Men of Action

All “direct” persons and men of action are active just because they are stupid and limited. How explain that? I will tell you: in consequence of their limitation they take immediate and secondary causes for primary ones, and in that way persuade themselves more quickly and easily than other people do that they have found an infallible foundation for their activity.

– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground

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Street People

I’m hangin’ out with the street people

They’ve got it down

Hangin’ out with the street people

Driftin’ from town to town

Who’s gonna work, make the economy grow

If we all hang out in the street

Well I don’t know, and I don’t care

Just as long as it ain’t me

– Bobby Charles, “Street People” 1972.

History’s Fiction

History, really, is fiction – not because it is made up of invented facts, for the facts are real, but because in the organization of those facts there is much fiction.

– José Saramago, The Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction No. 155”

Storytelling and Memory

It is the storyteller… who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that survivors must have — otherwise surviving would have no meaning… This is very, very important… Memory is necessary if surviving is going to be more than just a technical thing.

Chinua Achebe, as quoted by the imitable Brain Pickings

Prophecy

What prophecy actually is is not that you actually know that the bomb will fall in 1942. It’s that you know and feel something that somebody knows and feels in a hundred years. And maybe articulate it in a hint — a concrete way that they can pick up on in a hundred years.

– Allen Ginsberg, Paris Review, “The Art of Poetry No. 8”

Still I Rise: Maya Angelou

The great Maya Angelou, spinning hope and wisdom and anger and love, always a difficult balance to achieve, but damn, Dr. Angelou, you make it look so easy:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

– via Kottke.org