Excerpts from Sweetness in the Belly

Excerpts from Sweetness in the Belly (Camilla Gibb)

P149 But each of us is guilty in someone else’s eyes. If you are an Amhara you are guilty of supporting a brutal dictatorship; if you are Oromo you are guilty of counter-revolutionary sentiment; if you are Hareri you are guilty of harbouring wealth and exploiting peasants. If you are a refugee you are guilty of the worst crimes of all: deserting your homeland and abandoning those you love. In every case. It’s a matter of perception: in the last case, self-perception, the most damning of all.

P164 Its not simply what one remembers, but why. There are sites of amputation where the past is severed from the body of the present. Remembering only encourages the growth of phantom limbs. And it is not simply what one remembers, or why, but what to do with what one remembers, which of the scattered pieces to carry forward, what to protect and preserve, what to leave behind.

P227 …I’d been discovering that nothing was quite as it first appeared. But the, this is where we begin in every new world: first we read the manual. We practice the laws as they are laid out, and it is only when we become literate through living them that we find the contradictions, the subtext, the spaces in between.

P228 You don’t want to stay on the tree for too long..Eventually you will lose your grip, drop to the ground, splatter, go rotten. No one wants to eat the fruit that has fallen—that is for the beggars and the birds. They will only want to step on you.

P267 How is it that disappointment arrives as soon as what you have desired for so long steps over the threshold? It’s like finding the end of your wedding train dragging behind the mud.

P296 Without marriage, a father would not recognize children as his own. Because paternity…was everything. Your liberation, your death sentence, your legitimacy or lack thereof in the world.

P314 I think true discipline comes through exercising moderation. I see the rules as simply guidelines for those times when we lack the strength or wisdom to decide for ourselves…but that must take such courage…It is harder in many ways to live in the middle than at the edges. Much harder to interpret as you see fit, because then you have no assurance you are doing right in the eyes of God, no confidence you will be rewarded in the afterlife. There’s something uncharitable about having your own plate, something wrong about stabbing your food with a piece of metal. Food tastes right from the hand.

P347 Believing that all has been ordained by God can lead to fatalism, but fatalism is not the same thing as belief. It’s a cheat: an abdication of responsibility. Believers take action…

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