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My Life and Times

Human Kind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality

Human Kind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality

Footnotes #1

A drama is being played out in these lines, and I suspect that Eliot is thinking of another text as he recasts the latter’s drama in his own terms. The text is the Bhagavad Gita, which I had read at the age of 17 or 18 in Juan Mascaró’s translation but forgotten by the time I met Gay Clifford. The Gita’s paradoxical thesis about “detached action”—a kind of work that is undertaken for its own sake.

Panhandle Postcard

Panhandle Postcard

The solidarity of evacuation, even if each car was its own small ecosystem of panic, grief, and merriment

This walk at the end of the day was meant to cleanse the palette. But as the sky went from pale purple to deep purple, the roiling Gulf of Mexico disappearing into darkness, we again turned to our phones. First to mine, looking at images of the fallen trees, fallen houses, the map that indicated that power was out in all of New Orleans. Then she showed me her friends’ snaps, the ones who were still in New Orleans, “hunkering down,” in the parlance. “Riding it out.” The snap of water coming into the house, under a door; the snap of the doughy cookies that were in progress when the power went out.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

That is not how social isolation works, young lady

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.

The Afterlife

Revisiting Roth’s promise

My own sense of Roth is that the motive behind his books, his drive and ambition as a writer, has everything to do with his unceasing energy as a seducer—a seducer of readers as well as of living people, friends and lovers. One might argue, again, that the intimate connection between eros and the desire to communicate with readers is true of many writers—but in Roth’s case I wonder if he might have been a better writer, certainly a freer one, if he had been able to unknot the two impulses a bit more.

A Trip to Minsk

A Trip to Minsk

Marches and trials in Belarus

I was in a cab headed to the Courtyard of Changes when my friends texted to say that the police had just painted over the mural. But by the time I got there, building residents had almost finished repainting it. “This is the sixth time they’ve painted over it, and we always put it up again right away,” they told me, laughing.