Today’s decision to bring lunch to work, like the adult I will one day become, was an excellent one. It gave me time to eat while working at my desk and, when I started to lag a little, I printed out a couple of Zadie Smith essays. Zadie’s an author on my next-to-read list (I’m starting White Teeth in the morning), but she also writes essays. It was an odd shock to realise that … well, authors do other stuff between books. I’m only ever usually aware of the books, then the signing tours, and then … the anticipation for the next book.
Anyway, Zadie’s apparently very good, so I started with The Rise of the Essay.
I was going to try and write about a flickering interest of my own towards essay writing, although I prefer the word ‘letter’ most likely because of the romantic sound of it, but I ran out of time (at an exhibition all day tomorrow) so for now here are some quotes from a woman I’m very excited to learn more about.
(Also, it was cool to see Zadie lace the article with her own essay and literary influences. We are all collages, after all. She’s going to be my first studied author.)
You are never stronger…than when you land on the other side of despair. White Teeth
Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.
The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.
If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein, and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made. White Teeth