Living in the fever

Yeah. This is what has me worried. Liberal democracy may not be the stable plateau we’ve liked to think. May be prone to “deconsolidation” under pressure from anti-democratic forces. Forces we’ve been witness to, in recent days, right here at home.

According to an article in today’s NYT, two researchers, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa, have devised a sort of early-warning system for modern democracies. The system has three factors that they say together can tell you whether a democracy is under stress.

The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” – political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate – were gaining support.

If support for democracy was falling while the other two measures were rising, the researchers marked that country “deconsolidating.” And they found that deconsolidation was the political equivalent of a low-grade fever that arrives the day before a full-blown case of the flu….

Venezuela, for instance, enjoyed the highest possible scores on Freedom House’s measures of political rights and democracy in the 1980s. But those democratic practices were not deeply rooted. During that apparent period of stability, Venezuela already scored as deconsolidating on the Mounk-Foa test.

And look at Venezuela now. It’s a shit-show. Poland likewise seemed a robust democracy when it joined the European Union, but showed at the time worrisome signs of deconsolidation – and is now is seeing the rise of anti-system parties and its democratic institutions under attack.

When the test’s applied to democracies of this moment – it don’t look good.

Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.

Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be a “good” or “very good” thing had risen to 1 in 6 in 2014, compared with 1 in 16 in 1995.

There’s more in the article, check it out. I’m doing the test here sans data, but you don’t really need me to do the math, right?

  1. A significant number of Americans appear willing to curtail the constitutionally protected freedoms of other Americans (citizens or no).
  2. They voted for a man who boasted repeatedly of his intention to erode or ignore democratic norms.
  3. A man who is the quintessential anti-system candidate.

The fever, we in it, people.

The revolution will not be tweets

Written for a teaching portfolio. I was asked to comment on a sample assignment, in a way that got across my teaching philosophy. I chose the DIY Rhizome Project that caps my advanced poetry workshop, and said this.


On the “DIY Rhizome” Project

English 453, Creative Writing Seminar: Poetry, is the highest-level poetry workshop undergraduates may take at Western. Most students are juniors and seniors majoring in English with a creative writing concentration. They’ll have taken an introductory poetry workshop already, probably also several other writing courses. That said, their prior experience in poetry can vary widely. So notwithstanding our esoteric arranging idea, some of our class time is given to basic matters of poetic composition: the line, concrete details, figurative language.

I call 453 “Poetics of the Rhizome.” Taken from Deleuze and Guattari, the rhizome is a way of seeing that emphasizes multiplicity, connectedness, interbeing. Diversity, robustly. Or Indra’s Net, with more contortions, because Western thought. Ranging among William Carlos Williams’s Spring and All, Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, Coral Bracho’s selected poems, and lots of others, students face several challenges: (1) Poetry and poetics texts from an outsider Western tradition (Black Mountain) and then from outside the Anglo-Amer­ican tradition. (2) An arranging idea that’s hard to wrap your head around. (3) A student-centred pedagogy that has evolved, as my Socratic teaching style has matured, into a collaborative form of co-teaching. (4) Creative exercises simple on the surface but hard to accomplish. “Write a poem that embodies spring.” “Write a poem that taps into myth consciousness.” “Write a poem of praise.”

These demands, if balanced right, and made with plenty of good cheer and encouragement, push students to new places. That’s happening this quarter right now and is lovely to see. Their final project, the DIY Rhizome project, is an invitation to each to define, provisionally, what that place is for them, its contours. It’s a portfolio, made rhizomatic, made to differ. Students are asked to imagine what forms a rhizome might take: a hypertext, a spoken word set uploaded to YouTube, a keepsake box of typewritten scraps. And it needs to build difference into its own body – by talking with, to, or about one of the poets we’ve read, and one of the poetics texts we’ve read, and also by having a non-textual aspect, something pictorial or tactile or auditory about it. Diversity, diverted to genre, medium, discourse. Because by now we’ve come, with the aid of Négritude, Sufism, the Haida Mythworld, Spanish Surrealism, Language Poetry, and Cage’s Black Mountain take on emptiness, as well as a cheerful scepticism about all these thought-boxes, to see the rhizome as what takes in difference without effacing its differentness.


The drawing atop is from this site. Exquisite sequence!

