Category Archives: Articles of Note

Obama

Hard to know if I’ll listen to this or not. I would like more shots of that home studio. But this quote:

“In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys,” Obama says in the first episode. “We still share a fundamental belief in the American ideal. Not as an airbrushed, cheap fiction or an act of nostalgia that ignores all the ways that we’ve fallen short of that ideal. But as a compass for the hard work that lies before each of us as citizens.”

NYT Coverage here.

Darkest day of the year

I loved this essay: How We Survive Winter

“I have spent some long, scary nights waiting for the sun to come up. There have also been some long, barren seasons when I feared the sap would never rise again,” Barbara Brown Taylor, an author and Episcopal priest, reflected. “The hardest thing is to keep trusting the cycle, to keep trusting that the balance will shift again even when I can’t imagine how. So far it has.”

“The most important thing is to hold that tiny spark of life, if it is in a bud, in a seed, that is our work, to hold on to life, so when spring comes back, there can be growth. If you fail at that, spring doesn’t matter,” she said. “That seems like a Covid teaching to me.” (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Reminded me of this passage, which is on my stick:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Many versions here.

Great headline

White clicktivism: why are some Americans woke online but not in real life? And a solid article as well.

I’m trying to think whether I might use this in English — alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates — or whether I want to use it in history.

Quoting:

“Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, many white Americans have spent the past year taking part in a social justice movement online and on the ground, combating systemic racism and opposing police brutality. Bookstores sold out of race education books, social media timelines were consumed with Black Lives Matter support, and protests drew diverse crowds.

But then we saw the election results. Trump won the support of 71 million Americans this year – including 55% of white women and 61% of white men. Even in liberal hotbeds like New York, California and Washington, Trump maintained 48%, 47%, and 36% of the white vote.”

Yo-Yo Ma

Great interview.

For me as a musician, I try to be aware of where I am. As a performer, my job is to make the listener the most important person in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. My good friend Manny Ax12 would always say to me that it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday; if you’re here today, that’s what counts. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a kid, someone on the street, in a concert hall or with you, David. It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Re-written:

For me as a teacher, I try to be aware of where I am. As a teacher, my job is to make the students the most important people in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. My good friend Manny Ax12 would always say to me that it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday; if you’re here today, that’s what counts. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a student, someone on the street, in a school or with you, David. It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Thoughtful article

What if Instead of Calling People Out, We Called Them In?

Not sure why this is in the style section, but glad it got published.

“The antidote to that outrage cycle, Professor Ross believes, is “calling in.” Calling in is like calling out, but done privately and with respect. “It’s a call out done with love,” she said. That may mean simply sending someone a private message, or even ringing them on the telephone (!) to discuss the matter, or simply taking a breath before commenting, screen-shotting or demanding one “do better” without explaining how.

Calling out assumes the worst. Calling in involves conversation, compassion and context. It doesn’t mean a person should ignore harm, slight or damage, but nor should she, he or they exaggerate it.

The American dream

Need to remember this page when we start Gatsby.

Here’s the initial project: Obituaries, The American Dream 1931-2020.

It’s harder and harder for me, as someone whose mind runs to the negative, as someone capable of cutting cynicism, as someone who has watched for years what American poverty and racism does to my beautiful students, to remain positive.

I once heard a child pay tribute to Simon Hauger. She said:

He loves his family.
He loves his students.
He loves his work.

Simple. Remember that.

M. Robinson

Terrific essay here. Too long to try and use in class (reading time is already spoken for) but might use these paragraphs:

“It is often said that America is an idea, stated definitively in early documents left to us by a coterie of men seemingly too compromised to have come up with such glorious language — as we would be, too, if we should happen to achieve anything comparable. Human beings are sacred, therefore equal. We are asked to see one another in the light of a singular inalienable worth that would make a family of us if we let it.”

“This country was, from the outset, a tremendous leap of faith. We tend not to ponder the brutality of the European world at the time our colonies formed and then fledged, so we have little or no idea of the radicalism not only of stating that “men,” as creatures of God, were equal, but of giving the idea profound political consequences by asserting for them unalienable rights, which were defined and elaborated in the Constitution. Our history to the present day is proof that people find justice hard to reach and to sustain. It is also proof that where justice is defined as equality, a thing never to be assumed, justice enlarges its own definition, pushing its margins in light of a better understanding of what equality should mean.”

Love this paragraph, but probably wouldn’t use it:

“If we learn anything from this sad passage in our history it should be that rage and contempt are a sort of neutron bomb in the marketplace of ideas, obviating actual competition. This country would do itself a world of good by restoring a sense of the dignity, even the beauty, of individual ethicalism, of self-restraint, of courtesy. These things might help us to like one another, even trust one another, both necessary to a functioning democracy.”

Marilynne Robinson, “Opinion | Don’t Give Up on America,” The New York Times, October 9, 2020, sec. Opinion, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/opinion/sunday/america-patriotism.html.

Elena ferrante Interview

Great interview...will read the new book soon. This response, though, I’ll use in my class sooner rather than later.

To what extent can a person reinvent herself far from her origins? 

I would begin by emphasising that leaving is not betraying one’s origins. Rather, we have to leave in order to assign origins and establish them as the foundation of our growth. Wandering, we transform our bodies into crowded warehouses. New materials weigh on the original ones, modifying them by merging with them, blending with them. We ourselves seesaw between various ways of being, sometimes enriching our identity, sometimes impoverishing it by subtraction. But our birthplace endures. It’s the ground upon which our primary experiences stand, where we first exercise our gaze, first imagine, first express ourselves. And the more solid we find that ground to be, the more varied is our experience of elsewhere…