“Every January, the Davos gathering sounds a little more bemused about what is happening in the world outside. In 2016 it worried about the threat of mass disease, just as the Ebola threat was receding. In 2015, its annual report dwelt on the return of geopolitics following Russia’s annexation of Crimea the year before. In its first report in 2006 it was anxious about epidemics and the risk of terrorism after the Asian flu crisis and the London Underground attacks. And so on. Davos specializes in projecting the future from a recent past that took it by surprise.”
- Edward Luce in The Retreat of Western Liberalism
I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity – to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.
- Edith Wharton
This from Suzy Hansen:
“Here’s the thing: no one ever tells Americans that when they move abroad, even if they are empathetic and sensitive humans-even if they come clean about their genetic inability to learn languages, even if they consider themselves leftist critics of their own government-that they will inevitably, and unconsciously, spend those first months in a foreign country feeling superior to everyone around them and to the nation in which they now have the privilege to live.”
She doesn’t mean it as a compliment.
If anything marks out the British linguistically, it’s their baroque way of using adverbs, especially as a form of polite sangfroid or poise – so “the worst day ever” is “things perhaps aren’t quite as wonderful as they could be”. As the American critic Alexander Woollcott once said: “The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm.”
- Paul Baker in theconversation.com.
This place was the inevitable byproduct – waste product, even – of market forces, and the price that more prosperous parts of the country had secretly accepted as worth paying for the many other benefits that capitalism delivered to them. The problem was systemic.
I don’t suppose one needs to live a life of perpetual astonishment. After all it’s adaptive to forget. Our daily grind is perhaps easier to endure in a state of mild amnesia. Muscle memory sets in, routine takes over, and one day seems the same as any other. But days go by, the years hum along, and one can careen towards senility without being unduly startled by anything at all. Surely, there are times when we must be released from our moorings and free ourselves up to notice the peculiarities of everyday life.
Liam Heneghan on travel, at Aeon.co. Photo, the Liffey River, Dublin.