Not only was Cruse dubious about the plausibility of eradicating prejudice from the souls of whites, but he believed that such a project—inevitably focused on interracial settings and the individuals who inhabit them—was of little concrete use to the largely unintegrated communities that were, and still are, paying the steepest price for the country’s discriminatory history.
The lesson of the Cultural Revolution is that an emancipatory politics is indeed possible, but also fragile and precarious—and under constant threat by the logic of dismissal.
It was hard for me to believe, at first, that spiritual debates in the American colonies, say, or the conventions of mass-market storytelling could tell me anything about my love life. But they did. How had I missed it? Probably because what they have to offer is so counterintuitive,and maybe even something of a scandal: that here in America, the Land of the Will, it can be good—very good, crucially important even—not to will.
The restless pursuit of pleasure and excitement is often an attempt to divert ourselves from our own misery. The monastic life is all about drawing back from that diversion—entering into a silence and monotony that allows us to really feel the pain of our spiritual loneliness.
After my firsthand experience, I am not so sure that women actually make it out of the shimmering space of the postpartum experience. More likely, they combust and prolapse in it, and it is not them but their doubles who emerge out of its haze. It is their doubles who greet you with “It’s going great!” when you eventually do meet for fucking brunch.
Even when we are not providing the sympathetic ear for personal stories, the work of sex work is active listening.
I had forgotten to ask Louis whether to use the formal vous or the familiar tu in a sex club. Usually you use vous for strangers, but what if you were allowing the stranger’s husband to put your hand on his cock?
In the most basic sense, when we first confront powerful images we say that we are out of words, right? All of a sudden we don’t know what to say. Or we say they take our breath away. We can’t just immediately articulate what is happening. We feel called by the encounter with the image to say something, yet we also feel that we are losing speech.
WHEN THE EDITORS of this magazine began to talk about how to address this summer’s uprisings—hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in hundreds of American cities […]
Integrated love didn’t have to bear the weight of such a grim outlook. He’d try, and I’d try, and together we might create something immersive, nurturing and revolutionary. Our love would envelop us, like a force field or a good angel with broad, unfurled cages for wings. And I’d never again have trouble hailing a cab.
Things don’t go quite as we or the characters expect. And Varela doesn’t ever give us the comfort of escaping the fundamental ambiguity at the heart of the story.
If McCarthy’s critics thought the Vassar girls were pitifully naïve and shallow—about sex as about many other things—they might have recognized that what happens to any of these women cannot ruin the faith they have and the pleasure they take in their own experiences; and in this alone they must have had more to teach us than they were ever given credit for.
Along with George’s Selected Letters, Meaning a Life is the only prose account of the Oppens’ composite life as they understood it. Inside that story Mary has nested another—a rare story of imagination, companionship and love becoming mysteriously and beautifully aligned.