Quotes by Ottessa Moshfegh

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I was the first person in my family born in the United States. My mom is from Croatia, and my dad is from Iran. They met at music school in Belgium. I grew up as a pianist. more...

I was really interested in piano and sort of discovered that I was a writer when I was about 13 and started writing. And it was my secret thing and my passion. more...

I don't like talking too much about my personal life, but it all goes into my work. more...

I've always really enjoyed sharing my work with others. I find it really hard if I don't think the work will exist outside of my own apartment. more...

I love art because I feel that it's evidence of the great shared universal power. I like art that feels real, that cuts the bullshit. more...

What's inspiring me the most [is] injustice. My own growth as a member of the human race, in terms of the veils being lifted, seeing more of the beauty and also the horror. A sense of my own purpose in this life. Love... more...

If you look at the horror genre, that work is all about making people uncomfortable by stimulating our fear of death. more...

Think about every time you've seen someone being objectified, abused, enslaved. We see it constantly on the TV, in magazines, on the Internet. We've become numb, so we do nothing. The accumulation of passivity might make reading about that exploitation uncomfortable. And sometimes when I'm writing, I think of it like this: "People seem to like garbage, so here is what garbage smells like..." more...

There are all these levels of pretension in LA. Every time you walk into a cafe or a bar or a restaurant in LA everybody turns around to see if you're famous. Everybody can seem like a celebrity. You can meet somebody who looks like Joe Schmoe and he turns out to be the head of HBO or something. Or you meet a person who just won an Oscar and he looks like he just won an Oscar. And it's a sprawling city, there's so many different parts to it. more...

I live in East Hollywood which is sort of the end of the grit, butting up against Silverlake and Los Feliz which are the refined gentrified hipster zones, which I tend to appreciate when I need to get coffee, but I like living in the grit. I like feeling separate from that elitist civilization in some way, even though I don't really "belong" in the grit either. But I do spend more than half my time now in the desert which is really nice - to be off the grid, remembering that the world is bigger than the city streets. more...

The thing about California is that it's kind of a dream, and I started to feel like I was living in a dream. I still feel like that. Because of that I think I've been able to realize a lot of things that were just ideas. When I was living in New York City, it's such a rat race, it's so competitive and everything is so concrete and in your face all the time. If you're like, "I'm gonna be a writer!" Everybody's like, "Yeah, you and all the other assholes on the subway." There isn't a lot of space for the detached, free-floating movement of the imagination. more...

Reality is a projection of consciousness, so if you believe - more than just think - but believe, subliminally, that something is true, it will become true because you will make micro-decisions based on the reality that you have faith in. more...

You can't be a free spirit in a place that feels like it was built on lockdown. more...

I don't need to feel 100% safe, but I have to feel like there's room for me to go a little bit insane if I'm going to have good ideas. Because a good idea is a new idea and if you start going around like, "I have this new idea!" most people are gonna be like, "I've never heard that before, that sounds fishy." more...

People have been asking me, "What advice do you have for young writers?" I tell them: a) get off social media; b) don't ask your friends what they think about your work or your ideas. You need to focus and be insane within yourself to build your sandcastle. The mind is so malleable and you need to have a steel trap around it, at least while you're working on something. more...

For me writing isn't a mental exercise, it's barely even a literary exercise, it feels like a spiritual experience. more...

What you can't teach someone is how to find the door. You can't give someone a door to another universe. You can tell them that the door exists, and if they're stuck in the hallway you can be like, "You're stuck in the hallway," but you can't open the door for them. more...

There are a lot of smart people being really thoughtful and writing really interesting things, but that isn't what I want to do. It's never felt like what I've been called to do. And I have to risk sounding really arrogant when I say that because I've gone to Ivy League schools and been privileged in all these ways in the world of ideas, but I'm not as smart as you think. I'm not really depending on what I learned in college to write my books. Those were just parts of my life experience. more...

I've dedicated a lot of my life as a writer to understanding how to hear the divine voice, or the music of the spheres, or whatever it is that we do when we're making art, making something out of nothing. Figuring out how to do that is much more important than knowing how to execute a good line. I don't think about that anymore, I just write. more...

In fiction the narrator is a performance of voice, and it can be any style of voice, but I'm interested in the ways that a voice that knows it's telling a story is actually telling a different story than it intends to. In the way that I can sit here and tell you what I had for breakfast, but I'm really telling you that I'm having an affair, something like that. And I don't think my writing is plain, but I think a lot of my characters are just talking. There is vulnerability there, in that we can start to see through them, we can start to see where they're deceiving themselves. more...

I don't really pity any of my characters. I hold my characters under a harsh fluorescent lamp and ask "Who are you?" I'm not doing their makeup or giving them hairdos. They present themselves to me as they are and then I let them say what they want. Usually they're saying something too honest. more...

I think we waste a lot of time trying to convince other people that we're right. A lot of times we don't actually care what another person thinks, we just want to say what we think. To hear it reflected back to us and that we're okay, to hear that we have been understood and that we're correct - so that we can continue to be who we are in the ways we've been being, and we have nothing to feel bad about and everything is just fine. Even if what we're talking about is, like, police brutality. more...

I don't think there's anything wrong with pity. Like if you saw a dog having just been hit by a car, you would pity that dog. But then what do you do? Do you leave it there to get run over by more cars, or do you step into traffic and hold up your hand? "Stop! An animal has been hit!" and carry the thing to safety? more...

Indifference is the saddest state of being. It's like PTSD - you're not gonna fight, you're not gonna run, you're just frozen there, feeling nothing. It's very easy to have conversations when you're sitting there feeling nothing, to talk about the weather or what you had for lunch, to Instagram what you had for lunch. We're all suffering from trauma. This world is so crazy. How do we feel safe here? I think that's the question everybody's asking, "What do I need to do to feel safe? Like I'm okay?" I don't think there's anything wrong with that. more...

Distance is where people get really confused. If you stand really far away from someone you're like, "That's not me. I'm so far away from that person. That person is so different from me." It's easy to forget that people - refugees from Syria, for example - are exactly like us. more...

Sometimes I think I'm a nihilist because it doesn't matter, none of this matters. We're all following the will of some unknowable higher power, probably the stars manipulating our cellular magnets. We think we have all this agency, but do we? Do we really? Can you choose to be brave when you were born a coward? Can we be deprogrammed from the brainwashing that we grew up in? I think we can, but I think we need a lot of help. more...

I hope that I'm the kind of person who would step in between somebody holding a gun at somebody else. I would like to be that stupid. I'd like to be that in love with life. more...


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