“One thing that makes art different from life is that in art things have a shape; they have beginnings, middles, and endings. Whereas in life, things just drift along. In life, somebody has a cold, and you treat it as insignificant, and suddenly they die. Or they have a heart attack, and you are sodden with grief until they recover to live for thirty petulant years, demanding you wait on them. You think a love affair is ending, and you are gripped with Anna Karenina-ish drama, but two weeks later the guy is standing in your doorway, arms stretched up on the molding, jacket hanging open, a sheepish look on his face, saying, “Hey, take me back, will ya?” Or you think a love affair is high and thriving, and you don’t notice that over the past months it has dwindled, dwindled, dwindled. In other words, in life one almost never has an emotion appropriate to an event. Either you don’t know the event is occurring, or you don’t know its significance. We celebrate births and weddings; we mourn deaths and divorces; yet what are we celebrating, what mourning? Rituals mark feelings, but feelings and events do not coincide. Feelings are large and spread over a lifetime. I will dance the polka with you and stamp my feet with vigor, celebrating every energy I have ever felt. But those energies were moments, not codifiable, not certifiable, not able to be fixed: you may be seduced into thinking my celebration is for you. Anyway, that is a thing art does for us: it allows us to fix our emotions on events at the moment they occur, it permits a union of heart and mind and tongue and tear. Whereas in life, from moment to moment, one can’t tell an onion from a piece of dry toast.”

–Marilyn French, The Women’s Room