Some pithy quotes to keep in mind for the New Year.
By Harvey Blume
* Roosevelt decreed that American soldiers could not live on British rations. From the start GIs were allocated more meat than British soldiers and far more than the ration of British civilians. Vegetables were also a problem. The most readily available vegetable was Brussels sprouts, which Americans universally despised.
Craig L. Symonds, Operation Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings
• We belong to a short-lived genus of species. All our cousins are already extinct. What’s more, we do damage.
Carlo Rovelli, physicist
• On May 16 I stayed home the whole day reading The Lord of the Rings. I couldn’t get enough of the battle between light and darkness, good and evil, and when the little man not only resisted the superior powers but also showed himself to be the greatest hero of them all, there were tears in my eyes.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
• The point of the European Union was to be dull and boring rather than violent and aggressive and bellicose. If you want passion then go for violent, narrow-minded, tribal nationalism. Democracy depends on passion being diluted by reason.
• By now, it’s obvious to everyone with open eyes that Donald Trump is an ignorant, wildly dishonest, erratic, immature, bullying egomaniac. On the other hand, he’s a terrible person.
• N.G. Kuznetsov: Moscow is literally dying of hunger.
Trotsky: That’s not hunger. When Titus was taking Jerusalem mothers ate their children. When I have your mothers eating their young, then you can tell me you’re starving.
Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time: the Last of the Soviets
• I constantly want to kill myself, but then, too, there’s stuff I want to do. Naps are a chance to kill yourself and take it back.
• I wonder had I called Portnoy’s Complaint The Orgasm Under Rapacious Capitalism, if I would thereby have earned the favor of the Swedish Academy.
• You don’t know me from the wind
you never will, you never did
I’m the little jew
who wrote the Bible
• Observing dark matter, Lisa Randall suggests, is like spotting a famous person: “Even if you don’t see George Clooney directly, the disruptive traffic generated by the waiting crowd armed with cell phones and cameras suffices to alert you to a celebrity’s proximity.”
• Anger is a very sexy notion for commentators to latch onto, but I think it has been overstated. Rather, I would say what mattered more was the desire to have fun, to be entertained, to do mischief and see chaos break out — what the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin called the “carnivalesque” turn.
• I sometimes think that bonobos sit up late at night reading papers about primates, and then decide to do the opposite.
Joan Silk, primatologist.
Harvey Blume is an author—Ota Benga: The Pygmy At The Zoo—who has published essays, reviews, and interviews widely, in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Agni, The American Prospect, and The Forward, among other venues. His blog in progress, which will archive that material and be a platform for new, is here. He contributes regularly to The Arts Fuse, and wants to help it continue to grow into a critical voice to be reckoned with.