node created 2019/09/29
At elite conferences, they wonder how to regain trust, or otherwise deal with the rising atmosphere of populist discontent. They acknowledge that something is deeply wrong. But they dare not lay the blame at their own feet, caused by their own overreaches and dysfunction. Anyone who did would immediately be under suspicion. No longer one of us, but one of them. So, those who might otherwise lead the difficult but necessary elite self-critique instead keep their mouths shut, or they say the wrong thing without ideological, psychological, and social preparation for the consequences and get cast out. Only the true believers incapable of self-critique, the incompetent, and the cynics, remain as voices in the public forum. They talk in circles, never quite able to correct course and come to any new conclusions, except the need to double down on current ideological practices.

Home

by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here
It's true that I detest organised, bigtime, major league religions... but I love spiritual individuals, you can see the universe in their eyes, if you're really looking... I love people, I hate crowds, groups, organisations... soon they become zealots, then they start wearing hats... then they have fight songs and come and visit you at 3 am in the morning...
The numbers in a billionaire's net worth include no contextual information - nothing about the lives damaged, the jobs lost, the opportunities eliminated, the time wasted, the scamming, cheating, and manipulation, the ecological support structures destroyed.

Business and personal accounting systems deny, ignore, and suppress those contextual details. So does the "investment" industry. And that makes a mockery of "price discovery" because the nominal market price always excludes critical externalities.

It's possible to become extremely rich without negative externalities. It just happens to be incredibly difficult. The looser your ethics, and the less empathy you have for competitors and victims, the easier it gets. It's a feedback loop which rewards unethical behaviour.

Essentially, money itself is a form of morality-laundering. It's an integer when it should be a complete trace through a common contextual event map.
A world without borders has become the panopticon, a jail where we are bound by ever-peering eyes of our peers.
All one can say is that, while civilisation remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, "light" literature has its appointed place; also that there is such a thing as sheer skill, or native grace, which may have more survival value than erudition or intellectual power.
"Good Bad Books"
There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
It’s not that they’re bad people. It reveals an institutional pathology. There is an institutional structure that says that if you’re the CEO of a major corporation, which incidentally means that you have enormous influence in the political system, then you simply don’t care about what happens to the world in the next generation, including your own grandchildren. What you care about is profits tomorrow. It’s an institutional imperative.
To state it in slightly different terms: in those critical years [roughly from age 17 to 20] I learned how to be alone.

This formulation doesn't really capture my meaning. I didn't, in any literal sense learn to be alone, for the simple reason that this knowledge had never been unlearned during my childhood. It is a basic capacity in all of us from the day of our birth. However these 3 years of work in isolation, when I was thrown onto my own resources, following guidelines which I myself had spontaneously invented, instilled in me a strong degree of confidence, unassuming yet enduring, in my ability to do mathematics, which owes nothing to any consensus or to the fashions which pass as law.

[..]

By this I mean to say: to reach out in my own way to the things I wished to learn, rather than relying on the notions of the consensus, overt or tacit, coming from a more or less extended clan of which I found myself a member, or which for any other reason laid claim to be taken as an authority. This silent consensus had informed me, both at the lyé and at the university, that one shouldn't bother worrying about what was really meant when using a term like "volume", which was "obviously self-evident", "generally known", "unproblematic", etc. I'd gone over their heads, almost as a matter of course, even as Lesbesgue himself had, several decades before, gone over their heads. It is in this gesture of "going beyond", to be something in oneself rather than the pawn of a consensus, the refusal to stay within a rigid circle that others have drawn around one - it is in this solitary act that one finds true creativity. All others things follow as a matter of course.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
I often warn people: "Somewhere along the way, someone is going to tell you, 'There is no "I" in team.' What you should tell them is, 'Maybe not. But there is an "I" in independence, individuality and integrity.
It's pretty ironic that the so-called 'least advantaged' people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction
From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’
And the cover of Vodafone's Digital Parenting is a picture of three lovely-looking little kids, about eight years old, all sat in a line on a sofa, where they're all absorbed by handheld devices and computers and screens, and they're not interacting in any meaningful human way. And all through Digital Parenting are all these disguised advertorials about "edu-taining" software that you absolutely need to buy. Vodafone's Digital Parenting. It's like the fox's guide to chicken security.
What frightened me in your essay was the gospel of love which you begin to preach at the end. In politics, love is a stranger, and when it intrudes upon it nothing is being achieved except hypocrisy. All the characteristics you stress in the Negro people: their beauty, their capacity for joy, their warmth, and their humanity, are well-known characteristics of all oppressed people. They grow out of suffering and they are the proudest possession of all pariahs. Unfortunately, they have never survived the hour of liberation by even five minutes. Hatred and love belong together, and they are both destructive; you can afford them only in the private and, as a people, only so long as you are not free.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"
It is not the greatest of modern scientists who feel most sure that the object, stripped of its qualitative properties and reduced to mere quantity, is wholly real. Little scientists, and little unscientific followers of science, may think so. The great minds know very well that the object, so treated, is an artificial abstraction, that something of its reality has been lost.
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. [..] But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
Once upon the time, I worked for an organization named "Department of the Citizens' Safety". It was in a different time, in a different country, and I had not had a chance to say no - I knew computers, a few Western languages, and had passed (or failed) a bunch of IQ and psychology test. I had barely gotten my first star, and had only a few missions under my belt when the government fell, and I found myself out on my ass, forbidden from holding any government jobs at a time when the only legal jobs were either government, or you had to create them yourself.

I'm fine now. I am neither dead, nor in organized crime, the way three quarters of my colleagues ended up. I know, now, that I was working for some pretty evil people, and what I was doing was pretty evil. I have pretended being a priest, and wiped my ass with the secret of confession, I have infiltrated literary clubs, and framed the most brilliant of their members for not-so-petty crimes, and I even killed in the line of duty once. It's all in the past, and I'm not even bothering to hide my IP - if you find out who I am, I'll just tell you that I was making shit up - on the internet, no one knows you are a dog.

That said. Never in my life, not before, not since, had I felt that my life was so simple, that what I was doing was so right, that I was going to bed with such a clear conscience. And of course, never have I felt as powerful and untouchable, but that's a much easier state to achieve.

When you work for this kind of organization, there is a support structure, a camaraderie, an atmosphere that insures that you are either out before you actually start, or that you are happy and confident with what you are doing, and the only real people are your colleagues. Well, at least it was for me, then. But I doubt the US NSA is testing, vetting, training and supporting their personnel less than my old country did in the late eighties.
I used to call myself a war photographer. Now I consider myself as an antiwar photographer.
Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.
"Orestes" (408 BC)