Notions, Late Summer Edition

I’m cooking up something different than normal that may go up as early as tomorrow. For now, I present this collection of beautiful, powerful, and/or thought-provoking items for your holiday weekend.

If you read one thing on this list, read Jesmyn Ward’s jaw-dropping, heart-breaking, awe-inspiring essay on the death of her Beloved and its resonances in 2020.

“During the pandemic, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house, terrified I would find myself standing in the doorway of an ICU room, watching the doctors press their whole weight on the chest of my mother, my sisters, my children, terrified of the lurch of their feet, the lurch that accompanies each press that restarts the heart, the jerk of their pale, tender soles, terrified of the frantic prayer without intention that keens through the mind, the prayer for life that one says in the doorway, the prayer I never want to say again, the prayer that dissolves midair when the hush-click-hush-click of the ventilator drowns it, terrified of the terrible commitment at the heart of me that reasons that if the person I love has to endure this, then the least I can do is stand there, the least I can do is witness, the least I can do is tell them over and over again, aloud, I love you. We love you. We ain’t going nowhere.

  • Margaret Owen writes about the problematic trope of the “chosen one,” a genre convention that forecloses narratives of a more radical or communal transformation.
  • In a companionate perspective, Jennifer Atkinson asks, “Climate Grief: Our Greatest Ally?
  • Allen Ginsberg seems to have risen in the cultural estimation, even as Jack Kerouac has slipped somewhat. This shift makes sense as within Ginsberg burned a heart of passionate curiosity, empathy, and wild strawberry tang and sweetness. Michael Schumacher describes Ginsberg’s experiments in “autopoesy” through his travel journals as he explored the U.S. during one of its more troubled historical moments.
  • This mini-video of a baby seeing her first waterfall has been bringing me so much joy.
  • Last, my friend and former grad school traveller, Sarah Todd, now a senior reporter for Quartz, has started a new site called For or Against. It appears that on this site Sarah will do what she’s always done as a writer, take something simple, perhaps even frivolous seeming, and turn it into a delicious metaphor or thought-provoking synecdoche for life in the new millennium. She begins unafraid to take a hard stance on a truly important quandary: Turtlenecks.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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