To live a life beyond illness

“I’m acutely conscious of how dependent I am on those who built and sustained the NHS – including, pre-eminently, generations of labour movement activists and socialists. And as I sit with my IV drip, I’m mindful of those in government and business who would smash the delicate mechanism of the hospital and shatter the network of dependence that sustains me.
I’m being kept alive by the contributions of so many currents of human labour, thought, struggle, desire, imagination. By the whole Enlightenment tradition, but not only that: by older traditions of care, solidarity, mutuality, of respect for human life and compassion for human suffering. The harnessing of science, technology and advanced forms of organisation and information to compassionate ends is by no means automatic. It leans on and is only made possible by the conflict-riddled history of ethical and political development.
Beautiful as it is, this network of dependence is also frightening. Restrictions in capacity and mobility are hugely frustrating, and relying on others to supplement them is not a straightforward business – for patient or carer. I often feel I’m engaged in a never-ending battle for autonomy. I fight it out in relation to institutions, experts, medications, means of mobility, forms of diet. Not to mention the vital effort to live a life beyond illness, to hold on to that kernel of freedom that makes you who you are.”

Mike Marqusee

Do some buildings build themselves?

“Editing, like stringing sentences together, or working through a design, is not the rational problem-solving procedure we often pretend it to be. It’s more like a process of discovery where skill and chance work together. The skill of an editor is to be confident enough to allow for chance to indicate where the next cut should go, and then to be adept enough to follow that path. In a similar way novelists talk about characters taking over a story or graphic designers describe how ratios between type and form feel right. If the editor is really working in sync with his material he doesn’t assemble the film, the film assembles him. Do some buildings build themselves?”

It isn’t magical

“Judgments based on intuition seem mysterious because intuition doesn’t involve explicit knowledge. It doesn’t involve declarative knowledge about facts. Therefore, we can’t explicitly trace the origins of our intuitive judgments. They come from other parts of our knowing. They come from our tacit knowledge and so they feel magical. Intuitions sometimes feel like we have ESP, but it isn’t magical, it’s really a consequence of the experience we’ve built up.”
Gary Klein

Writing by hand

“Ever since I had an accident in which I broke a finger and couldn’t use the typewriter for a few months, I have followed the custom of my youth and gone back to writing by hand. I discovered when my finger was better and I could type again that my poetry when written by hand was more sensitive; its plastic forms could change more easily. In an interview, Robert Graves says that in order to think one should have as little as possible around that is not handmade. He could have added that poetry ought to be written by hand. The typewriter separated me from a deeper intimacy with poetry, and my hand brought me closer to that intimacy again.”
Pablo Neruda interviewed by Rita Guibert