On the Uses of History for Staying Alive

“Imagine that the turn of the wind to the north will bring snow: Where will you shelter, in the blizzard? Imagine the drop in the moose’s shoulder indicates she is turning to charge: Are you ready? Imagine that a virus, a thing that is debatably not even alive, can roar out of nothing and bring society to its knees. What will you do?”

Source: The Point
Published: Jul 12, 2020
Length: 11 minutes (2,846 words)

The End Is Coming

The last generation is going to have to be composed of people better and braver than we are now—and it is our job to help them end up that way. We must take the first steps toward learning to make the unthinkable thinkable, so that they can take the last ones.

Source: The Point
Published: Mar 11, 2020
Length: 6 minutes (1,516 words)

Who Wants to Play the Status Game?

Hi, nice to meet you, are we playing the Importance Game or the Leveling Game? With a skilled player, it’s hard to tell one from the other.

Source: The Point
Published: Jan 16, 2020
Length: 6 minutes (1,549 words)

Wrestling in Paris

A pilgrimage to the 2017 World Championships makes Andrew Kay wonder: is wrestling a metaphor for current global politics, or have global politics become increasingly wrestling-like?

Author: Andrew Kay
Source: The Point
Published: Apr 20, 2018
Length: 43 minutes (10,997 words)

Leaving Herland

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1915 novel Herland, women create a utopia without men and start to reproduce asexually. As the #MeToo Movement gathered steam, this novel led journalist Nora Caplan-Bricker to examine other feminist utopias and the limitations of binary ideology. As Caplan-Bricker puts it, “envisioning a world without sexual harassment—without its many tendrils invading every corner of our lives—is not a simple act of imagination.”

Source: The Point
Published: May 1, 2018
Length: 26 minutes (6,578 words)

Describing My Struggle

Six volumes later, and even fans of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle struggle to understand why his novel is so addictive. His life is so ordinary, his prose so utilitarian. Literature professor Toril Moi takes a refreshingly serious look at this international hit, and argues that My Struggle is important because it defies literary convention and critics’ standard notions of art. Appreciating Knausgaard’s virtues requires we learn to read differently and think differently about what qualifies as “good writing,” which presented its own challenge for Moi.

Author: Toril Moi
Source: The Point
Published: Jan 28, 2018
Length: 16 minutes (4,202 words)

The Picture in Her Mind

After an unauthorized Joan Didion biography came out, followed by the Didion documentary The Center Will Not Hold, people have started assessing Didion’s legacy and the author’s fascination with storytelling itself.

Source: The Point
Published: Nov 21, 2017
Length: 11 minutes (2,966 words)

Pilgrim at Tinder Creek

Life as an audition: the job market, the dating market, and the way we construct ourselves to impress.

Author: Andrew Kay
Source: The Point
Published: May 8, 2017
Length: 41 minutes (10,466 words)

Driving America

“Liberated by technology and disillusioned of the road-trip myth, the latter-day road tripper must face directly the fact that traveling in itself is phenomenally boring.”

Source: The Point
Published: Jan 30, 2017
Length: 9 minutes (2,455 words)

Camera-phone Lucida

“Part of the pleasure of Instagram is the way it edits out the ugly emotions that make up so much of the rest of social media. But it takes tremendous energy to live a life managed for appearances. The longer one lives in this world, the more tempting it becomes to escape, and to disappear.” Meditations on art history, Instagram, and the curated life.

Source: The Point
Published: Jul 15, 2016
Length: 17 minutes (4,365 words)