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Hope in the Dark Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
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Hope in the Dark Quotes Showing 1-30 of 95
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
tags: hope
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Joy doesn't betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“People have always been good at imagining the end of the world, which is much easier to picture than the strange sidelong paths of change in a world without end.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Hope just means another world might be possible, not promise, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Your opponents would love you to believe that it's hopeless, that you have no power, that there's no reason to act, that you can't win. Hope is a gift you don't have to surrender, a power you don't have to throw away.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what is may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“The future is dark, with a darkness as much of the womb as the grave.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Inside the word "emergency" is "emerge"; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on your futures, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later, sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Paradise is not the place in which you arrive but the journey toward it. Sometimes I think victories must be temporary or incomplete; what kind of humanity would survive paradise? The industrialized world has tried to approximate paradise in its suburbs, with luxe, calme, volupté, cul-de-sacs, cable television and two-car garages, and it has produced a soft ennui that shades over into despair and a decay of the soul suggesting that Paradise is already a gulag. Countless desperate teenagers will tell you so. For paradise does not require of us courage, selflessness, creativity, passion: paradise in all accounts is passive, is sedative, and if you read carefully, soulless.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Resistance is first of all a matter of principle and a way to live, to make yourself one small republic of unconquered spirit. You hope for results, but you don't depend on them.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“Despair demands less of us, it’s more predictable, and in a sad way safer. Authentic hope requires clarity—seeing the troubles in this world—and imagination, seeing what might lie beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“But hope is not about what we expect. It is an embrace of the essential unknowability of the world, of the breaks with the present, the surprises. Or perhaps studying the record more carefully leads us to expect miracles - not when and where we expect them, but to expect to be astonished, to expect that we don't know. And this is grounds to act.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“[T]he radical geographer Iain Boal had prophesied, "The longing for a better world will need to arise at the imagined meeting place of many movements of resistance, as many as there are sites of closure and exclusion. The resistance will be as transnational capitalism.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“What we dream of is already present in the world.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“You may be told that the legal decisions lead the changes, that judges and lawmakers lead the culture in those theaters called courtrooms, but they only ratify change. They are almost never where change begins, only where it ends up, for most changes travel from the edges to the center.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Paul Goodman famously wrote, “Suppose you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side had won, and you had the kind of society that you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now!”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“Perfection is a stick with which to beat the possible. Perfectionists can find fault with anything, and no one has higher standards in this regard than leftists.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“There's a kind of activism that's more about bolstering identity than achieving results, one that sometimes seems to make the left the true heirs of the Puritans. Puritanical in that the point becomes the demonstration of one's own virtue rather than the realization of results. And puritanical because the somber pleasure of condemning things is the most enduring part of that legacy, along with the sense of personal superiority that comes from pleasure denied. The bleakness of the world is required as contrasting backdrop to the drama of their rising above.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Howard Zinn wrote in 1988, in what now seems like a lost world before so many political upheavals and technological changes arrived, “As this century draws to a close, a century packed with history, what leaps out from that history is its utter unpredictability.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“Fire, brimstone and impending apocalypse have always had great success in the pulpit, and the apocalypse is always easier to imagine than the strange circuitous routes to what actually comes next.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“A lot of people respond to almost any achievement, positive development, or outright victory with "yes but". Naysaying becomes a habit.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
“The moon is profound except when we land on it.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they've always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it's compromising: it recalls the mainstream when the mainstream was, say, rabidly homophobic or racist in a way it no longer is; and it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“The term 'politics of prefiguration' has long been used to describe the idea that if you embody what you aspire to, you have already succeeded. That is to say, if your activism is already democratic, peaceful, creative, then in one small corner of the world these things have triumphed. Activism, in this model, is not only a toolbox to change things but a home in which to take up residence and live according to your beliefs, even if it's a temporary and local place...”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“This means, of course, that the most foundational change of all, the one from which all else issues, is hardest to track. It means that politics arises out of the spread of ideas and the shaping of imaginations. It means that symbolic and cultural acts have real political power. And it means that the changes that count take place not merely onstage as action but in the minds of those who are again and again pictured only as audience or bystanders. The revolution that counts is the one that takes place in the imagination; many kinds of change issue forth thereafter, some gradual and subtle, some dramatic and conflict-ridden—which is to say that revolution doesn't necessarily look like revolution.”
Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

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