Highlights from Discontent and its Civilizations

But if globalization is capable of holding out any fundamental promise to us, any temptation to go along with its havoc, then surely that promise ought to be this: we will be more free to invent ourselves.

What distinguishes the “war on terror” is that it is a war against a concept, not a nation. And the enemy concept, it seems to me, is pluralism.

Civilizations are illusions, but these illusions are pervasive, dangerous, and powerful.

On our globalizing planet, where the pace of change keeps accelerating, many of us are coming to feel at least a bit foreign, because all of us, whether we travel far afield or not, are migrants through time.

It’s a funny thing to lose your first language.

Yes, babies could look cute. But I’d been in enough relationships to know looks only go so far, particularly when they’re packaged with a high-maintenance need for constant attention.

Ours is a large extended family: my mother is one of nine, my father one of four.

And there will be people like me, with our powered exoskeletons left often in the closet, able to leap over buildings when the mood strikes us, but also prone to wandering naked and feeling the sand of a beach between our puny toes.

But a crisis can be an opportunity. It incites change. And the novel needs to keep changing if it is to remain novel.

Civilizations are illusory. But they are useful illusions. They allow us to deny our common humanity, to allocate power, resources, and rights in ways repugnantly discriminatory.

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