In 2004, George Saunders wrote a article for Slate in the style of a manifesto for an organization called People Reluctant To Kill for an Abstraction. I believe Saunders’ piece has some relevance to current events.
At precisely 9 in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At 10, Phase II began, during which our entire membership did not force a single man to suck another man’s penis. Also, none of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside out via our powerful explosives. In addition, at 11, in Phase III, zero (0) planes were flown into buildings.
And in summary:
This is PRKA. To those who would oppose us, I would simply say: We are many. We are worldwide. We, in fact, outnumber you. Though you are louder, though you create a momentary ripple on the water of life, we will endure, and prevail.
(via everything changes)
Whether or not you’re a writer or even care about words, this video starring George Saunders talking about how to tell a story that matters is phenomenal. It was created by Redglass Pictures. (P.S. There’s swearing in it.)
(via Harry Allen)
George Saunders gave the commencement address at Syracuse University this past spring and it was recently republished in the New York Times. It touches on the nature of success and kindness.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. […]
[A]ccomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended. […]
Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf - seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.
The Twitter is afire with rave reviews of Joel Lovell’s profile of writer George Saunders for the upcoming issue of the NY Times Magazine.
It is true that if there exists a “writer’s writer,” Saunders is the guy. “There is really no one like him,” Lorrie Moore wrote. “He is an original — but everyone knows that.” Tobias Wolff, who taught Saunders when he was in the graduate writing program at Syracuse in the mid-’80s, said, “He’s been one of the luminous spots of our literature for the past 20 years,” and then added what may be the most elegant compliment I’ve ever heard paid to another person: “He’s such a generous spirit, you’d be embarrassed to behave in a small way around him.”