“if in that moment / it is clear that in our entire, graceless rage / it is what we have, and all along, / most yearned for, / then let us be spared by that which has the power to spare us / the knowledge that it is too late / to disclaim anger, find the will / for love and tenderness, beg / for pardon”—
again and again and again
John Engels, “For the lately dead” The Kenyon Review, Autumn 1984. (via sorryeveryone)
I lay on the cream shag carpet with my brother
and argue what a kobold is, and is not. I am nine.
Behind the oblong dresser in the basement
is a white stub of chalk with a wolf spider
crouching on it. It does not know I am about to pick it up.
When I am twenty-one, I clutch a cold ten dollar bill.
The gas attendant has a gold tooth.
Says, what are you all dressed up for, missy.
I smooth the gray wool of my bridge coat.
A bell chimes and my shoulder blades flinch.
I cannot see the snowflakes melting into my cuffs.
No eyes watch my body shuffle back to the car
across the ice, no witnesses.
Years later, a lover’s shadow traipses diagonally
across the floor of the limehouse. He’s just told me
he didn’t fall in love with me. The moon in splinters
across stack piles of buildings. I open his refrigerator,
gulp milk from a glass bottle.
There is nothing left for me to do.
My brother has been dead for nine years. A kobold:
a kind of sprite with thin, ivy-colored arms.
See, he is not here to dispute this.
This is what I think when the lover asks why I am
so quiet. My body shaped like a C at the foot of his bed.
My fingers coiled in blankets. Thick and coconut white.
I miss everything.
“Sleeplessness has become a public-health concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control: around fifty to seventy million American adults have some kind of sleep disorder;…
Somebody finally coined a word for MY LIFE.
(If I could take a pill to never sleep and suffer no side effects from doing so, I’d do it in a heartbeat (whereas I’d never do the same w/r/t food). But I know the most basic reason I put off going to bed: lying there *waiting* to go to sleep really is a Nabokovian indignity, even if you don’t have insomnia and it’s only 10 or 15 minutes. So I stay up until I fall down, and then I don’t have to suffer the 15 minutes of boredom.
When I go for good, that’s how I want to go as well — so tuckered out that I just let go; no time or brain cycles for boredom or regret.)
I have been telling people for years that I would skip sleep if I could, and most people look at me funny when I do so. Also, this may be part of why I was Morning Owl today.
Agree with all of the above. I don’t sleep well, so it tends to not matter how much or how little sleep I get; I never feel rested. But with a big enough sleep deficit I still see declines in cognitive tasks, so I know I still need sleep. As a result I have come to deeply resent the act of sleeping. Big downsides to not getting it, but no reward for doing so.
does being male make relating to literature easier? a lot of the time i end up feeling sort of alienated by near-universal use of male pronouns...
Short answer: being male makes most things easier. That said, literature works both ways, because sometimes I find dude perspectives alienating and resent the implication that I should see myself in them. I appreciate you bringing this up, it’ll make me more cognizant of the speaker in my own work, and whether or not I’m being inclusive. But in defense of Dunn and a thousand other dudes, for a lot of people poetry is a pretty intensely personal thing, and their perspective is the only one they have. Thinking more about it, maybe I don’t have any real right to aim for a more universal perspective. This is tricky stuff!
I’ve actually been trying to formulate a post about reading women authors and beyond that, seeking out women authors operating in women-controlled spaces. It’s not ready yet, but suffice it to say fellas if you are a regular reader and you cannot name lady authors you like, you should fix that!
Anyhow, I’m assuming this came in response to the last bit of poetry I posted, so with that in mind here are some female poets whose work I have liked:
Breyer’s version of events, revealed in court records, is that he was drafted and that the mayor of his village told him he had to go. Even though he was assigned to the Death’s Head guard battalion at Auschwitz, he said, he refused to kill anyone, so he served as a perimeter guard, far from the killing. He says he never shepherded prisoners from the trains to the gas chambers. [….] “That’s one of the oldest defenses,” said Aaron Breitbart, a senior researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. “The perimeter-guard defense, and the baker defense: ‘Yes, I was there, but I was a baker.’ … It seems as though everybody is a perimeter guard when they’re finally caught. Well, not everybody who is caught could have been a perimeter guard.”
Expressed as a percentage, how much less culpable is the perimeter guard than the train -> gas chamber shepherd? If this cannot be expressed as a percentage, why is that, and what does this tell us about perimeter guards? About ourselves?
"He didn’t seem like what history says a Nazi should be like," [neighbor] Ken Perkins said. "He just seemed like an ordinary person who wasn’t hiding anything."
