yield

“Sometimes, all you need is permission to feel. Sometimes, what causes the most pain is actually the attempt to resist feeling, or the shame that grows up like thorns around it. During my lowest period in New York, almost the only thing I found consoling was watching music videos on YouTube, curled on the sofa with my headphones on, listening again and again to the same voices finding the register for their distress. Antony and the Johnsons’ miraculous, grieving ‘Fistful of Love’, Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’, Justin Vivian Bond’s triumphant ‘In the End’, Arthur Russell singing ‘Love Comes Back’, with its lovely permissive refrain, being sad is not a crime.”

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City, 138

doors

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies – all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable.

We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or “feeling into.” Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent.

The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.”

Aldous Huxley, The Doors to Perception, 1954, p. 3

arbitrarity

“It is important to bear in mind that it is not poverty that is unacceptable. On the contrary, it is needed because it sustains the capitalist system. What is unacceptable is the visibility of poverty because it bothers those who are supposed to believe in the justness of the system.

It is the visibility of poverty that is the potential visibility of inequality and discrimination.
And it is this very visibility that decreases the value of the investors’ real estate. It is this visibility that obstructs the nice panorama view and reminds too much of the ‘Third World’ instead of Western Europe that is the object of fixation for almost every Serbian citizen.”

Ivana Marjanovic – Questioning inclusion: Struggles against romaism in Europe, 2011, p. 158

collectively

“Michael Billig has drawn attention to the qualities of innocence and intolerance built into the ideology of nationalism, an ideology that is so familiar, that it hardly seems noticeable.

One may observe, with him, that nationalist prejudice is daily reinforced by school textbook and media stories, by box office hits and the no longer noticed vocabulary of everyday national politics, shared by the Left and the Right alike. The newspapers that address readers as members of the nation, and sport commentators who take special pride in the achievements of our nationals (in individual as well as team events, in highly paid proffesisonal tournaments as well as in periodic World Cup and Olympic competitions between national teams), are part pf the same subconscious process of mobilization of nationalist pride.

Nationalist consciousness and pride is reproduced too in the ways we construct ourselves and interact with others in daily life. The stars and stripes prominently displayed on office desks and car windows, in restaurants and private homes in the United States, and the image of Uncle Sam on T-shirts, notebooks, and food packages, attract no special attention. They are natural, proper and peculiarly invisible.”

Gyanendra Pandey, 2004, pp. 8-9.

gesture

In her wide-ranging body of work on the consequences of the Partition and on the links among violence, gender, and nationalist ideology, Das investigates the relationships among language, silence, gesture and suffering. She examines questions that have important implications for those who investigate violence.

Can suffering be expressed, known, or shared? What is the relationship of the observer to those who suffer from violence? She notes that under extreme conditions, “as human understanding gives way, language is struck dumb.” When violence annihilates language, it creates its own fear; “a relapse into a dumb condition is not only a sign of this period but is also a part of the terror itself.”

Yet silence does not bring an end to communication or to understanding; thus, for the analyst “it is the silences that need to be addressed.”

(1995b; 184,191)

positive

“A restless, grouchy, rather ferocious author is much more interesting than a placid writer who delivers mere blissful suspirations. Readers would rather witness a sharp assault than a pathetic, soft sycophancy about the matter in cause. I have a principled objection towards the whole “positive thinking” ideology. That kind of “wise” advice inviting us through sugar-coated “friendly” discourses to “smile upon life”, to “see the full half of the glass”, to refute amok and melancholia appear to me as cheap tabloid choreography. As Peter Esterhazy put it, positive thinking is the opposite of thinking. Carrying on as if life is just a peaceful blooming garden is leading yourself, simple-minded toward a utopia. Humor is good, treasuring cheerfulness is legitimate, but unconditionally adopting a perpetual bovine sneer is a form of inner poverty, an escapist jazz, an ignorant whim”.

(A.P.)

A Paradox

„There is a forgotten history that secular Europeans, proud of having outgrown a religious past from which they feel liberated, would prefer not to remember. “Religious” issues serve as irritants to secular Europeans precisely because they serve to fuel the “glimmering embers” of Christianity, while at the same time confirming the widely shared secularist assumption that it is best to banish religion from public sphere in order to tame the passionate conflicts and irrational attitudes which religion is assumed to bring into politics.

Any public recognition of the Christian heritage or of the living religious traditions of contemporary Europeans, is assumed, would make liberal political coexistence and pluralist toleration in a united Europe nearly impossible. Rather than recognizing the “really existing” religious and secular pluralisms and the multiple European modernities, the dominant discourses in Europe prefer to hold on to the idea of a single secular modernity, emerging out of the Enlightenment. Only secular neutrality is supposed to guarantee liberal tolerance and pluralist multicultural recognition in an expanded European Union.

Thus, the secularist paradox, that in the name of freedom, individual autonomy, tolerance, and cultural pluralism, religious people – Christians, Jewish and Muslim – are being asked to keep their religious beliefs, identities, and norms “private”, so that they do not disturb the project of a modern, secular, enlightened Europe”.

(José Casanova, Religion, European secular identities and European integration, p. 66)

Substance

„When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men—but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite—that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that “plagiarism” farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.”

Mark Twain’s Letters, Vol. 2 of 2