"Everything that is good is light, what is divine runs on delicate feet: first principle of my aesthetic,” declares Nietzsche in “The Case of Wagner.” Paul Valery claims in his notebooks that “(t)he preparation of a work consists of laboriously granting oneself the liberty of executing it lightly.” In his “Six Memos for the New Millennium,” Italo Calvino calls for lightness to combat “the slow petrification” of the world caused by “the inexorable stare of Medusa.”
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They shut down the school Thursday. They shut it down the Thursday before, too, and the Thursday before that. They stack desks and chairs in front of the doors — canary yellow paint and pine, legs rounded like children’s handwriting. They scrawl signs in green and red and blue, in jaunty all-caps of acrylic. They tape a sign that says “Life’s an apple, the labor law’s a worm.” I think, “Life’s an apple,” and nudge the chairs from the handle.
A French girl studying to become a translator told me, “It’s easier to do some things in a foreign language, and it’s harder to do other things. It’s harder to be intimate, and it’s easier to get men.” In German and English, she didn’t have a pre-constructed barrier against men; she was less inhibited because she didn’t have the habit of inhibition. “I’ve always had to break up in English,” I told her, “but I sure do get pretty when I stop speaking it.” We laughed and clinked our beers.
"There is no sexual relation.”
We live lives without half-lives.
"This perfect recycling tended to present itself, in the narcosis of the event, as a model for the rest: like American political life itself, and like the printed and transmitted images on which that life depended, this was a world with no half-life.” —Joan Didion, “Political Fictions”
"Lust and learning. That’s really all there is, isn’t it?”
"It is lack of imagination that makes us come to imagined places, not just stay at home?”
I am not a conservative per se — as a Jew, a woman and a first-generation American, it wouldn’t be becoming of me to join the openly racist, sexist and xenophobic right wing. But if conservative could mean something else, it might mean this: Things exist, and exist for reasons, and we’d better think about what they are before we burn it all down.
With the sexual assault and terrorism associated with migrant flows, European values are in a clash with no solution in sight. How does one weigh hundreds of thousands of illiberal, disaffected young men against starvation in Syria, Taliban firing squads, Eritrean indefinite conscription that amounts to slavery and a Mediterranean of floating corpses?
Donald Trump is not the disease — he is the symptom.
Proust once wrote memory isn’t contained within us, but all around us, in the seasons that come and go and remind us the world goes on. And so every winter, I remember the winters previous, going back to the first one when I came to Gainesville, on the edge of beginning my so-called real life.
Say what you will of the political right, but at least they are politically consistent. From the decrepit-moderate branch to the slow-people bible study group that controls the most powerful country in the world, Republicans just want to hurt people. Jeb Bush is fine with "stuff" happening to the poor and disadvantaged, and Ted Cruz needs women to suffer for their chromosomal sins. Our left doesn’t know what it wants, especially in our generation, and it only wants to point out the ideological sins of its compatriots.
I remember the first time I went to UF in the winter of my senior year in high school. The red brick looked almost authentically collegiate Gothic. I remember the feeling of life beginning, one I tried to recapture during Preview weekend while driving in the snow-white blur of rain on I-75. I laughed at the billboards erected by the autochthons of my new home, who apparently still feared they might be aborted, performatively reading Schopenhauer in the stadium.
This has been a year of magical thinking.
To adapt Maxim Biller: Nothing is as boring as sexual liberation, at least for women.
"También No-hacer es creador, pues no sólo de hacer vive el hombre"- -Gonzalo Arango
Katrin Sieg is a professor of German and European studies at Georgetown University. She has published three books on 20th-century German theater and performance, which explore nationality, race and gender.
Amie Kreppel is the founding director of the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence and associate professor of political science.
"In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first." — Frederick Winslow Taylor, "Principles of Scientific Management"