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Week 3/22/20

PUBLISHED: March 10, 2020


In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do. 


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I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always … so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.

Editorial Intern Emily Sumlin
Excerpt from Life of Pi by Yann Martel


Monuments are complacent; they put a seal upon the past, they release us from dread. For Walker dread is an engine: it prompts us to remember and rightly fear the ruins we shouldn’t want to return to, and don’t wish to re-create—if we’re wise. Dread is surely one of the things we want history to cause in us, lest we forget.

But to talk of Walker’s art this way, as if history were its only concern, and our “opinions” about that history its only content, is to traduce the art itself. Much has been written about Kara Walker, too much—journalistic debates about her often threaten to subsume any real attempt to see this work in all its strangeness. (Or to allow it the intimate psychology we simply assume with an artist like, say, Tracey Emin, whose engagement with feminist ideas and feminist art history in no way precludes our noticing the personal.) Walker:

The illusion is that it’s about past events…simply about a particular point in history and nothing else. It’s really part of the ruse that I tend to like to approach the complexities of my own life by distancing myself and finding a parallel in something that’s prettier, more genteel.

Assistant Editor Heidi Siegrist
Excerpt from “What Do We Want History to Do to Us?” in the New York Review of Books


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