“Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in ‘sadness,’ ‘joy,’ or ‘regret.’ Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, ‘the happiness that attends disaster.’ Or: ‘the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.’ I’d like to show how ‘intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members’ connects with ‘the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age.’ I’d like to have a word for ‘the sadness inspired by failing restaurants’ as well as for ‘the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.’ I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered my story, I need them more than ever.”—Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (via waxenneat)
I wrote this last year, and I’ll repost it, because, HOLIDAYS!
Thanksgiving can be tricky, can’t it? That’s why Groundhog’s Day is unequivocally my favorite holiday: no one has anything they can complain about when it comes to Groundhog’s Day. It has not been taken over my Hallmark. Its history involves the persecution of no one. It celebrates the magical powers of a damn rodent wearing a hat, for heaven’s sake. Groundhog’s Day is simple.
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is complicated.
On the surface, of course, it’s simple too: everyone has something they can give thanks for. Plus there’s good food and good football, and you get to be with your family, and you don’t have to go to school. Tofurkey has made the vegans happy. The Puppy Bowl has made the sports-haters happy. There’s even a parade.
But pick it apart, and Thanksgiving is troubling. If you’re paying attention, you know that already. Mitchel Cohen does a pretty comprehensive job of explaining the story of the first Thanksgiving here; and Robert Jensen (somewhat notoriously) does a good debunking here.
There’s a word for this new era we live in: the Anthropocene. This term, taken up by geologists, pondered by intellectuals and discussed in the pages of publications such as The Economist and the The New York Times, represents the idea that we have entered a new epoch in Earth’s geological history, one characterized by the arrival of the human species as a geological force. The Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term in 2002, and it has steadily gained acceptance as evidence has increasingly mounted that the changes wrought by global warming will affect not just the world’s climate and biological diversity, but its very geology — and not just for a few centuries, but for millenniums. The geophysicist David Archer’s 2009 book, “The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate,” lays out a clear and concise argument for how huge concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and melting ice will radically transform the planet, beyond freak storms and warmer summers, beyond any foreseeable future.
Because all colored people have always been objects. Like, seriously — when the story broke that the NYPD categorized entire mosques as ‘terrorism enterprises’ in order to justify spying on them — were you surprised? Outraged, sure, but surprised? I wasn’t, and I don’t think anyone else was. They’re Muslims, you know? They’re supposed to be monitored. That’s what they’re for.
Maybe my favorite thing is when really talented, exceptionally funny comedy writers write something without jokes. When they take that penetrating, unflinching gaze they’ve sculpted and polished in the name of comedy their whole lives, the one that’s usually directed at humanity and its follies in order to excavate the humor hidden inside, and instead turn it inward and hit an artery and let you see that mess. Brendan McGinley (Cracked, Man Cave Daily, Maxim) is one of the funniest writers on the internet. This piece isn’t funny, but I think you should read it anyway.