Philosophical Resignation

How cool. The Daily Nous website has a page where people who earned graduate degrees in philosophy can post the non-academic jobs they have landed. I never made it past a bachelor’s in philosophy, but my brain dances with the possibilities for my betters: jobs in government, media, any realm that requires ethics and clear, […]

Tea, Cozy

The isolation has undone me. I am talking to the kettle. It is a shiny new kettle, bright red, Le Creuset. It was marked down by Amazon’s warehouse, but I can find no flaw. As I wash that cheerful enameled surface and scrape off various stickers, I murmur, “Are you just old, darlin’? Is that […]

How Caution Divides Us

Who would have thought that the simple, practical, survival-handy emotion of caution would be what tore us apart? Caution, it turns out, finds itself a sweet spot and declares anything on either side intolerable. (Seven feet apart? Ridiculous. Five feet? Courting death.) Now that I am paying attention, I realize that caution has always been […]

John O’Brien in Action

John O’Brien, the head of the much-admired Dalkey Archive Press, has died. Here is a piece I wrote in December 2009, after a visit to the Press, when it was located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. O’Brien was in his element. —JG   Dalkey Archive Press is the largest publisher of translated literature in […]

Firsthand: Life Without Democracy

Last week, in an idle panic, I tried to imagine what it might be like to no longer live in a democracy. Then my foolishness struck me across the face, and I realized I should ask someone who has already experienced that life. I contacted an intelligent young journalist and interpreter who grew up in […]

More Gloop than Bucket, It Turns Out

    As I wrote in September, my friend Charlie bought my kids and me a ticket for a Willy Wonka-ish contest. Promoter and businessman David Klein, who likes to be called The Candyman, is giving away a candy factory in Florida, and the winner will come from two rounds of competitions. The first round, […]

How COVID Stole Everybody’s Sense of Smell

I miss hugs, an accidental brush against a stranger’s arm, the downy head of a friend’s baby as I curve my hand to support it. But above all, I miss how people smell. The soft, milky smell of that baby’s skin. Exhalations of coffee, garlic, chocolate. The drench of heavy perfume worn by the sort […]

The Art of Sauntering

“Brisk” is the recommended sort of walk, heart-healthy and efficient. But on a golden Sunday with air as crisp as an apple and sunshine backlighting red and gold leaves until they glow, all that push vanishes. I saunter. The dog sniffs to his heart’s content, and I let my gaze fall where it may, pause […]

Nomad: Werner Herzog’s Tribute to Bruce Chatwin

  The film Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin was shown at Tribeca and Telluride, and on the BBC, in 2019, but it is just now available in the US, on several platforms. The film is a documentary on the writer, who died in 1989, by his friend Werner Herzog. “A few times in […]

A Delicate Constitution

“You know, if humans are still around three centuries from now,” my husband remarks, “they are going to wonder why a country founded on the principles of equality and justice had so much trouble making that true for everyone. Why it after centuries of blood and tears, there was still resistance. I mean, WTF?” He […]