Paul Klee, 1937
In times of stormy weather
She felt queer pain
“You’ll find rain better
Than shelter from the rain.”
Days filled with fiery sunshine
Strange hurt she knew
Her seek the burning sunlight
Rather than the shade.
In months of snowy winter
When cozy houses hold,
She’d break down doors
To wander naked
In the cold.”
- Langston Hughes
Political science – a misnomer from the get-go (and I say that with a PhD in it) – is terrified of human nature, individual character, the unknowable biographical and psychological factors that bear down on any leader’s decisions, and anything that, effectively, cannot be quantified. But a huge amount of human behavior cannot be quantified. Which is why I often thought, as I sat through another stats class, that we’d do better to study Shakespeare than mere regressions to the mean.
- Andrew Sullivan
When it was announced that Nelson Mandela was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1993, the joy among some of us was slightly diminished by the Nobel committee’s decision to award the prize to F. W. de Klerk as well. There would be one ceremony in Oslo for both recipients. I was invited, along with George Bizos, to be in Mandela’s entourage. We travelled to Norway with him and other A.N.C. leaders, and we had the unforgettable experience of seeing him receive the honor.
After the ceremony, we had another kind of experience. As part of Mandela’s entourage, we stood on a balcony of the hotel where all of us, including Madiba (as Mandela was known), were staying. We saw him being celebrated by a huge crowd of people, Scandinavians and others, all singing and chanting A.N.C. freedom songs. It was an ecstatic celebration. George and I noticed de Klerk and his wife standing on an adjoining balcony, and we were not able to credit what we saw next. The de Klerks turned their backs on the joyous crowd in the street below and retreated inside the hotel. Had de Klerk just realized that the songs were not for him?
- excerpt from “Mandela, My Countryman” by Nadime Gordimer for The New Yorker, 5.12.13
This album is for today, and tomorrow and yesterday and the day before, but mostly, it is for today.
a new myth, by The Brother Moves On -
Now that you are alone for a while
Unbutton that collar,
The ancestors will not blame you.
Confide in them openly about the mistakes you made.
And laugh at how funny it is
That you can finally be human now.
They will not judge you.
They have already borne witness to Freedom, the play.
Mouthful for the praise poet!
They have not told us that you are gone.
And I thank them for their quiet.
The only way you could rest in peace
Is if we did not know about it.
excerpt from “Mandela’s Been Dead” by Maya Wegerif