Bill & I spend some time considering the afterlife in the back half of this week’s podcast, and I wanted to return to something that is mentioned briefly but not really explored: Hell, and specifically the idea that hell is not biblically justified. For this I draw heavily on the work of Fred Clark, who blogs as Slacktivist and whose work I have always loved. His post on Hell goes through the three places in the bible most closely supporting the popular conception of hell, and why those passages don’t actually support it. But more than that:
These three passages aren’t the only basis for the belief in Hell as eternal fiery torment, but they provide the strongest evidence to support the idea. And as you can see, this evidence is not really that strong. These passages certainly don’t provide any sort of basis for the idea that Hell ought to be a central or essential core belief that shapes our faith, or our concept of God, or our concept of one another or of the meaning of our lives. That’s not what these stories are about.
That’s not what our story is about.
This, to me, is an even more fascinating notion. Not just that hell isn’t supported by the bible, but that if the bible’s description of a just, loving god is accurate then hell (as conceived of full of pitchforks and fire and the like) not just doesn’t exist, but it can’t. Another evangelical blogger put together a long list of arguments (ethical, theological and biblical) against hell but the core of the idea is that because human sin is finite, infinite punishment cannot be ethically justified, eternal damnation leaves no room for salvation or redemption or love (all of which are kinda the point), and lastly any person good enough to get into heaven would possess enough empathy for others (even sinners) that they would be violently ill at the thought of other people being tortured for eternity.
All of that makes a whole bunch of sense to me, and it’s a fun idea in and of its own sake, but the more I think about it the more I wonder how hell got to be such a big idea in the first place. I mean, sweet mercy, why didn’t anyone say anything?
“Hollywood, that is to say, Los Angeles, is not, of course, a city, and its sinister forces are very oblique. There’s no public transportation system whatever, so the people drive around as though they were living in Des Moines, and it has all the rest of the disadvantages of a small town, only filled with displaced persons. On the other hand, life there has an engaging surrealist quality, an almost exciting grotesqueness.
The cultural scene there in general is sped up, sort of concentrated. Southern California is a mecca for all manner of freakishness, beginning on the most middle-class level — hot-dog stands in the shape of a hot dog. If you go there, you’ll immediately see a carnival, Disneyland aspect that is different from any other place in America.”—
ps that “no public transportation” thing is such a “i so don’t give a shit about people who aren’t like me, including but not limited to poor people and people of color” tell it is is just absurd, absurd i tell you
pps it has been brought to my attention that this quote is 40+ years old and so that makes me less I’M GOING TO COMMIT ULTRA MEGA MASS HOMICIDE about it but people still say things very close to that and they are still refusing to accept that the millions of people in this city who take the bus totally exist
“The Board of Directors of American Apparel, Inc. today voted to replace Dov Charney as Chairman and notified him of its intent to terminate his employment as President and CEO for cause. It is expected that the termination will be effective following a 30-day cure period required under the terms of Mr. Charney’s employment agreement.”—
“How many accidents multiplied / to create your hands. How many times did your / fathers dig their hands into the earth only to / pull them back with stones and blisters? Think / of all the diseases you managed to avoid or the punches / pulled from your soft jawbone.”—David Harrity, “Fathom” The Los Angeles Review, Volume 6 Fall 2009 (via sorryeveryone)
final grade is posted, revealing I escaped getting a C by the exact number of points that weren’t counted on the final. riding to my last final someone takes a sharp right in front of me and I avoid crashing into them by about two feet.
all the punches pulled, again and again and again.
Few truly believe that these restrictions are rooted in a desire to make abortion safer for women. Instead, they are plainly designed to frustrate efforts to get an abortion at all. Perhaps this makes some sense if your aim is to protect families and preserve the sanctity of life. Yet it seems odd that groups that claim to be pro-life are so often antagonistic to efforts to help women avoid unintended pregnancies in the first place. Many still cling to discredited abstinence-only programmes and claims that the “the hook-up culture is the culture of death”.
how many? are they the same people passing the restrictions? how do we know? they sure seem like the same people, in my larger conception of tribes and the opinions those tribes hold, but the more I think about it the more flimsy that seems.
part of this is on me (I am too lazy to look really hard for comprehensive surveys and similar) but I think this is also about how articles about this sort of thing are written. to put it broadly: no one ever seems to ask people directly about the things they are wiling to imply in later paragraphs. basically, any and all arguments that include “aren’t these the same people who” seem to me to be more and more suspicious.
this is one of my fave stories of the last few years.
this isn’t just a great story, it’s one of those ones that’s really important in terms of trying to understand how and why it works. in my bookmarks it’s tagged both “beer” and “new_yorker” and it is always well worth reading whenever I am pondering either.
