Michael Jackson

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on suffering, torture, banality, banality of suffering, auden, and w h auden

The most conspicuous thing about suffering is, as W.H. Auden once observed, its banality. The day is green, the sun is shinging, someone is eating, or opening a window, the torturer's horse is scatching its innocent behind on a tree, and in a mere second someone we love is dead.

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 140

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on violence, pleasure in violence, suffering, torture, retribution, nietsche, and logic of violence

In 1967, not long after the outbreak of civil war in Nigeria, the federal wuthorities arrested poet and playwright Wole Soyinka and imprisoned him without trial. In solitary confinement, summoning all his resources to stay alive, the thought occured to Soyinka that "some (albeit warped) logic is involved in acts of inhumanity." But how is one to understand this logic? All violence is a form of retribution. A form of payback, driven by the need to reclaim something that one imagines to have been wrongfully taken, that one is now owed. One's very existence is felt to depend on making good this loss-- a legacy stolen, a promise broken, a loved one murdered, one's honor impugned, a dream betrayed. Often, these existential wounds are so deep and degrading that material indemnification is considered inadequate. The injured party demands satiisfaction, and this, as Nietzsche observed, commonly involves punishment inflicted on the debtor's body-- by branding, amputation, rape, and mutilation. (citation and notes) The logic of this kind of exchange, Nietzsche writes, restson the fact that "instead of money, land, possessions of whatever sort,) a sort of pleasure is conceded to the creditor as a form of repayment and recompense-- the pleasure of being able to vent his power without a second thought on someone who is powerless, the enjoyment "de faire le mal pour le plaisir de le faire," the pleasure of violation." connects to Nazis, RUF

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 155

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on power, absolute power, pierre bordieu, and waiting

Pierre Bordieu was right: "The all powerful is he who does not wait but makes others wait. Absolute power is the power to make oneself unpredictable and deny other people any reasonable anticipation, to place them in total uncertainty by offering no scope for their capacity to predict."

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 135

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on authenticity, africa, ego, social nous, and theater

I grew up in a world that regarded authenticity as something deep within one's soul-- governed by one's conscience and measured against one's true nature. A question of being true to oneself. Of avoiding artifice. Kuranko do not fetishize the ego as we do, but emphasize a person's social nous. As such, authenticity is consummated in the way one realizes one's given destiny or plays one's social role. The name of the game is not self-knowledge, but knowing one's place and making the most of it. Fot this reason implies theatricality implies something very different from acting out. rather than spontaneously giving vent to one's feelings, one learns to perform the gestures and emotions appropriate to one's role.

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 137

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on abstraction, evil, africa, sierra leone, and where most evil begins

This extravagant dwelling, as domineering as it was distant, brought home to me the intimateconnection between tyranny and abstraction, and put me in mind of John Berger's observation that "abstraction's capacity to ignore what is real is undoubtedly where most evil begins."

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on writing, academic writing, authorial will, arcane writing, and revenge

On Academic Writing:

"The more passive one's life in the field, the greater the need to reverse the situation when one returns home, which is why the arcane and authoratative character of academic writing may be seen, to some extent, as a vengeful reaction to the inertia, uneventfulness, and waiting one had to endure as a guest at someone else's banquet. A way of redressing an existental imbalance, as it were-- reclaiming authorial will by superimposing one's own meaning on theirs...

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 108

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on gossip, back-biting, initiation, repression of emotion, control of emotion, control of speech, circumcision, and right speech

Almost everything S. B. said and did bespoke the values his father had insitlled in him. Yet these manly injunctions to withstand hardship without complaint and keep one's own counsel were not Tina Kome's alone, but derived from inititation, when every Kuranko boy learns to bear pain without flinching, to respect the words of his elders without demur, and to overcome his fear of the spirits of the wild and of death. As the old medicine master Saran Salia Sano once told me, "Even when they are cutting the foreskin you must not flinch. You must stand stock-still. You must not make a sound from the mouth. Better to die than to wince or blink or cry out."

This control of one's emotions, and of one's speech, was undoubtedly connected to the value the Kruanko place on keeping secrets and promises, and of choosing one's words wisely. To nurse malicious thoughts is to risk malicious acts, and to speak of the devil is to conjure him. Perhaps this was why S. B.'s story was so conspicuously devoid of any ill will, grudges, or snide comments. . . ..

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 98

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on initiation, democracy in africa, africa, west africa, sierra leone, identity, values, and manhood

If S.B. sometimes railed against Western customs, treating democracy as if it was a euphemism for bad faith, red tape, and diplomatic evasiveness, this was not because he put himself above the lway, ready to waive constitutional procedures, or ignore the views of others. It simply reflected his impatience with indecisiveness, and his aristocratic heritage. It was his pride in this heritage that led him, as an eleven year old boy to stand up to Mr. Vincent's disparaging conflation of Kuranko and savages. To be Kuranko was, as his father had told him, the only conceivable way of being a man. But when S. B. invoked Kuranko-ness, it was not some form of tribalism that he had in mind, but the values he held dear-- not only forthrightness, stoicism, hard work, and self-reliance, but also honesty, generosit, and fidelity to one's principles. Pertinently, it was S. B. many years ago, who provided me with a not implausible etymology for the word Kuranko. "It iwas from the kure tree," he said, "whose wood is very hard."Thus, to say kure n'ko is to imply that the speaker is tough-minded, able to withstand all kinds of hardships, and persevere, like the kure tree.

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 99-100

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on africa, success, community, class, politicians, sierra leone, and west africa

"In Africa," S. B. once remarked, "if you do well, people close to you will hate you."

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 97

Contributed by: jess

A Quote by Michael Jackson, 1940 on dath, cheating death, memoirs, autobiography, memory, hannah arendt, mortality, natality, injustice, and suffering

I spent a lot of time mulling over what S. B. had told me about his thirteen months in solitary confinement, surrounded by death, and the "wild thinking" that drew him back to his beginnings. It seemed to me that this urge to retrace one's steps nto the past arises neither from nostalgia nor from a need to tell one's story to the world. It is a way of cheating death. An instinct for life in the face of oblivion. For to recollect the innocence of childhood o the viogr of youth in a moment of peril is to retrieve a sense of leife's infinite possiblitiy, ot conjure a period in our life when the wold seemed ours for the taking, and we thought we would never die. It is, in essence, to recapture a sense of our capacity to act and initiate someothing new, for, as Hannah Arendt notes, action is synonymous with our capacity to bring new life into the wold. Mortality is thus conuntermandded by natality, ai ti si this unquenchable desire for renewal, this refusal to go gently into that good night, that explains why we go back, tumbling through the darkness, in search of the light that flooded and filled our first conscious years. The days of wine and roses. When our livesstretched before us liek a field of dreams. But if our imagniation springs to our rescue in such dark times, holding out the promise of rebirth, how do we fare when we are released from darkness, and are returned to our everyday lives? How do we address the injustices we have endured, the life we have wasted, the pain we have so needlessly suffered?

This question was much on my mind the day I wen to see Fina Kamara in the Murraytown Amputee Camp.

Michael Jackson

Source: In Sierra Leone, Pages: 64-65

Contributed by: jess

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