“Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) founded one of the major philosophies of ancient Greece, helping to lay the intellectual foundations for modern science and for secular individualism. Many aspects of his thought are still highly relevant some twenty-three centuries after they were first taught in his school in Athens, called “the Garden.”
Epicurus’s philosophy combines a physics based on an atomistic materialism with a rational hedonistic ethics that emphasizes moderation of desires and cultivation of friendships. His world-view is an optimistic one that stresses that philosophy can liberate one from fears of death and the supernatural, and can teach us how to find happiness in almost any situation. His practical insights into human psychology, as well as his science-friendly world-view, gives Epicureanism great contemporary signficance as well as a venerable role in the intellectual development of Western Civilization.”
“This attack is accomplished by making you feel that your very existence is inimical to the Movement and that nothing can change this short of ceasing to exist. These feelings are reinforced when you are isolated from your friends as they become convinced that their association with-you is similarly inimical to the Movement and to themselves. Any support of you will taint them. Eventually all your colleagues join in a chorus of condemnation which cannot be silenced, and you are reduced to a mere parody of your previous self.”
—Jo Freeman. “Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood.” Ms. April 1976.
The problem with identity politics, in a nutshell. If your politics is a bloodsport and treats people as representations to be “called out” rather than real people with all their complexity and flaws, then you probably aren’t going to have much of a “Movement”.
“I had to retrain my eyes and brain to find older men attractive when I started dating again in my fifties. The last time I was single the men I was looking at were in their thirties and I still had that youthful image fixed in my head. It was depressing at first, choosing from a pool that’s not regarded as desirable or vital in your society. I was paddling around in that same pool myself. I’d walk down Oxford Street looking at bald men and men with grey hair and paunches and say to myself, He’s about my age, that’s the demographic I should be looking at. I realized I had a very small group to choose from: men over fifty who’d kept themselves vaguely together physically, were single, mentally stable, solvent and not gay were rare creatures. I managed to re-educate myself eventually. Now I’m only attracted to people my age. A young face looks like a blank page to me.”
—Viv Albertine, “Viv Albertine on Dating Again in Her 50s.” Longreads.com. May 2018.
It is so rare to see a frank account of some of the problems of growing older that it is a bit startling to see it in print.
“The skinhead subculture was originally tied to working-class youths in London, England in the 1960s. Considered the first wave, this iteration of the movement was an offshoot of another youth subculture called mod. Skinheads were categorized as such because of their close-cropped or bald heads, but their fashion was inspired by mod as well as the Jamaican rude boy subculture.”
—Elijah C. Watson. “Black Skinhead: Vic Mensa And The Distortion Of The Skinhead Subculture.” okayplayer.com. June 12, 2018.
Never heard about skinheads originally coming out of mod and rude boy subcultures and how it was commoditized to promote a fascist ideology. But, I find it interesting that the same tactics are in play with the attempt to create “Proud Boys” in the United States.
“Yes, of course, we’re fucked. (Though it’s important to specify the “we” in this formulation, because the global poor, the disenfranchised, the young, and the yet-to-be-born are certifiably far more fucked than such affluent, white, middle-aged Americans as Vollmann and myself.) But here’s the thing: with climate change as with so much else, all fuckedness is relative. Climate catastrophe is not a binary win or lose, solution or no-solution, fucked or not-fucked situation. Just how fucked we/they will be—that is, what kind of civilization, or any sort of social justice, will be possible in the coming centuries or decades—depends on many things, including all sorts of historic, built-in systemic injustices we know all too well, and any number of contingencies we can’t foresee. But most of all it depends on what we do right now, in our lifetimes. And by that I mean: what we do politically, not only on climate but across the board, because large-scale political action—the kind that moves whole countries and economies in ways commensurate with the scale and urgency of the situation—has always been the only thing that matters here. (I really don’t care about your personal carbon footprint. I mean, please do try to lower it, because that’s a good thing to do, but fussing and guilt-tripping over one’s individual contribution to climate change is neither an intellectually nor a morally serious response to a global systemic crisis.)”
—Wes Stephenson. “Carbon Ironies.” The Baffler. June 13, 2018.
“Everyone I’ve ever talked to who has been poor and who isn’t anymore has the same story of the moment they realized they were no longer poor: grocery shopping.
Mine came when I was loading my groceries onto the cashier belt and realized I hadn’t done the math.”
—Erynn Brook with illustrations by Emily Flake. “The Difference Between Being Broke and Being Poor.” Longreads.com. June 12, 2018.
“Consider Marilyn Monroe, whose August 1962 suicide saw a 12 percent increase in suicides over the next 12 months; indeed a study published in February in PLoS One found that the August 2014 suicide of Robin Williams touched off a 9.85 percent increase in suicides by the following December, resulting in an “excess” of 1,841 suicide cases. When your persona is ubiquitous, it seems, so are your troubles.”
—Jared Keller. “How Celebrity Deaths Reveal the Hidden Threat of Suicide Contagion.” Pacific Standard. June 12, 2018.
“Anybody who uses the Internet should read E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops. It is a chilling, short story masterpiece about the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it’s as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster has several prescient notions including instant messages (email!) and cinematophoes (machines that project visual images).”