“Letters morphed into emails, and for a long time emails had all the depth and complexity of letters. They were a beautiful new form that spliced together the intimacy of what you might write from the heart with the speed of telegraphs. Then emails deteriorated into something more like text messages (the first text message was sent in 1992, but phones capable of texting spread later in the 1990s). . . .I think of that lost world, the way we lived before these new networking technologies, as having two poles: solitude and communion. The new chatter puts us somewhere in between, assuaging fears of being alone without risking real connection. It is a shallow between two deep zones, a safe spot between the dangers of contact with ourselves, with others.”

—Rebecca Solnit, “Diary“, London Review of Books 35, no 16 (2013)

S. D. Chrostowska’s Matches

“Wrong life cannot be lived rightly.” — Adorno, Minima Moralia

It is full of surprises, this book that interweaves the philosophical and the personal. It is a creature of excess that gives the appearance of being casually composed, layer by layer, aphorism by fragment, resisting integration into the totality of a completed system. There is an intense quality similar to that of atonal music, a teetering on an edge that is never quite resolved between art, philosophy and political polemic. As with Minima Moralia, this book is an indictment of what capitalism is doing to life (and death). Matches can share with Adorno’s book its subtitle: Reflections from Damaged Life, and its idea that the notion of an ethical life is so battered that all philosophy can do is survey the destruction and dream of what has been lost. It is an unflinchingly perceptive book, a heartfelt reflection of what it is to be neither dead nor alive.

‘For we are made of lines. We are not only referring to lines of writing. Lines of writing conjugate with other lines, life lines, lines of luck or misfortune, lines productive of the variation of the line of writing itself, lines that are between the lines of writing.’

— Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Brian Massumi)

[There is satisfaction in returning to a work you once found all but incomprehensible, and read as poetry, only to find that this time perhaps your thinking has in some senses caught up and you are able to read with greater clarity, or that is at least how it feels. It’s probably illusory.]

“I know that knowledge can transform us, that truth is not only a way of deciphering the world (and maybe what we call truth doesn’t decipher anything) but that if I know the truth I will be changed. . . . Or maybe I’ll die but I think that is the same anyway for me. . . . You see, that’s why I really work like a dog and I worked like a dog all my life. I am not interested in the academic status of what I am doing because my problem is my own transformation. . . . This transformation of one’s self by one’s knowledge is, I think, something rather close to the aesthetic experience.”

—Michel Foucault, The Minimalist Self, 1982 interview by Stephen Riggins, in Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984

“the strange and difficult notion that reading is subject not to the text as its law, but to the law to which the text is subject. The law forces the reader to betray the text or deviate from it in the act of reading, in the name of a higher demand that can yet be reached only by way of the text.”

—J. Hillis Miller, The Ethics of Reading

Human beings are difficult

“Human beings are difficult. We’re difficult to ourselves, we’re difficult to each other. And we are mysteries to ourselves, we are mysteries to each other. One encounters in any ordinary day far more real difficulty than one confronts in the most “intellectual” piece of work. Why is it believed that poetry, prose, painting, music should be less than we are? . . . . I think art has a right — not an obligation — to be difficult if it wishes. And . . . I would add that genuinely difficulty art is truly democratic?”

—Geoffrey Hill, Paris Review interview (2000)