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“Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world […] If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe [diverse] races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.”

David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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“In Paris, strolling arm in arm with a casual sweetheart through a late autumn, it seemed impossible to imagine a purer happiness than those golden afternoons, with the woody odor of chestnuts on the braziers, the languid accordions, the insatiable lovers kissing on the open terraces, and still he had told himself with his hand on his heart that he was not prepared to exchange all that for a single instant of his Caribbean in April. He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past. But when he stood at the railing of the ship and saw the white promontory of the colonial district again, the motionless buzzard on the roofs, the washing of the poor hung out to dry on the balconies, only then did he understand to what extent he had been an easy victim to the charitable deceptions of nostalgia.”

-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

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“Mary Jackson could see the air moving around the ever just as clearly as if she were looking at the Schlieren photograph taken in a wind tunnel. Levi’s car was well made; the only adjustment it required between heats was ‘a drop of oil on each wheel bearing.’ Mary and Levi Sr. and four-year-old Carolyn held their breaths as Levi Jr. got into position for the final heat. It seemed like an eternity, but at the end, Mary and Levi Sr. shouted in delight: their son had finished first, saving his best time for the heat that mattered most. Wearing a black-and-white crash helmet and the official race T-shirt, Levi Jr. sailed across the line at a relatively blazing seventeen miles per hour. His family fell upon him in a crush of hugs and celebration. To the inquiring and surprised local reporters who came to hear from the [first black] winner of the Virginia Peninsula Soap Box Derby, Levi Jackson confided the secret of his victory: the slimness of his machine, which has helped to lower wind resistance. What do you want to be when you grow up? the Norfolk Journal and Guide reporter must have asked. ‘I want to be an engineer like my mother,’ Levi said.”

Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

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“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’”

-Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail

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“The white man’s god is just like the white man. He thinks he is the only god, just like the white man thinks he is the only man. But the only reason he is god instead of Nyame or Chukwu or whoever is because we let him be. We do not fight him. We do not even question him. The white man told us he was the way, and we said yes, but when has the white man ever told us something was good for us and that thing was really good? They say you are an African witch, and so what? So what? Who told them what a witch was?”

-Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

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“‘It’s our own fault,’ he wept. ‘We are the Guardians of the Ocean, and we didn’t guard it. Look at the Ocean, look at it! The oldest stories ever made, and look at them now. We let them rot, we abandoned them, long before this poisoning. We lost touch with our beginnings, with our roots, our Wellspring, our Source. Boring, we said, not in demand, surplus to requirements. And now, look, just look! No colour, no life, no nothing. Spoilt!”

-Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories

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“Look—here’s a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a cage the size of a small fish aquarium. In the cage is a white rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In its front paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.

Do we see the same thing? We’d have to get together and compare notes to make absolutely sure, but I think we do. There will be necessary variations, of course: some receivers will see a cloth which is turkey red, some will one that’s scarlet, while others may see still other shades. (To color blind receivers, the red tablecloth is the dark gray of cigar ashes.) Some may see scalloped edges, some may see straight ones. Decorative souls may add a little lace, and welcome—my tablecloth is your tablecloth, knock yourself out.

Likewise, the matter of the cage leave quite a lot of room for individual interpretation […] We all understand the cage is a see-through medium; beyond that, we don’t care. The most interesting thing here isn’t even the carrot-munching rabbit in the cage, but the number on its back. Not a six, Not a four, not nineteen-point-five. It’s an eight. That is what we’re looking at, and we all see it. I didn’t tell you. You didn’t ask me. I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room . . . except we are together. We’re close.

We’re having a meeting of the minds.

I sent you a table with a red cloth in it, a cage, a rabbit, and the number eight in blue ink. You got them all, especially the blue eight. We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy. No myth-mountain shit; real telepathy.”

– Stephen King, On Writing