One one hand, I’ll read any smart piece that dives deep on the transcendent play of the Golden State Warriors’ point guard — and even more so in the wake of Curry finally winning an elusive NBA Finals MVP honor. But on the other hand, I can’t remember any others in which a history scholar managed to map the NBA against Marxist dialectics while still delivering an emotionally honest depiction of sports fandom. Well played.
We gravitate to teams and athletes for different reasons, but I think mainly we want to see what happens next. What innovation or talent will mark a new phase in the league’s record books? In the academy, historians are far past the days of Whiggish triumphalism, the belief that ours is the best of all possible worlds. Within the artificial constraints of a basketball season, however, linear progress feels absolutely possible. Curry’s consecration last week only reinforced my belief in the rationality of history, or at least the NBA’s version of it. Sports project a vision of collective progress far more hopeful than the actuality of late capitalism. We should never consume it naively, but I am not so sure that we can afford to let it go either.
An essay about the terrifying funhouse that is Washington, D.C., in the age of Trump, QAnon, and insurrection:
Even while conspiracy or paranoia bring the truth of mainstream accounts into question, their main effect is to simplify, not to obscure; to add meaning where there is none, to imagine particles where there may or may not be any, connect dots that don’t connect, make bread out of bread crumbs, and to make life more comprehensible until it begins to constrict you. Conspiracy promises clarity. “The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent,” wrote Richard Hofstadter in “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” published in Harper’s in 1964. “In fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world.”
After January 6, 2021, QAnon had more followers than some major religions. The slogan of the movement — “Where we go one, we go all” — promised strength in numbers. The crowd propelled itself, like a murmuration of birds or a microwave bombardment: online messages joined forces to form a targeted weapon. The conspiracy theorists and paranoiacs who believed the election was stolen projected themselves outward, inflicting their fantasy on everyone else.
“A few nights later, under citywide curfew and after the trains had been shut down, a friend and I called a cab home in a bid to evade arrest. As we sped along the East River, the driver glanced in the rearview mirror and asked if we’d come from the demonstrations. Yes, we told him carefully, we’d been going out every night. His eyes smiled above his face mask. ‘You have to find the biggest brick you can,” he said, ‘and then you make it count.'”
“What do I care for seeing these legends (insofar as MMA even has “legends”), in a sport not their own, at ages that seem criminally old? It’s sadder than any strung-out rocker strumming bloated and hoarse-throated to a braying audience. You can’t, in good conscience, want these men to play their hits again.”
“’Oh, the beautiful poem!’ He laughed again. ‘The beautiful, beautiful poem! It’s very easy to appreciate the beauty of art and ‘the profound note’ when things are good. When people are dying around you it’s a lot harder to do.'”
The anxiety of global pandemic translates into the anxiety of the self: How will this effect me?
Dworin weaves together the memory of losing her mother to an illness during her childhood with her story of becoming a mother and caring for children with their own illnesses.
On publishing in the late 2010s.
As his neighbors pass from health problems and old age, relinquishing formerly rent-controlled apartments to monied young people, writer Jeremiah Moss remembers and mourns the simple intimacies that passed among the colorful tenants of his East Village apartment building.
Lorelei Lee reflects on her career in sex work and pornography, the gradations of consent in the industry, and the ways in which radical feminists and the religious right fight to keep sex work criminalized.