Everyone on TV was just going through the motions. It felt like watching the death spiral of civilization.
I’m an asshole, he says. Don’t you love me?
The pandemic had lifted up the rotting log of philosophy, and the philosophers were wriggling about in the sunlight.
From Now On, I Vow to Read Only Fiction
April 17, 2020
The bored hours spent in quarantine feel nothing like the bored hours I spent as a kid.
From Now On, I Vow Only to Read Fiction
The Custom of the Capitol
This is what democracy looks like?
The buildings are enormous, the bridges are like Rome’s. I was told that DC was modeled after the gardens at Versailles. But unlike the European cities it emulates, there are no layers of history here—just that horrible orangey beige stone. I went to see a touring band play, and the lead singer said, “I forgot where we are.” To have history, you can’t simply have monuments; you also need a population to prop them up. Here, that natural accumulation is stunted, the city’s grandiosity hollow.
December 30, 2019
Confessions of a Mask
Sontag, Moser, diaries, and deception
July 8, 2019
Tanks for Nothing
A part of America occupying the White House. A part of America populating the Mall.
The sense I got was of a takeover—rather than people secure and calm in the exercise of their rights to assemble. Like the left occupying Zuccotti Park, the Trump supporters were exactly where they weren’t supposed to be; but, unlike Occupy, they brought a message of exclusion to one of the most visibly public spaces in America.
February 2, 2018
Until They Inevitably Find and Kill Each Other
Video games roundup
What has changed, two decades on, is the thrust of these games. There has been, in video-game sports as in the culture at large, an astonishing administrative bloat. The first time I noticed the shift was in playing GameDay 2000, a basic NFL simulator. Sure, you could play an NFL game, watch the tightly-packed polygonal men glitch through one another, watch the victory dances to buttrock anthems. But GameDay also let you start a franchise. Now, instead of calling plays and moving small men around, you were the GM. The game let you simulate entire seasons, no longer bothering with the incidental back-and-forth of moving a ball across a field, but playing football on a world-historic level. In the offseason you would trade and draft new players, based on stats generated by the computer, new rookies with computer-generated names populating your team, until your Chicago Bears were unrecognizable, the year was 2020, and your franchise had won the past decade of Super Bowl rings.
January 10, 2018
Should we be angry about Trump’s Twitter account, or the consolidation of nuclear power to a single elected position?
The diagnoses laid out here—narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, Alzheimer’s, Trump-as-Hitler—will not result in treatment or removal from office. They assume a rational population that needs only to have the cause laid out for them. The problem confronting America is not a dearth of facts; the problem, rather, is that most people want the benefits of a system whose logical extreme—Trump—they can’t tolerate.
Not everyone is equipped to hear the slurry of the mind
Trolling and Taboo
November 11, 2016
The lines of communication were clearly jammed, if virtually no poll saw this coming.
October 13, 2016
Everyone was able to tick off a box in their burden of proof: yes, he is a fascist.
It’s not just that there is no one to compare Trump to—it’s that he himself is a moving, rubber target. This volatility means that we can’t even compare Trump to Trump.