Readings

“Takes,” poems, Tweet threads, reviews, and editorials I’ve read over the last six months that have stuck with me, and why. Punctuated with pictures so no one’s eyes have to cross with exhaustion.

Mary Margaret Alvarado, “On Memory with No Devices.” This is an essay you will never want to end.

Dan Arnold and Alicia Turner, “Why Are We Surprised When Buddhists Are Violent?” While I take issue with the piece’s implicit “we,” the authors make an important point about secular-dominant progressive American political consciousness. Most of us know Buddhism primarily through the ecumenical, culturally-mixed forms of Buddhism introduced in the last 50 years in colonizer states, which emphasize individual meditation and mindfulness and largely forego the religion’s incredibly varied forms of belief and ritual life throughout Central and East Asia. Because of our American context, it can be difficult for secular progressives to fathom how Buddhism— in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and now certainly in Myanmar— is used to justify horrible mass ethnic-national violence. The causes of this bloodshed are never simply religious, but in each case involved ethnic and state power; and in each case, the violence had passionate Buddhist critics. But Arnold and Turner are at pains to remind readers that any religion can be an instrument of nationalist violence.

Emily Bazelon, “When the Supreme Court Lurches Right.” Though this survey understates its own major point (that the Supreme Court has spent most of its history as a fundamentally reactionary and anti-egalitarian body), it remains a good overview of the shifting history of the court in American public life.

Peter Beinart, “American Jews Have Abandoned Gaza–and the Truth.” Beinart deeply identifies as a Zionist— he rejects the idea that the formation and expansion of Israel is intrinsically a settler-colonialist project, and strongly opposes the B.D.S. movement— but he’s been a consistent progressive critic of settlement expansion and of the corrupt, reactionary presidency of Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s also filled with moral horror at the consequences of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and the spiritual costs to Israel of the human suffering that the state has brought on Palestinians. (His association with Israeli peace groups and his authorship of pieces such as this one are likely behind his recent detention at Ben Gurion Airport.)

Patrick Blanchfield, “The McCain Phenomenon.” This is the best piece I’ve read— free of sentimental glow but also of contrarian reflex— on the meaning of McCain in American public life: it’s a progressive’s examination of McCain as a symbol of America’s reverence for individualism, military honor, and matured rogueishness.

Zach Carter and Paul Blumenthal, “Former Obama Officials Are Riding Out the Trump Years by Cashing In.” Lockheed Martin, Uber, Covington and Burling, Booz Allen Hamilton, Morgan Stanley, Amazon: as soon as their government tenures ended, many of the most powerful figures from Obama’s administration stepped through the revolving door into comfortable positions selling weapons, subprime loans, union-busting regulations, and more.

Jeff Chang on De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. A joyful essay, an in-depth history of a unique cultural text: a work of incredible lyrical skill and bonkers musical invention, one that you still can’t get on Spotify.

Thomas B. Edsall, “The Democrats’ Gentrification Problem.” Educated middle-class white people and urban black communities exist across a widening fault line of money-mobility, neighborhood history, and a wealth gap deepened by racist housing policies. While this article says little about the role of organized multiracial communities in pressuring lawmakers from the bottom up to create housing equity, it’s still a top-down view of a deep tension between two important Democratic constituencies and the continuing power of white racial kinship networks in maintaining a black economic underclass.

Eve Fairbanks, “Well-Off Millennials Are All Julia Salazar. I Wish We Weren’t.” This piece diagnoses a real social problem— affluent folks feeling they have to exaggerate, or invent, a hard-luck biography to be seen as authentic, especially in high-stakes elite institutions— but avoids looking right at the sources of, or responses to, this phenomenon. My response is: yes. But privileged folks also just need to stop lying about our privilege. First, because it trivializes the reality of suffering we pretend to have experienced. Second, because it’s built on the cancerous belief that a safe, materially-comfortable upbringing makes us inauthentic. But how can we believe this, if we hope to create a world that (while growing beyond capitalist definitions of safety and comfort) actually is safe and comfortable, rich in possibility and relationship for all people? A sense of possibility and comfort isn’t the toxic aspect of privilege: emotional numbing is. The cost of buying in to privilege is choosing to ignore the dehumanization of those on which our comfort depends. (I also think that this habit of exaggeration leaves us less likely to honor the actual pain, our own or others’, that comes with any life. This is its own form of dehumanization.) Fairbanks does describe the transmutation of pain– into visible, nameable forms— she witnessed among her privileged cohort. But I wish she’d gone way, way further– and perhaps even ventured into encountering lives characterized by the suffering our material comfort is built upon. Or questioning the social value of high-stakes elite institutions altogether.

