I have hunger.” That’s what real French people say. I think it’s neat how French people have hunger, but they aren’t hungry like Americans are. I mean, it’s a lot easier to try not to have something than to try not to be it.
How can we distinguish what is biologically determined from what people merely try to justify through biological myths? A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, Culture forbids.’ Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of possibilities. It’s culture that obliges people to realize some possibilities while forbidding others. Biology enables women to have children – some cultures oblige women to realize this possibility. Biology enables men to enjoy sex with one another – some cultures forbid them to realize this possibility. Culture tends to argue that it forbids only that which is unnatural. But from a biological perspective, nothing is unnatural. Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist.
I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect I never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters, who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining on mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.
I feel to that the gap between my new life in New York and the situation at home in Africa is stretching into a gulf, as Zimbabwe spirals downwards into a violent dictatorship. My head bulges with the effort to contain both worlds. When I am back in New York, Africa immediately seems fantastical – a wildly plumaged bird, as exotic as it is unlikely.Most of us struggle in life to maintain the illusion of control, but in Africa that illusion is almost impossible to maintain. I always have the sense there that there is no equilibrium, that everything perpetually teeters on the brink of some dramatic change, that society constantly stands poised for some spasm, some tsunami in which you can do nothing but hope to bob up to the surface and not be sucked out into a dark and hungry sea. The origin of my permanent sense of unease, my general foreboding, is probably the fact that I have lived through just such change, such a sudden and violent upending of value systems.In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. In Africa, you do not view death from the auditorium of life, as a spectator, but from the edge of the stage, waiting only for your cue. You feel perishable, temporary, transient. You feel mortal. Maybe that is why you seem to live more vividly in Africa. The drama of life there is amplified by its constant proximity to death. That’s what infuses it with tension. It is the essence of its tragedy too. People love harder there. Love is the way that life forgets that it is terminal. Love is life’s alibi in the face of death. For me, the illusion of control is much easier to maintain in England or America. In this temperate world, I feel more secure, as if change will only happen incrementally, in manageable, finely calibrated, bite-sized portions. There is a sense of continuity threaded through it all: the anchor of history, the tangible presence of antiquity, of buildings, of institutions. You live in the expectation of reaching old age.At least you used to.But on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, those two states of mind converge. Suddenly it feels like I am back in Africa, where things can be taken away from you at random, in a single violent stroke, as quick as the whip of a snake’s head. Where tumult is raised with an abruptness that is as breathtaking as the violence itself.
I have always found it odd that people who think passive aggressively ignoring a person is making a point to them. The only point it makes to anyone is your inability to articulate your point of view because deep down you know you can’t win. It’s better to assert yourself and tell the person you are moving on without them and why, rather than leave a lasting impression of cowardness on your part in a person’s mind by avoiding them.
That’s what this suit’s always been about. Not scaring people like you or Gorgon do. Not some sort of pseudo-sexual roleplay or repressed emotions. I wear this thing, all these bright colors, because I want people to know someone’s trying to make their lives better. I want to give them hope.
Bookish folk aren’t what they used to be. Introverted, reserved, studious. There was a time when bookish folk would steer clear of trendy bars, dinner occasions and gatherings. Any social or public encounters would be avoided at all costs because these activities were very un-bookish. Bookish people preferred to stay in, or to sit alone in a quiet pub, reading a good book, or getting some writing done. Writers, in fact, perhaps epitomised these bookish traits most strongly. At least, they used to.These days, bookish people, such as writers, are commonly found on stage, headlining festivals, or being interviewed on TV. Author events and performances have proliferated, becoming established parts of a writer’s role. It’s not that authors have suddenly become more extroverted – it’s more a case that their job description has changed. Of course, not all writers are bookish. Not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. Some are well suited for public life, particularly those from certain academic backgrounds where public speaking is encouraged and confidence in social situations is shaped and formed. These writers may even be termed ‘gregarious’, and are thus happy being offered up for speaking engagements, stage discussions and signings. Good for them. But the others – the timid, shy and mousy authors – they’re being thrust into the limelight too. That’s my lot. The social wipeouts. Unprepared and ill-equipped to face our reader audience. What’s most concerning is that no one is offering us any guidance or tips. We’re expected to hit the ground running, confident and ready, loaded with banter, quips and answers. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
It’s useful to make the distinction between reports and stories. A report is above all responsible for providing the facts, without manipulation or interpretation. Stories, on the other hand, are a way that people try to make sense of their lives and their experiences in the world. The test of a good story isn’t its responsibility to the facts as much as its ability to provide a satisfying explanation of events. In a few paragraphs, the reader learns of the problem (sales and profits are down), gets a plausible explanation (the company lost its direction), and learns a lesson (don’t stray, focus on the core). There’s a neat end with a clean resolution. No threads are left hanging. Readers go away satisfied.Now, there’s nothing wrong with stories, provided we understand that’s what we have before us. More insidious, however, are stories that are dressed up to look like science. They take the form of science and claim to have the authority of science, but they miss the real rigor and logic of science. They’re better described as pseudoscience. Richard Feynman had an even more memorable phrase: Cargo Cult Science. Here’s the way Feynman described it: In the South Seas there is a cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas — he’s the controller — and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things Cargo Cult Science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.That’s not to say that Cargo Cult Science doesn’t have some benefits. The folks who wait patiently by the landing strips on their tropical island, dressed up like flight controllers and wearing a pair of coconut headsets, may derive some contentment from the whole process — they may live in hope of a better future, they may enjoy having something to believe in, and they may feel closer to supernatural powers. But it’s just that — it’s a story. It’s not a good predictor of what will happen next.The business world is full of Cargo Cult Science, books and articles that claim to be rigorous scientific research but operate mainly at the level of storytelling.