“Walt Whitman I confess / I’ve never read your poems // except at gunpoint / Walt Whitman I confess // I’ve never been at gunpoint / except in dreams // Walt Whitman I confess / I’ve never slept // Walt Whitman I love your breadth / your body of work & your texts”—Michael Loughran, “Night Songs” Tin House, Vol 6 #1, Fall 2004
If you preach a violent, hateful ideology—“those people over there aren’t even human, they are the cause of your problems, and they deserve to be hurt, Something Must Be Done”—and then respond to someone taking that ideology to its logical conclusion by doing murderous violence to the people you’ve vilified with “Oh, but that person is crazy!” and distancing yourself:
1. Sure, you’re maligning people with mental illness and participating in a culture that does them harm, but also,
2. at best you’re tacitly admitting that you don’t really believe the vile nonsense you spew, that only someone with a tenuous grasp on consensus reality would believe what you’re saying is literally fact rather than rhetorical-effect insincere hatemongering,
3. and at worst you’re saying, well, there’s a time and a place for murder, and this one was off-schedule.
And either way, I hope the rest of your life is wasps.
point number two is particularly interesting to me, and for a great many groups the question “how would this group be acting if they thought the things they said were true” is a fascinating one
So Dear Wendy Dear Becky Dear Lisa Dear Liza let’s tell ourselves a bedtime story. One where the bears gather at the shore and just stare at the ocean with this look in their eyes that says we are going to swallow the fuck out of you and the moon comes down because the ocean is going crazy with terror and the bears look at the moon and the moon looks at the bears and there we are in the background, with our hands on the plunger and a sincere desire to effect a powerful and lasting change on the direction of our lives, to eat more roughage, to exercise regularly, to attempt to live in a manner that does not profane grace, basically we want the kind of lives that can be seen from space, but listen: fuck all of that. Because right now we are going to go and eat a mountain, and then fuck that mountain, and then go to bed like no one has ever gone to bed before, because we are alive and that’s that. End of story. Get happy.
“I was driving down Sunset and I turned down one of the roads that leads up in to the Hills, and I stopped at this place that overlooks the whole city, it was fantastic. I suddenly felt exhilarated here. I was really moved by the geometry of the place. Its conception, its Baroque geometry. It’s a fabulous city. To think some people claim it’s an ugly city when it’s really pure poetry it just kills me.”—That is from a 1969 film. I say “geography” instead of “geometry,” and the corner on Sunset I reference turns downhill, not up, but aside from those two changes this might as well be me talking.
But I recently conducted a study with several colleagues in which we found that parents with mixed or negative feelings toward vaccines actually became less likely to say they would vaccinate a future child after receiving information debunking the myth that vaccines cause autism.
My colleagues Jason Reifler, Sean Richey, Gary Freed and I surveyed a nationally representative group of parents with children living at home in 2011, randomly assigning some to get scientific information debunking the vaccine-autism link or other pro-vaccine messages, and others to a control group.
The problem in this case wasn’t getting parents to believe the facts. Our results indicate that parents who saw the corrective information were less likely to believe in the vaccines-autism myth than those who didn’t. It seems that raising the topic may have instead prompted skeptical parents to think of other concerns or hesitations they have about vaccines to defend their views on the topic.
In addition, our results show that other types of messages used by public health agencies — information about disease risks, a dramatic narrative and images of sick children — were also ineffective.
from the times. please note that I am not attempting to point out that people are stupid, but instead that I am wrong about something and I don’t know what it is, because I have shuffled information around, probably in service of protecting my self-image. I try not to do this, but part of doing it is not being aware that I am doing it.
If you could ask yourself a question anonymously, what would you ask?
This is an interesting question, but I’m not sure I’m going to have a satisfying answer. Asking someone an anonymous question is beneficial because you have a chance to find out something you want to know without them knowing that you wanted to know, but anything I ask of myself I already know. It doesn’t matter who’s doing the asking, you or anonymous-me, whatever the answer is I already know it. It can be salacious, or sad, or poignant but it would hardly be a surprise.
That feels like a cop-out, so here is a question I have been pondering lately, and one I considered using in place of all of the above: “Given how much time you have spent being angry and/or sad, why do you do anything other than spend your time trying to be less angry and/or sad?”
What is this, who are you, how are you on my phone?
It’s a tumblr, which is a blogging platform designed to facilitate the easy posting and sharing (especially sharing) of content (especially multimedia.) I use it for the posting of ephemera or personal thoughts. I am pete. i like bicycles, broccoli and talking about problems. I am on your phone via the tumblr app, or the twitter app, or dark magiks unknown to either of us. personally, I am hoping it’s the magiks.