Max Fisher, “Israel Picks Identity over Democracy. Other Nations May Follow.” We’re in a global moment of parliamentary democracies shifting toward autocracy and ethnically-defined nationalism. The question for radicals is: what does the call to solidarity look like as states contract toward reactionary politics? How can we ourselves live out an alternative to the deep comfort of seeking company only in others like us? What is genuinely collective about collective liberation, and how can we articulate the value of the collective when compared to the shortfalls and exclusions of parliamentary democracy?

Paul Gilroy interviewed by George Yancy, “What ‘Black Lives’ Means in Britain.” Gilroy speaks about the power of corporate multiculturalism in Britain and the US; argues that inequality is a relationship, not the possession suggested by the term “privilege”; and describes the difficulties in black-solidarity organizing in a country defined (as Britain is) by economic-imperialist ventures and migration pressures different from the US importation of chattel slaves.

Jack Goldsmith, “Uncomfortable Questions in the Wake of Russia Indictment 2.0 and Trump’s Press Conference with Putin.” Bush II’s former Assisant Attorney General (who left in the wake of the Iraq War and the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib) asks: What rules of international espionage did Russia break, that the US is willing to pledge to respect? What blowback or unwelcome reciprocity is the DOJ inviting by issuing subpoenas to foreign nationals? What vulnerabilities remain in our e-mail and voting systems? And: what unthinkable disasters are journalists inviting on themselves by encouraging the prosecution of Wikileaks?

Briahna Joy Gray, “How Identity Became a Weapon against the Left.” Gray has argued, here and in The Intercept, that as center-left institutions become fluent in the language of intersectional politics, they employ the signaling characteristics of that language to attack the left as racist and sexist for its emphasis on class. Doing so requires erasing the women and queer folks of color active in movements for (e.g.) single-payer healthcare, fighting Wall Street corruption, strengthening the green economy, or raising the minimum wage, but the center-left has a fabulous track record of doing so already.

N.K. Jemisin’s acceptance speech for her third consecutive Hugo Award win for the Broken Earth trilogy. It’s “a massive, shining, rocket-shaped middle finger” and a reflection on creative and spiritual survival against a steady deluge of racist shit.

Tim Maudlin, “The Defeat of Reason.” Phew, there’s a lot here. This article reviews two huge, argumentative, intellectually ambitious books: Adam Becker’s What Is Real?: the Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics, on the puzzles, obfuscations, and final hope for clarity in quantum mechanics, and Errol Morris’s The Ashtray (or the Man Who Denied Reality), an attack by a former student on the philosophical and cultural legacy of anti-foundationalist intellectual Thomas Kuhn. In the first part of Maudlin’s review, he explores Becker’s historical work and conclusion that the conclusions popularly attributed to a quantum mechanical view of reality— fundamental smeariness, observer-dependence, and inconsistency— are bogus, the result of Niels Bohr’s Kantian dogmatism in defense of his version of QM and the physics community’s shut-up-and-calculate attitude. But Becker suggests that, though quantum mechanics may in fact be more deterministic than Bohr believed, it’s still spooky: electrons must be able to change from waves to particles in an instant, even if the waveform showing the electron’s possible location is immense: a faster-than-light change effected at a distance. Meanwhile, Morris, who despises his onetime teacher Kuhn as a relativist who discounted the importance of reason and evidence, charges at the legacy of Kuhn’s 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn introduced the notion of paradigms (the rules, practices, and examples that bound a theory of reality) and their importance in shaping scientific thought. A paradigm never wins out “by logic and experiment alone” but by power, persuasion, and culture. Further, no two paradigms are commensurable: the inhabitants of two different theoretical frameworks live in two different realities. Therefore, no neutral adjudication is possible– only conflict, and later history written by the winners. In a time where politics and philosophy were questioning the legitimacy of received authority, this idea was a sensation. Morris, now an investigative documentary filmmaker, hates it: “It is one thing to remark how hard truth can be to establish,” Maudlin writes, “and quite another to deny that there is any truth at all.” Morris’s book explores the nature of the reference of terms (the theory of how any noun picks out or denotes something in the real world) and ultimately argues that a belief in shared, neutral, objective truth is a moral issue. “If… we all live in worlds of our own manufacture, worlds bent to conform to our beliefs rather than our beliefs being adjusted to conform to the world, then what becomes of truth?” What are the consequences of believing that we impose, rather than discover, structure in reality? Maudlin’s essay falls short of exploring the appeal of Immanuel Kant’s Transcendental Idealism at the root of both Bohr and Kuhn’s philosophies. I want to hear his argument for why we’re tempted to believe that we merely impose, rather than actually experience, things such as time or cause-and-effect, etc.

