The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.
Engraved Perspective Map of Lisbon, 1598, Georg Braun & Franz Hogenberg. The Terreiro do Paço is open to the Tagus, where ships are moored at anchor
I see life as a roadside inn where I have to stay until the coach from the abyss pulls up. I don’t know where it will take me, because I don’t know anything. I could see this inn as a prison, for I’m compelled to wait in it; I could see it as a social centre, for it’s here that I meet others. But I’m neither impatient nor common. I leave who will to stay shut up in their rooms, sprawled out on beds where they sleeplessly wait, and I leave who will to chat in the parlours, from where their songs and voices conveniently drift out here to me. I’m sitting at the door,feasting my eyes and ears on the colours and sounds of the landscape, and I softly sing – for myself alone –wispy songs I compose while waiting.
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Your Waste of Time, 2006, Olafur Eliasson
Several blocks of ice from Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland, were removed from the glacial lake Jökulsarion. Part of the ice is thought to have been formed around AD 1200. Weighing 6 tons in all, the blocks were transported to a Berlin gallery and exhibited in a refrigerated space.
Lee Harvey Oswald, Dallas, November 22, 1963, Lawrence Schiller
Think of two parallel lines. One is the life of Lee H. Oswald. One is the conspiracy to kill the President. What bridges the space between them? What makes a connection inevitable? There is a third line. It comes out of dreams, visions, intuitions, prayers, out of the deepest levels of the self. It’s not generated by cause and effect like the other two lines. It’s a line that cuts across causality, cuts across time. It has no history that we can recognize or understand. But it forces a connection. It puts a man on the path of his destiny
— Libra, Don Delillo
Could it think, the heart would stop beating…
— Fernando Pessoa, from The Book of Disquiet
… Liberal democratic theorists like Walter Lippmann, who was the dean of American journalists…argued that what he called a “revolution in the art of democracy,” could be used to “manufacture consent,” that is, to bring about agreement on the part of the public for things that they didn’t want by the new techniques of propaganda. He also thought that this was a good idea, in fact, necessary. It was necessary because, as he put it, “the common interests elude public opinion entirely” and can only be understood and managed by a “specialized class “of “responsible men” who are smart enough to figure things out…Lippmann argued that in a properly functioning democracy there is first of all the class of citizens who have to take some active role in running general affairs. That’s the specialized class. They are the people who analyze, execute, make decisions, and run things in the political, economic, and ideological systems…The big majority of the population, they are what Lippmann called “the bewildered herd.” We have to protect ourselves from “the trampling and roar of a bewildered herd”. Now there are two “functions” in a democracy: The specialized class, the responsible men, carry out the executive function, which means they do the thinking and planning and understand the common interests. Then, there is the bewildered herd, and they have a function in democracy too. Their function is to be “spectators,”…Occasionally they are allowed to lend their weight to one or another member of the specialized class…But once they’ve lent their weight…they’re supposed to sink back and become spectators…That’s in a properly functioning democracy. And there’s a logic behind it. There’s even a kind of compelling moral principle behind it. The compelling moral principle is that the mass of the public are just too stupid to be able to understand things. If they try to participate in managing their own affairs, they’re just going to cause trouble. Therefore, it would be immoral and improper to permit them to do this…So we need something to tame the bewildered herd, and that is this new revolution in the art of democracy: the manufacture of consent…So we have one kind of educational system directed to the responsible men, the specialized class. They have to be deeply indoctrinated in the values and interests of private power and the state-corporate nexus that represents it…The rest of the bewildered herd basically just have to be distracted. Turn their attention to something else. Keep them out of trouble…This point of view has been developed by lots of other people…The leading theologian and foreign policy critic Reinhold Niebuhr…put it that rationality is a very narrowly restricted skill. Only a small number of people have it. Most people are guided by just emotion and impulse. Those of us who have rationality have to create “necessary illusions” and emotionally potent “oversimplifications” to keep the naive simpletons more or less on course…In the 1920s and early 1930s, Harold Lasswell, the founder of the modern field of communications…explained that we should not succumb to “democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.” Because they’re not. We’re the best judges of the public interests. Therefore, just out of ordinary morality, we have to make sure that they don’t have an opportunity to act on the basis of their misjudgments. In what is nowadays called a totalitarian state, or a military state, it’s easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, and if they get out of line you smash them over the head. But as society has become more free and democratic, you lose that capacity. Therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear. Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.
— Media Control, Noam Chomsky
He told Lee about the time he tried to perfect a tiny flare device equipped with a timer. He wanted to make thousands of these devices and attach them to the bodies of mice. He wanted to parachute the mice into Cuban cane fields. He was driven by the image of fifty thousand mice scattering through the sugar cane as the timers ignited the flares.
— Libra, Don Delillo
The first modern government propaganda operation … was under the Woodrow Wilson Administration. Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform “Peace Without Victory.” That was right in the middle of the World War I. The population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European war. The Wilson administration was actually committed to war and had to do something about it. They established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission, which succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war and save the world. That was a major achievement, and it led to a further achievement. Right at that time and after the war the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Scare, as it was called, which succeeded pretty much in destroying unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought. There was very strong support from the media, from the business establishment, which in fact organized, pushed much of this work, and it was, in general, a great success. Among those who participated actively and enthusiastically in Wilson’s war were the progressive intellectuals, people of the John Dewey circle, who took great pride, as you can see from their own writings at the time, in having shown that what they called the “more intelligent members of the community,” namely, themselves, were able to drive a reluctant population into a war by terrifying them and eliciting jingoist fanaticism. The means that were used were extensive. For example, there was a good deal of fabrication of atrocities by the Huns, Belgian babies with their arms torn off, all sorts of awful things that you still read in history books. Much of it was invented by the British propaganda ministry, whose own commitment at the time, as they put it in their secret deliberations, was “to direct the thought of most of the world.” But more crucially they wanted to control the thought of the more intelligent members of the community in the United States, who would then disseminate the propaganda that they were concocting and convert the pacifistic country to wartime hysteria. That worked. It worked very well. And it taught a lesson: State propaganda, when supported by the educated classes and when no deviation is permitted from it, can have a big effect. It was a lesson learned by Hitler and many others, and it has been pursued to this day.
— from Media Control, Noam Chomsky