Skip to main content

Quotes: Learning from people who are different

Without stealing or unfairly/inexpertly appropriating ideas from each other, we can learn from each other. Two reflections on this:

“The Jew can teach the Indian a lot about how to survive as a people and as a culture while being uprooted from one’s homeland, and against the odds of genocide and forceful proselytizing campaigns perpetrated by dominant religions and cultures. The Indian can teach the Jew a lot about what the Jew has lost at the expense of centuries of survival consciousness and uprootedness from connection to the land, information that is far more fresh in the ways of the Indians than it is in the ways of contemporary Jews.”
Gershon Winkler. Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books, 2003. p. xx.

"Sufi mystics were renowned for their poetic testimonies to a paradigm of self-annihilation (fana) followed by a return to the glorious ‘subsistence’ (baqa) of everyday life. And similar notions, I believe, are to be found in Hindu teachings of the mystical heart-cave (quha) and Buddhist teachings on sacred emptiness (sunyata) and nothingness (nirvana)."
Richard Kearney. Anatheism: Returning to God After God. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

On how we can internalize the perspective of a parent (or anyone close to us), as we imagine they would express their perspective:

"What’s always funny, with me and Mom, is how the conversation can continue even when we’re not in the same room—how whenever I feel especially under pressure, I almost always start to hear my own internal version of her arguing with what I think might be her internal version of me, as though I’m rehearsing our next argument in my head, playing through things I’d never have the guts to say to her in person. Except . . . maybe it’s less “guts” than simple forbearance, a wistful wish to seem more reasonable than I often think I’m capable of being, plus the insight to know exactly how crazy most of the shit I long to spew at her would sound, if blurted out loud: how bitter, how scary. How essentially unnatural."
Gemma Files. Experimental Film. Toronto, Canada: ChiZine, 2015. P. 191.

A shared reality affects how we interpret our personal experiences:

"...two recognitions of human life that sound paradoxical but are actually complementary. First, people’s experiences are intensely personal; claims to the uniqueness of experience are true and deserve to be honored. Second, people’s ability to have experiences depends on shared cultural resources that provide words, meanings, and the boundaries that segment the flow of time into episodes. Experiences are very much our own, but we don’t make up these experiences by ourselves.”
Arthur W. Frank. The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. (Originally published 1995.) Second edition. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013. Preface, 2013.


Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36) The Victorian English spelli

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House . Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity. Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be

The ‘prostitute with a gun’ was a middle-class high school girl

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, a 17-year-old high school student in Long Island, N.Y., rang the bell at the home of 37-year-old Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Buttafuoco stepped onto her front porch and had a brief conversation with the girl, whom she had never met before. Fisher then shot her in the face and fled the scene. Neighbors heard the shot and rushed to Buttafuoco's aid. She regained consciousness the next day in a hospital and was able to recall the conversation with her attacker. This information helped police to promptly identify and arrest Fisher. Fisher's explanation of her action shocked the nation. She claimed that she had been lovers with her victim's husband, Joey Buttafuoco, 36, since the previous summer when she was still only 16. While those who knew Buttafuoco believed him to be a pillar of the community, Fisher said he perpetrated auto theft scams. She claimed he introduced her to a life of prostitution, such that she wore a beeper to her high school classes an