Rebecca Solnit is one of my very favorite non-fiction authors, not for her best-known Men Explain Things to Me, but for her memoir The Faraway Nearby. I’m actually reading her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking right now.
In response to Tuesday’s election results Solnit and her publisher, Haymarket Books, have just made her book Hope in the Dark free for download, for the next four days, at this link. You do need to sign up for a free account with Haymarket.
“Tracing a history of activism and social change over the past decades – including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico to Seattle in 1999, and the worldwide marches against the war in Iraq, this title proposes a vision of cause-and-effect relations that provides grounds for political engagement.”
“Memory produces hope in the same way that amnesia produces despair,” the theologian Walter Brueggeman noted. It’s an extraordinary statement, one that reminds us that though hope is about the future, grounds for hope lie in the records and recollections of the past. We can tell of a past that was nothing but defeats and cruelties and injustices, or of a past that was some lovely golden age now irretrievably lost, or we can tell a more complicated and accurate story, one that has room for the best and worst, for atrocities and liberations, for grief and jubilation. A memory commensurate to the complexity of the past and the whole cast of participants, a memory that includes our power, produces that forward-directed power called hope.
Amnesia leads to despair in many ways. The status quo would like you to believe it is immutable, inevitable, and invulnerable, and lack of memory of a dynamically changing world reinforces this view. …
One of the essential aspects of depression is the sense that you will always be mired in this misery, that nothing can or will change. … Things don’t always change for the better, but they change, and we can play a role in that change, if we act. Which is where hope comes in, and memory, the collective memory we call history.