world, politics, season

Link Salad, the Refugee Camp Edition

-- The Lessons of Atmeh - Joshua Hersh, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2014

"Of course, the problems at Atmeh were much larger than any one man, just like the problems in the uprising were larger than just Atmeh. One fascinating component of reading about Syria’s history in the 1940s and ’50s was noticing how many of the last names—and lingering family conflicts—ricocheted across the modern-day opposition. Of the many Syrian expatriates with whom Shishakly regularly came in contact were several descendants of people his grandfather had tangled with sixty years ago. The grandson of Muhsin al-Barazi, who was killed in the coup partly orchestrated by the elder Shishakly, now runs an agency similar to Yakzan’s, delivering aid from southern Turkey to distant, rebel-held parts of Syria. The granddaughter of Sami Hinnawi, who Yakzan’s grandfather ousted in the later coup, is an interpreter for the UN in Turkey. Even the head of the Syrian opposition’s humanitarian-affairs wing, Suheir Atassi, has ties to the old days: Her ancestors led the opposition against the elder Shishakly in the final years of his reign, and one of them mounted the mutiny that ended his rule. In public, the descendants talk about the feuds as bygone history, but at least one I met quietly described another family as a “nemesis.” Historical betrayals are not so easily forgotten. “I guess my dad killed his grandfather,” another descendent said when we met in southern Turkey. “But we could also ask him why his grandfather killed my cousin.”"

-- How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp - Mac McClelland, New York Times Magazine, Feb. 13, 2014

"Initially refusing Syrian refugees entry might have been difficult, given the already open border between the two countries and the gaps between checkpoints and a war close enough to bring in stray fire. The Syrians are also mostly Sunni Muslims, and Turkey has a record of embracing refugees with ethnic and cultural ties; it absorbed more than 300,000 from Bulgaria in 1989 and 25,000 from Bosnia in the early ‘90s. Whatever the reason, Turkey decided to open its arms to its war-ravaged Syrian neighbors. Except for intermittent closures, when fighting is too intense or fears of terrorist activity at the border arise, any Syrians with passports can cross through checkpoints. They come and go all day, some of them driving in, others on foot, carrying their belongings in big bundles or wearing dress slacks and trailing roller suitcases. Turkey is building walls along small sections of its border where the Syrian-side clashes involve Kurds, and it sometimes closes the border to those without passports pending security clearance, as happened recently when large numbers of Syrians fled intensive bombing in Aleppo. But when I was at Kilis, even those without passports could move unimpeded around the checkpoint. They streamed steadily in and out of the olive groves, appearing or disappearing among the trees."

Link Salad, the East Asia Edition

-- The Redemption Of Figure Skater Mirai Nagasu - Dvora Meyers, Deadspin, Jan. 4, 2018

"After all, Nagasu hadn’t done anything wrong in 2014. Her “mistake” wasn’t even a mistake—she simply over-performed after a few years of underperforming, and came on strong a little too late in the Olympic cycle. In a subjectively judged sport like skating, skating cleanly is as important as having the reputation for skating cleanly. When you make mistakes in successive competitions, it can become harder to extract the points from the judges. A skater has to create an expectation of success in order to be successful. Nagasu hadn’t done quite enough hitting in the years leading up to Sochi to create that expectation, at least compared to Wagner and 2014 national champion Gracie Gold."