Safety pin note

Been so much dismal storm around safety pins, their moral meaning and weight, that wearing one, which was meant to mean

I’m with you and will help you out if you need me to if I can—

is at risk of meaning instead

I have taken a position in the debate over safety pins!

Goddamn. If anyone decides to kill off all the liberals, it won’t take a pogrom, it’ll only take putting us all in a room, and an invitation: “Talk to each other.”

That said. I’m wearing one and it’s sharpening my attention. Same as the precepts I took should (that’s another post). And I’m bothered by a small encounter and want to think and feel it through here.


I’m at Elizabeth Station, nice beer store / watering hole. Got an IPA I’m ready to buy, standing in line, and right beside me is a tasting going on – beers from my favourite brewery in the world. Unibroue, out of rural Quebec, they do the awesomest Belgians. (And you know, I’m tired to the bone of being American, suddenly keen to get my Canadian on. Quebecois, moi – vraiment? )

And K so, I’m not the best at breaking into ongoing conversations – I’m pretty damn bloody socially awkward, it’s been given me to know, on this point and others. That known, truth be told, I’m not at this point too aware of the guy presently tasting. He’s sipping from his taster glass, he’s not presently talking to dress shirt Unibroue dude. I step up

—Oh, are you doing a tasting?

And the spiel begins. Aged in cognac barrels, whatever. Pretty quick I can feel that the guy to my right, previous taster, is a bit put out. I’m not sure what it is exactly – strained smile? awkward stance? – but you’d sense it, too. Here’s where I take a few more visible facts of him in. Latino, thin well-trimmed beard, short, stocky, muscular. A smile that looks like it’s used to being friendly but just went to being thin and pained.

Okay. I’m in the middle of a micro-aggression I done. Even sweeter? I’m wearing the GD safety pin.

I want out. And am quadruply trapped: In the checkout line. At the tasting table. Wearing the GD the safety pin. Took the effing Buddhist precepts.

Quadruply stuck in a triangle of mutual misapprehension. I come up with

—Wasn’t Unibroue bought by Heineken or something?

—Sleeman’s. And they were bought by Sapporo. And they let Unibroue pretty much do their own thing. The Japanese can’t even pronounce the names of our beers.

That, from me, got a head tilt. A small thing, but the safety pin sent it to me, and I meant it as apology to the friend I didn’t make beside me, and I could see it got the message across the other spar of the triangle. The invitation to collaborate in an us-and-them, I’d turned down. Unibroue dude stumbled over his words a bit for a minute or two, till I bid him adieu.

Don’t wish him ill. He wanted to make connection in the how he knew to. Should be said, he sorely mangled the names of the beers he was pouring, Fin du mondeTrois pistoles.

Wanted, as I left, to find the friend I didn’t make, make eye contact, anything, but couldn’t. Liberal friends, conservative friends if I have any, we live in dukkha. Just gotta suck it up.


Did I break into an ongoing conversation cluelessly? I can do that. And that does happen all the time, esp. where beer is drunk. More to the point, did I feel licensed to because the man in the thin well kept beard wasn’t white?

I’m pretty self-aware, when I have time to reflect and introspect, and when I look in, I don’t find any sign of that. That a blind spot? Can’t, by definition, know.

If I’m honest about all the grubby factors that go on in male dominance calculi, our height difference was more likely a factor. But even that – not so much. He seems to me in memory grounded, muscular, sound in his frame, also open, friendly. The gorilla dog in me felt not threatening not threatened.

I can’t find a dominance intention in me. But maybe some cluelessness as to his sitch. Really the question here is, did he feel shoved aside, because I was white, and Unibroue dude was white, and he was not?

And here we are, that awful term and awfuller thing, white privilege. I don’t want it, don’t feel I have it, feel continually inadequate, but appear to be given it. At least that’s what I take from the body language and pained smile of the friend I didn’t make – something was not right for him and I was involved in it.

Tried, after I’d bought my beer, to catch his eye, make a connection – something to atone for what felt wrong and unfinished to me – and could not.

Atonement, that’s another post.


Last thought, a thread left stray above. One of the things we’re in here, with the election of Sad Trump, is a change in the chess game of the gestalt of masculinity. (Chess comes to me as trope because you can look to be losing badly – as I’ve felt we, who want to be voices of enlightenment and kindness, are – only to turn it round, wow, whew.)

