I wasn’t much popular, either. I was too smart and that made people uncomfortable—most folks where we’ve lived our whole lives don’t trust too much intelligence in a woman. There is also the problem of my eyes—they don’t hide anything. If I don’t care for a person, my eyes make it plain. I don’t care for most. Folks are generally comfortable with the small lies they tell each other. They don’t know what to do with someone like me, who mostly doesn’t bother with small lies.
Archive for the 'bookmaggot' Category
There is an Ohlone song, for example, from which only one evocative line survives: Dancing on the brink of the world. We know nothing more about this song, just that one haunting line.
In fact, despite my breaking away, I haven’t gone very far.
The world in the meantime had not improved; in fact it had become crueler for women.
We live in the tunnel at the end of the light.
Mistaking wealth for virtue is a cruelty of our time. … Poverty is not a character flaw. Poverty is not emblematic of intelligence. Poverty is lost potential, unheard contributions, silenced voices…
Today the attack on the poor is no longer cloaked in ideology – it is ideology itself. This ideology is not shared by most Americans, but by those seeking to transform the Republican Party into, as former GOP operative Mike Lofgren describes it, “an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe.”
1. Gorgeous memoirs of appalling events
2. Rich, thinky SF by women
3. Excellent narrative history on audiobook
- This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
- The Guns of August
- The Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944: J. M. Keynes and the Reshaping of the Global Economy
- The Gene: An Intimate History
4. My own sundered history, restored to me in various ways
- A Field Guide to Aboriginal Rock Engravings: With Special Reference to Those Around Sydney
- Repossession Of Our Spirit: Traditional Owners Of Northern Sydney
- Anthology of Australian Aboriginal Literature
- Forgotten War
5. In spite of everyone who says how good they are, really very, very good
“I keep thinking there’s a beach at the end of this,” a friend said. “An island, and we’ll be happy again.”
His mother left yesterday after his cremation and when I walked her to the cab, she said to me: ‘I think the reason I was put on earth was for these last two months.’”
One cannot expect people to live in a state of perpetual horror and outrage. Eventually they subside. Fatigue sets in, burnout, boredom, acceptance—and the attention span turns to something else. How could it be otherwise? Yet all of this is strange.
You’re worse than evil. You’re inefficient.
Our family commitment to each other is not forced, but desired; our marriages are not arranged for economic benefit or social duty; our children are chosen and beloved, not incidental and taken for granted.
I was overwhelmed, it was all too much for me, how could it not have been? I wanted to run away, I wanted it to be over. I’m sorry. I wish, I wish, I wish every single day that I had been more genuinely kind, more open and loving and freely generous. Although if it happened again, someone I know having AIDS —and it has, it will —I’d do it again and feel the same, because that’s what AIDS does, the fucker.
You have to call him, you have to be persistent and annoying. He doesn’t have to like you. I finally learned life’s lesson: They don’t have to like you.
One of the ironies of Jackson’s fiction is the essential role that women play in enforcing the standards of the community—standards that hurt them most.
“It’s about giving up,” she told me. “You get to a point where you just have to give up. And then you learn to be honest.”
Now that you’ve taken the bread, what are you going to do?
“How do you pray?” I asked Lynn. “Well,” she said, “usually I start off, ‘Okay, what the hell is going on here, God?'”
I started listening to Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History (having finished up Drew Gilpin Faust’s This Republic of Suffering, which traces the American way of death back to the Civil War, and is excellent.) Mukherjee’s Emperor of Maladies made me cry buckets and also gave me an inkling of insight when it described “cancer pathways” – specific sequences of gene mutations that lead to specific conditions.
I couldn’t wait for The Gene to come out and so far it’s even better than Emperor. He talks about his paternal uncles, Rajesh and Jagu, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and how the trauma of Partition exacerbated their illnesses. This immediately after I read Timothy Knatchbull’s From a Clear Blue Sky about the Mountbatten bomb. The consequences of British imperialism run through both families like another inherited trait.
Mukherjee made me laugh out loud when he described Darwin resolutely ignoring the theological consequences of his research as the idea of evolution dawned on him, calling this “the separation of church and state of mind.”
I first encountered Darwin as a teenager in my Dad’s Stephen Jay Gould and Dawkins books, which sounded every bit as self-satisfied as the religious books I was reading at the same time. Darwin came back around later, long after I’d lost my faith, when I read Janet Browne’s wonderful biographies of him. She described how seriously he took his reading, and in response, I started keeping my own log of the books I had read.
As a devout Christian and then as an angry atheist, a lot of Darwin was lost on me. If you refuse to engage with the central struggle of his life, between his faith in meaning and what his observations taught him, you miss so much. I see in Darwin now what I saw in La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: that this world is more beautiful than it needs to be; that even when you understand its underlying principles, its glory can bring you to your knees.
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
If there was no war then thousands of Aborigines were murdered in a centurylong, continent-wide crime wave tolerated by government. There seems to be no other option. It must be one or the other.
This is the double burden that those who are traumatised must carry. First the trauma, and then the inability of language to describe it.
Her ghost is in my body.
Ronan already knew he was a weapon; but he was trying to make up for it.
…our deepest wants can never be fulfilled: our wants for youth, for a halt to aging, for the return of vanished ones, for eternal love, protection, significance, for immortality itself.
One night she watched the tram light coming towards her, the rails gleaming, the road slick with rain. The trams had been a little adventure in the beginning but now they were the emblem of the hard machine of her days. I could step out in front of it, she thought. That would put an end to the misery and the loneliness and the feeling that every day would be like this forever. It would hurt, she supposed. But if she was lucky it would all be over in a second. In the moment she stood with that choice, she was free of everyone else in the world…
…active listening was hard work.
We don’t need better emotional communication from machines. We need people to have more empathy. The reason the Uncanny Valley exists is because humans created it to put other people into. It’s how we justify killing each other.
It’s not unlike colony collapse disorder, but for humans.
How difficult it was to find one’s way, how difficult it was not to violate any of the incredibly detailed male regulations.
Merit was not enough, something else was required, and I didn’t have it nor did I know how to learn it.
Maybe there’s something mistaken in this desire men have to instruct us; I was young at the time, and I didn’t realize that in his wish to transform me was the proof that he didn’t like me as I was, he wanted me to be different, or, rather, he didn’t want just a woman, he wanted the woman he imagined he himself would be if he were a woman.
Naples was the great European metropolis where faith in technology, in science, in economic development, in the kindness of nature, in history that leads of necessity to improvement, in democracy, was revealed, most clearly and far in advance, to be completely without foundation.
…in my head, everything is always so tangled. I am such a damaged thing.