Essayist Rebecca Solnit is interviewed in the September issue of The Believer magazine. If that statement alone isn’t enough to get you excited. Check out these tasty nuggets.
A lot of people think of political activism as some grim duty, and I think we do have an obligation to be citizens – to be informed and engaged – but it’s not just duty. Public life enlarges you, gives you purpose and context, saves you from drowning in the purely personal, as so many Americans seem to.
We tend to think of politics as a tiny, fenced-off arena of unpleasantness, which most Americans avoid – except for the horse race of primary season or fun moral questions often centered in irrelevant individual crimes and acts. But politics is persuasive. Everything is political and the choice to be apolitical is usually just an endorsement of the status quo and the unexamined life.
Whatever we can do as individuals to change the way we live at this suddenly very late date does seem utterly inadequate to the challenge. It’s hard to argue with Michael Specter, in a recent New Yorker piece on carbon footprints, when he says: “Personal choices, no matter how virtuous [N.B.!], cannot do enough. It will also take laws and money.” So it will. Yet it is no less accurate or hardheaded to say that laws and money cannot do enough, either; that it will also take profound changes in the way we live. Why? Because the climate-change crisis is at its very bottom a crisis of lifestyle — of character, even. The Big Problem is nothing more or less than the sum total of countless little everyday choices, most of them made by us (consumer spending represents 70 percent of our economy), and most of the rest of them made in the name of our needs and desires and preferences.
Read it all here.
PALAST, I DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO KISS YOU OR CURSE YOU.
You have made me swallow the blue pill and there is no going back. Your amazing, mind-blowing, literate and disturbingly funny account of what has happened to this country has left me dizzy. I am grateful for the knowledge and understanding. But I am crushed by the sheer weight of it all. Now having a greater understanding, I must begin to find ways to help it recover – if it can. Thanks for f#@king up my life.
With respect and gratitude,
(a.k.a. George of Seinfeld)
“some of the sadness that it seems to me kind of infuses the culture right now has to do with this loss of purpose or organizing principles, something you’re willing to give yourself away to, basically”
“I think it’s hard to talk smartly about it. It seems to me that most of the stuff in my own life and in my friends’ life that’s interesting and true involves double binds or setups where you’re given two alternatives which are mutually exclusive and the sacrifices involved in either seem unacceptable. I mean … I mean, one of the big ones is, the culture places a huge premium on achievement. I mean, I went to like this real hoity-toity college and, as you know, and everybody’s like now a millionaire on Wall Street. Anyway — how both to work hard enough and invest enough of yourself really to achieve something and yet retain the sort of integrity so that you’ve got a self apart from your achievement. I mean, even something as banal as, you know, The modern woman can have it all: she can
have a family and a deep fulfilling relationship with her children while being, you know, a CEO of a successful company. I mean, it’s as if the culture is some Zen teacher, you know, whacking us no matter what we do. It’s very interesting. I’m not really quite sure why we set it up that way. I’m also — I gotta tell you, I’m worried these answers are just sounding totally insane. They’re great questions, but it just seems to me like a lot of this is stuff that we could talk about for three hours.”