Philip Metres, “Imagining Iraq: on the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Iraq War.” How can Americans hope to understand Iraq as more than a backdrop of our imperial history? Metres, author of the intricate and morally damning poetry collection Sand Opera, explores possible paths out of imperial memory.

Ann Pettifor, “Irish House Prices Sky-High Due to Finance Not Scarcity.” Dublin’s housing crisis is even worse than Seattle’s. And, as in Seattle, this is generally justified in microeconomic terms: massive demand on a limited supply. But in reality, the main driver is macroeconomic: housing is such a good investment that there’s a worldwide rush from the wealthy to buy in. If you buy a house, you don’t need to live in it to make money off it, especially if its value grows 6-10% a year. If you invest in a townhouse block and all six units are bought at 10-20% over list price in two months, you’ve just made a handsome return. Until we start taxing investment in things like condo development (or in buying a home you don’t intend to occupy or rent out), house prices will keep exploding.

Hilary Plum, a poem I love called “Lions” and an essay on war, Orientalism, historical memory, and the moral position of citizens in empire “Narrating Forgetting.”

Sebastian Purcell, “Life on the Slippery Earth.” An introduction to what’s survived in the historical record of Aztec moral philosophy, especially its emphasis on group– rather than individual– virtue.

EDIT to add this single tweet from Dana Regev, which– out of the whole spectacle of vicious male backlash and horrible retraumatization for women and femme folks in Kavanaugh’s nomination, Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony, Kavanaugh’s ugly response, and his subsequent appointment to the Supreme Court– felt like the thing that I as a man/cismen most needed to sit with, journal about, talk with other men/cismen about, let haunt me.

Nate Silver, “There Really Was a Liberal Media Bubble.” It’s incredible the extent to which many professional journalists and think tank intellectuals are able to make a living having opinions while talking to almost no one but one another. Silver is, of course, not exempt from this himself, but it’s to his credit that he includes his own organization, FiveThirtyEight, in the scrutiny of this article.

Tim Urban, “The Fermi Paradox.” Why don’t we see evidence of the presence of other intelligent species in the Milky Way? This article, chirpy listicle style and all, is a good look at a scientifically and philsophically significant question, a different perspective on literally every sort of human problem I can imagine.

Blanca Varela, “Material Exercises” (tr. Jeannine Pitas). A great, strange poem, beautifully translated.

Bonus feature, “now without clip art!,” on the institutional Catholic Church: The Church as an institution is in a state of huge crisis; here are some readings about it.

A grand jury report of widespread, decades-long sexual abuse by priests, and coverups by leadership, in Pennsylvania coincided with the revelation that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had preyed for decades on seminarians and altarboys.

A bomb-toss of a letter from pissed-off former Papal Nuncio (ambassador) Carlo Maria Vigano alleged in August that Pope Francis was aware that Cardinal McCarrick was a serial predator, and that Francis had nonetheless lifted the sanctions imposed on McCarrick (a lifetime of prayer and penance and withdrawal from public life) by the previous pope, the traditionalist Benedict XVI. Vigano claimed that Francis was willing to tolerate McCarrick’s behavior as he sought McCarrick’s help as an ally in fundraising and the appointment of more-progressive archbishops.

So: what to make of it? Well, Vigano’s letter is full of awful homophobic sinister-gay-mafia bile equating gay relationships, same-gender sexual abuse, and pedophilia. In its direct attack on Francis himself the letter is clearly intended as a means for right-wing European and American Catholics to concentrate their rage at Francis’s attempted reorientation of the church (toward suspect things like mercy, political egalitarianism, inclusivity, environmental stewardship, and concern for migrants and the poor) and build power for their own political projects. Finally, Vigano’s letter has since been revealed to be wrong in its particulars: it now seems that Benedict had never formally sanctioned McCarrick, but as of 2010ish informally asked him to keep a low profile. Nonetheless, there’s strong circumstantial evidence that Francis, like popes before him, was willing to trust his advisers in overlooking credible evidence of abuse to rehabilitate a potential political ally.

