There are a few moments from behind the glass that stop us dead in our tracks — times during an interview when a wise voice creates a new opportunity to hear something differently. To challenge a conceit. To envelop the listener in the womb of silent storytelling and place one in a position of listening profundity.
Vincent Harding was one of those men. He’ll be missed, and this story will stay with me till the end of my days.
“The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life…the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance.”—
“Men do not get assassinated for wanting children of different colors to hold hands on a mountainside. He was telling us to march on segregated housing, segregated schools, poverty, a military with more support than social programs. That’s where he was in 1965. If we let him go where he was going, then he becomes a challenge, not a comfort.”—Dr. Vincent Harding, from a 2005 lecture as quoted in The New York Times
“You can’t make anything authentic by asking people what they want, because they don’t know what they want. That’s what they’re looking at you for.”—Thom Mayne, architect and winner of the 2005 Pritzker Prize
“Such is beauty. Its variety is infinite, its possibility is endless. In normal life all may have it and have it yet again. The world is full of it; and yet today the mass of human beings are choked away from it, and their lives distorted and made ugly. This is not only wrong, it is silly. Who shall right this well-nigh universal failing. Who shall let this world be beautiful? Who shall restore men the glory of sunsets and the peace of quiet sleep?”—
W. E. B. Du Bois, from Vol. 32 No. 6 of the Crisis, October 1926, pp. 290-297.
Good news!! Thanks to all of you, we won the Webby People’s Voice award. And it seems only fitting that you, the people, should write the five-word speech we’ll give at the Webby Awards show this weekend.
Help us out, what five-word speech should we give?
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”—
"Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control.
Imagine yourself streaming though time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before.
The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.”
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true, or beautiful, or good, makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”—
“Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand and ask, ‘Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?’ You’ll be embarrassed to answer. Then remind yourself that past and future have no power over you. Only the present.”—