The Intellectual Situation

Living Inside

Living Inside

DON’T TAKE ADVIL!!

The virus tours my organ systems, wreaking havoc at each checkpoint. My girlfriend likewise personifies it, thinking of the virus as a sci-fi invader. She tells me she imagines it taking up temporary residence in her brain, the command center, maneuvering a joystick across her sensory receptors.

Epilogue for a Way of Life

Epilogue for a Way of Life

We were a sick society and getting sicker

The Decameron came to mind first, but as the weeks went on, our minds wandered to reruns of The Jetsons that we used to watch as kids. A smug depiction of an optimized society so stratified that its beneficiaries literally lived above the clouds, The Jetsons always made us wonder about all the people living below, on Earth, in cities abandoned by the techno-optimists of the future. Now we knew.

Smorgasbords Don’t Have Bottoms

Publishing in the 2010s

No one wakes up in the morning hoping to be as vapid as possible. But eventually you internalize the squeeze. Everyone down the chain adjusts their individual decisions to the whim of the retailer, or to their best guess at the whim of the retailer. If it’s Barnes & Noble, you may hear that a cover doesn’t work, that the store won’t carry the title unless you change it. If it’s Amazon, you may not hear anything at all. You go back and adjust your list of wildly optimistic comparative titles — it’s The Big Short, but . . . for meteorology!

Spectacle of Participation

The permanent permanent campaign

Endless campaigns may be seen as evidence of a candidate’s eventual priorities. Some supporters of Hillary Clinton averred happily that she had been pulled to the left by Bernie Sanders, but the fact remains that anyone can be pulled to the left during a campaign, because campaigns have targeted ends: votes. Once those are achieved, they usually have no lasting effect on what the candidate does in office. There are few promises that cannot be broken, or so hedged and circumscribed that they are effectively broken.

Friends of the Pod

Friends of the Pod

FAVORITE MURDER PODCASTS??

Maybe we were better off with loneliness. In that meme “How It Feels to Listen to Podcasts,” three laughing friends eat sundaes in a brightly colored ad while our IRL stand-in laughs along beside it, a bowl of ice cream slowly melting in his hand. Is that us?