-- Uchi - Kazuo Ishiguro, London Review of Books, Aug. 1, 1985

"There is no doubt that at times Morley goes too far in applying his uchi-theory, and his insistence on it often prevents him exploring other lines of relevant thought. It seems odd to discuss Japanese ethics without giving space to the influence of Bushido, the samurai ethical code, which arguably has had a greater effect on everyday Japanese behaviour than either of the two main religions, Shintoism and Buddhism. Neither does he ponder the role which the patron-protégé relationship plays at every level of Japanese society, and which has been highlighted by many, including the Japanese anthropologist Chie Nakane, as crucial to the understanding of what is peculiarly Japanese about the Japanese. There is a tendency to assume that anything non-European about Japanese culture must be uniquely Japanese. Behind this seems to lie the sadly familiar presumption that white European (or European-based) cultures comprise world culture. I would be happier with his suggestion that the Japanese are peculiarly obsessed with the idea of uchi if I were satisfied that it was not equally dominant in, say, Arab, African or Indian societies. In fact, it is not impossible that it is Western European culture which is distinct from the rest of the world in having a peculiarly diffused sense of uchi. Then again, the concept, as defined here, standing as it can for one’s family or for the whole of Japan, remains hazy. A view of behaviour which cannot clearly distinguish between the next-door neighbour and a foreigner is in danger of grossly simplifying the Japanese attitude towards different kinds of outsider."

-- Han Kang and the Complexity of Translation - Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, Jan. 15, 2018

"In an essay about translating “Human Acts,” published in the online magazine Asymptote, Deborah Smith describes reading Han’s work and being “arrested by razor-sharp images which arise from the text without being directly described there.” She quotes a couple of her “very occasional interpolations,” including the striking phrase “sad flames licking up against a smooth wall of glass.” Charse Yun, in his essay about “The Vegetarian,” declares his admiration for Smith’s work but argues that it is a “new creation.” Smith insists that the phrases she added are images “so powerfully evoked by the Korean that I sometimes find myself searching the original text in vain, convinced that they were in there somewhere, as vividly explicit as they are in my head.”"
world, politics, season

Link Salad, the Bellum Americanae Edition

-- Here’s what war with North Korea would look like - Yochi Dreazen,, Feb. 8, 2018

"North Korea’s arsenal is thought to include smallpox, yellow fever, anthrax, hemorrhagic fever, and even plague. They are some of the most frightening substances on earth, and Weber expects some of them to be used against South Korean ports, airfields, and cities as a way of killing large numbers of civilians and troops while causing terror on a nationwide scale."

-- How the U.S. Is Making the War in Yemen Worse - Nicolas Niarchos, The New Yorker, Jan. 22, 2018

"In November, 2015, despite American skepticism toward the Saudi war plan and evidence of heavy civilian casualties, the Obama Administration agreed to a giant weapons sale totalling $1.29 billion. The Saudis were authorized to buy seven thousand and twenty Paveway-II bombs. By the end of Obama's Presidency, the U.S. had offered more than a hundred and fifteen billion dollars' worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, the largest amount under any President, including warships, air-defense systems, and tanks."

-- How the heroin trade explains the US-UK failure in Afghanistan - Alfred W. McCoy, The Guardian, Jan. 9, 2018

"While the American bombing campaign raged throughout October 2001, the CIA shipped $70m in cash into the country to mobilise its old cold war coalition of tribal warlords for the fight against the Taliban, an expenditure President George W Bush would later hail as one of history’s biggest “bargains”. To capture Kabul and other key cities, the CIA put its money behind the leaders of the Northern Alliance, an ethnic Tajik force that had fought the Soviets in the 1980s and then resisted the Taliban government in the 1990s. They, in turn, had long dominated the drug traffic in the area of north-east Afghanistan that they controlled during the Taliban years. The CIA also turned to a group of rising Pashtun warlords along the Pakistan border who had been active as drug smugglers in the south-eastern part of the country. As a result, when the Taliban collapsed, the groundwork had already been laid for the resumption of opium cultivation and the drug trade on a major scale."

-- Why do white people like what I write? - Pankaj Mishra, London Review of Books, Feb. 22, 2018

