College, Interrupted

By their own admission, they are a little driven, used to studying among some of the brightest minds in the country, with goals held up that most folks never attain. Now all that has skidded to a partial halt, and they are sitting in their childhood bedroom fighting the temptations of a nap or a Netflix binge.

Ambiguity In the Time of COVID-19

My usual response when I decide that any aspect of my life is spiraling out from under my possession is usually the impulse to regain control in whatever way possible. But as I settled into an unfamiliar back room of my parent’s new apartment, months and months of uncertainty stretched out onto the bare white walls around me. I felt any semblance of a “plan” spiral out into a realm that I could no longer grasp.

The French Exception

Everyone is thinking about leaving Paris. Everyone is saying that France will be able to handle it better than Italy. Everyone is taking preventative measures; everyone is still going out to bars. Everyone is worried that they have it, everyone is convinced that they could never get it, that the Métro car that they are in, that their favorite café du quartier is somehow excluded from the pandemic.

Notes on the Illusion of a Clockwork World

Time is an odd phenomenon, now that we have had the time to feel it passing. Novelists and filmmakers toy with it, imagining it running parallel to itself, moving backward, varying its speed, freezing altogether. But I am not sure anyone ever imagined exactly this.

The Contagion of Everyday Life

A pandemic is never only about biological contagion. Much of what we feel, think, and do—far more than I want to admit—is the product of what we perceive or unconsciously mimic in the world around us. Laughter, yawns, ideas, courage, and panic. All of that is contagion.

I’m From Herrin, by God

The Herrin Massacre included the humiliation, wounding, and murder, by gun, rope, and knife, of unarmed men. Like the actions of any mob, it was irrational and grotesque, and there can be no defense of it. But there are better and lesser ways of telling stories. I have come to think of the massacre as an American tragedy, in which two old but opposed visions of our country were the seeds of conflict that may yet be our downfall.

Talking with Terrance Hayes

“This moment is a great leveler. My inner resources are the opposite of capitalism—not to rely on anything other than your capacity to make stuff as a way of spending your time. I’ve always thought that. It’s all in the work. What I would say to my kids when they were going to school: be sure to make something today even if you’re making trouble. The idea is maker’s knowledge.”

Remembering Judge Charles A. Shaw

“Charles as a judge was never oppressive nor demeaning to lawyers,” says former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rosen, now an adjunct law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “He erred on the side of being human.”