Shaping words, shaping history

This is a day late, but Monday was Martin Luther King day – a day I spent looking for a new apartment. That’s what the day is to many – to Jack Donaghy’s mother 30 Rock, it is the day in January when the post office is closed. In September 1963, a month after Dr. King’s famous speech, Singapore would merge with Malaysia and go through two years of ideological differences and racial strife before attaining independence. It was a movement of a different kind, a birth of a different sort, but there too, lain a similar dream.


The shape of speech: MLK’s “I Have a Dream”, via Brainpickings

What to say of the power of (his) words? It has always felt, to me, a nonviolent form of violence. Joan Didion gets it right when she calls writing (and its counterparts, reading and listening) “a hostile act” – “it’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture.” It is a hostility that is quite seductive, wrapped up in repetition, in metaphors, in a melody that still echoes.


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