Question

What does it mean to be free? Is it the ability to let go of control and go with the flow? Is it a choice or an inherent way of being? Are some people born into this world less free than others? Or do the odds of being always tip positively? (We’re alive!) What about those who hold on to get by? The physically, mentally, socially “unfit?” The disadvantaged? And what kind of people can love us/them without conflating notions of freedom?

Cradle

Neither the spider has planned for the leaf nor the leaf for the spider—and yet there they are, an accidental pendulum propelled by the same forces that cradle the moons of Jupiter in orbit, animated into this ephemeral early-morning splendor by eternal cosmic laws impervious to beauty and indifferent to meaning, yet replete with both to the bewildered human consciousness beholding it.”

-Maria Popova
Figuring

Deem worthy

Objective is a fiction that there is some neutral ground, some political no man’s land you can hang out in… Even what you deem worthy to report and whom you quote is a political decision. We tend to treat people on the fringe as ideologues and those in the center as neutral, as though the decision not to own a car is political and the decision to own one is not, as though to support a war is neutral and to oppose it is not. There is no apolitical, no sidelines, no neutral ground; we’re all engaged.”

– Rebecca Solnit
Call Them by Their True Names

Inevitable catastrophe

Future-mindedness is as much the distinctive mental habit, and intellectual corruption, of this century as the history-mindedness that, as Nietzsche pointed out, transformed thinking in the nineteenth century. Being able to estimate how matters will evolve into the future is an inevitable byproduct of a more sophisticated (quantifiable, testable) understanding of process, social as well as scientific. The ability to project events with some accuracy into the future enlarged what power consisted of, because it was a vast new source of instructions about how to deal with the present. But in fact the look into the future, which was once tied to a vision of linear progress, has, with more knowledge at our disposal than anyone could have dreamed, turned into a vision of disaster… Anything in history or nature that can be described as changing steadily can be seen as heading towards catastrophe. (Either the too little and becoming less: waning, decline, entropy. Or the too much, ever more than we can handle or absorb: uncontrollable growth.) Most of what experts pronounce about the future contributes to this new double sense of reality—beyond the doubleness to which we are already accustomed by the comprehensive duplication of everything in images. There is what is happening now. And there is what it portends: the imminent, but not yet actual, and not really graspable, disaster.”

-Susan Sontag, 1989
AIDS and Its Metaphors

Terra incognita

The process of transformation consists mostly of decay and then of this crisis when emergence from what came before must be total and abrupt.

But the changes in a butterfly’s life are not always so dramatic. The strange resonant word instar describes the stage between two successive molts, for as it grows, a caterpillar, like a snake, like Cabeza de Vaca walking across the Southwest, splits its skin again and again… Instar implies something both celestial and ingrown, something heavenly and disastrous, and perhaps change is commonly like that, a buried star, oscillating between near and far.”

-Rebecca Solnit
A Field Guide to Getting Lost 

Becoming

Life exceeds itself, its past, its context, in making itself more and other than its history: life is that which registers and harnesses the impact of contingency, converting contingency into history, and history into self-overcoming, supersession, becoming-other… Life is not different in substance from matter but is a kind of opening up of matter to indeterminacy, a qualitative transformation of matter into the unexpected, the surprising, the never-seen-before and the never-able-to-be-repeated. It adds to the contained and structured material universe the openness of the virtual, the potential to be otherwise, as it transforms matter, and itself, in its self-overcoming.”

-Elizabeth Grosz
Time Travels

2018 input

Books read:

  • Devotion by Patti Smith
  • Dreams of a Spirit-Seer by Immanuel Kant
  • Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
  • Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso
  • Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
  • Anecdotal Theory by Jane Gallop
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Island by Aldous Huxley
  • The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
  • The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda
  • The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir
  • The White Album by Joan Didion
  • The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer
  • Anthropocene Feminism edited by Richard Grusin
  • Our Right To Drugs by Thomas Szasz
  • Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag
  • A Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman
  • A Musical Hell by Alejandra Pizarnik

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