How many books, to pay back the world for my still existing, would I have to write?


Democracy (in excess?)

  • As gatekeeping institutions continue to crumble, thus further “democratizing” our lives, the creation of meaning and value falls to us—and into the wallets of Facebook, Forever 21 (rest in peace), and other large corporations. “Just as fast fashion seeks to pressure shoppers with the urgency of now or never, social media hope to convince us that we always have something new and important to say—as long as we say it right away.
  • “The Road from Serfdom” by Danielle Allen illustration of the American flag
  • Can I pretty please work with Astra Taylor and talk about democracy with her all day? “But it’s worth emphasizing one thing on which Athenians were very clear and that Plato and Aristotle both highlighted: democracy means rule of the poor, because the poor are always bound to outnumber the rich.
  • “This Is Why Your Holiday Travel Is Awful” by Marc Dunkelman: What a piece. This is a gargantuan and meticulously researched history of Penn Station and why the once world class station still suffers sewage leaks and dangerous trains, despite efforts to repair. In my brain, this parallels a lot with the “democratization” that the Internet has brought. Right so… the editors at the Times, the Post, etc. were the Moseses of their institutions. They policed and controlled what and who was published but now, anyone can start a blog, a magazine, an Expression of Thought. With this new proliferation of voices, there are a lot of cracks in the discourse, redirecting focus on different issues, etc. Mr. Dunkelman would probably bemoan what this has done to Truth. Who is telling the truth? How do you verify truth? With so many cooks in the kitchen, the Truth—like the plans for Penn Station—is subjected to environmental reviews, preservationists, neighborhood residents, etc…. and now it is a Slower Path to find The Truth. Having more input from various sources makes a process slower. Yes, bureaucracy is tedious and mind-numbing. And the more sources you have creates more opportunities for conflict and disagreements to arise. But ultimately, is it not the powerful figures, and their hunt for continued and further power, that create the blockades we’re suffering from? Rather than pointing the finger at the people who wanted to protect the fish habitat in the Hudson River from a subway tunneling through it, maybe Dunkelman can critically examine the roots of greed, capitalism, and unscrupulous developers through which these problems also stem.


More politics, in some form or another




The Iron Throne (once and for all)


Power (in America)

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics, history, and Americanness of all-you-can-eat sushi—the great Frank Shyong’s KBBQ essay tackles this idea from a labor perspective. “I used take great pride in stretching that $10 for as many rounds of meat as possible,” he remembers of his college KBBQ hangout, “[but] now I wonder how the family who owns the place is doing, and what conditions their workers face.” Korean barbecue
  • On the way power and privilege blind those who hold them: “But [Clinton] also lied because coming clean would concede a more destabilizing fact than his infidelity: that even the most powerful man in the United States can’t keep others from seeing something about himself he wishes to hide.” “Eyes Wide Shut: Power, shamelessness, and sex in Washington, DC” by Charlotte Shane
  • Roland Barthes wrote of myths, the tendency of modern society to imagine otherwise remarkable creations or phenomena as God-given, a part of our natural order. What is it about American sports and war? (Ross Barken)
  • Sex after Jesus, by Lyz Lenz
  • “We’re not very good at the Other Stories: the ideas that never left the garage, the single mothers whose books never sold, the survivors of abuse who don’t go on to rule daytime TV. The genius of these novels is the demonstration that the Other Stories are not—and maybe, under present circumstances, cannot be—told. The books speak to the anxieties and inane cruelties of living under a system in which some people enjoy security, education, safety, beauty, leisure, self-realization, and dignity, and the rest do not, and the line between these groups is drawn in a way no person of reason and good conscience can justify.” Extremely good review of the extremely good Neapolitan Novels by Erika Jost.
  • Soraya Roberts on celebrity and capitalism: “Celebrities reinforce the conception that there are no barriers in contemporary culture that the individual cannot overcome. That the consumer has eclipsed the citizen explains in part why the appeals around climate change have been increasingly directed at the individual, pointing out how they will personally suffer if the world around them does — in a sea of individuals, the planet’s distress was not impetus enough.”



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