The Surest Defense Against Evil

From Joseph Brodsky‘s 1984 commencement speech at Williams College:

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity. That is, something that can’t be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned impostor couldn’t be happy with. Something, in other words, that can’t be shared, like your own skin: not even by a minority. Evil is a sucker for solidity. It always goes for big numbers, for confident granite, for ideological purity, for drilled armies and balanced sheets.

Wonderful. Found in his collection of essays entitled Less Than One.

(hat tip: Robert Faggen)

4 Responses to The Surest Defense Against Evil

  1. That is a fantastic quote. It reminds me of a quote by Allen Ginsberg that it took me *years* to fully get. But when I got it, it’s very much along the same lines as the Brodsky quote.

    “The first thing that comes to mind is the best weapon against the police state.”

  2. Radman says:

    hmm, gandhi is someone that fits that bill..”extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity”

  3. archer says:

    so is craig ferguson (and stephen colbert) come to think of it…

  4. Shefaly says:

    @ Radman: And soon enough so many bought into his ideology! Did it turn him into evil? Who can say? Yet India still suffers the negative outcomes of the schism that he agreed to. What a (d)evil’s bargain!


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