“Even when you can’t make out the whole shape of a coming catastrophe, you might well feel that you’re living in an idyll, and count the hours.” I feel honored that the novelist Pauline Kerschen was prompted by my recent poem about the Pemaquid lighthouse to write a riff about Auden, and about love in a time of politics (Metameat).
They liked to compete over who could sell the other one out first and worse.
Greg would tell me Fran was a thief. Fran would say that Greg smoked crack.
It soon became apparent that both of their accusations were absolutely true,
But they made them as if they expected me to react in a scandalized fashion.
Here was the amazing thing—both men were skilled, even brilliant plumbers.
For a week I tried keeping
forks and spoons in separate
drawered slots. But everything
that aids you tends
toward a similar handle.
Jonathan Lethem writes about the invention of the Brooklyn neighborhood Boerum Hill, where he grew up, and the ambiguous history of its gentrifiers (New Yorker): “The moral calculus lent righteousness to the brownstoners’ preservationist stance. Yet a tone had crept in, that of an élitist cult.”
Jane Hu on Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One (Paris Review): “The plot, so gloriously convoluted that the film spends its first thirty minutes explaining it as though addressing a baby, can be boiled down to something like this: Ethan Hunt is tasked with saving a series of beautiful women, which is a metaphor for saving the entire human race, which is of course, an allegory for Tom Cruise’s endless mission to save the movies.” Jane Hu on Barbie(Dissent): “This narrative unraveling isn’t all that different from the history of Western feminism itself, which has long entailed amnesia and recursion.”
“ ‘It’s good you have left America,’ she said. ‘Perhaps you’ll avoid a death of despair.’ ” In Albania, an American literary critic makes a long-overdue visit to a dentist (i.e., Christian Lorentzen writes autofiction).
“What the patient wants is for their old way of managing, which has begun to sputter and malfunction, to work again. Psychoanalysis therefore consists, according to the Lacanian analyst Bruce Fink, in giving the patient ‘something he or she never asked for.’ ” Ben Parker writes about why Adam Phillips thinks psychoanalysis doesn’t cure anyone and shouldn’t (n+1).
I didn’t realize that Charlotte Brontë had Melvillean moments. But consider this conversation, in her novel Shirley(which is about Luddites! why did none of you tell me she wrote a novel about Luddites!), between the fiery aristocrat Shirley Keeldar and the pale but passionate Caroline Helstone:
[Keeldar:] “And what will become of that inexpressible weight you said you had on your mind?” [Helstone:] “I will try to forget it in speculation on the sway of the whole Great Deep above a herd of whales rushing through the livid and liquid thunder down from the frozen zone: a hundred of them, perhaps, wallowing, flashing, rolling in the wake of a patriarch bull, huge enough to have been spawned before the Flood: such a creature as poor Smart had in mind when he said,—
‘Strong against tides, the enormous whale
Emerges as he goes.’ ”