An academic makes a dark joke about the end of humanity from the audience of a lecture and Johnathan Lear brilliantly dissects it and turns it into an challenge for us to continue to strive for excellence as humans regardless of what we face.
As an American ex-pat I can 100% relate to this. I know now that it was foolish, but for many of my younger years I never voted because as far as I was concerned it was a bunch of old guys who couldn’t relate to me or any issues I cared about.
“For Stebbing, freeing one’s own mind is, uniquely, one’s own personal responsibility, and is, she explains, hindered by ignorance. People might appear to be free, because they live in a liberal democracy, but this apparent freedom can be illusory. Genuine freedom consists in individuals knowing how to think freely.”
I haven't read any Knausgaard, but Toril Moi's critique of it strikes a chord with me - particularly as it relates his work to a quest for presence, and 'attention'. A question of one's existence and an attempt to record or validate it. Might have to add 'My Struggle' to the 'to read' list, though it seems like a behemoth.
"Nothing is more ordinary than existence—than being there; nothing is easier to miss. This is the heart of the project of 'My Struggle': all these thousands of pages are attempts to pay attention. They arise from the realization of how easy it is to miss the adventure of one’s own existence, to live one’s life without noticing, without paying attention to that one thing: that I was there. But they also arise from the realization that we will inevitably miss much of that adventure, that our only hope is to recreate the moments of existence from memory."