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PEN America Blog

October 20, 2014

Is the conscience the soul’s surveillance of the self? When are observations neutral? Does a writer, even without knowing, intend to “use” observations for the benefit of the writing in a way that is markedly different from the way advertisers track the inclinations of internet users in order to sell them something?

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October 17, 2014

There is no time in this slow eternity / He makes a cup of black coffee, / and puts on a Fairouz song

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October 15, 2014

First an army destroys a temple, the limbs of men and statues are demolished, their names disappear, the soldiers become a hero, then a number, then a statue is re-erected to pay homage to all the fallen, a parade drums by. Fireworks deafen our heads, if we have them

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October 14, 2014

I fear it is fashionable for many writers to think that they have to be right. I want to be wrong but true. Our task is to be human.

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October 9, 2014

It’s said that losing a language is “like dropping a bomb on the Louvre.” When a language is lost, it’s the people that are betrayed.

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October 9, 2014

For many years China has been a prototype for countries trying to control and censor the Internet, but it seems that censorship in China has reached the end of the road; recently, they seem to have managed to censor the entire Internet.

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October 8, 2014

He knew that a planet, too, wanders, open, in a field of asters. And watched / the terror vanish, falling with the trees into darkness. You walk the dark to recall // a specific point in an argument in which you saw something delicate / fall apart. In fact, to pieces.

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October 6, 2014

I want to go into a coma / Anesthetic / Into the fifth heaven of grass / Where God’s forking foot is washed by the virgins of paradise

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October 3, 2014

And yet, I was only half Italian. I was only half Catholic. I was only half open to these ideas. I was only half. What could make me whole? I stayed up at night thinking of hell, trying to reconcile the demands of purity with my disbelief.

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October 3, 2014

The revolution exposed the deep suffering of Egypt’s people. In a sense, the revolution didn’t bring chaos to the country, but an explosion of the people’s rage towards the regime finally revealed...

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