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“This July, I hit a low. A how-do-we-keep-fighting-one-more-day low, a scream-silently-into-the-mirror low, a twilight-of-democracy low. Not my first, not my last. I tried to distract myself by retreating to the bubble of literary Twitter, where I started a thread listing some of my favorite overlooked fiction. Others added, until the list was heartbreakingly long. (All these masterpieces, neglected!) Soon, though, someone jumped in with a bit of scolding: “We’re 100 days out from an election,” she wrote. “That’s what we should all be thinking about.”
My self-righteous response was easy like-bait: “I refuse to live in a world where an oppressive regime prevents us from advocating for art,” I wrote, and added some feel-good words about fighting despotism through empathy. Soon, the woman apologized — a writer herself, she’d been despondent lately, she said — and I hold no ill will toward her. She might just as easily, as many have done before her and many continue to do, ask how one could post about books on a day when there’d been a mass shooting, a day when babies were in cages, a day when toddlers were gassed, a day when… well, any other day, really. Her question wasn’t new to me, in part because it’s something I ask myself on a daily basis. Is it really okay to talk about art right now? To leave the real and broken world behind and talk about fictional ones?
It’s a crisis many of us face not only when we promote our work, or someone else’s, but when we sit down to make that work itself. Anyone engaged in thoughtful reading and writing is also engaged in, and likely consumed by, national politics right now. No one I know is unaware that this is a particularly weird time to make art, rather than to spend every moment calling your senators.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"As Europe moved toward war in the summer of 1914, two battleships were being built for the Ottoman Empire in British shipyards. Worried about signs of an Ottoman-German alliance, Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, seized the..."
"For most of this year, Joe Biden has strutted across stages in New Hampshire and Iowa, and at swanky fundraisers in New York and California, as if he were already the Democratic nominee. Questions about attacks from his rivals were, more often..."
"A vast city that may have had as many as 1,500 to 3,000 inhabitants in its heyday 9,000 years ago was part of a sprawling Neolithic network of barter. Fresh findings in the mega site at Motza, the Jerusalem foothills, include an obsidian blade..."
"Befitting Stranger Things’ loving ode to the ’80s, the golden age of merchandising, there sure is a lot of Stranger Things crap for sale. Need a copy of Hopper’s Magnum P.I.–inspired Hawaiian shirt for your own date night? Provided you’re not...."
"Big Government lobbyists and entrenched bureaucrats are predictably hysterical about a common-sense congressional push to improve transparency and accountability about wasteful taxpayer-funded monkey experiments. They’re worried that once..."
"The economic summit in Bahrain organized by the Trump administration last month was the latest example of how Israel’s hi-tech industry created new diplomatic opportunities for a country with no apparent natural resources. While Israel had no..."
"The early ‘90s, famously, saw the “End of History,” as it was dubbed by the right-Hegelian political theorist Francis Fukuyama. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus the ostensibly final victory of capitalism and liberal democracy..."
"“Almost all books of aphorisms, which have ever acquired a reputation, have retained it,” John Stuart Mill wrote in 1837, aphoristically—that is to say, with a neat if slightly dubious finality. (“How wofully the reverse is the case with systems..."
"While we can easily misjudge, misunderstand, or even avoid a pregnant individual’s experience of miscarriage, we can also forget that the loss of a pregnancy may impact a wide range of other people too. There’s usually one other person..."
"I have never tried psychedelic drugs, but I imagine the experience is a lot like drinking a Starbucks Frappuccino. Strange sensations, unnatural colors, increased heart rate, heightened emotions, paranoia: It’s all there in that plastic cup..."
"Fifty years ago this week, more than a million Americans drove, flew and even boated to Florida’s Cape Canaveral to witness the launch of Apollo 11, which would culminate four days later on July 20, 1969, with America’s victory over the Soviet..."
"The incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City. Early on the morning of June 15, a Saturday, two men in a white Infiniti drove around Borough Park..."