156. “Once you allow yourself to identify with the people in a story, then you might begin to see yourself in that story even if on the surface it’s far removed from your situation. This is what I try to tell my students: this is one great thing that literature can do – it can make us identify with situations and people far away.”
165. “There was another epidemic that was not talked about much, a silent scourge – the explosion of mental illness: major depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, manic-depression, personality disorders, grief response, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, etc. – on a scale none of us had ever witnessed.”
168. “In the end I began to understand. There is such a thing as absolute power over narrative. Those who secure this privilege for themselves can arrange stories about others pretty much where, and as, they like. Just as in corrupt, totalitarian regimes, those who exercise power over others can do anything.”
170. “People are wrong when they tell you that Conrad was on the side of Africans because his story showed great compassion towards them. Africans are not really served by his compassion, whatever it means; they ask for one thing alone – to be seen for what they are: human beings. Conrad pulls back from granting them this favour in Heart of Darkness.”
171. “And now the rains had really come, so heavy and persistent that even the village rain-maker no longer claimed to be able to intervene. He could not stop the rain now, just as he would not attempt to start it in the heart of the dry season, without serious danger to his own health. The personal dynamism required to counter the forces of these extremes of weather would be far too great for the human frame.”
175. “Oh, the most important thing about myself is that my life has been full of changes. Therefore, when I observe the world, I don’t expect to see it just like I was seeing the fellow who lives in the next room. There is this complexity which seems to me to be part of the meaning of existence and everything we value.”
188. “Ghana was a particularly relevant example for us subjects in the remaining colonies and dominions of the British Empire. There was a growing confidence, not just a feeling, that we would do just as well parting ways with Her Majesty’s empire. If Ghana seemed more effective, as some of our people like to say, perhaps it was because she was smaller in size and neat, as if it was tied together more delicately by well-groomed, expert hands.”
195. “The poor of the world may be guilty of this and that particular fault or foolishness, but if we are fair we will admit that nothing they have done or left undone quite explains all the odds we see stacked up against them. We are sometimes tempted to look upon the poor as so many ne’er-do-wells we can simply ignore. But they will return to haunt our peace, because they are greater than their badge of suffering, because they are human.”
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