The Best American Essays 2014 Quotes

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The Best American Essays 2014 The Best American Essays 2014 by John Jeremiah Sullivan
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The Best American Essays 2014 Quotes Showing 1-21 of 21
“I’ve come to think that one reason for the oppressive predictability of polemical essays can be found in today’s polarized social and political climate. To paraphrase Emerson: “If I know your party, I anticipate your argument.” Not merely about politics but about everything. Clearly this acrimonious state of affairs is not conducive to writing essays that display independent thought and complex perspectives. Most of us open magazines, newspapers, and websites knowing precisely what to expect. Many readers apparently enjoy being members of the choir. In our rancorously partisan environment, conclusions don’t follow from premises and evidence but precede them.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“What harm is done by that commonplace word? What distinctions will not, cannot be drawn where enemy holds sway? Is the concept “enemy” the enemy of clear thought, therefore of justice? What is gained by its invocation? Perhaps as important, what is lost?”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Even the great anxiety of writing can be stilled for the eight minutes it takes to eat a pineapple popsicle.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Life before birth is a dream, life after death is another dream. What comes between is only a mirage of the dreams.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“They are trying to live, but they have no room to breathe. So they try harder and breathe less.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Nothing vexes me so much in stupidity as the fact that it is better pleased with itself than any reason can reasonably be. It is unfortunate that wisdom forbids you to be satisfied with yourself and trust yourself, and always sends you away discontented and diffident, whereas opinionativeness and heedlessness fill their hosts with rejoicing and assurance.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Will “trigger warnings” simply be a way of establishing a new secular index, a cautionary list of books and other works dangerous not for religious reasons but because they may offend or upset certain groups or individuals or that contain material which can be viewed as insensitive or inappropriate? Would Grapes of Wrath be upsetting to someone with bad memories of rural poverty? Will the near future necessitate warning labels in front of all published material? Will future editions of The Best American Essays, for example, include a trigger warning in front of each selection so readers can avoid material that might upset them? And will trigger warnings in themselves eventually cause upsetting reactions, just the words and images sufficing to evoke unpleasant memories or anxious responses?”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“fearing the worst is worse than knowing the worst.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Every unhappy family is periodically ransacked by joy.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“It’s just amazing the lengths people go to, to be thought of as special.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“I’ve come to think that one reason for the oppressive predictability of polemical essays can be found in today’s polarized social and political climate.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“maybe the greatest gift marriage gives us is the chance to fantasize, to imagine that there’s more to life than there actually is, and it accomplishes this by assuming responsibility for all the misery and dullness that we would otherwise equate with life itself.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“invisibility is a luxury.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Sounding frank, honest, and sincere is, of course, a rhetorical strategy in itself, known from ancient literature as parrhesia. It’s often employed by liars.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“No one is more surprised than I that I turned out to be who I am.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“when you’re a young adult, the apparently infinite multiplicity of possible choices—possible jobs, possible friends, possible cities, possible girlfriends or boyfriends—can sometimes fool you into thinking you have an infinite amount of time to try out everything. But once you’re married, you’ve significantly cut down the options, and it suddenly makes your life feel shorter—like now there’s a direct line between you and your own death.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“The problem with marriage, we all know, is the endlessness of it. Plenty of things we do will have long-term repercussions, but in what other situation do you promise to do something for the rest of your life?”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Saturday you might see your dad in a T-shirt, your brother might be asked if he’d like to throw a ball around, and from a corner of the lawn you might sit and watch, wild with the wrongness of being a girl, wild with stoppered grace.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“When certain individuals feel severely threatened—emotionally, financially, physically—the lights on the horizon they use to orient themselves in the world might easily wink out. Life can then become a series of fear-driven decisions and compulsive acts of self-protection. People start to separate what is deeply troubling in their lives from what they see as good.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“We need others to bring us back into the comity of human life. This appears to have been the final lesson for me—to appreciate someone’s embrace not as forgiveness or as an amicable judgment but as an acknowledgment that from time to time private life becomes brutally hard for every one of us, and that without one another, without some sort of community, the nightmare is prone to lurk, waiting for an opening.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014
“Nothing draws us closer to one another than the degree to which we face our deepest shame openly in one another’s company. Coleridge and Wordsworth dreaded such self-exposure; we adore it. What we want is to feel known, warts and all—the more warts, the better. It is the great illusion of our culture that what we confess to is who we are.”
John Jeremiah Sullivan, The Best American Essays 2014