blinking

What I really wanted to say was that a monster is not such a terrible thing to be. From the Latin root monstrum, a divine messenger of catastrophe, then adapted by the Old French to mean an animal a myriad of origins: centaur, griffin, satyr. To be a monster is to be a hybrid signal, a lighthouse: both shelter and warning at once.”

-Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

confronted

Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty and the ability to feel; the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty… He is not, after all, merely a number of a Society or a Group or a deploration conundrum to be explained by Science. He is—and how old-fashioned the words sound!—something more than that, something resolutely indefinable, unpredictable. In overlooking, denying, evading his complexity—which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves—we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves… Our passion for categorization, life neatly fitted into pegs, has led to an unforeseen, paradoxical distress: confusion, a breakdown of meaning.”

-James Baldwin
Everybody’s Protest Novel

in motion

To be passing is to live; to remain and continue is to die… in sculpture, architecture, and painting the finished form stands still, but even so the eye finds pleasure in the form only when it contains a certain lack of symmetry, when, frozen in stone as it may be, it looks as if it were in the midst of motion… For when we fail to see that our life is change, we set ourselves against ourselves and become like Ouroboros, the misguided snake, who tried to eat his own tail. Ouroboros is the perennial symbol of all vicious cycles, of every attempt to split our being asunder and make one part conquer the other… Released from the circle of attempted self-love, the mind of man draws the whole universe into its own unity as a single dewdrop seems to contain the entire sky.

-Alan Watts
The Wisdom of Insecurity

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