I’d never gone through these alleys; it’s like a proctological exam of a city. Weedy and junky. Abandoned children’s toys. The sense of decay and indifference, sloth and carelessness. A distance of four blocks from neat backyards to dumpy messes. Incongruous things like a backyard piled high with junk, and a new BMW in the garage.
Lileks, J. (2017, August 17). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/15/0115/011915.html
One could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.
Arendt, H. (1973). The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
Do What You Please
The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.
Arendt, H. (1978, October). Hannah Arendt: From an Interview. The New York Review of Books.
Treason from Within
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor — He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation — he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city — he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.
Marcus Tullius Cicero (42 BC)
Doubts Simply Float In The Air
As Leslie H. Gelb, himself a veteran of McNamara’s Pentagon (and later a member of The Times editorial board), has written, “It is almost superhuman to expect one responsible for waging war” to fundamentally rethink its merits and then to act on the basis of that rethinking. “And so doubts simply float in the air without being translated into policy.”
Logevall, F. (2017, November 28). Rethinking “McNamara”s War’. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/rethinking-mcnamaras-war.html
It is highly significant that elite universities refuse to use their overstuffed endowments to expand the pool of students that they serve. Why doesn’t Harvard open 10 campuses, across the nation and the world? The answer is that Harvard is in the luxury goods business, and it is in their interest to keep the product supply artificially limited and the price artificially high. Their generous alumni don’t wish to tarnish the luxury value of their degree by allowing Harvard to open a campus in Scranton or Jacksonville, where regular folk might benefit from the supposedly fine quality of a Harvard education. Why do we allow the Harvards of the world to hold and earn returns on these huge endowments tax-free when they are not acting in the interests of the people of the United States? The fact that they are providing education is secondary — they are selling a luxury good, like Hermes or Ferrari. I’ve single out Harvard here, but there is a long list of “elite” schools who behave in the same way, and aspire to Harvard’s wealth and status as a luxury brand.
Tom from Ohio (2017, Nov 1). Re: Let’s Waste College on the Old [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/opinion/adult-learners-college.html
It’s one of the great plagues, I think it was always a plague in political discourse and it’s always gonna be with us in political discourse, but I think one of the great new plagues in the 21st Century is people who believe they have the answer in a paragraph.
Simon, D. (2014, October 22). David Simon on why he created The Wire | Observer Ideas. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYXNdELqCe4
The sensation of righteousness, which social media doles out in ever-diminishing dopamine hits, drives the discussion, but also limits it.
Marche, S. (2017, November 25). The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/opinion/sunday/harassment-men-libido-masculinity.html
My time on the financial desk had become a slow ordeal of waiting for my superiors to discover more and more of how little I knew about what I was doing; and now however pathetically willing I might be to learn all the things I was supposed to know, it had become much too ludicrously late to ask.
Yates, R. (2014). Eleven Kinds of Loneliness: Stories. Picador.
Suttree himself is a lost creature who can find no real hook into this world.
Charyn, J. (1979, February 18). Suttree (A Review). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/05/17/specials/mccarthy-suttree.html