I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name you a dozen who were not, and they are the ones the world lives by. It is true of the spirit as it is true of battles- only the winners are remembered. Surely most men are destroyed, but there are others who like pillars of fire guide frightened men through the darkness. -John Steinbeck
There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for. -George Orwell
Even if we are doomed to years of violence and animosity, to fragile peace agreements that will be violated over and over again, we must keep creating an alternative… If we don’t do this, our children will remember only dimly what is really worth fighting for. -David Grossman
There are two ways to escape suffering [the inferno of the living]. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space. -Italo Calvino
“ Here is the problem that Lessing pursued with such dedication: how to desire a man, as a woman, without desiring your own subjugation. […] For Lessing, even if she doesn’t quite say so, the overcoming of domination needs us to abolish heterosexual exchange as well as capitalist exchange. Otherwise we will all continue to ‘be fucked’ in the current sense, which is to say that we will never find out, as Lessing tried to teach us in her erratic way, that orgasm can happen in whatever way you will it into being, that penetration doesn’t have to be a form of domination, that dicks don’t have to be weapons, that love between two persons could be something other than a slowly dug grave, and so on. ”
“ Andrew O’Hagan writes: ‘Joan Didion gave me her hand and she was so thin it felt like I was holding a butterfly’ (LRB, 7 November). A beautiful sentence, but I wondered about the simile’s plausibility. It’s been reported that Didion weighs less than eighty lbs. She’s so thin her doctors have put her on an ice cream diet to keep her mass up. A woman’s hand is said to be 0.5 per cent of her body weight. So if Didion weighs 75 lbs, her hand probably weighs about six ounces. The world’s heaviest butterfly, the female Queen Victorian Birdwing, weighs about two grams. There are about 28 grams in an ounce, and Joan Didion’s hand probably weighs about the same as holding 86 female Queen Victoria Birdwings. It would be difficult to hold them all in your hand because each one has a wingspan of 18 centimetres. The smallest butterfly in the world is the North American Pygmy Blue and you’d probably need thousands of them to tip the scales against one of Didion’s fingers. None of this is to detract from the loveliness of O’Hagan’s sentence. We tell ourselves stories in order to live. ”
“ Governance is the management of a system that is too complex to be governed. The word “government” means the understanding (as a reduction to a rational model) of the social world, and the ability of the human will (despotic, democratic, and so forth) to control a flow of information sufficient for the control of a relevant part of the social whole. The possibility of government requires a low degree of complexity with regard to social information. Information complexity grew throughout the late modern age, and exploded in the age of the digital network. Therefore, the reduction of social information to comprehensive knowledge and political control becomes an impossible task: control becomes aleatory, uncertain, almost impossible, and an increasing number of events escape the organized will. At this point, capitalism shifts to the mode of governance. It employs abstract concatenation of technological functions in place of the conscious processing of a flow of information. It connects asignifying segments in place of dialogic elaboration. It automatically adapts in place of forming consensus, using technical language in place of shared meaning resulting from dialogue and conflict. In place of planning, it manages disruption. It assesses the compatibility of agents entering the social game in place of mediating conflicting political interests and projects. And it employs the rhetoric of systemic complexity in place of a rhetoric of historical dialectics. ”
“ Few are willing to consider the possibility that trigger warnings might be ineffective, impractical and necessary for creating safe spaces all at once. […]
This is the truth of my trouble with trigger warnings: there is nothing words on the screen can do that has not already been done. A visceral reaction to a trigger is nothing compared to the actual experience that created the trigger. I don’t know how to see beyond this belief to truly get why trigger warnings are necessary. When I see trigger warnings, I don’t feel safe. I don’t feel protected. Instead, I am surprised there are still people who believe in safety and protection despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
This is my failing.
I do recognize that in some spaces, we have to err on the side of safety or the illusion thereof. Trigger warnings aren’t meant for those of us who don’t believe in them just like the Bible wasn’t written for atheists. Trigger warnings are designed for the people who need them, who need that safety. ”
“ I once had dinner in San Francisco with a group of independent bookshop owners. How, I asked them, do people end up running their own bookshops? Oh, they said, there was a set route, pretty much the equivalent of taking holy orders.
It went like this: you are writing a graduate thesis. You start working in a bookshop to make a bit of cash. Your thesis tails off. You increase your hours in the shop. Eventually the ageing bookshop owner forces you to take over the thing. This is a profession of erudite drifters with completion anxiety. ”
“ The queer family isn’t bound by biology or social norms. It can choose to be – there is nothing wrong with that – but it is not there by default. My queer family is multi-generational and multi-dimensional; it is messy and loosely-defined; and it’s built on love, sometimes loathing, and always commitment.
This queer family doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It requires legal and societal permissions to exist, especially in a small (and intrusive) country as this.
It’s fair to say this arrangement is technically possible in Singapore – if you’re wealthy. If you can afford to live in a space bigger than HDB’s cubicles (which are themselves impossibly expensive). If you can collectively afford to sustain yourself, your partner/s and your dependents without the numerous and substantial government financial grants thrown at the feet of married heterosexual couples. If you can afford to run the risk that should something go wrong – say someone falls ill, a relationship falls apart in a bad way, or a biological-but-uninvolved relative decides to stake a claim in your family – you can find the individual means and legal avenues to protect the ones you love. Few of us can hope for this. ”
“ her tears could be nothing more serious that the usual marital trauma brought on by a visit to overpriced shopping mall but I can’t help feeling it’s another sad Syrian story, he paces around the plaza trying to call on his phone, he seems agitated and looks as though he is just trying to do something, anything, he knows it’s his job to solve the situation and he is making the calls, the look in his eyes show a lack of confidence, the women is sobbing non-stop and I just want him to go and comfort her, I want to go and talk with them but I don’t, over the last almost three years I have witnessed the tears of Syrians sobbing countless times, on occasion I have tried to console but what you can you say or do, futile reassurance that everything is going to be okay, they really do seem like a nice family, they seem lost and out of their depth, I have listened to the conversations before on what to do for the best, to leave Syria or stay, to go where and do what, how much money do we have and how long will it last, what country accepts a Syrian passport, who will give me a job, what about the car and the house, what about the rest of the family, the decisions to leave are not easy, she sits there alone tears running down her face, like the nation she has left behind, alone and broken. ”
“ [B]oth “NSA Files Decoded” and “Snowfall” so clearly take the form of what I like to call “The Editor’s Prerogative.” What is The Editor’s Prerogative? It’s when you take a piece of journalism and make it huge in scale and elaborate in delivery so that it is more in line with how important an editor thinks the story is than how new audiences actually want to consume it.
There is an important bit of subtlety in that last point. Plenty of Times fans lauded “Snowfall,” but it’s not so relevant, I think, whether a news organization’s existing audiences love these multimedia productions. These articles (or whatever appellation is more fitting of their varied nature) are so intensive in human effort and require so much lead time to produce that to publish something on this scale that new audiences aren’t actually reading seems to miss the mark. To be clear, if you are The Guardian or The New York Times, and people aren’t reading the text that you’re putting in front of them, you are not delivering the core value that only you can deliver, that your whole enterprise is based on. ”
“ I know that homes burn and that you should think what to save before they start to. Not because, in the heat of it, everything looks as valuable as everything else. But because nothing looks worth the bother, not even your life. ”