In her novel Regeneration, Pat Barker writes of a doctor who 'knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem of the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.
To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination, or to point out new features on a familiar route. To read is to travel through that terrain with the author as a guide-- a guide one might not always agree with or trust, but who can at least be counted on to take one somewhere.
Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car. Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.
They are all beasts of burden in a sense, ' Thoreau once remarked of animals, 'made to carry some portion of our thoughts.' Animals are the old language of the imagination; one of the ten thousand tragedies of their disappearance would be a silencing of this speech.
What gets called 'the sixties' left a mixed legacy and a lot of divides. But it opened everything to question, and what seems the most fundamental and most pervasive in all the ensuing changes is the loss of faith in authority: the authority of government, of science, of patriarchy, of progress, of capitalism, of violence, of whiteness.
How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life most requires of us.
The battle with Men Who Explain Things has trampled down many women — of my generation, of the up-and-coming generation we need so badly, here and in Pakistan and Bolivia and Java, not to speak of the countless women who came before me and were not allowed into the laboratory, or the library, or the conversation, or the revolution, or even the category called human.
The fight for free space-for wilderness and for public space-must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space. Otherwise the individual imagination will be bulldozed over for the chain-store outlets of consumer appetite, true-crime titillations, and celebrity crises.
The poor have often been subversive just because they don't always believe their own depiction as brutes and loafers and leeches, and new economy is making lots more poor or recognize their fellowship with the insecurity of the poor, the portion of the population for whom the system does not work.
Musing takes place in a kind of meadowlands of the imagination, a part of the imagination that has not yet been plowed, developed, or put to any immediately practical use…time spent there is not work time, yet without that time the mind becomes sterile, dull, domesticated. The fight for free space — for wilderness and public space — must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space.
[On the] question of why we might want to look at images even more than the real thing: I think there is some quality when you look at an image of, not only seeing this thing, whether it's the horse or the sky, but you are seeing somebody point at it and say, Look!
When you say 'mother' or 'father' you describe three different phenomena. There is the giant who made you and loomed over your early years; there is whatever more human-scale version might have been possible to perceive later and maybe even befriend; and there is the internalized version of the parent with whom you struggle- to appease, to escape, to be yourself, to understand and be understood by- and they make up a chaotic and contradictory trinity.
If gold has been prized because it is the most inert element, changeless and incorruptible, water is prized for the opposite reason -- its fluidity, mobility, changeability that make it a necessity and a metaphor for life itself. To value gold over water is to value economy over ecology, that which can be locked up over that which connects all things.
How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?" (Plato) The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration- how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?
Globally, as the nation-state becomes increasingly less meaningful - a provider of positive goods and more and more just an army and some domestic enforcement - people are withdrawing to shape and support more localised forms of organisation and power. To the extent that it's part of that civilised and localising world, the same is true of the U.S.