"The intimate relationship between America’s internal and external wars, established by its original sin, has long been clear. The question was always how long mainstream intellectuals could continue to offer fig-leaf euphemisms for shock-and-awe racism, and suppress an entwined history of white supremacism and militarisation with fables about American exceptionalism, liberalism’s long battle with totalitarianism, and that sort of thing. Hurricane Katrina, coming after the non-discovery of WMDs in Iraq, undermined liberal faith in Bush’s heavily racialised war. American claims to global moral leadership since the 1960s had depended greatly on the apparent breakthrough of the civil rights movement, and the sidelining of the bigots who screamed: ‘segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation for ever’. In New Orleans, black bodies naked before the elements of the world – elements which included trigger-happy Blackwater mercenaries guarding the rich – made it clear that old-style racial separation had been replaced by sharply defined zones of prosperity and destitution: segregation for ever. But the apparent successes of social liberalism, culminating in Obama’s election, managed to obscure the new regimes of racial sequester for a while longer. Since the 1990s, the bonanzas of free trade and financial deregulation had helped breed greater tolerance for racial and sexual variety, primarily among the privileged – the CIA under Obama set up a recruiting office at the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade. Overt racism and homophobia had become taboo, even as imprisonment or premature death removed 1.5 million black men from public life. Diversification and multiculturalism among upwardly mobile, college-educated elites went together with mass incarceration at home and endless military interventions abroad."

Your acting like somebody else makes me frustrated

The last few days have come draped in fog. A month or two ago—time has collapsed for me over the past year, stretched and folded in on itself so that what happened a week ago seems as though it were a lifetime back—there was one day, a weekend day perhaps, where all of New Haven was wreathed in gauze. Steam rose from the snowbanks alongside the roads and coating the Green. And it was too warm for that jacket-hoodie combination that had become the hallmark of my February’s in this part of the country. The place seemed haunted, and that was perhaps the starkest reminder that the planet is changing, fast changing. This changing is not only an existential mega-death but, smaller, the taking of things I’ve found precious. I miss cold February’s. I miss February’s where I would stand outside of churches during meeting breaks or after meetings or before and start conversation with “can I bum one?”

Today and yesterday and the day before, a dip surprised me, and my mind raced through a number of explanations. The biological clock inevitably ticking, meaning I was due for one. Or maybe the frequency with which I’ve spent nights in New York away from my own bed. Perhaps post-project ennui and the anxiety attending that uncertainty before another contract is signed.

That’s where I find myself now. Book 2 has a title and a release date (my youngest sister’s birthday), and will soon have a cover. Galleys are coming my way shortly. Then there are a few short stories I’ve been asked to write and to which I’m excited to return. But, as I’ve known is true for me, I’m lost without a longer project to lose myself in. The past few years have been so filled with Taj and his adventures in and out of Kos, and now that his story is finished, I need another one to sink my teeth into. I have the beginnings of one, but that peculiar space of being paid for my writing means, paradoxically, that sometimes I need to hold off on something before the timing rights itself.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading, and I have quite a few back issues of magazines to catch up on. Our bookclub at work had chosen Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing for its inaugural selection, and I finished it on my morning train ride. She has written the Great Southern Novel, if ever there was or could be such a thing. Cut directly to what Faulkner always wrote around. Lyrical and kind and painful without being so maddeningly elliptical. Faulkner always felt like he was showing off, difficult for no reason. But Jesmyn Ward, Queen of the Southern Novel, has broken my heart.

Today was in the high 60s, low 70s. It’s awards season, and my head is spinning with all the pride I have for friends who are finding their names on finalists and nominee lists, who have already accumulated accolades. That external marker, one I’ve held tightly in my dreams, day and otherwise.

Nearly every morning, there’s a troupe of South Asian woman working the Dunkin Donuts at Union Station in New Haven. A friend joked that I should start calling them didi for elder sister or, if they’re older, behen-ji (a more generic term of affection). If they’re significantly older, then aunti-ji.

I’m home now, on the verge of sleep, having returned to Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I had started not long ago but abandoned temporarily for more pressing and active reading. I still have a growing pile of magazines to get through, back issues of Harpers and WIRED and Vanity Fair and the London Review of Books. Not sure when or how my reading fell off; even those printed-out long reads that I have finished I haven’t yet posted. Something has thrown me off a rhythm I’m usually able to maintain through these periods, and now a neighbor’s dogs have begun their hellhound barking on the back patio.

