Dienstag, 17. Juli 2018

Now More Than Ever / Zadie Smith In: The New Yorker July 23, 2018

There is an urge to be good. To be seen to be good. To be seen. Also to be. Badness, invisibility, things as they are in reality as opposed to things as they seem, death itself—these are out of fashion. This is basically what I told Mary. I said, Mary, all these things I just mentioned are not really done anymore, and also, while we’re on the subject, that name of yours is not going to fly, nobody’s called Mary these days, it’s painful for me even to say your name—actually, could you get the hell out of here?
Mary left. Scout came by—a great improvement. Scout is so involved and active. She is on all platforms, and rarely becomes aware of anything much later than, say, the three-hundredth person. By way of comparison, the earliest I’ve ever been aware of anything was that time I was the ten-million-two-hundred-and-sixth person to see that thing. There’s evidently a considerable gulf between Scout and me. But that’s why I am always so appreciative of her coming by and giving me news. Now, according to Scout, the news was (is?) that the past is now also the present. I invited her to pull up a stool at my mid-century-modern breakfast bar and unpack that a little for me. The light that afternoon was beautiful—from my place on the eleventh floor I could see all the way to the Hudson—and it filled me with optimism and an eagerness to be schooled. But Scout was cautious. Believing me incapable of either transhistorical thought or platform mastery, she placed a New York Sports Club tote bag on the counter and pulled out two puppets—homemade, insultingly basic. The first was a recognizably female human, although she had long arms, terribly long, at least three times the length of her body, and no nose. The other was a kind of triangular spindle with a smudgy face painted on both sides, trailing thread from its corners, which I could have sworn I’d seen someplace before. Scout’s demonstration was quite detailed—I don’t want to get into it all here—but the essence of it was: consistency. You’ve got to reach far, far back, she explained, into the past (hence the arms), and you’ve got to make sure that when you reach back thusly you still understand everything back there in the exact manner in which you understand things presently. For if it should turn out that you don’t—that is, if, after some digging, someone finds evidence that present-you is fatally out of step with past-you—well, then, you’ll simply have to find some way to remake the connection, and you’ve got to make it seamless. Not double-faced or double-sided (like this triangle-spindle guy) but seamless, because otherwise you are (and were) in all kinds of trouble. Seamless. Seamless. At which point we both got hungry and paused to order a couple of poké bowls.
“Here’s a question for you re: consistency,” I said, putting my elbows on the counter. “I know this woman who’s a big fancy C.E.O., her name is Natalia Lefkowitz. She’s totally squared the past with the present, is admired by all, and is not only seen to be good but actually does good in the world for many people, providing clean water and equitable job creation and maternity leave and plenty of other inarguable benefits for women here, there, and everywhere. But yesterday she got this message.” ... [mehr] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/23/now-more-than-ever

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