“It is telling that ‘genius’ is virtually synonymous with ‘tortured genius.’ It is hard to imagine a story like Beth’s without the alcoholism, drug addiction, intense loneliness and self-destructiveness. The real torture is the one we enact by classifying people as geniuses, to serve our own fantasies of independence. Geniuses are the monsters we make.”
“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?”
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.
Life as an audition: the job market, the dating market, and the way we construct ourselves to impress.