Passages records the books I'm reading, the live music I'm hearing, and the movies I'm seeing. Every now and then I'll throw in a passage from a book I read a while back or a trailer from a old favorite movie. Occasionally, there is something that simply caught my eye. But most of it is what I'm reading and hearing and watching in real time.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Roosevelt And Stalin

He had articulated this idea in the exceedingly short but pointed inaugural address he had delivered, standing on the south porch of the White House on a bitterly cold morning (hatless, capeless) just before leaving for the Yalta Conference. It contained a section clearly directed not only at Stalin but at Allied decision makers wondering if he was on the level:

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that 'The only way to have a friend is to be one.' We can gain no lasting piece if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, and the courage which flow from this conviction.

Every action Roosevelt took in the few months left to him flowed from this idea. Churchill must have listened to the speech (and to most of the ideas FDR expressed in 1945) with a sinking heart.

Susan Butler, Roosevelt And Stalin: Portrait Of A Partnership (2015)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

We Should All Be Feminists

I was once talking about gender and a man said to me, 'Why does it have to be you as a woman? Why not you as a human being?' This type of question is about silencing a person's specific experiences. Of course I am a human being, but there are particular things that happen to me in the world because I am a woman.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists (2014)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Benito Cereno

Yes, this a strange craft; a strange history, too, and strange folks on board. But -- nothing more.

Herman Melville, Benito Cereno (1855)

Thursday, April 2, 2015


In an envelope marked:


God gave me a letter.

In an envelope marked:


I have given my answer.

Langston Hughes