Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope. To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. I say all this because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say it because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action….
things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.
Adrienne Rich "Conditions for Work: The Common World of Women"
For spiritual values and creative tradition to be continued unbroken we need concrete artifacts, the work of hands, written words to read, images to look at, a dialogue with brave and imaginative women who came before us. In the false names of love, motherhood, natural law - false because they have not been defined by us to whom they are applied -- women in patriarchy have been withheld from building a common world, except in enclaves, or through coded messages...[she quotes a paragraph on labor from Arendt (1958) The Human Condition, p. 55]. ...Hannah Arendt does not call this "women's work." Yet it is this activity of world-protection, world-preservation, world-repair—the million tiny stitches, the friction of the scrubbing brush, the scouring cloth, the iron across the shirt, the rubbing of cloth against itself to exorcise the stain, the renewal of the scorched pot, the rusted knifeblade, the invisible weaving of a frayed and threadbare family life, the cleaning up of soil and waste left behind by men and children—that we have been charged to do “for love,” not merely unpaid, but unacknowledged by the political philosophers. Women are not described as “working” when we create the essential conditions for the work of men; we are supposed to be acting out of love, instinct, or devotion to some higher cause than self.
What can they do to you? Whatever they want.. They can set you up, bust you, they can break your fingers, burn your brain with electricity, blur you with drugs till you can’t walk, can’t remember. they can take away your children, wall up your lover; they can do anything you can’t stop them doing. How can you stop them? Alone you can fight, you can refuse. You can take whatever revenge you can But they roll right over you. But two people fighting back to back can cut through a mob a snake-dancing fire can break a cordon, termites can bring down a mansion Two people can keep each other sane can give support, conviction, love, massage, hope, sex. Three people are a delegation a cell, a wedge. With four you can play games and start a collective. With six you can rent a whole house have pie for dinner with no seconds and make your own music. Thirteen makes a circle, a hundred fill a hall. A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter; ten thousand community and your own papers; a hundred thousand, a network of communities; a million our own world. It goes one at a time. It starts when you care to act. It starts when you do it again after they say no. It starts when you say we and know who you mean; and each day you mean one more.
In The Moon is Always Female (1980). New York: Knopf, pp. 44-45. (Thanks to Kate Norlock.)
As the grandchild of a geologist I learned early to anticipate the absolute mutability of hills and waterfalls and even islands. When a hill slumps into the ocean I see the order in it. When a 5.2 on the Richter Scale wrenches the writing table in my own room in my own house in my own particular Welbeck Street I keep on typing. A hill is a transitional accommodation to stress, and ego may be a similar accommodation. A waterfall is a self-correcting maladjustment of stream to structure, and so, for all I know, is technique. The very island to which Inez Victor returned in the spring of 1975—Oahu, an emergent post-erosional land mass along the Hawaiian Ridge—is a temporary feature, and every rainfall or tremor along the Pacific plates alters its shape and shortens its tenure as Crossroads of the Pacific. In this light it is difficult to maintain definite convictions about what happened down there in the spring of 1975, or before.
Vintage (2007), Ch. 22, p. 220-221. (Thanks to Alex Thinius.)