But I have the women who care for me every morning I go in to place my order, and I have a novelette I’m slowly, haltingly turning into a novella, a patched-together thing made of cannibalized parts with a through-line that’s but a whisper but there nonetheless. It’s like a ghost’s spine where the rest of it is fully formed, arms and legs filled with muscle and bone and words. Yet it slinks and slides and can’t yet stand upright. I used to be able to build stories from the ground up and now I find that, with so much already written, it’s far easier to strip what exists for usable parts than craft from whole cloth. Fatigue is at work, sure, not just the type a good night’s sleep can dash away but also the type to settle into the bones and hunch the shoulders and harden the heart and slow the laugh. I also find myself directionless, writing-wise. And this is a new thing. Usually, I’ve found it easy to focus. One project at a time, but now, with payment and professional obligations involved, things begin half-formed rather than having time to settle in my mind before spilling out onto the page. I’ve inverted a process that before had me writing and submitting and hoping rather than saying yes and committing and writing in accordance with those pressures.

I have a weekend home coming up. A reunion with family and perhaps a second viewing of Black Panther, about which I’ve already written, and about which I hope to write some more. A quiet afternoon or two on the couch reading, settled by familiar tunes, the trills of familiar sparrows, the feel of familiar cushions, the chaos of warm, familiar laughter, breathing the same air as people I love and who love me.

I’m due.

If you're hungry, eat.

Never have I felt so much a street urchin, face blackened by coal smoke, shoes torn at the toes, fingers poking through the gloves, crouched in the shadows and hidden somewhere I wasn't supposed to be while observing people stratospherically above my station as I was watching Phantom Thread. What a sumptuous film. Elegant without being opulent. Restrained, as tight as the skin on Daniel Day-Lewis's face, all flows and straight lines and and perfectly drawn curves. The film felt and sounded and looked like something with an infinite thread count. I could have bathed in that score and found my skin expertly exfoliated. Wearing just one of the outfits featured in the film would have imbued in me just that confidence of which one of the main characters speaks. And it's a wonder, in large part, because I would not have seen it were it not for my two primary points of entry. Love for Paul Thomas Anderson and boundless admiration of Daniel Day-Lewis. What a swansong for perhaps the most sublimely gifted actor I've ever laid eyes on.

Last night, in a meeting, I suddenly found myself transported to Paris. First, I'd thought about that period back in early 2011 and for the year following where my world had become tight and small. Simple routine governed me. There was school, there was writing (often they were the same), and there was the business of getting healthy again. Desperation pumped fever into my blood. Even though, I felt I walked through the world with exposed nerve endings, purpose powered every step. And in the work was contentment. Then I was spirited to Paris. I remember how engaged I'd been, the commitments I'd picked up, the fellowship. The regularity with which I'd meet and be alive with people powered by the same desire. Sanctuary, and every week, I would find it. My days had expanded since the beginning. I had time to do things. Time to think. Time to walk. To perambulate, to cultivate the patience required for epiphanies. My memories of Paris are often of spring, and the spring of 2015 was perhaps the most charmed, thaumaturgical period of my entire life. Magic and fortune thickened the very air I breathed.

Another memory found me last night. And I have an idea of what prompted this one. For some time now, I've been trying to recover files from an old MacBook that won't fully boot up. Without success. One of those files is an essay I wrote for a class entitled "Connections in Law and Literature." An essay on Auden and Homer and dictators and citizens. I have emails from which I can recover the first draft, but the final one is stuck on a hard drive I can't access. And it's nigh impossible for me to think of that essay without thinking of that class and that professor. Who passed away in July last year.

This is what I wrote at the time:

"In law school, it’s unfashionable to be excited for class, so excited in fact that you show up early to talk with the professor, to pick his brain, and to have him all to yourself before your classmates arrive and formality (or some semblance thereof) blankets the proceedings. Even then, enthusiasm is generally frowned upon. Don’t raise your hand too many times. Do everything in your power to prevent that uptick in your voice that signals elation. In a place where you’re meant to learn, not the nobility of the law but its sterility, its callous disregard and its amenability to the supremacy of the white male majority, thrill and passion, the type to get a student to come early to a class, are suspect. You’re generally not learning why we have the 14th Amendment. You’re learning why a contract written on a napkin can still be enforceable.

