Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekly Quotes Part 8

Hopefully next week I'll be able to interject some thoughts and such but I've been trying to catch up with everything I need to do and I am still feeling so overwhelmed and so far behind with everything that it's hard to take the time to do more than record the quotes and move on.  But please, if you read one that you find interesting and you want to tell me what you think of it, feel free to do so.  And if you think that one or more of these quotes contradicts another, that is not a coincidence.  Just because I record a quote doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it.

Regarding the Pain of Others

Photographs tend to transform, whatever their subject; and as an image something may be beautiful–or terrifying, or unbearable, or quite bearable–as it is not in real life.  (76)

Photographs objectify: they turn an event or a person into something that can be possessed.  And photographs are a species of alchemy, for all that they are prized as a transparent account of reality.  (81)

Photographs of atrocity illustrate as well as corroborate.  Bypassing disputes about exactly how many were killed (numbers are often inflated at first), the photograph gives the indelible sample.  The illustrative function of photographs leaves opinions, prejudices, fantasies, misinformation untouched.  (84)

[W]hy is there not already, in the nation’s capital, which happens to be a city whose population is overwhelmingly African-American, a Museum of the History of Slavery? (88)

There is such a museum in DC and it was opened in 1999, four years prior to this book’s publication.  It is unfortunate that neither Sontag nor her editor researched this contentious comment before going to print.

One can feel obliged to look at photographs that record great cruelties and crimes.  One should feel obliged to think about what it means to look at them, about the capacity actually to assimilate what they show.  Not all reactions to these pictures are under supervision of reason or conscience.  (95)

Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence.  To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent–if not an inappropriate–response.  To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may–in ways we might prefer not to imagine–be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.  (103)

Quoting Baudelair:
It is impossible to glance through any newspaper, no matter what the day, the month or the year, without finding on every line the most frightful traces of human perversity. . . Every newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a tissue of horrors.  Wars, crimes, thefts, lecheries, tortures, the evil deeds of princes, of nations, of private individuals; an orgy of universal atrocity. And it is with this loathsome appetizer that civilized man daily washes down his morning repast.  (107)

The vast maw of modernity has chewed up reality and spat the whole mess out as images.  According to a highly influential analysis, we live in a ‘society of spectacle.’  Each situation has to be turned into a spectacle to be real–that is, interesting–to us.  People themselves aspire to become images: celebrities.  Reality has abdicated. (109)

It is intolerable to have one’s own sufferings twinned with anybody else’s.  (113)

Someone who is perennially surprised (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood.  (114)

There is simply too much injustice in the world.  And too much remembering (of ancient grievances: Serbs, Irish) embitters.  To make peace is to forget.  To reconcile, it is necessary that memory be faulty and limited.  (115)

‘We’–this ‘we’ is everyone who has never experienced anything like what they went through–don’t understand.  We don’t get it.  We truly can’t imagine what it was like.  We can’t imagine how dreadful, how terrifying war is; and how normal it becomes.  Can’t understand, can’t imagine.  That’s what every soldier, and every journalist and aid worker and independent observer who has put in time under fire, and had the luck to elude the death that struck down others nearby, stubbornly feels.  And they are right.  (125-126)

Gone With the Wind

Vanity was stronger than love at sixteen and there was no room in her hot heart for anything but hate.  (173)

Moving On

Perfection is probably one of the most frightening of all the masquerades women wear. . . . (193)

The neurosis of perfectionism is feminine self-loathing disguised as self-improvement.  (195)

Insecure at Last

There is a power that comes out of surrendering to grief and a power that is the result of refusing it.  (139)

We have all been wrongly manipulated, misguided to believe we are longing for security, when really it is kindness we are after.  (190)

Simple Abundance

[R]eading about a journey is not the same as taking one.  (February 24)

I came to understand why we block out the pain and atrocities of others.  That pain, if we allow it to enter us, makes our lives impossible.  It forces us to examine our own values and reality.  (17)

The remains of the Twin Towers blew through Manhattan and became our first taste of global sorrow, misery, and violence on our own soil . (47)

Quoting Cindy Sheehan:  I believe there is always a peaceful solution.  (61)

Sex is the way we practice dissolution, the way we rehearse our undoing, our surrender.  It is how we free ourselves from the binding of duality, open to the endless world of ambiguity and pleasure.  (71)

I’d written about these particular issues because they were the thinsg I most feared.  (71)

[T]here is no Hebrew word for ‘vagina.’  (72)

My experience has led me to believe that only by wholly entering, wholly feeling, wholly inhabiting other people and experiences, are we brought to any happiness and security.  (76)

[C]ompassion is the deepest form of memory. (84)

We get rescued by giving what we need the most.  What we are waiting for has always lived insude us.  (114)

How can you judge people when you have no idea where they came from?  (120)

The Kindness Handbook

If at any given moment, offering lovingkindness to someone very difficult for us is just too difficult or feels coercive, we drop it, and we go back to offering lovingkindness to ourselves or to a benefactor or friend.  This isn’t a cop-out or a move to substandard practice; rather it is exercising the openness and creativity the meditation practice actually calls for, and flourishes with.  (120)

Whether you care for a young child, an aging parent, a rambunctious teenager, a client at work whose needs are pressing upon you, or a community that proffers many responsibilities, any skillful relationship of caregiving relies on balance—the balance between opening one’s heart endlessly and accepting the limits of what one can do.  The balance between compassion and equanimity.  Compassion is the trembling or the quivering of the heart in response to suffering.  Equanimity is a spacious stillness that can accept things as they are.  (157)

Anne of Windy Poplars

I have to teach geometry!  Surely that can’t be any worse than learning it.  (13)

Wouldn’t it be a rather drab world if everybody was wise and sensible . . . and good?  What would we find to talk about?  (35)

He took sixty-one different kinds of medicine but in psite of that he lingered for a good while.  (46)

She isn’t better or cleverer or much prettier than me . . .only luckier.  (108-109)

It’s impossible to think of Canada ever being at war again.  I am so thankful that phase of history is over.  (???)

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