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Rebecca Solnit

  • Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes sudddenly making a chord.

  • What gets called 'the sixties' left a mixed legacy and a lot of divides. But it opened everything to question, and what seems the most fundamental and most pervasive in all the ensuing changes is the loss of faith in authority: the authority of government, of science, of patriarchy, of progress, of capitalism, of violence, of whiteness.

  • Books are the solitudes in which we meet.

  • When I think about, say, 1995, or whever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. ... Time passed in fairly large units, or at least not in milliseconds and constant updates. A few hours wasn't such a long time to go between moments of contact with your work, your people or your trivia.

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • ... movies [used to be] seen in movie theatres, and a whole gorgeous ritual went along with seeing them. The subsidiary pleasures — dressing up, standing in line with strangers and friends, the smell of popcorn, holding hands in the dark — still exist, but more and more often movies are seen on smaller and smaller and more private screens. It used to be the case that when you were at a movie, you were 100 per cent there, in the velvety darkness watching lives unfold in flickering light (unless you were making out). But televisions, DVD players, the rest: you were never totally committed to what they showed; you were always cheating on them, chatting and wandering away, fast-forwarding and rewinding ...

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • Previous technologies have expanded communication. But the last round may be contracting it. The eloquence of letters has turned into the unnuanced spareness of texts; the intimacy of phone conversations has turned into the missed signals of mobile phone chat ... ('you're breaking up' is the cry of our time) ...

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • There is so much information that our ability to focus on any piece of it is interrupted by other information, so that we bathe in information but hardly absorb or analyse it. Data are interrupted by other data before we've thought about the first round, and contemplating three streams of data at once may be a way to think about none of them.

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once, or going to check some other medium. It's an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind.

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • We are moving into a world of unaccountable and secretive corporations that manage all our communications and work hand in hand with governments to make us visible to them. Our privacy is being strip-mined and hoarded.

    • Rebecca Solnit,
    • "Diary," in London Review of Books ()
  • Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.

  • Time itself is our tragedy and most of us are fighting some kind of war against it.

Rebecca Solnit, U.S. writer

(1961)