“A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counts many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And now each knows that in the act of survival he lived a dozen lives and saw more death than he ever thought he would see. At the time, none of them knew anything.”—John Hersey, “Hiroshima.” The New Yorker. August 24, 1946.
August 6th is always a good time to reread John Hersey’s seminal essay, Hiroshima. Or, his book of the same name. Particularly when the United Nations leading official on nuclear disarmament has this to say in a recent interview on our current situation:
“Nakamitsu: The Doomsday Clock is a very effective way of informing the public about how dangerous things have become. I share the concern. The risk of use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by accident, is higher than it has been since the darkest days of the Cold War. But the greatest danger is through miscalculation.”—Izumi Nakamitsu in an interview with Dietmar Pieper, “The Nuclear Risk Is ‘Higher Than it has been since the Darkest Days of the Cold War’,” Der Spiegel. August 6, 2020.
“And you want to talk about a negative productivity shock, too. The biggest positive productivity shock we’ve had over the last 40 years has been globalization together with technology. And I think if you take away the globalization, you probably take away some of the technology. So that affects not just trade, but movements and people. And then there are the socio-political ramifications. I liken the incident we’re in to The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy got sucked up in the tornado with her house, and it’s spinning around, and you don’t know where it will come down. That’s where our social, political, economic system is at the moment. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and it’s probably not in the pro-growth direction.”-Simon Kennedy, “Harvard’s Reinhart and Rogoff Say This Time Really Is Different.” Bloomberg. May 18, 2020.
Probably the best thing I’ve read on the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have any interest in GDP, the economy, etc., this is worth reading in full.
Open Question: What does it mean to “pace yourself” in modern culture? Does it mean staying with something long enough, over time, to truly develop a relationship with the material and love it?
“There’s a willingness, there’s a faith, there’s a very, very magical alchemy that happens when somebody looks at something with enormous love and enormous passion—and it doesn’t matter what that material is. It can be a comic book page, it can be a silly story, and you don’t change it, but the way you look at it transforms it. Which is a very different exercise than postmodernism. Postmodernism or kitsch is me winking at you, saying ‘I know it’s silly, but I’m being ironic. I’m above the material.’ And for me, the transformative power of art is you are not above the material…
…I think it is amazing that I can travel with my iPad with thousands of movies. I think it is amazing that I can streamline thousands more. I think it is amazing that I can know what happened in far-flung countries, in one second. But it is up to us, as humans—one of our ethical tasks is to say, how am I going to pace myself? What am I focusing on? Because otherwise we live life in a blur. We’re texting and driving. So it is—media is not evil. The speed of media is not evil. What is toxic is that we don’t pace ourselves. That we’re not having dinner without texting; that we’re not capable of paying full attention to the moment we’re living. And that is true also of the cinematic discourse.”-Guillermo del Toro in an interview with Lauren Wilford, “Death is the Curator: An Interview with Guillermo del Toro.” Bright Wall / Dark Room. Issue 44. February 2017.
This whole interview is packed with wisdom and might change the way you think about culture, particularly film. Read it.
“What do you think of a show where we interview celebrities while making them eat violently hot chicken wings?”—Bijan Stephen, “In The Hot Seat.” The Verge. October 31, 2019.
New to me. Loved the article above and plan to check out Hot Ones on YouTube, which currently has +200 videos. Wordness to the turdness.
“Will I be anything? Will I be nothing at all? / The question wastes time. / I focus, get the chores done.”
—Jenn Pelly interviewing Brontez Purnell, “An Interview with Brontez Purnell.” The Believer Magazine. August 1, 2019.
Amazing interview throughout. Also liked:
“We endorse the use of lies but not at the expense of truth.”
—Bikini Kill quoted in ibid.
Can we agree an hour long open format is better than a “debate”?