“What is the most valuable thing that critics do? We point the audiences toward exciting new work, new directors, new performers, new themes; we make connections among a wide variety of films, coax out an impulse, a tendency from the ground plan or the unconscious of a movie and make it part of history, politics, or a director’s biography. Evocation, interpretation, evaluation, resistance to the industry, defense of the artists, an accounting with history and an opening to the future - the tasks remain the same as ever.”

—   David Denby, Do the Movies Have a Future

“What someone’s lies reveal about them (aspirations to being an accomplished writer, fantasies of an exotic history and a cosmopolitan family) are always sadder than the fact of the lies themselves. These inventions illuminate the negative spaces of someone’s self-image, their vanity and insecurities and most childish wishes, as we can infer from warped starlight the presence of a far vaster mass of dark matter.”

—   Tim Kreider, ”The Czar’s Daughter” in We Learn Nothing
Paul Auster, The Locked Room

“Once I started to understand the nature of illegitimate structures of authority, I realized that people (including me) were not inherently evil or stupid, and that human nature (including mine) was complex and sometimes maddening, but not inherently aimed at the destruction of the world.”

—   Robert Jensen, Citizens of the Empire, (Jensen contra Gray)

“Folklore is the boiled-down juice of human living.”

—   Zora Neale Hurston

“Boredom arises from the loss of meaning, which in turn comes in part from a failure of religio or connectedness with one another and with our past.”

—   Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner

“There is nothing more to say about the furnishings. They were anything but describable, having been conceived, manufactured, shipped, and sold in various states of thoughtlessness, greed, and indifference.”

—   Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

At that time, there was a series of assumptions everybody had to accept in order even to be allowed to enter serious public debate. They were presented like a series of self-evident equations. “The market” was equivalent to capitalism. Capitalism meant exorbitant wealth at the top, but it also meant rapid technological progress and economic growth. Growth meant increased prosperity and the rise of a middle class. The rise of a prosperous middle class, in turn, would always ultimately equal stable democratic governance. A generation later, we have learned that not one of these assumptions can any longer be assumed to be correct.

The real importance of Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster, Capital in the 21st Century, is that it demonstrates, in excruciating detail (and this remains true despite some predictable petty squabbling) that, in the case of at least one core equation, the numbers simply don’t add up. Capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilise itself. Left to its own devices, it can be expected to create rates of return on investment so much higher than overall rates of economic growth that the only possible result will be to transfer more and more wealth into the hands of a hereditary elite of investors, to the comparative impoverishment of everybody else.

“[W]hat we are used to calling “the rise of the West” is probably better thought of, in world-system terms, as the emergence of […] the “North Atlantic system,” which gradually replaced the Mediterranean semi-periphery, and emerged as a world economy of its own, rivaling, and then gradually, slowly, painfully, incorporating the older world economy that had centered on the cosmopolitan societies of the Indian Ocean. This North Atlantic world-system was created through almost unimaginable catastrophe: the destruction of entire civilizations, mass enslavement, the death of at least a hundred million human beings.”

—   David Graeber, “There Never Was a West” in Possibilities

“[If] private enterprise works for profit and (practically) nothing else; if its pursuit of other objectives is in fact solely dependent on profit-making and constitutes merely its own choice of what to do with some of that profits, then the sooner this is made clear the better.”

—   E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered