2020 Commencement Address by Marlon James (for Macalester U)

“So if it’s not about talent and it’s not about effort, what is it about? It’s hunger. How badly do you want it? It’s stakes. How high are yours? If your stakes aren’t high enough, fake it. It’s how hard are you prepared to work? That’s not the same as effort. Scratching a butt takes effort. Hard means the lasting systemic change, or even a paycheck.” (Worth watching the whole thing!)

Working on your relationship to work by Sarah Kosar (for Old Vic)

“I set out to critique a world where work is our entire being and identity. Then I started working on that play as though it was my entire being and identity.

I was pretty confident that I knew the game plan, the route, the way through. I approached writing my play like I was at my office job: project managing very practical moving parts. Doing and not feeling.

But plays are felt.

Of course there are practical elements and they need to hit a deadline. But if you offer no vulnerability or real self-reflection in the process of creating characters and worlds, nothing has been felt and art isn’t created.”

When black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs by Tre Johnson (in Washington Post)

“The confusing, perhaps contradictory advice on what white people should do probably feels maddening. To be told to step up, no step back, read, no listen, protest, don’t protest, check on black friends, leave us alone, ask for help or do the work — it probably feels contradictory at times. And yet, you’ll figure it out. Black people have been similarly exhausted making the case for jobs, freedom, happiness, justice, equality and the like. It’s made us dizzy, but we’ve managed to find the means to walk straight.”

Roger Robinson: ‘Poets can translate trauma’ interviewed by Anita Sethi (in The Guardian)

“Poems are empathy machines.”

Dear Therapist: My Boyfriend Won’t Let Me Have Male Friends by Lori Gottlieb (from The Atlantic)

We all have unhealthy patterns we repeat – an interesting reminder of why.

“Sometimes people with trust issues choose untrustworthy people, because those people feel familiar to them. Similarly, people who have angry parents often end up choosing angry partners, those with alcoholic parents are frequently drawn to partners who drink quite a bit, and those who have withdrawn or critical parents find themselves married to spouses who are withdrawn or critical.

Why do people do this to themselves? It’s not that people want to get hurt again. It’s that they want to master a situation in which they felt helpless as children. Freud called this “repetition compulsion.” Maybe this time, the unconscious mind imagines, I can go back and heal that wound from long ago by engaging with somebody familiar—but new. The problem is, by choosing familiar partners, people guarantee the opposite result: They reopen wounds and feel even more inadequate and unlovable.”

Lili Taylor Interview by Hadley Freeman (from The Guardian)

On Julia Roberts: “Everyone knew, she says, that Roberts would be famous when they made Mystic Pizza. “She had this thing that famous people have, this capacity to carry other people’s projection. For some people it gets too much and they die, but some people can just carry it,” she says.”

Photo by James Zwadlo on Unsplash