"But within the first week, we were talking about the murder of Abel and the birth of proportion as a concept in punishment. We were talking about Cain’s Mark as a brand that simultaneously stains him and protects him. We were talking about the Commandments as legislation forcing penitents toward their better selves, and I had, in the week to follow, a discussion on The Eumenides to look forward to.

"But I didn’t just show up early to talk about Bleak House or Atticus Finch. I showed up early, because Professor Ferguson would ask me about my life, would guide me, knowingly or unknowingly, through one of the most bituminous seasons of my life. The semester prior, a personal cataclysm had crippled me emotionally, and academic consequences loomed. I was a husk when I’d first come into Professor Ferguson’s Law and Literature class. He got a fire going in the hearth, slipped a woolen blanket over my shoulders and some warm cardamom-flavored tea in my hands and waited as the color returned to my cheeks.

"I was excited to show up early for the class, because I was relearning my humanity.

"My final essay for that class was on W.H. Auden’s poem, “The Shield of Achilles”. The poem seemed ostensibly about totalitarianism and what failings in the individual account for the rise of the tyrant. I also saw in it Auden’s belief that we’re all capable of monstrousness, every single one of us, as well as its opposite. The essay, as with most of my writing, was an attempt to work through these questions and contradictions and all the messiness of the catholic human enormity. Ultimately, the essay was me trying to convince myself that I was a good person.

"Professor Ferguson and I talked about that essay and about Auden and about Homer and, at length, about being a good person.

"Regarding that last, he is the only law professor with whom I ever remember having that talk.

"My heart is broken."

He wore tweed blazers to class. Though Reynolds Woodcock might have scoffed at the material used to the color patterns or the way they sometimes refused to hug Professor Ferguson's waist. I wonder if he might at least admire the confidence with which he wore them. If not admired, then felt. Found himself triggered by the warmth and caring, the fervor with which it radiated from him. Whether or not Woodcock would smile or let fly a disdainful smirk would say more of that character than of the professor I had come to love. Still, to think of him is to be placed in the presence of a man whose soul, like the grandeur and sophistication of Paul Thomas Anderson's film, seemed infinite. Even after the screen had faded to black.

Link Salad, the Homeostasis Edition

-- Making China Great Again - Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, Jan. 8, 2018

"After the summit, the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing think tank, published an analysis of the Trump Administration, describing it as a den of warring "cliques," the most influential of which was the "Trump family clan." The Trump clan appears to "directly influence final decisions" on business and diplomacy in a way that "has rarely been seen in the political history of the United States," the analyst wrote. He summed it up using an obscure phrase from feudal China: jiatianxia--"to treat the state as your own possession.""

-- Estonia, the Digital Republic - Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, Dec. 18 & 25, 2018

"The putative grandfather of Estonia's digital platform is Tarvi Martens, an enigmatic systems architect who today oversees the country's digital-voting program from a stone building in the center of Tallinn's Old Town. I went to visit him one morning, and was shown into a stateroom with a long conference table and French windows that looked out on the trees. Martens was standing at one window, with his back to me, commander style. For a few moments, he stayed that way; then he whirled around and addressed a timid greeting to the buttons of my shirt."

-- My Father's Body, at Rest and in Motion - Siddhartha Mukherjee, The New Yorker, Jan. 8, 2018

"But for a while my experience of my father's dying was not his breaking up into cometary bits. It was the opposite: his being held together by an infinitude of minute forces. He knew that he was losing the cosmic bargain, but the onion seller, at least, would still cut him a good deal."

"Wouldn't you go to prison to stop this war?"

