Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Paul Auster: The Accidental Rebel

Friend of the blog Paul Auster has a very thoughtful piece on today's Times op-ed page about a student protest he participated in at Columbia 40 years ago today.

Being crazy struck me as a perfectly sane response to the hand I had been dealt — the hand that all young men had been dealt in 1968. The instant I graduated from college, I would be drafted to fight in a war I despised to the depths of my being, and because I had already made up my mind to refuse to fight in that war, I knew that my future held only two options: prison or exile.
Auster studiously avoids making parallels to the present moment or present war, and with good reason: that lack of a draft is certainly a huge difference. But clearly, it's not just that. We're also just far from the political spirit that captured so many people all over the world in 1968.

The only clear parallel he makes:
I hesitate to draw any comparisons with the present — and therefore will not end this memory-piece with the word “Iraq.” I am 61 now, but my thinking has not changed much since that year of fire and blood, and as I sit alone in this room with a pen in my hand, I realize that I am still crazy, perhaps crazier than ever.

1 comment:

Betty & Bimbo said...

Great piece. The day to day impact of unjust national policies --especially when much of it seems to be unfolding far from us, as in a horrible dream -- is often one of pure emotion and raw nerves. Where to put emotional politics, or political emotions? How to act, where to be...? "Symbolic gestures are not empty gestures..."

Thank you so much for pointing out this piece, Koko.