Tuesday, December 20th
sounds of New York
Charmaine Lee (vocal) & Nate Wooley (trumpet), live, New York, 11/20/16
If novelists know anything it’s that individual citizens are internally plural: they have within them the full range of behavioral possibilities. They are like complex musical scores from which certain melodies can be teased out and others ignored or suppressed, depending, at least in part, on who is doing the conducting. At this moment, all over the world—and most recently in America—the conductors standing in front of this human orchestra have only the meanest and most banal melodies in mind. Here in Germany you will remember these martial songs; they are not a very distant memory. But there is no place on earth where they have not been played at one time or another. Those of us who remember, too, a finer music must try now to play it, and encourage others, if we can, to sing along.
—Zadie Smith, “On Optimism and Despair,” (“A talk given in Berlin on November 10 on receiving the 2016 Welt Literature Prize.”), New York Review of Books, 12/22/16 issue