I knew what it was to be unpunctuated.

— Anne Boyer, Garments Against Women

It’s hard to explain how seeing a mundane thing cast out of the grammar of daily life can suddenly alert you to the irruption of violence.

— Ben Lerner, The Topeka School

He spoke in detail about food systems, weather systems, the loss of forests, the spread of drought, the massive die-offs of birds and ocean life, the levels of carbon dioxide, the lack of drinking water, the waves of virus that envelop broad geographies.

— Don DeLillo, Zero K

The emergent properties of systems are never apparent from the conditions going in.

— Lewis Hyde, Common As Air

In fact, the result and possibly unacknowledged aim of science may be to know how much it is that we don’t know, rather than what we do think we know. What we think we know we probably aren’t really sure of anyway. At least if we can get a sense of what we don’t know, we won’t be guilty of the hubris of thinking we know any of it. Science’s job is to map our ignorance.

— David Byrne, Arboretum

What if precarity, indeterminacy, and what we imagine as trivial are the center of the systematicity we seek?

— Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World

vague impressions of bodies hovering just beyond the threshold of the visible
— Tom McCarthy, C

A modern view of the processes of growth, decay and renewal must give due emphasis to both continuity and change in human institutions.
— John W. Gardner, Self-Renewal

Even more interesting for a sociology of modernity is that the fixation of modern social thought (or better yet: the modern social imaginary) on the nation state has evidently led our perception of the limits of the body to resemble our conception of national borders. Just as the latter, from a nationalistic perspective, are threatened by open and covert immigrants and enemies who may either destroy the state from without or subvert it from within, modern human beings see their own bodies threatened by bacteria and viruses; and what police and military forces do for the state, the immune system accomplishes for the subject.
— Hartmut Rosa, Resonance

Better to exile from the tribe, the reasoning follows, those unwilling to make the commitment to the perfect society than to risk the infection of dissent.
— E. O. Wilson, Consilience

Within a year our country will be a giant fortress, guns trained on the sea lanes: more like a castle than a realm.

— Hilary Mantel, The Mirror & the Light

Who do you run to, who do you tell, when you realize you’ve built a prison out of the things you thought were liberations?
— Ian Penman, It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track

Oddly though, the world is wide open for everything but people. Goods, services, and stocks crisscross the globe. Information circulates freely
— Rutger Bregman, Utopia for Realists

There is, as of yet, no solution for the ‘problem’ of our border; that invisible line we have never even seen.

— Kerri ní Dochartaigh, ‘Little Egret/Tall Ship’

Choose a new perception of identity, or justify the singular nationalism, the walls, the edges of reduction around definitions of gender, race, profession, religion, and live in a battlefield between false nations, false identities, false separations.
— Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles

If you have infected the sky and the earth
Caught its disease off you – you are the virus
— Ted Hughes, ‘If’

The diagnosis isn’t hard – the diagnosis isn’t even controversial. It’s guilt: mass guilt, generational guilt.
— John Lanchester, The Wall

Your people have finally fallen into history, he said. The rest of us are already here.
— Jenny Offill, Weather

To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.

— Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air

Nature is beyond morality; it gives us everything we have and it kills us all.
— Sady Doyle, Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers

Caught as we are between the animalistic and the godlike, we are doomed to self-knowledge and equally doomed to act out our innate violence. We create our own mazes and labyrinths in which to wander, lonely, miserable, unfulfilled, desperate.

— Stanley Donwood, There Will Be No Quiet

We should resist such inertial thinking; indeed, we should urge its opposite – deep time as a radical perspective, provoking us to action not apathy. For to think in deep time can be a means not of escaping our troubled present, but rather of re-imagining it; countermanding its quick greeds and furies with older, slower stories of making and unmaking.

— Robert Macfarlane, Underland

From a long-term perspective, as a relatively young species on this planet we are collectively undergoing a maturation process which requires us to redefine how we understand our relationship to the rest of life on Earth – facing the choices of either collapse or profound transformation.
— Daniel Christian Wahl, Designing Regenerative Cultures

Inside the word emergency is emerge; from an emergency new things come forth. The old certainties are crumbling fast, but danger and possibility are sisters.
— Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.
— Greta Thunberg, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the sound
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all
— Emily Dickinson, Hope is the Thing with Feathers