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Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Day of the Oprichnik, 16 Years Later

Day of the Oprichnik, 16 Years Later

Sorokin deserves credit for bothering to skewer such a marginal figure

This rhythm in Russia, of repression and violent revolution, is well known to Sorokin, who first emerged as a writer under Soviet rule in the 1980s, when he was no less irritating to the Kremlin. He’s not just a satirist but also a speculative fantasist, and he became angrily political after Putin came to power.

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.

In Thrall

In Thrall

How can we get closer to the wounded belly of the world?

Choose your own birth adventure: either you come out of a dark vagina or an iridescent anus. Taking over for Spinoza, the receding figure who is always with us, Kafka laughs at the childishness of a second creation story. In his work, the animal speaks while the human is, ultimately, struck dumb by anal bureaucracies of his own making. Legal fictions estrange humans from each other and create, in the most sensitive souls, fissures that never heal.