Diane Ackerman

Author, poet, naturalist
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

Diane Ackerman (born October 7, 1948) is an American author, poet, and naturalist most famous for her work A Natural History of the Senses. She has taught at various universities, including Columbia and Cornell, and her essays regularly appear in distinguished popular and literary journals.


  • I don't want to be a passenger in my own life.
    • On Extended Wings (1985)
  • I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well.
    • As quoted in Meditations for Women Who Do Too (1991) by Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Human beings are sloshing sacks of chemicals on the move.
    • An Alchemy of Mind : The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain (2004) ISBN 0743246721

A Natural History of the Senses (1991)Edit

  • It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
  • Look in the mirror. The face that pins you with its double gaze reveals a chastening secret. You are looking into a predator's eyes. Most predators have eyes set right on the front of their heads, so they can use binocular vision to sight and track their prey.

A Natural History of Love (1994)Edit

  • When art separates this thick tangle of feelings, love bares its bones.
  • We think of it as a sort of traffic accident of the heart. It is an emotion that scares us more than cruelty, more than violence, more than hatred. We allow ourselves to be foiled by the vagueness of the word. After all, love requires the utmost vulnerability. We equip someone with freshly sharpened knives; strip naked; then invite him to stand close. What could be scarier?

The Inevitable: Contemporary Writer Confront Death (2011) Edited by David Shields & Bradford MorrowEdit

  • What would dawn have been like, had you awakened? It would have sung through your bones. All I can do this morning is let it sing through mine.
    • Silence and Awakening


  • There are well-dressed foolish ideas just as there are well-dressed fools.
    • Sometimes attributed to Ackerman this actually originates with Nicolas Chamfort, as quoted in The Cynic's Breviary : Maxims and Anecdotes from Nicolas de Chamfort (1902) as translated by William G. Hutchison, p. 37

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: