Saturday, January 21, 2017

What To Read, 1/21/17: Alexandar Hemon and Rebecca Solnit

1.  Alexandar Hemon on how to write during the chaos presidency is worth reading, though it's not cheerful in itself.  The quote I liked was this one, because it might ring a bell in many who were taken by the sudden jack hammer of malevolent surprise on the evening of the elections:

Societies generate realities and present them as self-evident ("we find these truths to be self-evident..."), and art plays a crucial role in that operation. When there is a major rupture, the whole structure of self-evidence falls apart and the shock exposes how badly it has been maintained. It turns out that nothing is the way we thought it was; we're not the country we thought we were; people are not who we thought they were; the leaves on the street are not the leaves I recognize; my neighbor might be a Trumpist killer, or at least a spy; reality no longer meets my reasonable expectations, it no longer fits my knowledge. The moment when we cannot in any way connect what is taking place and what we know is a traumatic one, because the solidity of reality — the belief that its continuity cannot be altered — catastrophically falters.
The good news is that we can survive those ruptures, some in our personal lives, and many of us, including Hemon, have survived and even gained wisdom from that struggle.  

The other good news might be what my therapist friend told me:  It's not irrational to fear a tiger when a tiger actually roams outside your house; it's rational.  She also pointed out that the chaos has always been there, that we have always been surfing it, spinning spider webs across it,  that we are good at that spinning, that the spider webs are strong, and if we hold hands we can get to the other side of the rupture.

2. Rebecca Solnit's passionate voice on Donald Trump's misogyny is worth hearing.   The stew that boiled over on the election day had many, many ingredients, but the spice of misogyny was certainly included.  Its flavor has merged with other flavors in the post-election simmering, but if you close your eyes and concentrate you can taste it.

It tastes like shit.