To be quite honest, surprise rushed its way to the front of the crowd of emotions and opinions I had as I watched The Post. I'd known it was going to be a newspaper movie, in the tradition of All the President's Men and Spotlight, but, despite the timeliness (or, perhaps, timelessness) of its themes, it struck me as hollow. Here, I must admit that disappointment threaded itself around the surprise. The beginning is set in Vietnam, and I'd expected, perhaps in misguided fashion, to eventually find us transported to the present day. Alas, Vietnam remains the focus of the film. The folly, the dissemination. The breakdown of relations between the government and a press that had, for much of the postwar period, become its mouthpiece, rather besotted with Kennedy's Camelot and eager to maintain relations and access throughout his successor's tenure. It rings a little hollow given the particular genre of calamity that afflicts the press now, but also disappointing was the tonedeafness. Movies valorizing the press that come out in 2018 happen in the context of increasing awareness of the overwhelming whiteness of newsrooms, their failure of fair and incisive coverage of police-involved shootings of unarmed Americans, their ceding the task of uncovering government waste and corruption in foreign wars to outside actors like The Intercept and Melville House Books.

It seems perhaps the most dynamic press story is a recounting of its own failures, the insularity and the myopia that have led to the present state of affairs where the White House press pool is little more than a farce, and the breaking of stories like The Panama Papers are done by coalitions like The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Season 5 of The Wire provides a fascinating portrait of the decline of local news, the idea that the people supposedly tasked with sounding the alarm on government failings has rusted or fallen apart due to market forces and executive focus on prestige markers like the Pulitzer Prize.

The Post, helmed by Spielberg and with performances from Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and Michael Stuhlbarg and a wonderfully grave yet nervy Matthew Rhys, has all the ingredients for Oscar bait. Perhaps its failing is its top-down view. The thrill of movies like All the President's Men and Spotlight came from its Roadie Run view of reporters scrambling to unlock a mystery bigger than themselves. News as justice. In The Post, the protagonists are sadly vanilla. They are a protagonist and deuteragonist who more or less agree and whose chief antagonist is Nixon's back seen in two paltry, two-dimensional scenes.

Perhaps the more compelling story and the one more reflective of our times would be a dramatization of Gene Demby's August 2015 pulse-taking in NPR on black reporters chronicling the targeting and death of their own people. Who is the enemy here? Of course, there is an increasingly militarized police state, but there is also a scenario wherein the Katherine Grahams and Ben Bradlees are the enemy. Or, if not chief antagonists, then enablers of conflict. But such would require a self-awareness in Hollywood and in the news media that is, as in so many American institutions, sorely lacking.

I do think, though, that if the story were ever to be made of journalism taking a hard look at its own failure, making itself the story and realizing that the objectivity it has quested for and hidden behind has been mere scaffolding for its own deterioration, we might finally have the story of our Times.

A much more beautiful river.

I've read over 150 pages of Zadie Smith's Swing Time today, with little intention of stopping, and, as expected, the language--the rhythm and vocabulary of the book--has managed to seep into my own brainspace like so much floodwater. Thoughts occur not just as bursts of imagery or blankets of color or even the lowercased savagery of a tweet, but in fully formed sentences, replete with semicolons and em-dashes. The book is beautifully written, but frustratingly antiseptic, and I wonder if it's partly because of the voice and the tone of middle distance it maintains. A genre of omniscience, but in the same way that God's omnipresence can feel both immediate and faraway.

The other main activity of today, this scheduled off-day, has been, aside from the quotidiana of Millennial living, has been Black Mirror, only two episodes of which I've been able to watch. After having hurled myself to bed last night at 9pm, not having watched a second of last night's Golden Globes ceremony, I woke at 5am this morning with ambitions of bingeing the season and reading plenty and even putting in work on a project proposal. But behind all of that was the mandate--given by and to myself--to let this day rest and be one of rest. I've plenty of train rides ahead of me to be productive, to write dozens of pages of stageplay and to write thousands of words of novel, to pitch paragraphs of short story and to compose responses to any number of emails. Let today be one of leisurely reading on a couch, a morning game or two of Madden, periodic stepping outside to remind myself of the season, and nothing else.

