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"To make it Lillian’s life is to throw out all these hundreds of pages about her, because a specific motion is going to be her, whether it’s unzipping a boot or whatever. That’s what real life is in a continuum. And, in the same way, that’s why I don’t use all my ten bazillion Dirty War facts. I’m not telling the story of every single person tortured. I would tell myself all the time while I was writing it, 'The book isn’t called Look How Smart Nathan Is or Look at Nathan’s Most Excellent Theories.'"
"If Knopf offered me $10,000,000 for my next novel I would do it. I would use that money to create giant things to promote a better world. Then later I would say that that was the only reason I did it, and talk shit about Knopf, which is part of a giant corporation. It would be very productive. What person who has morals has actually compromised their morals to get more money? I can't really think of any."
"The crew of the ship had their own food supply, while the settlers had theirs. The settlers used theirs up and had to trade with the crew. There’s this one guy among the settlers who says, “We traded whatever we had with the crew for food,” and he gives a list of things: hatchets, beads, copper trinkets, coins, muskets, and the last item on the list was “love.” I just thought that one word was like a little peephole into what must have been a whole host of activities."
"I think individuals have a responsibility to be moral, and art inevitably reflects that. There’s a big difference between the work of someone like Joel-Peter Witkin, which is extremely dark and draws on the same themes and imagery as the work of the (fictional) photographer in GL. Witkin may have used dead people in his work, but as far as I know, he didn’t kill them first. If he had, I think the experience of viewing and assessing his work would be lot more problematical."
In a fascinating passage, the authors suggest that the category “women” may have been invented about 45,000 years ago, perhaps before the counterpart invention of “men”: “Women would exist now as a mental construct, bound up in a system of different distribution of rights, duties, rules, and statuses, founded on the notion of shared resources and different talents. How men were perceived at this time -- that is, whether there was such a mental grouping -- is not clear from the archaeological record.”
Barbara J. King
"Genes are not templates for your life, which contain in some kind of microscopic miniature the whole of your future which only has to unfold. Genes just don't work that way. Genes contain within them all manner of potentials, which then needs to be activated, and the penetrants of a gene, the expression of a gene, has everything to do with what that genetic mechanism finds itself -- with what environment it finds itself in."
Jason B. Jones
"One of the purposes of learning history is to have a basis for a more intelligent understanding of current events. Policy-makers who don't know their history, or have a distorted view of it, are much more likely to make bad decisions because they don't have the historical knowledge or perspective or insight to understand the possible consequences of those decisions. Thus historians have a responsibility to use their expertise to comment on current events."
"As an African person living in France, I don’t want to see how badly the media represents the Ivory Coast. The African people have enough of these very bad, miserable images of Africa that the media will show. Even now people will still say to me, 'I’m not going to Africa because I’m really afraid to see all these miserable people.' It’s almost as easy as saying you don’t want to go to the United States because you’re afraid to get a bullet in the head."