Here’s a Tweet thread from a Catholic with whom I imagine I’d agree on very little except for the moral parallel between two clubby, secretive institutional cultures that would tolerate those credibly accused of abuse: the Catholic hierarchy’s welcome for McCarrick and the Yale-Federalist-DC world’s support of Brett Kavanaugh.

And, you ask, where are the voices of actual gay clergy, in the midst of a shitstorm of fingerpointing, secrecy, and homophobia? Here’s one voice, from Fr. James Alison.

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New Poetry in COAST | No COAST

Hi friends, the excellent upstart cross-country journal COAST | No COAST has published another section from a long poem of mine, Like Honey, along with great poems by Sierra Nelson, E.J. Koh, and Roberto Ascalon, as well as some truly amazing and unclassifiable work from Mary Margaret Alvarado. Check it out here; you can get a physical copy at Open Books too.

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New Poetry in The Spectacle

Hi friends, I just had an excerpt of my long poem, Like Honey, published in the fabulous journal The Spectacle. Dig it here.

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Reflection for Corpus Christi (June 3)

This is the text of the lay reflection I gave at my parish, St. Mary’s, on the feast of Corpus Christi (the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), on embodied worship, Catholicism’s embrace of change, and an integrated relationship to sexuality.

I never expected that Catholicism would help me to love my body. I thought I knew that Christianity saw the body as dangerous baggage, a fleshy weight dragging our spirits into sin and deceptive temporary pleasures.

But as I prepared for my first sacraments at St. Mary’s four years ago, I got to love just how much the body and the senses are involved in liturgy. The kneeling and rising, the cold dash of holy water (especially the heavy dunks that Father Tony would give), the astringent smell of real incense, the bells when we sing glory, the solemn magic of adoration, the sag of real candles, the chance to kiss the cross on Good Friday, the heavy sweetness of the real flowers, and, of course, the chance at Communion to “experience in ourselves”—our bodies—“the fruits of Christ’s redemption.” This was a chance to praise God with my whole embodied self, and it was mind-boggling to someone like me raised in a Presbyterian church that was all silk flowers and grape juice, strictly neck-up worship. I loved the chance in Catholic mass to long for God with all of myself, especially in a parish that also gave out so many hugs and poured a little Irish into my coffee on St. Patrick’s Day. Today, as we celebrate Christ’s body and blood, I’m grateful for how much we like pleasure at St. Mary’s.

In my preparation for my first sacraments, Tricia told me that she loves how Catholicism embraces change, and this has always stuck with me. The real candles burning down, the real flowers: they’re a reminder that transformation is slow and that there’s a season for all things. Being born again isn’t an instantaneous transformation but a daily labor, one with seasons of desolation and uncertainty as well as of consolation and of intimacy with God’s living presence. The truth of the body is the truth of the wilting flower: we’re incomplete, and things change.

God wove us and God loves each fiber of his creation. It took me a long time to learn to read St. Paul’s admonitions against “the works of the flesh” to be warnings not against pleasure but against the works of the ego, the small, greedy self driven by fear. How often do we indulge ourselves in something we think is a pleasure to avoid facing something we’re scared to examine, or to avoid acknowledging a deeper, unfulfilled hunger? How often do we mistakenly idolize what’s temporary, believing that it can protect us? As if candles never burn off and flowers never wilt.

Christ’s embodiment and Christ’s sacrifice have redeemed all of us, down to the earth we’re made of. So, if our bodies are a gift, what spiritual lessons can we derive from pleasure? I’ve been thinking of a book excerpt that Kirby shared with me by Sister Ilia Delio, a Franciscan professor and theologian. She writes that “sexuality presumes that we are part of a whole and have been separated from the whole. Hence our incompleteness makes us long for wholeness and union.” This beautiful thought shows me just how much a sacramental and mutual understanding of sexuality—one great gift of our embodied selves—can resemble spiritual longing. We desire God, and that desire instructs us. I’ve come to believe a healthy relationship to desire is expansive: a longing for God teaches us not to shun the world, but to treasure God’s presence in creation and in each other. Likewise, the desires of an integrated sexuality can expand our heart, teaching us to be not greedy but loving toward neighbor, friend, and stranger.