Though, of late, I've, for some reason, been thinking a lot about a Law and Literature class I took my second year of law school. Recent conversations with one person in particular have scratched at certain spaces in my brain, like key ridges on the foil of a gift card, and I find myself dancing, arms spread, in familiar landscapes, verdant hills and valleys with bubbling brooks, the plains and fields of academic subjects I'd only been able to discuss with myself, whether through writing essays or writing fiction. The subject of ludonarrative dissonance opens up onto German poetry, then another discussion on the aesthetic of Blade Runner 2049 will somehow guide me into the revelation that kohl is used to keep sand out of one's eyes, and somehow we'll circle back to the discipline of archiving and it'll be my turn to wax poetic about supposedly long-lost photos of 90s-era hip hop icons and parties where artists who lived seemingly worlds apart were found together at a gathering, all the energy of their eventual bloodletting captured and humming beneath their skin as they crouched in their jailhouse poses or mugged for the camera or embraced or simply were genius. Recently, we were talking of Auden, as he (or, rather, his work) features quite prominently in the play I just finished drafting. And it reminded me that just last year, my professor in that class passed away from cancer.

I have a vivid memory of collecting my final exam from his office assistant in what felt like winter but must have been spring or something like it. There was a manila folder and in it some scribbling on how Appeals Court judges were lesser angels, some medium between lower court judges and the Supreme Court with regards, at least, to how they encountered the law. They mused on an abstraction whereas lower court judges supposedly rolled in the mud with the rest of us morals, and SCOTUS resided on Mount Olympus. Or, at least, that's I think how it went. I have the overwhelming desire now to find that folder and see what I wrote.

I remember I was a good writer in that class.

wild thoughts

The morning of the 4th, I had 23 pages of this script. Written over the course of three days.

In the wee hours of the 5th, I have 50 pages. 27 pages written over the course of 18 hours. I'd call that a success. In addition to sketching out details for another long project, engaging in some thrilling last-minute scrambling for another opportunity, and other to-and-fro'ing, and it feels wonderfully, dangerously like 2011 all over again. (Especially since I haven't written a piece of theater since the fall of 2012.)

I've been a little sparse here of late, what with life intervening and all, and I actually think my writing has suffered for it. If I only write when I'm paid to, then that means I'm only playing exhibition matches and never practicing my jumpshot or my crossover. Feels like I've built (am building) something here. Also, it's neat to be able to keep track of days like today. When I'm able to write like my old self.
GitS - Crew

Link Salad, the Profiled Edition

-- The Killer-Nanny Novel That Conquered France - Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, Jan. 1, 2018

"If you are a mother, whatever kind of mother you aspire to be, you’ll know what kind of mother you are after reading Slimani. If you are not a mother, the insights that she administers can be no less jolting. “She thought about the efforts she had made to finish her degree, despite the lack of money and parental support, the joy she had felt when she was called to the Bar,” Slimani writes, of Myriam, using “joy” where so many other writers would have chosen “pride.” Under the cover of a sensational plot, Slimani is taking on another taboo subject: women’s desires."

-- A Math Genius Blooms Late and Conquers His Field - Kevin Hartnett, WIRED, Jul. 3, 2017

"That Huh would achieve this status after starting mathematics so late is almost as improbable as if he had picked up a tennis racket at 18 and won Wimbledon at 20. It’s the kind of out-of-nowhere journey that simply doesn’t happen in mathematics today, where it usually takes years of specialized training even to be in a position to make new discoveries. Yet it would be a mistake to see Huh’s breakthroughs as having come in spite of his unorthodox beginning. In many ways they’re a product of his unique history—a direct result of his chance encounter, in his last year of college, with a legendary mathematician who somehow recognized a gift in Huh that Huh had never perceived himself."

-- A dream deported - Hamed Aleaziz, San Francisco Chronicle, December 20, 2017

"The truck finally stops at the end of the dirt driveway of her parents’ bright blue home. Maria’s father has died; the livestock he raised is gone. Her mother, Juana, 69, smiles and greets her with a bouquet of flowers. She can’t quite remember the last time she held her daughter, more than two decades ago."