Progress is Never Permanent

“I am a citizen as well as an individual soul and one of the things citizenship teaches us, over the long stretch, is that there is no perfectibility in human affairs… In this world there is only incremental progress… It might look small to those with apocalyptic perspectives, but to she who not so long ago could not vote, or drink from the same water fountain as her fellow citizens, or marry the person she chose, or live in a certain neighborhood, such incremental change feels enormous… We will never be perfect: that is our limitation. But we can have, and have had, moments in which we can take genuine pride… Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated and reimagined if it is to survive.”

Zadie Smith

Controlling Experience

Writing is control. The part of the university in which I teach should properly be called the Controlling Experience Department. Experience—mystifying, overwhelming, conscious, subconscious—rolls over everybody. We try to adapt, to learn, to accommodate, sometimes resisting, other times submitting to, whatever confronts us. But writers go further: they take this largely shapeless bewilderment and pour it into a mold of their own devising. Writing is all resistance””

— Zadie Smith, Intimations: Six Essays