The promise of resurrection isn’t a rescue of our pure spirits from our dangerous bodies, but a redemption and a new creation of both spirit and body. What does this mean? I don’t think any of us know for sure, but it enables me to trust that pleasure can heal, and that my incomplete, changing, desiring self is part of an incomplete, changing, desiring cosmos. In the Eucharist, we get a foretaste of this new creation, this consummate completeness, and I go forth after Mass not satisfied but joyfully stung by desire.

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Readings

Essays, “takes,” news articles, and one Twitter thread that have affected me in the last three months. Curious as always for your thoughts and reflections.

Carsie Blanton, “The Problem with Panic.” A sex-positive musician and educator reflects on sexual autonomy, #metoo, and the moral power of sex in our culture. Sex remains one battleground in which patriarchy controls, devalues, and silences women. But sexual assault also weaponizes a shame already present in our culture’s understanding of all sex. Blanton is fearful that the left may come to believe that we can legislate our way to “prudence” or “temperance,” without working to undo this sexual shame by talking honestly and specifically about the complexity of sex. “Sexual assault is about power; sex works as a method of control because sex and its attendant cultural narratives are so powerful.” Sex offender registries– enacted in a moral panic– do not deter first offenders or reduce recidivism. These punitive systems also fail to make important distinctions between different “sexual offenses,” in a way that Blanton feels destroys lives and also ultimately trivializes rape and assault. Blanton ends by reflecting on the work of undoing sexist socialization, toward a fuller sense of agency for women, that will make both sexual autonomy and intersectional solidarity more possible.

Agnes Callard, “Can We Learn to Believe in God?” Callard invites readers to consider openness to religion not as self-deception, but as an act of aspirational faith, similar to the fragile, doubt-filled hopes we hold about things such as our friends’ fidelity or our dreams’ likely success. As with sharing any new pleasures with a skeptical acquaintance, “you want him to try to believe them to be more valuable than he has currently has reason to, in order to learn their true value.” It takes openness to believe that there could be something utterly wonderful– something that could connect us with a more profound sense of meaning, kinship, and durable joy– waiting for us in life. Callard encourages us to view that openness as something other than self-manipulation.

Google researcher Francois Chollet posted this thoughtful, scary Twitter thread on Facebook’s use of AI. As algorithmic curation gets more pervasive and AI gets smarter, humans’ innate vulnerability to social manipulation is more and more under the power of systems such as Facebook that control what information we consume. He ends: “If you work in AI, please don’t help them.” I add: please consider getting the hell off of Facebook!

Terry Eagleton, “‘Cast a Cold Eye’: How to Think about Death“: An article from my favorite Christian Marxist theorist, on the liberating possibility of the acceptance of death. The call to “act always as if you and history were about to be annihilated” can be a call toward the radical affirmation, not negation, of value. Since no act can be undone, each act can be a preparation for the finality of death. So, in pursuing a moral commitment to liberation even to death, we can wrest meaning from death, in an assertion of the durability of the virtues we’re ready to die for. “Resurrection” promises not perpetuity, but an unimaginable transformation and redemption. Death itself, meanwhile, remains both unremarkable and inconceivable. “…Like love, death searches out what is most singular about a person, poignantly highlighting their irreplaceability. One of Plato’s objections to tragedy is that by furnishing us with images of death it reminds us of our apartness, thus undermining political solidarity. For Hegel, death, like law, is a universal truth that nonetheless confronts us with our utter irreducibility as individual selves, at once leveling and individuating. Like the human body, it is both an external fatality and radically one’s own, a mode of distinction but also a shared condition.”

Andi Grace, “Power under Abuse: What It Is and How to Heal.” How do we have mutual accountability in relationships when there are profound differences in power? This article asks extremely tough, complex questions about survival mechanisms from trauma and oppression; about comfort, entitlement, and shame; and about compassion.

