Happiness is not good enough. Don’t rest on happiness. I mean it’s okay and I hope you are all happy, but we got to do more than that.

Toni Morrison

Just one of many thought-provoking statements by Morrison in a 2010 conversation

with Angela Davis on libraries, literacy, and liberation (and so  much more) The discussion was republished this week as an episode of the New York Public Library podcast. I highly recommend listening to it. 

I think this quote stuck out to me the most because it rejects the centering of personal happiness as the ultimate goal. This rejection opens up the possibility of living a valuable, important, interesting life without having to be happy. Happiness is great, but it’s not the only thing that matters in life. 

Not Writing: Anne Boyer

Over at feministing, Ava Kofman attempts to answer the question why poet Anne Boyer is “so good” by parsing her poem “Not Writing": 

But something else is also going on here: the poem mourns, in its laundry list of lost epics, what might be called the lesser, lower, culturally devalued forms of daily writing: “I am not writing Facebook status updates. I am not writing thank-you notes or apologies I am not writing conference papers. I am not writing book reviews. I am not writing blurbs.” In doing so, Boyer values these forms as writing, recognizing them as doing the same cultural work as, say, “writing stories based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s unwritten story ideas.”

In the companion piece, “What is ‘not writing’?” Boyer expands on the relationship between not-writing, on the one hand, and illness, feelings, work, and unpaid work “like caring for others”, on the other. For every someone writing, there is also always a someone not-writing because they are too sick to write, too poor to write. Boyer expresses how often writing is privilege, is power, is “the language of property owners.”

Anne Boyer’s new collection Garnments Against Women is out through Ahsata Press

Photography is inescapably a memorial art. It selects, out of the flow of time, a moment to be preserved, with the moments before and after falling away like sheer cliffs.

At a dinner party earlier this year, I was in conversation with someone who asked me to define photography. I suggested that it is about retention: not only the ability to make an image directly out of the interaction between light and the tangible world, but also the possibility of saving that image. A shadow thrown onto a wall is not photography. But if the wall is photo­sensitive and the shadow remains after the body has moved on, that is photography. Human creativity, since the beginning of art, has found ways to double the visible world. What photography did was to give the world a way to double its own appearance.

Memories of Things Unseen – NYTimes.com
The central part of a great short essay by Teju Cole on photography and memory.

The only adults I know who write—and in a way, read—poetry are poets. It kind of narrows down to the people where that is actually their style of writing and their medium. When you’re a teenager, it’s easier to dabble more. … Also, in a way, you’re protected. When I think about the poetry I wrote in high school, I felt protected because I felt like I was taking on a tone and an understood amount of drama as opposed to when I was just trying to write a personal essay, and it was straightforward. To use certain writing devices that I had used in poetry seemed melodramatic.

 Tavi Gevinson, in an interview with Ruth Graham for Poetry