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[A] philosopher [is] one whose profession is to delight in understanding.

Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet

It turns out that budget constraints, in all their artificiality, had spared us from facing the all-too-limited willingness and capacity for collective action. Now if you hear someone arguing that we cannot afford to bring billions of people out of poverty or we cannot afford to transition the energy system away from fossil fuels, we know how to respond: Either you are invoking technological obstacles, in which case we need a suitably scaled, Warp Speed-style program to overcome them, or it is simply a matter of priorities. There are other things you would rather do.

Adam Tooze, “What If the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Just a Trial Run?”

[P]eople can’t, unhappily, invent their mooring posts, their lovers and their friends, anymore than they can invent their parents. Life gives these and also takes these away, and the great difficulty is to say Yes to life.

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

[T]hey recognized right away that I was a real person. And they’ve probably never seen one before.

Eustace Conway, in Elizabeth Gilbert, The Last American Man

In all these [constructivist] views, an instance of anger or elation does not reveal its causal mechanisms—a marked contrast to the classical view, in which each emotion has a dedicated mechanism in the brain, and the same word (e.g., “sadness”) names the mechanism and its product. In recent years, a new generation of scientists has been crafting psychological construction-based theories for understanding emotions and how they work. Not every theory agrees on every assumption, but together they assert that emotions are made, not triggered; emotions are highly variable, without fingerprints; and emotions are not, in principle, distinct from cognitions and perceptions.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

Back when [“Chapo Trap House”] had a near-monopoly on socialist podcasting, there was a common misconception that the only way to be a proper radical, at least online, was to mimic the temperament of the dirtbag left. Ideological preferences were conflated with affective ones; people who objected to “Chapo” on aesthetic grounds were sometimes suspected of being insufficiently committed to the cause. This presupposed that American politics consists of a single spectrum, on which Nazi-punching is to the left of civil disobedience and insults are to the left of arguments. But there isn’t just one spectrum; at the very least, there’s a quadrant grid, with policy goals on one axis and temperament on the other. The x-axis ranges from a fully planned economy to anarcho-capitalism; the y-axis ranges from solicitous Socratic dialogue to misanthropic bullying. They vary independently.

Andrew Marantz, “The Post-Dirtbag Left”

[Edward] Snowden said commercial malware such as Pegasus was so powerful that ordinary people could in effect do nothing to stop it. Asked how people could protect themselves, he said: “What can people do to protect themselves from nuclear weapons?

“There are certain industries, certain sectors, from which there is no protection, and that’s why we try to limit the proliferation of these technologies. We don’t allow a commercial market in nuclear weapons.”

David Pegg and Paul Lewis, “Edward Snowden Calls for Spyware Trade Ban amid Pegasus Revelations”

[M]aybe that was all I really wanted—to feel all the same things I was used to feeling, and to do the same things I was used to doing, the only difference being that I had a little more time, and a little less work, and a slightly higher opinion of myself.

Lydia Davis, “The Letter to the Foundation”

I am trying to learn that this playful man who teases me is the same as that serious man talking money to me so seriously he does not even see me anymore and that patient man offering me advice in times of trouble and that angry man slamming the door as he leaves the house. I have often wanted the playful man to be more serious, and the serious man to be less serious, and the patient man to be more playful. As for the angry man, he is a stranger to me and I do not feel it is wrong to hate him. Now I am learning that if I say bitter words to the angry man as he leaves the house, I am at the same time wounding the others, the ones I do not want to wound, the playful man teasing, the serious man talking money, and the patient man offering advice. Yet I look at the patient man, for instance, whom I would want above all to protect from such bitter words as mine, and though I tell myself he is the same man as the others, I can only believe I said those words, not to him, but to another, my enemy, who deserved all my anger.

Lydia Davis, “Trying to Learn”, in Almost No Memory: Stories

In the narrative imagination of Israel, the gods of Egypt are stand-ins for all the gods of several empires. What they all have in common is that they are confiscatory gods who demand endless produce and who authorize endless systems of production that are, in principle, insatiable. Thus, the mention of “Egypt” brings the God of Israel into the orbit of socioeconomic systems and practices, and inevitably sets this God on a collision course with the gods of insatiable productivity.

Walter Brueggeman, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now