I hope we’re seeing an old sense of manhood in its vital death throes. Not, please no, a victorious fascistic resurgence. (Fascist surges have never been victorious, long run; there’s comfort there.) But masculinity will not itself be extinguished. It needs to metamorphose. So I’m going to here if I need to be in my small way (10,000 hits in 2+ years is hardly more than a smudge) open, even at risk of being heterodox, about what that metamorphosis might ask. Of men, of all. Love to you friends.

Ideogram at 10,000

Looks like the blog’s going to hit 10,000 hits today. Thanks, all, for coming by and staying for a bit. A second, an hour, I’m glad for your company.

This morning, a grab bag of thoughts from a shall we say historic week.


Norman Fischer, on Facebook:

Gotta learn to see the world through others’ eyes.


I am appalled, terrified, outraged. Ready to fight. How to keep your fighting spirit free of hate? Try to see the world through others’ eyes.

Which I can’t do if I decide the folks who elected Trump are all racist sexist jerks. They’re the hateful ones. . . . Our civic life needs to be more than a game of projective whack-a-mole with disowned psychic dark matter.

Challenge? There was loads of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, in that campaign. Heaping shit tons of it. Some Trump voters voted just for that, some voted for him in spite of it, and no one’s going to figure out the ratios.


In the Atlantic, headlined “I Voted for the Middle Finger, the Wrecking Ball.”

I am Southern. I am white. I am a male. I was raised Roman Catholic and now go to a Methodist church regularly with my wife and kids. I value the 2nd Amendment but do not own a gun. Every male in my family, save me, is currently serving or has served in the U.S. military. . . . Until recently, I attended field trips with my kids to our state capitol where the Confederate flag still flew, and I am genuinely glad we finally took it down.

He seems an eloquent, honourable man with whom I’d have as many agreements as differences. Not, for sure, my image of a Trump rally a-hole.

I have a Masters degree. My kids go to public school with kids of all races, colors, and creeds. Our neighborhood has immigrant families, mixed-race families, minorities, and same-sex couples. Our sports teams are multi-cultural, diverse, and play beautifully together, on and off the field. I have neither the time, energy, or room in my heart for hatred, bigotry, or racism.

I don’t think he’s just ticking the boxes here, I take him at his word, and reading this throws my stereotypes of the Trump supporter into sharp relief. Asks me, even, to compare them to other stereotypes we all agree are beyond the pale.

I do not hate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender, or faith in any way shape or form. I like liberals, conservatives, and independents. I do not hate Obama or Hillary; I do not know them. I did not deny Clinton my vote because she lacks a penis.

Okay, then, if no “lock her up,” if not “Trump the bitch,” why’d you vote for him, when she’s so manifestly competent, and he’s a blowhard and a bigot?

I am tired of the machine rolling over us – all of us. The Clinton machine, the Republican machine, the big media, investment banking, hedge fund carrying interest, corporatist, lobbying, influence peddling, getting elected and immediately begin fundraising for the next election machine – they can all kiss my ass.

Maybe Trump won’t do a thing to change or fix any of it. Hillary definitely would not have changed any of it. So I voted for the monkey wrench – the middle finger – the wrecking ball. . . .

Go ahead: Label me a racist, a bigot, a hate-filled misogynistic, an uneducated redneck. But I turned down Yale, motherfuckers, I ain’t who you think I am.

I don’t know if this guy is typical of a small minority or a great majority of Trump voters. I do feel that his words are a net gain for civil discourse. Not that he remains wholly civil – he’s about to call a lot of liberalism crazy – but I challenge my liberal friends to translate their views this clearly into terms outsiders can empathize with. Whole article here.


Same time, though, I’m not backing one inch off my insistence that the man we’ve elected (wish I could say “they” but it’s all of us; wish I could cry “not my president” but we need to say how things are; see M. Colbert on this point; instead of refusing the present, shape the future, cry “impeach!”) is a threat to our democracy.

In a recent piece in the New York Times Magazine, Teju Cole invokes Ionesco’s play The Rhinoceros, which imagines the transformation of a liberal democracy into a fascist state as the change of villagers, one by one till almost all, into rhinoceroses.

