Came across this quote by Thomas Merton a very interesting character (an American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion.)
“In actual fact, society depends for its existence on the inviolable personal solitude of its members. Society, to merit its name, must be made up not of numbers, or mechanical units, but of persons. To be a person implies responsibility and freedom, and both these imply a certain interior solitude, a sense of personal integrity, a sense of one’s own reality and of one’s ability to give himself to society–or to refuse that gift.”Merton – Thoughts on Solitude
The quote was part of the podcast episode Never Mind the Stasi, where the host Hari Kunzru explains: “without privacy, without the ability to make basic decisions for yourself, society could not exist. Unless you have freedom to act and can take responsibility for your actions; you are not human in society, just a function, a cog in a totalitarian machine.”
Kunzru is the host of my current favorite podcast – bingeing it now called “Into the Zone” after listening to the episode on cyberspace, I immediately began listening to all the episodes in order.
In a recent episode of the BBC podcast From our own correspondent I heard a segment by Kevin Connolly contained a quote worth remembering:
One middle-aged woman told me, at the beginning of this last revolution in the battered centre of the city of Benghazi, that she thought the worst thing about living under a dictatorship was that it made you ashamed that you did not resist, that you were not a hero.
“You pass the habit of fear on to your children,” she said.
The habit of fear.
This position reminds me of another quote, this time by Salman Rushdie from his book The Moors Last Sigh
By embracing the inescapable, I lost my fear of it. I’ll tell you a secret about fear: its an absolutist. With fear, its all or nothing. Either, like any bullying tyrant, it rules your life with a stupid blinding omnipotence, or else you overthrow it, and its power vanishes like a puff of smoke.
Here is an interesting podcast of James Boyle on his book The Public Domain (via BoingBoing)
Professor James Boyle describes how our culture, science and economic welfare all depend on the delicate balance between those ideas that are controlled and those that are free, between intellectual property and the public domain â€”the realm of material that everyone is free to use and share without permission or fee
Intellectual property laws have a significant impact on many important areas of human endeavour, including scientific innovation, digital creativity, cultural access and free speech. And so Boyle argues that, just as every informed citizen needs to know at least something about the environment or civil rights, every citizen in the information age should also have an understanding of intellectual property law.
The Public Domain: enclosing the commons of the mind