Weekly Digest - June 6, 2021
Welcome to the second weekly digest!
What you might have missed this week:
For the 12th anniversary of George Tiller’s assassination, I recalled how radically divergent views on abortion brought a friendship to an end. I offered a musing on family stories and how memory is preserved – and a tribute to a famed mountaineering cousin. And just yesterday, I apologized for how fiercely I mocked older men who dated younger women, and I offered amends.
What’s Going On:
I took the children out last night to have dinner with their cousins, Mike and Maryann. Is there a more intense devotion than that of tweens for charming, cool, attractive relations in their mid-20s? It’s a delight to see family, and to see David and Heloise so happy to be around their most-admired loved ones brings me great joy. Here we are:
What I’m Reading:
They Have Decided
Comes a time they have decided who you are.
But you have not decided who you are.
Your wrists have decided.
Your knees have decided.
The hair that will leave its braidings be-
hind has decided.
Your ears, your rebelling ears, have decided: enough.
They surrender cities, pianos, sentences,
Your thoughts, it seemed once, had decided.
But you, past naming, past weighing,
have not decided.
Like a foal still trying to find which leg
goes where for standing:
you have not decided.
I have a tremendous respect for Freddie DeBoer, a gifted polemicist whose battles with mental illness have been somewhat similar to my own. He too has been ostracized and paid a terrible price for his imperfections. Freddie has a Substack, and it’s brilliant. He writes this week about the ways in which those who fight hardest for social justice cause unintentional but significant harm. An excerpt:
No one is against the abstract notion of protection from harm. That effort, in and of itself, is noble. But what we have arrived at now in progressive politics is a grotesque exaggeration of our moral duty to one another, a funhouse mirror version of what it means to be a caring and supportive society. We make promises we can’t possibly keep about protecting the vulnerable and in so doing reduce all who suffer from (the trendy kinds of) injustice to impossibly weak and eternally fragile wards of our benevolence. We speak of ending micro injustice not despite the fact that the macro version spins on all around us but because it does, because we cannot face up to the sheer vast scale of what we will never be able to fix. And in all of this useless effort we have completely evacuated our shared societal vision of two of the most essential elements of being a person: forgiveness and resilience. These are indispensable values in a human world defined by human weakness, but they are inconvenient to those whose personal and professional best interest lies in pretending that human life is perfectible.
What I’m Listening To:
Bo Depeña just dropped a new album this week – and if you like Americana/traditional country, it’s worth a listen. To get a taste of his sound, be one of the first 5,000 people to listen to this track from a year or two ago:
John Eccles is a little-known early baroque English composer. He wrote the opera Semele in 1706, and it would not be performed until the 1950s – and now the Academy of Ancient Music has released what may be the definitive version. It’s grippingly beautiful –and if you like Handel and Purcell, you’ll want to check this out. Stream it on Spotify or be generous and buy it directly from the AAM. Stream it on Youtube too, if you prefer: