Quotes from ‘The Museum of Innocence’ by Orhan Pamuk

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From the bed of the back bedroom of the second-floor apartment, we could see a group of boys playing football in the garden below, swearing furiously in the May heat, and as it dawned on us that we were enacting, word for word, exactly those indecencies, we stopped making love to look into each other’s eyes and smile.

What interested Füsun most was not my body, nor was it the “male body” in general. It was her own form and her own pleasure that most occupied her. She needed my body, my arms, my fingers, my mouth, to find the pleasure spots and potentials of her body, her soft skin.

Apart from our measureless lovemaking with child-like abandon, what was it that bound me to her? Or else why was I able to make love to her with such passion? Did the pleasure of satisfying our ever-renewing desire give birth to love, or was this sentiment born of, and nurtured by, other things as well? During those carefree days when Füsun and I met every day in secret, I never asked myself such questions, behaving only like a child greedily gulping one sweet after another.

By the age of fourteen, she knew all the tricks that men played and could read their intentions so men could no longer catch her unawares and touch her, and perhaps she no longer fell into their traps so easily, though the streets were never short of men finding imaginative new ways to touch her, pinch her, squeeze her, or brush her from behind. The men who stretched their arms out through car windows to fondle girls walking down the street, the men who pretended to trip on the stairs in order to press themselves against girls, the men who abruptly started to kiss her in the elevator, the men who took with their change an illicit stroke of her fingers—it had been some time since any of them could surprise her.

“I’ve fallen in love with you. I’m head over heels in love with you!” Her voice was both accusatory and unexpectedly gentle. “I think about you all day long. I think about you from morning until night.”
She covered her face with her hands and cried. Let me confess that my first impulse was to grin stupidly. But I didn’t. Instead I frowned, assuming a tender expression of concern, until finally I had overcome the force of my own feelings. Here, at one of the deepest, most profound moments of my life, there was something contrived in my demeanor.

No one recognizes the happiest moment of their lives as they are living it. It may well be that, in a moment of joy, one might sincerely believe that they are living that golden instant “now,” even having lived such a moment before, but whatever they say, in one part of their hearts they still believe in the certainty of a happier moment to come. Because how could anyone, and particularly anyone who is still young, carry on with the belief that everything could only get worse?

The gap between compassion and surrender is love’s darkest, deepest region.

How to describe the peace that came over me the moment I took her in my arms? The noise of the crowd that had so addled me, the ungodly racket that I had taken to be the aggregate of the silverware, the orchestra, and the roar of the city—now I knew what I’d heard was only my disquiet at being far from her. Like a baby who will stop crying only in the arms of one particular person, I felt a deep, soft, velvety bliss of silence spreading through me.

Life is a series of repeated instances that we later assign—without mercy—to oblivion.

After that night we had both become resigned to the fact that I was never going to get over my obsession.

And, he was right.

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4 comments

  1. I think Orhan Pamuk is himself obsessive and a narcissist. He loves his words and he cannot edit them out. For him, every feeling is important. Every event is great.
    I am reading him not with an aim to complete it soon. I read it just like how I’d like to keep in touch with someone but not really be their best friend.. like listen to someone vent the same old story.. Only then can one enjoy it.
    Because the story is not going anywhere, so even I am taking it for granted. :P
    I am not yet annoyed by the book. Right now I am enjoying how deep and emotionally twisted, how far-gone is the writer’s own psyche to write page after page about the same thing in a new way.. Give it new meaning each time, refreshing a dead crush over and over again..
    Orhan’s genius is his psychological madness. That he could cash in on that and become a Nobel Laureate is amusing to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Superb analysis! I agree completely with you. But I am somehow unable to appreciate it in this frame of mind (race to finish). Maybe some day I’ll read it at leisure and truly appreciate it.

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      1. No. Don’t read it again. Just don’t give such book attention. That’s what I meant

        Like

        1. Hmmm….

          Like

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