“The way out of living in the middle of an under-imaginative figment is to make contact, in your own mind, with other civilizations as yet unborn. You’re doing the same thing when you read sf that I’m doing when I write it; your neighbor probably is as alien a life form to you as mine is to me. The stories in this collection are attempts at reception– at listening to voices from another place, very far off, sounds quite faint but important. They only come late at night, when the background din and gabble of our world have faded out. When the newspapers have been read, the TV sets shut off, the cars parked in their various garages. Then, faintly, I hear voices from another star (I clocked it once, and reception is best between 3:00 A.M. and 4:45 A.M.). Of course, I don’t usually tell people this when they ask, ‘Say, where do you get your ideas?’ I just say I don’t know. It’s safer.”
The Best of Philip K. Dick, “Afterthought by the Author,” Philip K. Dick, Del Rey Books, 1977.
Still smarting from being overlooked as Donald Trump’s running mate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a blistering speech excoriating Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Like spectators in the Circus Maximus deciding on the fate of a fallen gladiator, the delegates assembled in the Quicken Loans Arena served as his jury. ‘Guilty!’ they howled after every indictment of their old foe, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
“Lock her up! Lock her up!”
“‘Breastfeeding Envy’ is what many psychologists are now saying is the most common and least-discussed concern among today’s young parents.
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“Specialization is the first of these pressures. The higher one goes in the educational system today, the more one is limited to a relatively narrow area of knowledge. Now no one can have anything against competence as such, but when it involves losing sight of anything outside of one’s immediate field– say, early Victorian love poetry–and the sacrifice of one’s general culture to a set of authorities and canonical ideas, then competence of that sort is not worth the price paid for it.
In the study of literature, for example, which is my particular interest, specialization has meant an increasing technical formalism, and less and less of a historical sense of what real experiences actually went into the making of a work of literature. Specialization means losing sight of the raw effort of constructing either art or knowledge; as a result you cannot view knowledge and art as choices and decisions, commitments and alignments, but only in terms of impersonal theories or methodologies. To be a specialist in literature too often means shutting out history or music, or politics. In the end as a full specialized literary intellectual you become tame and accepting of whatever the so-called leaders in a field will allow. Specialization also kills your sense of excitement and discovery, both of which are irreducibly present in the intellectual’s makeup. In the final analysis, giving up to specialization is, I have always felt, laziness, so you end up doing what others tell you, because that is your specialty after all.”
Representations of the Intellectual, The 1993 Reith Lectures, Edward W. Said, Vintage Books, 1996.