesterday. Every page forever in bloom.
Pic: Bodleian Library. More on herbaries with real plants here.