Almost everyone succumbs: those who admire the brute force of the rhinos, those who didn’t believe the sightings to begin with, those who initially found them alarming. One character, Dudard, declares, “If you’re going to criticize, it’s better to do so from the inside.” And so he willingly undergoes the metamorphosis, and there’s no way back for him.

Gradually almost everyone’s assent is won. This is the “normalization” that Masha Gessen writes about. Cole makes the connection with devastating clarity:

In the early hours of Nov. 9, 2016, the winner of the presidential election was declared. As the day unfolded, the extent to which a moral rhinoceritis had taken hold was apparent. People magazine had a giddy piece about the president-elect’s daughter and her family, a sequence of photos that they headlined “way too cute.” In The New York Times, one opinion piece suggested that the belligerent bigot’s supporters ought not be shamed. Another asked whether this president-elect could be a good president and found cause for optimism. Cable news anchors were able to express their surprise at the outcome of the election, but not in any way vocalize their fury. All around were the unmistakable signs of normalization in progress.

The piece is called “A Time for Refusal.” Four years is a long time to hang in there but others in other states have hung in longer.


Ezra Pound used the ideogrammatic method to express indirectly, concretely, by assemblage, an idea he couldn’t state directly. What maybe I’m up to here? Ideogram of Post-Electoral Tristesse and Grave Resolve.

Ezra Pound, hurt by loss into fascist sympathy. And yet, and yet.


Put a safety pin on the left lapel of my blazer evening before last. It’s a complex act and I had to poke at my intention a bit first.

Is this about being seen by others?
—Well, yes.

Is that all it’s about?
—No, it’s also a reminder of my own intention, it brings it to the fore.

The part about being seen by others, is it to be admirable?
—Partly, yes.

Is some of the rest of it to say you belong to a tribe?
—Yes, there’s that too.

—Subtract wanting to look good and wanting to belong. Is anything left? Is any part of it not about you?
—There’s wanting to say I want to be of help.

How much of it is that part?
—Doesn’t matter. Not about amounts.

Wear the pin.

A woman knocked on my door yesterday morning, she was my neighbour, lived in the little apartment complex across the road. I vaguely recognized her. She was apologetic and embarrassed asking to borrow a buck fifty because her stomach was hurting. I was sort of confused but asked if five would help her and could she just get it back to me next week. After a moment I got it, she was going to the doctor and needed bus fare.

After she left I put a story together. A woman of about 30, Hispanic I think, in who knows what situation, herself, her family. This week it will have got more stressful, maybe a little or maybe a whole lot. And stress goes to the stomach, I know that myself, all too well.

All over the country, in addition to hate crimes, Klan rallies, protest marches – these major strains in the social fabric – there are also, and far far more, these minor stresses. Anxiety, irritability, acid reflux. (If the story I came up with is at all true.) Everyone’s baseline stress level has shot up, and is like to stay up, a good while.

I don’t think I’m an especially nice or generous person. Basically decent, and ethical, but not especially nice. But this week has made me feel a lot more tender towards people. If Donald Trump has given me that, I thank him.


One more stroke. Daniel Engber in Slate on racism. He says we’ve been conflating two different senses of the word – a nuanced textbook sense and a more popular dictionary sense. In the former, developed by the academy,

the term was broadened to include more subtle agents of discrimination, exploitation, and inequality [than overt prejudice]. Entire institutions could be racist, and systems could be racist, separate from the people who composed them.

In the past few decades, scholars have stretched the boundaries of the term even further. Now we understand that people, too, can be racist in subtle, systematic ways. Even if you disavow white supremacy, you might still be subject to its influence, as well as the unintentional form of racial prejudice that social scientists call “implicit bias.” You and I are racist, essentially, in ways we’re not consciously aware of.

The broader definition of racism as something systemic or implicit has flourished on the left and in academia. That’s for good reason: It allows us to talk about the nation’s most important social problems – police shootings, for example – in the most impassioned moral terms without labeling specific people as evil or malicious. . . . This more nuanced understanding of racism calls attention to persistent racial injustice while at the same time framing it in broader, more communal terms. It calls out the problem and invites solutions.