I’m for it! I don’t encounter it often, but when I have it has been delicious.
Like anything very fatty it is very, very rich, and as such is a tricky ingredient to work with. If one is so inclined I suggest that you cut the richness with some spicy or tangy ingredients. If I were making something right now, I think I would go with duck confit, arugula, fried onion strings and sriracha.
I would like to know: what is your Happy Place? Where do you go, in your mind, to help you calm down in order to sleep, or in a stressful or unpleasant time requiring a distraction.
I tend to listen to Cat Power’s “Colors and the Kids” on repeat, lying on the floor if I can. It’s more about staying out of places than going to any any particular place, if that makes sense, and the song is enough that I can let it exist and have some success in not thinking about whatever it is I’m trying not to think about.
I don’t like him! He cooks lots of things on the show that aren’t sandwiches, and I feel that if you gave me a nationally televised show on which to make sandwiches I wouldn’t spend my time making burritos. This is nonsense, of course, because I’d be on a network and they’d have a say and blah blah blah. Anyway, I dislike almost all other sandwich discourse in the world, which is half that I don’t think it is very good and half that I wish more people paid attention to me and my opinions about sandwiches.
This evening is the NFL Draft, and I figured I might as well spend it the way I did last year: soliciting questions on Tumblr. (also watching it, but you know.) If’n you’re curious, all previous questions and answers are here.
I want to begin by reminding our readers—and myself—that exchanges like this aren’t necessarily pointless. Perhaps you need no encouragement on that front, but I’m afraid I do. In recent years, I have spent so much time debating scientists, philosophers, and other scholars that I’ve begun to doubt whether any smart person retains the ability to change his mind. This is one of the great scandals of intellectual life: The virtues of rational discourse are everywhere espoused, and yet witnessing someone relinquish a cherished opinion in real time is about as common as seeing a supernova explode overhead. The perpetual stalemate one encounters in public debates is annoying because it is so clearly the product of motivated reasoning, self-deception, and other failures of rationality—and yet we’ve grown to expect it on every topic, no matter how intelligent and well-intentioned the participants.
that is from a spat between thinkers with which I am not really familiar, but it is a good paragraph and something that probably does not get said enough. the amount of time I spend thinking about how I might be wrong is a non-zero amount, but it is also not nearly enough.
But there are reasons “the state” uses parking meters, tickets and even tow trucks, according to Gary Lamoureux, Keene’s project manager for parking and the only city official to comment. “It’s to have turnover for the business owners in the downtown area,” he said. In other words, to support the marketplace.
In December, a Cheshire County Superior Court judge cited free-speech protections in dismissing the city’s complaint, as well as its request to be reimbursed for costs that included therapy sessions for the officers. The activists celebrated a victory in the courts they disdain; the city appealed.
also here are two almost-but-not-quote The Times Sons Someone moments, and while the form cannot fully be explicated (one knows it when one sees it) the Times-Sonning scholars out there will note that while this is the Times pointing out how someone is wrong/misguided/foolish, neither example is preceded by a quote.
Mr. Freeman, 33, has been repeatedly arrested, and once served 58 days in jail for disorderly conduct after standing in front of a police car to protest a woman’s arrest because she had an open can of beer. He is guided, he says, by his “voluntarist” belief that “all human interaction should be consensual,” which might surprise the human parking officers who do not consent to being followed or videotaped.
In March 2011, the Environmental Health Perspectives paper by Jordan and researchers from CertiChem and PlastiPure appeared online. They’d tested 455 store-bought food containers and storage products, including several made from Tritan. The results? Seventy-two percent leached synthetic estrogens. And every type of plastic commonly used in food packaging (polypropylene and polystyrene, for example) tested positive in some cases, which suggested there was no surefire way to avoid exposure.
That is from a Mother Jones piece by Mariah Blake about how BPA alternatives are probably just as bad for us as BPA, if not worse. Several years ago I was at a friend’s house for a holiday, and in the course of post-dessert chit-chat someone happened to ask me what I thought the big thing we were currently missing was. (I believe this came up because of previous conversations about fat not actually being bad for you, and how this idea was still obscure and little-known.) I thought about it for a minute and decided to bet on plastics. Plastics are probably terrible for us, I speculated, leaching nasty things when they get too hot or old and having all kinds of subtle, insidious effects on our bodies.
So naturally the above article appealed to me, and I am likely to remember it for some time. Of course, the article makes mention of dozens of studies that conclude plastics are just fine, but of course all of those are industry funded and run contrary to my point so I see no reason to pay them any heed.