Aimé Césaire

This is the epigraph to Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. I just purchased this text and haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet. It is a mixed-media project and along with her work in Citizen: An American Lyric, I am excited to read this as I think about public intellectuals and […]

from Paul Celan’s “Ansprache”

Only one thing remained close and reachable amid all losses: language. Yes, language.  In spite of everything it remained unlost [unverloren].  But it had to go through its own lack of answers [Antwortlosigkeit], through terrifying silence [furchtbares Verstummen], through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech.  It went through and gave no words for what happened; […]

Imre Kertész and the Nobel Lecture

Heureka! “Whereas I, on a lovely spring day in 1955, suddenly came to the realization that there exists only one reality, and that is me, my own life, this fragile gift bestowed for an uncertain time, which had been seized, expropriated by alien forces, and circumscribed, marked up, branded – and which I had to […]

Guilt

“I’m not interested in anybody’s guilt. Guilt is a luxury that we can no longer afford. I know you didn’t do it, and I didn’t do it either, but I am responsible for it because I am a man and a citizen of this country and you are responsible for it, too, for the very […]

Claudia Rankine

I just read Citizen: An American Lyric and I was struck by the urgency with which it touched me, made me want to handle it, read it again as if I had never experienced her words. There was so much truth in this book that, for a moment, I didn’t understand that it was not written just […]

Black Politics, Public Intellect and Rigor

“6 Scholars Who Are ‘Reimagining Black Politics’: There’s a world of urgent discourse beyond Dyson, West, and Gates.” From Robin D.G. Kelley: I don’t play pundit because I’m not interested in ‘influencing popular opinion’ if it means sacrificing analytical rigor. Our job as intellectuals is to ask the hard questions, interrogate inherited categories, take nothing as self-evident, […]

Pamuk on Literature

What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their […]