Essays

The Perils of Optimism, with Zeppelins

Truth itself won’t be comforted, but there’s solace in seeing the huckster unmasked. On American optimism and THE CARP CASTLE by MacDonald Harris.

Grieving in the Time of Lulz

Knausgaard could have Instagrammed his father’s empties. Didion could have live-tweeted her late-night ambulance ride. Instead they wrote. Why do we write grief?

The Corpse Singing On The Radio

Scott Beauchamp writes about the first time he saw a dead body in Iraq, his experience reading the Stoics during combat, and his later turn to a philosophy capable of responding to injustice.

Soul Proprietors

The Robin Thicke verdict renders the 2013 song theft, and thereby the two songs the same. It’s the latest installment in the American government’s recent series of ontological rearrangements.

Smarter

While dystopian fiction, film, and television is now as popular as it’s ever been, we’ve surgically amputated our fears about societal collapse from our individual ambitions.

Ad Infinitum  

Exposure to more ads means more reading and seeing and hearing the empty rhetoric of essentialist perlocution: paltered clichés, tropes, maxims, lies, and nonsense. One result, in Barthes’ view, is a cheapening of the greater language.

Blind Spots

I remember all my efforts to prepare to move forward, but I forget the jerky reverse, stop-and-go motion that made that eventual forward movement possible.

The Weird and the Functional

The artist Rammellzee used the term ‘lightdwellers’ to reference a generic societal elite. Decades later, ‘the lofts’ can do a similar job for a certain kind of New Yorker. Ditto for ‘condos.’

Me and My Shadow

On Jungian shadows, Elena Ferrante, THE BABADOOK, and the sinister side of motherhood.

Men of Myth: On Bruce Springsteen & Bob Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’

Whereas early blues and country artists were subsumed under the mythology of their genre, rock was about individual stardom from the outset. Where do Dylan & Springsteen stand in relation to their progenitors?