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Practically Idealistic blog
The title for this blog originated with use of the term “practical idealist” in this 1996 opinion piece, which asked: “To what kind of work should a practical idealist aspire?” A century and a half earlier, Emerson, in his 1841 essay Circles, wrote: “There are degrees in idealism.  We learn first to play with it academically. . . .  Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments.  Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.  It now shows itself ethical and practical.”  John Dewey and Mahatma Gandhi embraced practical idealism in the 20th century, as did UN Secretary General U Thant.  Al Gore invoked it in a 1998 speech. In the context of this blog, the term is meant to convey idealism tempered but not overwhelmed by realism: a search for the ideal on a path guided by common sense.
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Sunday, June 10, 2018

"The Big Read": Claudia Rankine's "Citizen"


The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, with the New Haven Public Library among other partners including the National Endowment for the Arts, is featuring Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric for the “Big Read” series of events.


This moved me to read Citizen and to attend a June 7 event at the library, with several high-school Festival Fellows leading a discussion of the book’s themes.


Claudia Rankine, drawing inspiration from figures including Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin (e.g., “The purpose of art … is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers”), herself writes the following poetic, poignant lines (among others):


“because white men can’t

police their imagination

black men are dying”

8:28 am edt 

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