The commentary will stay in my head, because after yesterday’s post, I know that if I comment, that the comment is static, is a stop. Without comment, the commentary will sound different each time I read these. The commentary becomes infinite, is never limited, always has possibility.
So, the rest of the story is a dystopian mess, but Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” has a point here:
Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas?
They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. … They were not less complex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.
And in the “weirdest finds” category (kind of like the one workable item in an otherwise crap-tastic antique shop), we have Tracy Hickman’s Wayne of Gotham:
“Gotham balances on the edge of an abyss, and I alone feel the weight of holding it precariously there. What kind of a life is that?”
“An important life,” Alfred urged. “A necessary life. A life given so that others might live theirs.”
I’m the guardian. Who guards the guardian? (220)
While not as good as his first novel (The Imperfectionists), Tom Rachman’s The Rise and Fall of Great Powers does include some truisms that we would be stupid to neglect:
According to the world, capitalism had won [the Cold War], but Humphrey called it a tie at best. He couldn’t see capitalism lasting. What was the point of any system, he asked, if it only encouraged the worst in humanity, elevating self-interest to a virtue? (61)
Family meant nothing more than did random names in a telephone directory. The relations that counted were those of choice, which made friendship the supreme bond, one that either party could sever, and all the more valuable for its precariousness. (73)
Her only unease was a hovering sense of responsibility – that she ought to be looking after someone. But there was no one anymore, just herself, which seemed so frivolous. (371)
She resolved to blunt her flintier side, not to assume that she understood people entirely, and to accept that to be surprised or disappointed or even betrayed was not a catastrophe. It could be a revelation to learn that you were wrong (372).
At the beginning of this literary trek, the world lost a legend, Maya Angelou. No books of her’s were read, but her words are loudest:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“You may not control all of the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”