Russell on Sparta. I think the thing that draws so many authoritarian dweebs to the myth of Sparta is their fear of pain. It’s appealing to think that one could be trained from birth to tolerate discomfort. If you were raised that way, they subconsciously suppose, life now would be so much easier. I would be numb, superhuman even. But as Russell points out, their desire to be insulated from pain is a bad reason to subject others to austerity. And do you really want to grow up sleeping on straw mats with thistles in them?
The tension and collaboration of Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden as depicted in The Trial of the Chicago 7. Two very different visions of activism, each potent and beautiful in their own way, even more potent together.
Basil barking at the painting of the Star Wars (album) cat.
The blurry neon colors in the rainy car backup camera feed.
The field recordings by Quiet American, including this one of Hmong musicians (beware, autoplay) in Vietnam in 1998 (via Alan Jacobs’ newsletter).
The incredible sorta photo, sorta rendering of the inside of a eukaryotic cell. If you were alive in 100 CE, 1800 CE, even 1950 CE, do you think you ever would have imagined we could look inside our bodies this way?
The notion “psychological migration,” as used by Anand Giridharadas to describe how anti-racists have “migrated tens of millions of white people to a new and better and fuller understanding of themselves and of white supremacy” over decades.
George Saunders in his latest newsletter: “I’m not sure how much this is worth, but I keep thinking that our real issue is a moral-ethical one, and an educational one. We don’t know enough about where we came from and are losing our basic respect for truth. We’re under siege from our own technology, which is eating away at our ability to be comfortable with ambiguity and nuance. What I’m going to commit to, no matter what, is to continue to try to get smarter and kinder and less slothful. And I’m going to continue to believe that the great secret weapon we’ve been given (and have, culturally, been neglecting) is literature—the best means humans have ever discovered for true transformation.”
“Lomita” by Dig Nitty. (I love this album title: Reverse of Mastery.) [Update 11-20: Erin from Dig Nitty reached out to let me know that the album title I love is a quote from Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose.]
Yet another Anand Giridharadas idea that’s ringing in my mind: while everyone’s experience of pain is different — and we shouldn’t paper over those differences — there are pains that “rhyme” across class/race/life differences. Anand is (and I am) interested in finding ways to talk about rhyming pains and to build solidarity around them.
The double-edged sword of resilience: we can adapt to seemingly any circumstance, even unimaginably difficult ones, but when we’re adapted we (sometimes) don’t feel as much urgency to change the circumstance that required us to adapt in the first place.
Iggy Pop talking about being inspired by Black music, and even playing drums for Maxwell Street musicians, in Gimme Danger.