Some pithy quotes to keep in mind for the New Year.
By Harvey Blume
A Uighur village party chief was demoted for not smoking, on grounds that this failing displayed an insufficient “commitment to secularization.”
NY Times 2/3/18
Cancer cells grow faster, adapt better. They are more perfect versions of ourselves.
“Dancing is strictly prohibited during a [Saudi pop] concert,” the tickets stated in fine print. Also banned: “Swaying.”
NY Times 3/9/18
“If I am guilty of harassment,” Garrison Keillor said, “then every employee who stole a pencil is guilty of embezzlement.”
NY Times 2/8/18/
My brother used to say that the decisive part in the subjugation of the intelligentsia was played not by terror and bribery (though, God knows, there was enough of both), but by the word “Revolution,” which none of them could bear to give up.
The twentieth century was well and truly over, its lessons unlearned. A new form of politics was emerging in Russia, Europe, and America, a new unfreedom to suit a new time.
“I told [Bugsy Siegel] how the Haganah was raising money to buy weapons with which to fight. When I finished, Siegel asked, ‘You mean to tell me Jews are fighting?’ Yes, I replied. Then Siegel, who was sitting across the table, leaned forward till his nose was almost touching mine. ‘You mean fighting, as in killing?’ Yes, I answered. Siegel leaned back, looked at me for a moment and said, ‘OK, I’m with you.’”
To put it crassly: to me, Israel represents the end of Judaism. It’s a nation-state and its inhabitants are Israelis, not Jews. Which is their right, of course.
A quarter [of Americans] believe vaccines cause autism and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in the 2016 general election. A quarter believe that our previous president was (or is?) the Antichrist. A quarter believe in witches.
The other American cities she knew had all smelled distinctly: Philadelphia had the musty scent of history. New Haven smelled of neglect. Baltimore smelled of brine, and Brooklyn of sun-warmed garbage. But Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Everyone you know thinks he is absolutely terrible; everyone you don’t know thinks he’s great.
What I do know in retrospect is that without recognizing it at the time, I was part of a movement—the movement that was the 1960s—that consisted in overcoming boundaries of every sort, in my case the boundary between art and everyday life.
It’s incredible that there are still readers. Have they not heard of Netflix? But they’re here, and they’re as passionate as ever. Philip Roth wrote about that. He said there were only 30,000 readers left in the world. But boy, are they obsessed with being readers.
A great treat for Liza Bellow [Saul’s mother] was a movie matinee on the weekend. Bellow sometimes accompanied her and remembered a low rumbling in the theater, that of dozens of child translators, himself included, whispering in Yiddish to their mothers.
Hate the oppressor—but fear the oppressed.
V. S. Naipaul
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.