I've tried to read smart things and failed. I've tried to read stupid things and failed. Mostly I've just resigned myself to staring at the ceiling and planning my lessons and playing with the cat.
For some reason, though, the following texts have been possible:
• The internet, voraciously, unstoppably, as I try to learn as much as I can.
• The Handmaid's Tale.
• And some excerpts, some of my koans, that I read and listen to over and over again, that help me blink and stretch and breathe and move.
They're here for you, if you want them. I've provided a link for everything that has a link.
And please, give me more to read.
From a note ruminating on the post-election message to "just keep fighting," by Andrew Ti at Yo, Is This Racist?:
If you’re lucky enough to have the time, energy and resources to “keep fighting,” you have to do that. You have to help take care of everyone who is going to lose something to the racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and more that’s going to be empowered by the law and culture of the land.
But also, you have to listen to the people who, right now, are tired of bullshit phrases like that.
Because the people who are actually going to be hurt by Trump have always been fighting. They’re always fighting, every single minute of every single day. They don’t actually have a choice, and it’s condescending to imply that they’re doing anything but battle, with their every action (sometimes simply by existing), especially at their most weary.
From "Now is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women.
From The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood:
In this connection a few comments upon the crack female control agency known as the "Aunts" is perhaps in order. Judd -- according to the Limpkin material -- was of the opinion from the outset that the best and most cost-effective way to control women for reproductive and other purposes was through women themselves (308).
From "Home", by Warsan Shire
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
From Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which (Chapter 10, Paragraph 35).
From "Far From Narnia," a profile on Philip Pullman by Laura Miller in the New Yorker:
In his speech, Pullman contended that the literary School of Morals is inherently ambiguous, dynamic, and democratic: a "conversation." Opposed to this ideal is "theocracy," which he defined as encompassing everything from Khomeini's Iran to explicitly atheistic states such as Stalin's Soviet Union. He listed some characteristics of such states -- among them, "a scripture whose word is inerrant," a priesthood whose authority "tends to concentrate in the hands of elderly men," and "a secret police force with the powers of an Inquisition." Theocracies, he said, demonstrate "the tendency of human beings to gather power to themselves in the name of something that may not be questioned.
This impulse toward theocracy, he announced at the end of his speech, will defeat the School of Morals in the end." He sounded oddly cheerful making this prediction; in his books, Pullman enjoys striking a tone of melancholy resolve. He continued, "But that doesn't mean we should give up and surrender....I think we should act as if. I think we should read books, and tell children stories, and take them to the theatre, and learn poems, and play music, as if it would make a difference....We should act as if the universe were listening to us and responding. We should act as if life were going to win....That's what I think they do, in the School of Morals."
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning -- --
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (193).
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
From The Once and Future King, by T.H. White:
From Nina Simone:
"You have a glass of this canary," said Sir Ector, "and go and see if old Merlyn can't cheer you up."
"Sir Ector has given me a glass of canary," said the Wart, "and sent me to see if you can't cheer me up."
"Sir Ector," said Merlyn, "is a wise man." "Well," said the Wart, "what about it?"
"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn—pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics—why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough."
From Nina Simone: