Thoughts and quotes—sublime to ridiculous

January 5, 2020 at 1:49 am (By Amba) ()

“R. D. Laing once said there are three things human beings are afraid of: death, other people, and their own minds.” ~ via Michael Pollan

Looking at what’s going on in the U.S. and elsewhere, the world is being run by a coalition or symbiosis of fanatics and opportunists. The opportunists have figured out how to goad the fanatics and use their fear, hate, and hysteria as fuel—much higher octane than any ordinary conviction—to propel them into power. Because of this dependence on their fuel, the fanatics have the opportunists by the balls. They are the Saudis of psychic energy, who must be pandered to.

“An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

“It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

“It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

“It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”

~ Adrienne Rich (via Brain Pickings)

“The unhappy person is one who has his ideal, the content of his life, the fullness of his consciousness, the essence of his being, in some manner outside of himself. The unhappy man is always absent from himself, never present to himself. But one can be absent, obviously, either in the past or in the future. This adequately circumscribes the entire territory of the unhappy consciousness. . . .

“The unhappy one is absent. . . . It is only the person who is present to himself that is happy.”

~ Søren Kierkegaard (via Brain Pickings)

(Do go to that link and read the rest of that Brain Pickings.)

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. . . . At last it had dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

~ Bette Howland

Howland was a protegé, no doubt lover, and lifelong friend of Saul Bellow, who had high regard for her work and untiringly promoted her (ironically culminating in a MacArthur “genius grant” that made her so self-conscious she could no longer finish anything). He also wrote about her mercilessly as a character, Dita Schwartz, in his novel More Die of Heartbreak.

What would she have made of the furor over her rediscovered work? [Her son] Jacob suspects she would be irritated by the focus on gender, a perpetual theme in reviews and articles. ‘I can hear her voice saying, “I’m not just a woman writer, I’m a writer,’” he says. ‘She thought of herself as an American writer, and more specifically as a Chicago writer,’ working in the tradition of Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Richard Wright.

And yet she was a woman writer, writing from her own distinct perspective—as a daughter, as a mother—and that fact shifts the Chicago literature canon, which is still “a boys’ club, a sausage fest,” as Savage puts it. Its beginning is often traced to Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago,” Savage says, “where he actually personified the city as a working-class man.” (Interestingly, the few women writers added to the canon in the more recent decades—Lorraine Hansberry, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros—are all women of color.

I am so sick of the word “productive.” It turns an individual into an industry. That it is unironically presented as the virtue most to aspire to just shows that capitalism has penetrated and petrified our souls.

1/3/20 WWIII is in the wind this morning . . . but I still have to vacuum.

Why is a chunk of cheese more satisfying than a slice?

I think one reason I prefer posting on blogs, whether or not anyone reads them, is that I can FIND stuff I’ve posted again if I want to revisit it. In that sense it’s more like keeping a solipsistic journal, scrapbook, commonplace book.

Whoever thought we’d live to see this day?

OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO if you don’t have boundaries! I’m here to tell you, boundaries are overrated. Like “productivity.” Beware of the pieties of any age.

High fliers have farther to fall.

(Reading in my mom’s memoir about the Great Depression, the suicides of speculators ruined in the Crash of 1929, and thinking of my late beloved neighbor Mamie Harmon, who lived through it, and who used to say in her scalding Southern accent, “WE need another DEPRESSION!”)

1 Comment

  1. wjca said,

    1/3/20 WWIII is in the wind this morning

    Pretty much my take on the news as well. It seems like much of the rest of the world might manage to keep its distance — but then, the same might have been said for Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: