Sue Coe. Noise in the Home (1977)

Every month or so, I post a LinkedIn article comprising thought-provoking quotations. (Check it out.) Some favorites are below.
Oliver Sacks on genius: “It required a quiet and immense self-confidence, even obstinacy to pursue these studies, for almost everyone, hearing and deaf alike, at first regarded [William] Stokoe’s notions as absurd or heretical; his books, when they came out, as worthless or nonsensical. This is often the way with works of genius. But within a very few years, because of Stokoe’s works, the entire climate of opinion had been changed, and a revolution—a double revolution—was under way: a scientific revolution, paying attention to sign language, and its cognitive and neural substrates, as no one had ever thought to do before; and a cultural and political revolution.” (From his Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf, 1989)
Margo Jefferson on criticism: "We gather our resources in all their plenitude and variety: intellectual, emotional, moral; aesthetic, ethnical, political. And we use them to analyze and demystify the work, to probe its clashes and contradictions, and to feel its power without being at its mercy. No evasions, no simplifications. The task is to read the art and life fully as they wind and unwind around each other, changing shape and direction." (From her new introduction to her 2006 book On Michael Jackson)
Marc Hamer on occupation: "Lying unsleeping through the night on the deck of a half-sunken narrowboat on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, right outside the steel shop where I worked on Wigan Pier, looking up at the stars I decided would do what I was good at, which was walking, and that I would do what I enjoyed, which was wandering about and looking at things and trying to figure them out. This was something about me that my father hated. I remember him saying that I was 'too stupid to come in out of the rain,' and thinking, 'But the rain is interesting.' I was a dreamy kid." (From his How to Catch a Mole, 2019)
Andrew Sullivan on the opioid epidemic. “To see this epidemic as simply a pharmaceutical or chemically addictive problem is to miss something: the despair that currently makes so many want to fly away. Opioids are just one of the ways Americans are trying to cope with an inhuman new world where everything is flat, where communication is virtual, and where those core elements of human happiness — faith, family, community — seem to elude so many. Until we resolve these deeper social, cultural, and psychological problems, until we discover a new meaning or reimagine our old religion or reinvent our way of life, the poppy will flourish." (From an essay in the Feb. 19 New York magazine)
Darryl Babe Wilson on song: “Mankind and technology have placed cement dams across many rivers of the world, causing ecological havoc with disdain. The songs of our ancestors, sung by fresh, new voices, but with the same truthfulness that made the universe whole, can cause those dams to crumble.” (From his The Morning the Sun Went Down, 1998)
Henry George on justice: "While there is still time, we may turn to justice. If we do, the dangers that threaten us will disappear. With want destroyed and greed transformed, equality will take the place of jealousy and fear. Think of the powers now wasted, the fields of knowledge yet to be explored, the possibilities that the wondrous inventions of this century only hint at. Who can presume the heights to which our civilization may soar?" (From his Progress and Poverty, 1879)
Henry Giroux on stories: “There is a need for social movements that invoke stories as a form of public memory, stories that have the potential to unsettle common sense, challenge the commonplace, and move communities to invest in their own sense of civic and collective agency. Such stories make knowledge meaningful in order to make it critical and transformative and provide a different sense of how the world is narrated. These are moments of pedagogical and political grace.” (From his The Violence of Organized Forgetting, 2014)
Simone Weil on history: “Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.” (From her Lectures on Philosophy, 1939)
Mary Roach on research: “The deeper you investigate a topic like this [a story about Paul VI’s alarm clock], the harder it becomes to stand on unshifting ground. In my experience the most staunchly held views are based on ignorance or accepted dogma, not carefully considered accumulations of facts. The more you expose the intricacies and realities of the situation, the less clear-cut things become. And also, I hold the more interesting.” (From Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, 2005)
Barbara Ehrenreich on white-collar culture: “The failure of white-collar corporate workers to band together and defend their jobs and their professional autonomy is usually attributed to their individualism—or to an unwarranted faith in the meritocratic claims of our culture. But physicians, journalists, and even many blue-collar workers are no less likely to be individualistic believers in meritocracy. What sets the white-collar corporate workers apart and leaves them so vulnerable is the requirement that they identify, absolutely and unreservedly, with their employers.” (From Bait and Switch: The [Futile] Pursuit of the American Dream, 2005)
MLK on creativity: “I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence. And I say to you that I am absolutely convinced that maybe the world is in need for the formation of a new organization: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment." (Sermon at Temple Israel of Hollywood, 1965)
Christopher Hitchens on vocal cords: "In the medical literature, the vocal 'cord' is a mere 'fold,' a piece of gristle that strives to reach out and touch its twin, thus producing the possibility of sound effects. But I feel that there must be a deep relationship with the word 'chord': the resonant vibration that can stir memory, produce music, evoke love, bring tears, move crowds to pity and mobs to passion. We may not be, as we used to boast, the only animals capable of speech. But we are the only ones who can deploy vocal communication for sheer pleasure and recreation, combining it with our two other boasts of reason and humor to produce higher syntheses." (From "Unspoken Truths," his 2011 essay in Vanity Fair on throat cancer)

You may also like

Back to Top