But textbook racism, however useful it might be as rhetoric, comes into conflict with the more old-fashioned dictionary definition of the word. Last year, social scientist Patrick Forscher reviewed the most-cited studies on prejudice from the past quarter-century and found that almost every single one of them treats bias as something implicit and unconscious rather than malicious and intentional. This puts the literature at odds with a public understanding of prejudice as the product of malicious feelings, the source of hate crimes, and an ingredient of classic racist ideology. “The gap between common and researcher understandings of ‘prejudice,’ ” Forscher wrote, “can create problems when researchers attempt to communicate their findings to the public.”

It’s a helpful distinction and one I don’t think – even though I belong to the academy and the coastal liberal elite – I’ve properly understood.

If I’m being honest, whenever I hear a friend, colleague, or acquaintance call a system or practice “racist,” my first reaction is defensive – I feel accused. As if I, as a white man who benefits from that structure, were being blamed for it. My second reaction is to swallow my first reaction, make sure no one sees it. (Let’s really just be honest here.) My third reaction, if I’m lucky and mindful enough, is to try to get past the first two reactions. But the terms on hand for doing so – “white fragility,” “white supremacy” – are charged enough that they tend to re-energize my defensive reactions, rather than cool and contain them.

And I’m a member of the coastal liberal academic so-called elite, committed to equality, diversity, self-inquiry, social transformation. If the cognitive burden sometimes seems too much – made heavier by misconstruals, category slips, and sometimes by the indignant anger of natural allies – then how must it feel for Jane or Joe in the heartland, not inducted into these niceties, but told to be straitened by them. “That’s racist,” they’re told; “you’re racist,” they hear.

To all those who found the cognitive burden too much, the self-monitoring and second-guessing too much, Donald Trump must have come as a great relief. “He just says what he thinks.” If we want folks to do the inner work of combatting prejudice, that work has to look doable, and if it’s going to look doable, there has, I think, to be more compassion and less shaming.

Liberalism needs the critique the Trump voter implies of it.


Last last thought. Implicit bias is, funny enough, a race-neutral process. I found myself with a new bias category Wednesday morning. White kid, short hair, scruffy beard, baseball cap, gangly walk – Trump voter. Asshole.

Stereotyping is a way the mind works. The red berry principle. (So is the anger flash. “Asshole.” I gave myself a pat on the head for it, there, there.)

You can’t purge yourself of it. There’s no point beating yourself up for it. But you don’t have to take everything you think seriously. Norman Fischer‘s good on that point too.


And, after all the week’s losses indignities and catastrophes, it’s this that makes me cry? Kate McKinnon playing Hillary Clinton playing Leonard Cohen playing “Hallelujah.” Go figure.

Peace to you, friends, and strength.

Masha Gessen on autocracy

How Masha Gessen wishes Clinton’s concession speech had begun:

Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you. We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said. We are standing at the edge of the abyss. Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the last century and a half. The president-elect has made his intentions clear, and it would be immoral to pretend otherwise. We must band together right now to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.

Her conciliation, Obama’s too, was an abdication, says Gessen, and I can’t say I disagree. This is not an ordinary defeat to an ordinary opponent. We need to sustain the norms of civil society – peaceful transfer of power and such – while saying loud and clear that the other party is an enemy to those norms.

Gessen sees us headed for an autocracy like that of Putin’s Russia. I hope she’s wrong. I hope the inertia of a massive civil service, and the dispersal of so much of governance to the several states, and the moral competence of ordinary women and men in positions of care and stewardship, will get us through. But honestly I’m scared shitless.

Scared whatever scale I look at this catastrophe on. Attacks on people of colour and queer folk on a steep rise right this very moment. Sea level rise getting locked in that’ll straiten human and non-human life the planet round for millennia. Attacks, autocracy, apocalypse.

Well, what matters is to act, not the scale of the act. Can’t stop global warming but I can spread the word re: resistance guidelines. Gessen’s Rules for Survival in an autocracy:

  1. Believe the autocrat. He means what he says.
  2. Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
  3. Institutions will not save you.
  4. Be outraged. It is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock.
  5. Don’t make compromises.
  6. Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever.

The whole article here. It’s eye-opening.

The unthinkable

So the unthinkable happened. Enough people could think it, and it did.

I’ve passed this day from stunned disbelief to gradually dawning horror. A fascistic strongman with weak impulse control and no moral centre or care for democratic norms is set to become the head of the most terrifyingly destructive military in history and the leader of the putatively free world.