Shaun King, “Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He’s Exceeding Expectations.” When I saw scholar, professor, and activist James Forman Jr. speak in Seattle, he stressed that mass incarceration was constructed not by a single cultural turn but by countless small, often local, policy decisions. Forman said, too, that undoing it would require similar small, local steps, and encouraged activists to work not just for noble public defenders and City Council members, but enlightened and anti-racist prosecutors and DAs. Such people are out there and should be encouraged to run, Forman said. Larry Krasner has been a spectacular example of this: since taking office, he’s fired 31 prosecutors for opposing a civil rights agenda; he’s permanently prohibited 29 of Philly’s most tainted police officers from ever being called as witnesses; he’s ordered his prosecutors to decline charging marijuana possession or sex work; he’s increased diversions and softened the plea-bargain process; and he’s mandated that post-release probation be shortened to 12 months or less. Institutional transformation is, of course, vulnerable to rollback; it’s also not the same as structural transformation. (Like, does Philly have the staff in its diversion programs necessary to accept the flood of those newly referred to them? Does the police chief support Krasner enough to stem the plainly predatory and racist police practices that lead to arrests in the first place? What would it take for Philly’s schools to also adopt a diversion-based, civil rights vision of discipline?) But damn, it’s something.

Esther Perel, “The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship.” In this TED-ish chat, Perel examines the cultural uniqueness of modern Western coupledom— the strained belief that a partner can be one’s village, co-parent, friend, lover, and life partner— and then talks about the work of cultivating a space for the erotic– the playful, selfish, exploratory, resistant, vibrant– amid the commitment and responsibility of love. Some cool Freudian stuff as well about the messages our child self receives about the danger and joy of the world beyond the parents’ arms.

Evan Rytlewski looks back to an album I used to love and now can barely stomach, Sublime’s 40oz. to Freedom. Its eclecticism still feels utopian; the genres it sponges up I still adore; the musicianship is outstanding. But Brad Nowell’s lyrical boorishness and shameless copycatting wear me out. Why did this album strike the chord it did? Read on…

Rebecca Traister, “This Moment Isn’t (Just) about Sex. It’s Really about Work.” One critique of #metoo is the movement’s focus on violations in professional, rather than domestic, spaces. But, Traister says, this economic emphasis is important to examine for its own sake, beyond our patriarchal culture’s fascination with perceived threats to women’s virtue. “What makes women vulnerable is not their carnal violability, but rather the way that their worth has been understood as fundamentally erotic, ornamental; that they have not been taken seriously as equals; that they have been treated as some ancillary reward that comes with the kinds of power men are taught to reach for and are valued for achieving.” Traister notes that spaces and professions populated by poorer POC women haven’t been examined in this movement’s moral reckoning; she ends with the hope that this moment may begin the work of “addressing and beginning to dismantle men’s unjustly disproportionate claim to every kind of power in the public and professional world.”

Jenna Wortham, “Is RuPaul’s Drag Race the Most Radical Show on TV?” An awesome, nuanced profile of RuPaul. Wortham looks hard at some of the critiques of drag– from the malleability that drag assumes of femininity, to its fraught relationship to trans rights, to its roots in the interpretation/satirization of black womanhood– and also at the cultural earthquake that Drag Race has precipitated. Wortham points out the risks drag performers take on in a patriarchal society, the contempt aimed at those seen as willingly giving up the protected domain of male privilege. She also reflects on the profound generational shift around questions of identity that RuPaul reflects: from the 90’s-rooted idea that liberated communities could arise from satire and free play, to our current relationship to identity where “sharpening categories [is] a means to demand inclusion and recognition.”

Matt Yglesias, “Everything We Think We Know about the Political Correctness Debate Is Wrong.” The assumption among nervous liberals, outraged right-wingers, and everyone who absorb their thinkpieces– that college kids increasingly reject reasoned argument, that righteous young people mob-attack dissent, and that media echo-chambers have left us all less tolerant– isn’t supported by survey data. “”Overall public support for free speech is rising over time, not falling. People on the political right are less supportive of free speech than people on the left. College graduates are more supportive than non-graduates. Indeed, a 2016 Knight Foundation survey showed that college students are less likely than the overall population to support restrictions on speech on campus.” But dig the utterly unsurprising exception: “Among the public at large, meanwhile, the group whose speech the public is most likely to favor stifling is Muslims.”

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New Poems in Denver Quarterly

In the new Denver Quarterly are two poems dear to my heart: a long beery floral summer adoration-note to baby Finn, Siobhan, and teacher Gabe, and a letter, parent to parent, to Andy Stallings. So grateful to have this work in the world. I even, what???, get to share journal space with Nathaniel Rosenthalis and Khadijah Queen.

Thanks to the editors.

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Review of Jose Perez Beduya’s “Throng” at Berfrois

I wanted to give some love to a five-year-old book of poetry that raised questions, and foresaw realities, that were way ahead of its time and against the grain of its artistic moment. Read the essay here.

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