In fact, all the reviews from his Longreads and Reallylongreads have been like this recently, claiming to be about one thing only to be about something else — usually Sally Rooney, Ben Lerner, and Rachel Cusk, along with some kind of cultural crisis.
The Intellectual Situation
To the scattered victories of abolitionists toward the tail end of last year — the weakening of police unions, the severance of several law enforcement contracts with universities and public schools, the (token) shrinking of police budgets in a handful of major cities — we might add an ideological one: black radicalism has hacked a path back to the mainstream political scene.
Whatever the correct descriptor might be, the military occupation of the West Bank is hard to understand until you see it. You might be surprised at your own intolerance of the idea of a democracy maintaining an open-air prison for 2.7 million people. Before going there myself, I had heard this phrase, open-air prison, and figured it was not literally a prison. (As someone who spends a fair amount of time in prisons, I’m sensitive to its use as a metaphor.) But everywhere I went I saw guard towers and concrete barriers and razor wire — truly an open-air prison — except where there were settlements, which featured posh, Beverly Hills–style landscaping: little blooming flowers, fragile and bright, the guard towers in the far distance.
Freud claimed that technology only solved problems that technology itself had created. The alienation and malaise caused by one modern invention was momentarily relieved by another, a process he compared to “the enjoyment obtained by putting a bare leg from under the bedclothes on a cold winter night and drawing it in again.” Nobody seemed capable of articulating what problem these language models were designed to solve. There was some chatter about writing assistance, about therapy bots, about a future where you’d never have to write another email (“Can A.I. bring back the three-martini lunch?” asked Fortune), all of which seemed to skirt the technology’s most obvious use: replacing the underpaid and inefficient writers who supplied the content that fed the insatiable maw of the internet — people like me.
That dripping nostril was no ordinary toddler snot. That was when you should have known, and stopped working, and stopped drinking from the — write it — water cooler. Fuck. Fuck. When will the wave of absolutely certain regret and terror arrive. Come on already, I can’t wait anymore.
Fiction and Drama
Other groups went in for home arts but in more artisanal directions than the folk crafts women, with steampunk-looking excursions in beakers, copper stills, and bell jars, making hand-cultured vinegars and ciders but also shrubs, wassails, tonics, and bitters, which could be used to cure colds and doubled as craft cocktail ingredients. A further subset of these had a religious bent, albeit Wiccan and New Agey, with bespoke homespun potions, poultices, and other herbal remediations for illnesses, as well as plasters and pastes made from grinding seeds and oils by hand with a mortar.
Or perhaps the joy lay in the way they loosened the world, suggesting that nothing was really so important. Lions and bears were insulting each other on the playground — and still, she was carrying this weight? The weight of the husband? Of the shag carpet?
It was 1982. Brezhnev died. Ready also died, after eating rat poison. Olya started her senior year at the Institute and bought herself a violin made by the German master Schneider for 1,600 rubles, telling her poor parents that a girlfriend who’d dropped out of school and married a Georgian had given it to her. She continued to meet Burmistrov at the same apartment. She was so used to Horse Soup’s screaming that she no longer paid any attention to it, focusing only on the food in front of her.
Even when talking about class, elite discourse is the motor force of history for Frank. If only suburban lawn signs talked more about class and less about racism and sexism, all of our problems would be solved.
Once safely out of office, he acknowledged that “millions of Americans” had been “spooked by a black man in the White House.” An undeniable truth, but one that was miles away from the embrocations he had offered the country when he launched his national career by declaring that “there is not a black America and a white America.” That kind of thing sounds like denialism to some, a postracial utopia to others, and then, in certain places, like a threat.
Other than the few people I knew from my hometown, I recognized no one. Except for Mario Batali, whom I knew from TV. (Growing up my sister watched the Food Network a lot.) Batali stood at the back of the room, behind a counter, as if where a DJ would play. Or maybe a DJ was playing there (a DJ was playing somewhere, I think?) and he was hovering near the decks. He was wearing his signature orange Crocs and not really talking to anyone, just standing around. Then leaning. Then lurching.