Jan 112015
 

Better to know a few things which are good and necessary than many things which are useless and mediocre.

What a great treasure can be hidden in a small, selected library! A company of the wisest and the most deserving people from all the civilized countries of the world, for thousands of years, can make the results of their studies and their wisdom available to us. The thought which they might not even reveal to their best friends is written here in clear words for us, people from another century. Yes, we should be grateful for the best books, for the best spiritual achievements in our lives.

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Nov 062013
 

The words consent of the governed have become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science and economics are obsolete. Our nation has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations, and a narrow, selfish, political, and economic elite, a small and privileged group that governs, and often steals, on behalf of moneyed interests. This elite, in the name of patriotism and democracy, in the name of all the values that were once part of the American system and defined the Protestant work ethic, has systematically destroyed our manufacturing sector, looted the treasury, corrupted our democracy, and trashed the financial system. During this plundering we remained passive, mesmerized by the enticing shadows on the wall, assured our tickets to success, prosperity, and happiness were waiting around the corner.

Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the Corporate State. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, and the Constitution while manipulating internal levers.

Washington has become our Versailles. We are ruled, entertained, and informed by courtiers — and the media has evolved into a class of courtiers. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are mostly courtiers. Our pundits and experts, at least those with prominent public platforms, are courtiers. We are captivated by the hollow stagecraft of political theater as we are ruthlessly stripped of power. It is smoke and mirrors, tricks and con games, and the purpose behind it is deception.

Sadism dominates the culture. It runs like an electric current through reality television and trash-talk programs, is at the core of pornography, and fuels the compliant, corporate collective. Corporatism is about crushing the capacity for moral choice and diminishing the individual to force him or her into an ostensibly harmonious collective. This hypermasculinity has its logical fruition in Abu Ghraib, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our lack of compassion for our homeless, our poor, the mentally ill, the unemployed, and the sick. … We accept the system handed to us and seek to find a comfortable place within it. We retreat into the narrow, confined ghettos created for us and shut our eyes to the deadly superstructure of the corporate state.

We’ve bought into the idea that education is about training and “success”, defined monetarily, rather than learning to think critically and to challenge. We should not forget that the true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death.

from Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges

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Jul 042013
 

There are, however, goods of a very different kind – gods who are quick and obliging, waiter-gods, “What can I do for you?” gods. In no time at all they create worlds to order, according to the fantasies in some bureaucratic decree or a resolution from some ministry. Their world is inhabited by paper ghosts, by painted figures of cardboard and wax. In is a world of veneers, of tin and papier-mâché. These soap-bubble worlds are always full of harmony and light; they are worlds that have a clear purpose, where everything seems reasonable. But in whose likeness – we must ask – have they been created?

The worlds that the gods of pen, brush, piano keys, and violin strings create in their own image and likeness – these worlds may be full of imperfections and folly. They may be half-baked, twisted, distorted, confused, dislocated, wretched, and even ridiculous. They may be imbued with the charm of the primitive and naive, with a comic profundity, with the pathos of a child’s toy, with a creator’s vain yet engaging admiration of the subtlety and beauty of his own creations, with the blindness of suffering, with senseless hope. Sometimes we find the tedious monotony of a single color, sometimes an absurd and chaotic motley.

But there is, surprisingly, more true realism in the craziest picture of the most abstract subjectivist, in the silliest concoction of lines, dots, and spots, than in all the harmonious worlds commissioned by bureaucrats. A strange, silly, crazy picture is, after all, a true expression of at least one living human soul. But whose living soul can we sense in this harmonious, officially sanctioned world so full of apparently naturalistic detail, so dense with ripe ears of wheat and fine forests of oak? Nobody’s – there is no soul in a government office. A government office is not alive.

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May 272013
 
  1. The right to not read
  2. The right to skip pages
  3. The right to not finish
  4. The right to reread
  5. The right to read anything
  6. The right to escapism
  7. The right to read anywhere
  8. The right to browse
  9. The right to read out loud
  10. The right to not defend your tastes

 

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Dec 312012
 

Everything in your body, and everything you can see around you, is made up of tiny objects called atoms. Atoms come in different types called elements. Hydrogen, oxygen and carbon are three of the most important elements in your body.

[…]

How did those elements get into our bodies? The only way they could have got there, to make up all the material on our Earth, is if some of those stars exploded a long time ago, spewing all the elements from their cores into space. Then, about four and a half billion years ago, in our part of our galaxy, the material in space began to collapse. This is how the Sun was formed, and the solar system around it, as well as the material that forms all life on earth.

So, most of the atoms that now make up your body were created inside stars! The atoms in your left hand might have come from a different star from those in your right hand. You are really a child of the stars.

-from A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing

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