Zhang Huan’s sculpture Three Legged Buddha, installed at Storm King Art Center, photo by Jonathan VanAntwerpen taken on December 5, 2020.
Zhang Huan, Three Legged Buddha | Storm King Art Center, December 5, 2020 | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen | Copyright © 2021 Jonathan VanAntwerpen

From “What will survive of us is love,” published recently at Thrive Global:

We enjoin each other to remember with frequently fraught if well-intentioned formulas, and too commonly imagine the results as inevitably healing. When things turn out otherwise, as they often do, there are those who quickly tell us that we’re just not doing it right — that we need another form of confessional practice, a better set of beliefs, an alternative mode of truth-telling, a different discourse of memory. And maybe we do. Yet when we need them most urgently, we understandably reach for whatever inherited or borrowed words we have at hand.

Read it here: Jonathan VanAntwerpen| What will survive of us is love.

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Book Cover of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen, Photo by Jonathan VanAntwerpen
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner | Bich Minh Nguyen | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“Maybe because I was surrounded by so much Christianity, I often regarded Buddha as a stand-in for God. I prayed to him many times for things I wanted: Top 40 albums, new shoes, chocolate cake. I prayed for miracles, too: twenty-twenty vision, a pretty face, big bank accounts for my parents. Whenever God was cited — in the Pledge of Allegiance or on coins — in my mind I substituted the word Buddha.”

from Bich Minh Nguyen’s memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

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Neuromatic by John Lardas Modern | A photo of the book cover by Jonathan VanAntwerpen
Neuromatic | John Lardas Modern | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“In the MRI, flat on my back, questions arose. How to write a particular history of the brain that would capture the reverberating intimacies and the cognitive claustrophobia — all that was going into the relation of power that I was experiencing? How to convey, let alone explain, the blinkered feeling that I might not be human? How to tell stories — and stories within stories — about the people, practices, propositions, and beliefs that have made the brain such a familiar image and pressing force in the world? In the MRI, the writerly challenge began to take shape.”

from John Lardas Modern’s Neuromatic: or, A Particular History of Religion and the Brain (The University of Chicago Press, 2021)

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Thick And Other Essays | Tressie McMillan Cottom

“By interrogating my social location with a careful eye on thick description that moves between empirics and narrative, I have — over the course of hundreds of essays and more than a decade of public writing for an audience who recognized me as a voice of some kind — tried to explore what our selves say about our society. Along the way, I have shared parts of myself, my history, and my identity to make social theory concrete. The things we touch and smell and see and experience through our senses are how stories become powerful. But I have never wanted to only tell powerfully evocative stories. I have wanted to tell evocative stories that become a problem for power. For that, I draw upon data and research.”

from Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Think And Other Essays

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Jacques Derrida’s On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“In order to approach now the very concept of forgiveness, logic and common sense agree for once with the paradox: it is necessary, it seems to me, to begin from the fact that, yes, there is the unforgivable. Is this not, in truth, the only thing to forgive? The only thing that calls for forgiveness? If one is only prepared to forgive what appears forgivable, what the church calls ‘venial sin’, then the very idea of forgiveness would disappear. If there is something to forgive, it would be what in religious language is called mortal sin, the worst, the unforgivable crime or harm. From which comes the aporia, which can be described in its dry and implacable formality, without mercy: forgiveness forgives only the unforgivable.”

from Jacques Derrida’s On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness

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Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Jonathan VanAntwerpen is a program director at the Henry Luce Foundation. Originally trained as a philosopher, he holds a Ph.D. in sociology from UC-Berkeley.