Skip navigation

Category Archives: ?

“My parents rejected all dogmas… We would not kneel before their God. And so I had no sense that any just God was on my side. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’ meant nothing to me. The meek were battered in West Baltimore, stomped out at Wallbrook Junction, bashed up on Park Heights, and raped in the showers of the city jail. My understanding of the universe was physical and its moral arc bent twoard chaos then canluded in a box.”

– Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

Advertisements

We’re here because
We’re here because
We’re here because we’re here;
We’re here because
We’re here because
We’re here because we’re here

We’re here because
We’re here because
We’re here because we’re here;
We’re here because
We’re here because
We’re here because we’re here

– Unknown, soldiers’ song

“Because I had been tired too long and quarrelsome too much and too often frightened of migraine and failure and the days getting shorter, I was sent, a recalcitrant thirty-one-year-old child, to Hawaii, where winter does not come and no one fails and the median age is twenty-three. There I could become a new woman, there with the life-insurance salesmen on million-dollar-a-year incentive trips, there with the Shriners and the San Francisco divorcees and the splurging secretaries and the girls in the string bikinis and the boys in search of the perfect wave, children who have never been told, as I was told, that golden lads and girls all must as chimney sweepers come to dust.”

– Joan Didion, “Letter from Paradise, 21° 19’N., 157° 52’W.”

“Of course we would all like to ‘believe’ in something, like to assuage our private guilts in public causes, like to lose our tiresome selves; like, perhaps to transform the white flag of defeat at home into the brave white banner of battle away from home. And of course it is all right to do that; that is how, immemorially, things have gotten done.

“But I think it is all right only so long as we do not delude ourselves about what we are doing, and why. it is all right only so long as we remember that all the ad hoc committees, all the picket lines, all the brave signatures in The New York Times, all the tools of agitprop straight across the spectrum, do not confer upon anyone any ipso facto virtue. It is all right only so long as we recognize that the end may or may not be expedient, may or may not be a good idea, but in any case has nothing to do with ‘morality.’ Because when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.”

– Joan Didion, “On Morality”

“Poverty, Lucy Lippard once remarked, is a great preserver of history. From New England through the Rust Belt, the poverty of lost jobs and defunct industry has left behind a ruinous landscape of abandoned factories and city centers, as has white flight and urban disinvestment in cities such as Detroit. Only in the remote places – the abandoned boomtowns of nineteenth-century mining rushes, old plantation mansions, the withering small towns of the Great Plains – is nature allowed to proceed with its program of ruin.

Poverty as neglect produces ruin in itself. But wealth is a more powerful scourge of cities, removing both buildings and inhabitants to replace them with more profitable versions of same. The Western Addition before urban renewal was shabby, but it was not in ruins. The wrecking balls, the splintered heaps of what had once been Victorian houses, the vacant lots, the displaced people – all were produced not by the poor but by the wealthy, who controlled urban policy. Or perhaps ‘wealth’ and ‘poverty’ are terms that create a false dichotomy; perhaps ‘distorted resource allocation’ embraces both ends of a spectrum whose pervasive injustices produced urban renewals across the country, produced the ruins that still stand in Detroit and St Louis and the erasures that made way for the shiny new Manhattans and San Franciscos of the present.”

– Rebecca Solnit, “The Ruins of Memory”

“People think they are individuals because they use the word ‘I’ so often.”

– Edward St Aubyn, Bad News

“Patrick was frustrated by his slowness and, feeling the book in his overcoat pocket, he imagined whipping it out like a pistol and gunning the dealer down with its ambitious first sentence, ‘There is only one really serious philosophical problem: it is suicide.’ ”

– Edward St Aubyn, Bad News