I think that’s what we are all meant to do, all we can do, with the gifts we have been given, be they experiences or talents. Those gifts are waiting to be used to touch others’ lives, as we patiently listen for and obediently follow the direction to which God is calling us. Because that’s what you do with gifts, you give them away.
We obviously both have our pasts, but that’s not important right now. I don’t have to know every bad thing you ever did in your life to know that you’re a good guy now. People change, grow up, get smarter, move on. In ten years I could be completely different, but I’ll never be the person I was yesterday, or even this morning. I don’t want to be. I want to try to be better with each second I’m alive.” —SHEA
People have been fighting and dying over religion for thousands of years. I could understand that fear. It creeps up on you a bit more when you’re alone in a foreign land. You certainly worry about it more when you walk the same streets as violent people that harbor a clear hatred of your beliefs and values. The reality is some Muslims in the world would kill me for being Christian, just as some Christians in the world would kill Maya, Gita, Farid and Ridwan for being Muslim. Nowadays news outlets and social media have reified that fear. It keeps some people focused and aware. It paralyzes others. It blinds some of us. That’s what happened to me. It’s why I felt the whole world shake. Twice.
Ah, Walker—if I could explain all of humanity’s foibles, I’d be a rich man indeed, at least as far as money goes. I believe people are like that because of fear. They fear being loved because they fear that if they’re loved, they’ll have to love back. And if they love back, they may get hurt. And many people aren’t ready to put their hearts on the line like that. Mostly because they don’t have anything to fall back on. It’s quite a shame, really, because they hurt themselves by trying to avoid getting hurt. But we have to be willing to die many times if we’re ever going to get on with this business of living.
And I know that sounds crazy. That’s what you say at the beginning of something, not when it’s almost reached its end. But – I don’t care. I just want to be with you. Maybe it’ll only be for these next few weeks. Maybe it’ll be forever. We can’t know what’ll happen, Anna. All I know is I love you and…we should be together. We just have to be together. We need to be together.
I've wandered through the real world, and written myself through the darkness of the streets inside me. I see people walking through the city and wonder where they've been, and what the moments of their lives have done to them. If they're anything like me, their moments have held them up and shot them down.Sometimes I just survive.But sometimes I stand on the rooftop of my existence, arms stretched out, begging for more.That's when the stories show up in me.They find me all the time.They're made of underdogs and fighters. They're made of hunger and desire and trying to live decent.The only trouble is, I don't know which of those stories comes first.Maybe they all just merge into one.We'll see, I guess.I'll let you know when I decide.
Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”There was something irritatingly self-centered about the cat, Coraline decided. As if it were, in its opinion, the only thing in any world or place that could possibly be of any importance.Half of her wanted to be very rude to it; the other half of her wanted to be polite and deferential. The polite half won.
That’s why Henric was trying tokeep this from you. Because he realized it was the one thing that might help you remember what yourmother always taught you. You, of all people, really do have a choice. You can choose to be good . . .because you are part good. No matter how hard you try to be the devil’s son, you’ve still got an angel fora mother.
I look at sex differently than most people. It’s an exchange, and it should be good for both parties. I don’t want you to spread your legs and let me have you because you want someone to hold you. If you want me to hold you, ask me. I want you to spread your legs because you can’t wait another single second for my cock. I want that pussy ripe and ready and weeping for a big dick to split it wide and have its way. I want your nipples to peak because I walk into a room and you remember every dirty thing I can do to them. I want you to want me. I can make you crave me. I don’t want some drive-by fucking that gets me off and I forget it five minutes later. I want to fuck all night long. I want to feel it all the next day because my cock got so used to being deep inside your body. If that’s what you want, then get dressed in the sexiest thing you own and agree that I’m the boss when it comes to sex.
I think it’s weird how vanilla people just jump into a bed and fuck and don’t ever relish the moment, don’t talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t. So many people just expect sex to happen, but really great sex takes work, like everything in life. You have to talk to your partner.