Aleksandar Hemon, The Book of My Lives
“But the moment you point at a difference, you enter, regardless of age, an already existing system of differences, a network of identities, all of them ultimately arbitrary and unrelated to your intentions, none of them a matter of your choice. The moment you other someone, you other yourself."
“One of the most common platitudes we heard was that “words failed.” But words were not failing us at all. It was not true that there was no way to describe our experience. We had plenty of language to talk to each other about the horror of what was happening, and talk we did. If there was a communication problem it was that there were too many words; they were far too heavy and too specific to be inflicted upon others. If something was failing it was the functionality of routine, platitudinous language—the comforting clichés were now inapplicable and perfectly useless. We instinctively protected other people from the knowledge we possessed; we let them think that words failed, because we knew they didn’t want to be familiar with the vocabulary we used daily. We were sure they didn’t want to know what we did; we didn’t want to know it either.”
“Displacement results in a tenuous relationship with the past, with the self that used to exist and operate in a different place, where the qualities that constituted us were in no need of negotiation. Immigration is an ontological crisis because you are forced to negotiatet the conditions of your selfhood under pereptually changing existential circumstances.”
“One of the most despicable religious fallacies is that suffering is ennobling, that it is a step on the path to some kind of enlightenment or salvation.”
“While he wanted to teach me what he knew, I wanted him to see what it all looked like for me—perhaps love is a process of finding a common vision of reality.”
“Only those who do not care, only those who find a way to diminish or extinguish the value of other human beings, survive wars without damage and speak of warrior honor afterward.”
“we wept within the moment that was dividing our life into before and after, whereby the before was forever foreclosed, while the after was spreading out, like an exploding twinkle-star, into a dark universe of pain.”