And the checks and balances meant by the Founders to keep us from just this catastrophe are in the care of the gormless obsolescent party that let him hollow it out from the inside on his slither to victory.

Had to hold it together enough to look after my students this morning. I couldn’t tell them it’ll be okay, because I don’t know it will be okay. It might but we’ll have to be lucky.

Fears were many. One student’s Japanese-American and felt haunted by the internment camps and Trump’s talk of deportation. Another’s queer and disabled and said she felt unsafe setting foot outside her apartment – the fear of difference that’s been whipped up. Another spoke of how America seems to have said it’s fine with being a rape culture.

Didn’t go to my own fears but I share all these. That a man could crown himself in hate and be called king for it. I also, because I love especially the nonhuman world, which doesn’t get to speak at our conference tables, fear the consequences for our climate. Which are for us, too.

That world will eventually bounce back, burgeon new species, maybe absent us. Have I believed too much hype, to feel that’s what’s at stake here, our persistence at all?

What I came to this morning – it probably won’t be as bad as we fear it will.

Said, I grew up in the last two decades of the Cold War. We lived knowing someone could take a blip on a radar screen at NORAD for the front edge of a nuclear attack, press a button, and that would be it. We made it through that.

Said, it’s good not to feel powerless. What matters is to act, not the scale of the act. I’m going, I said, to write a blog post, and maybe it’ll have five readers. Maybe you’ll write a poem – that’s a political act.

Do what you need to to feel empowered. Whether that’s waving a placard or holding a friend’s hand. Add to the store of meaning in the world.

Fascism is giving your power over to another, proudly, abjectly, a strongman. The most crude process of identification imaginable and an abdication of meaning. Resisting fascism, whether in Mussolini’s Italy or Trump’s America, means creating meaning, heightening the depth of meaning the world bears.

Got more thoughts about meaning. Trump is a drain of meaning, came to me last sleepless night, and I got up to scribble it down. It’s how he uses words not caring if they’re true or no – and how he uses people with no sense of any thou there. But I’m past midnight and’ve not et yet.

For now, just to say, the meaning of small acts has loomed large for me today. A student in a headscarf who caught my glance and smiled as we passed on campus today – why? did she see how downcast I was and want to bear me up? did my downcastness make us allies in her eyes? Dunno. Small happy mystery of other as other than other.

There were more I wanted to say but if I write any longer, dinner will be breakfast. Love to you, friends. These are hard times coming.

Something wicked this way ->

Elizabeth Kolbert gets close to it in the New Yorker:

One way to understand the up-is-down logic of this election is as an expression of what might be called American sentimentalism. What moves the electorate is not true facts but true feelings.

Donald Trump is the kind of jerk who authentically, genuinely, unabashedly inhabits his own jerkiness…. His narcissism, petulance, and whatever other character flaw you care to choose aren’t under wraps; they’re on view for all to see and hear. In this sense, he truly is the real thing.

Clinton, meanwhile, is constantly role-playing. On the campaign trail, she displays an interest in people that, one can only assume, she doesn’t always feel. In her speeches, she invokes lofty ideals, when doubtless she’s often motivated by expedience.

A libido is trustworthy. It just is what it is. Same’s true of a rock. A person, that’s complex, a person has layers, makes choices, compromises, gets compromised. But for better or worse we need persons for president, not rocks or libidos, let alone libidos who claim the prerogatives of rocks – rolling, falling, being thrown, raining down – because we need choices made on our behalf by folks we’ve judged competent to make them.

Make it new, yes, it’s my poetics. But not in hate. If it’s hate, just stop.


I’m really scared. Don’t even know how scared to be – Nate Silver can’t, it turns out, tell me how certain to be about uncertainty. How little we know about anything, probability, uncertainty, other minds, values we thought we shared, really is coming home to me. But whatever happens next week, some kind of work of reconciliation has to begin.


Please vote? for a person who behaves as one? treats others as such?

And I seem in my assembly to mean something about magical thinking.


Elizabeth Kolbert, who tells us, career-long and with a cool head, of the maybe end of the world. Ice sheets, new inches of ocean. That we can think at all is magical – matter’s astonishment – and no guarantor of persistence.