Monday, September 25, 2017
At magic hour, when the sun has gone but the light has not, armies of flying foxes unhinge themselves from the Banyan trees in the old graveyard and drift across the city like smoke. When the bats leave, the crows come home. Not all the din of their homecoming fills the silence left by the sparrows that have gone missing, and the old white-backed vultures, custodians of the dead for more than a hundred million years, that have been wiped out. The vultures died of diclofenac poisoning. Diclofenac, cow aspirin, given to cattle as a muscle relaxant, to ease pain and increase the production of milk, works - worked - like nerve gas on white-backed vultures. Each chemically relaxed, milk-producing cow or buffalo that died became poisoned vulture bait. As cattle turned into better dairy machines, as the city ate more ice cream, butterscotch-crunch, nutty-buddy and chocolate-chip, as it drank more mango milkshake, vultures' necks began to droop as though they were tired and simply couldn't stay awake. Silver beards of saliva dripped from their beaks, and one by one they tumbled off their branches, dead.
Not many noticed the passing of the friendly old birds. There was so much else to look forward to.
-Arundhati Roy, the prelude to The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
She lived in the graveyard like a tree. At dawn she saw the crows off and welcomed the bats home. At dusk she did the opposite. Between shifts she conferred with the ghosts of vultures that loomed in her high branches. She felt the gentle grip of their talons like an ache in an amputated limb. She gathered they weren't altogether unhappy at having excused themselves and exited from the story.
-Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
...................................................of our age. Do follow the link, and, please, take the time to read Sullivan's essay. I'd call it mighty important. A few wee excerpts:
The project of American democracy — to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off-limits, and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society — was always an extremely precarious endeavor.
Tribalism, it’s always worth remembering, is not one aspect of human experience. It’s the default human experience. It comes more naturally to us than any other way of life. For the overwhelming majority of our time on this planet, the tribe was the only form of human society.
Perhaps I’m biased because I’m an individual by default. I’m gay but Catholic, conservative but independent, a Brit but American, religious but secular. What tribe would ever have me? I may be an extreme case, but we all are nonconformist to some degree. Nurturing your difference or dissent from your own group is difficult; appreciating the individuality of those in other tribes is even harder. It takes effort and imagination, openness to dissent, even an occasional embrace of blasphemy.
And, at some point, we also need mutual forgiveness.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
-Robert Frost, Reluctance
Saturday, September 23, 2017
............of The Economist, I learned that Dick Gregory passed from the scene last month. Gregory was a pioneer in the stand-up comedy world, and a very funny man. Mostly, however, I remember his passion for protest and political activism, and his hunger strikes. More here.
Friday, September 22, 2017
.....................................He makes it sound both easy and scary. The veneer of civilization has never been thinner.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
While positive self-talk and optimism can definitely help us not quit, by themselves they don't guarantee we'll achieve our goals. Now, dreaming isn't inherently bad - but it's just the first step. Next comes facing that awful buzzkill called "reality" and its ever-present obstacles.
After you dream, think, What's getting in the way of my fantasy? And what will I do to overcome that? The fancy psych term is "implementation intentions." You and I call it "a plan."
-Eric Barker, Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong