Archive for the 'grief' Category

adventure time: the sea, the sea

It was Dad’s birthday on Saturday so I drove over to see him and Mum.

There is beauty even in lost things. Lucky for me!

harrow the ninth, by tamsyn muir

Somewhere out there exists a home not paid for with blood.

once upon a time i lived on mars, by kate greene

Historically, much of Earth exploration has been rooted in colonialism and subjugation. What kind of remnant legacies and unexamined assumptions thread through today’s discussions to colonize Mars?

generation ship

In February I moved to a new barn; in March we moved house and I started a new job. Also in March, of course, the shelter-in-place order came down, and we have been isolating ever since.

All at once, the house was a space station. I don protective gear for away missions, and decontaminate in a scalding shower when I get home. Everyone else stays home and communicates only over network links.

Don’t know when we’ll hug our friends again. Don’t know when we’ll see the rest of our family. But the house is glad to have us here, and I am glad we have each other.

don’t call us dead, by danez smith

history is what it is. it knows what it did.

lent, by jo walton

There is no fellowship in Hell, the only relationship possible is that of tormenting one another.

eve’s hollywood, by eve babitz

Karen, meanwhile, tried to disentangle herself from Nellie’s conception of her as a “best friend,” but it was like trying to get gum out of your hair.

the companions, by katie m. flynn

We talked less and less, and I felt it, how easy it was to lose people

fierce attachments: a memoir, by vivian gornick

She had spoken such words often but, always before, the harshness had been cut by an exasperation in her voice that betrayed affection. Now the tone, like the words, was only hard.

That failure of the sympathetic imagination, when it occurs between two people who have been intimate, is like natural disaster to me. It fills me with dread and amazement.

We thought because we were always talking we were connecting.

in the dream house, by carmen maria machado

Afterward, I would mourn her as if she’d died, because something had: someone we had created together

How to read her coldness: She is preoccupied. She is unhappy. She is unhappy with you. You did something and now she’s unhappy, and you need to find out what it is so she will stop being unhappy. You talk to her. You are clear. You think you are clear. You say what you are thinking and you say it after thinking a lot, and yet when she repeats what you’ve said back to you nothing makes sense. Did you say that? Really? You can’t remember saying that or even thinking it, and yet she is letting you know that it was said, and you definitely meant it that way.

Your body is brilliant, even when you are not. It doesn’t just heal—it learns. It remembers. (All of this, of course, if the virus doesn’t kill you first.)

long live the tribe of fatherless girls, by t kira madden

When I think of my father, I think of my heart breaking in stages.

say nothing, by patrick radden keefe

Doctors found, paradoxically, that the people most prone to this type of anxiety were not the active combatants, who were out on the street and had a sense of agency, but the women and children stuck sheltering behind closed doors.

know my name, by chanel miller

You cannot write out of someone else’s dark place; you can only write out of your own.

an annotated bibliography of the inside of my head

You know those books that you can’t stop thinking about, won’t shut up about, and wish everyone around you would read? The ones that, if taken in aggregate, would tell people more about you than your resume?” Yeah, I do. Here are some of mine. (I’m going with the obscure ones. If you haven’t already read Dark Emu and The Body Keeps the Score, go, do.)

Nuclear Rites (1996) – Hugh Gusterson embedded himself as an anthropologist at Lawrence Livermore National Labs. He talks about bomb tests as rites of passage for the weapons scientists, and I find myself thinking about this whenever I think about douchebag VCs investing in horrorshows like Uber. A Cold War kid, I saw The Day After on TV and followed the news trickling out of the Chernobyl disaster. I couldn’t conceive of why anyone would build such fucking appalling weapons. This book helped me understand, at least a little.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1998) – I constantly quote Michael Frayn’s “In a good play, everyone is right.” This is a book-length version of the same idea. Her doctors had one framework for understanding Lia Lee’s epilepsy, and her Hmong family had another. However kind and well-intentioned Westerners think we are, when we tacitly assume the superiority of our version of the truth, children die.

Depression: A Public Feeling (2000) – This book introduced me to “political depression”, the idea that anxiety and grief are a wholly reasonable reaction to the destructive and hypercompetitive economies in which we are forced to live. The first chapters are a poetic memoir of one of the author’s depressive episodes, and I find myself reading them over and over. I’ll always be grateful that Ann Cvetkovich gave me a way of thinking about my relationship with my landscape of origin as a settler seeking to right the wrongs of the past.

The Language of Blood (2003) – A wrenching memoir that changed the way I think about transracial adoption and motherhood. If you like it, see also All You Can Ever Know.

Mother Nature (2005) – An anthropologist and primatologist considers the evidence for how best to raise children. A book of radical kindness. If you like it, see also A Primate’s Memoir.

Postwar (2006) I’ve called this the missing manual for Generation X. It provides the context for the political climate in which we were born – the fading of the postwar consensus and peace dividend, setting the stage for the attack on social institutions by Thatcher and Reagan, and the collapse of the social contract that brought us to where we are. You’re not going to like this book, exactly. It’s hard work and heartbreaking. Judt died before seeing his worst fears fulfilled, but if you want more, his student Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is basically the prequel.

This House of Grief (2014) – Another dumb joke of mine is that Mad Max: Fury Road is a keenly observed documentary of my childhood. This book is, however, a keenly observed documentary of the middle-class Australia in which I grew up, its lonely and angry men, its frightened and angry women, and the horrors it inflicts on its children. In some ways it’s the distillation of everything I’ve talked about here: the slaughterhouse of empire, and ways in which it drains our private lives of meaning.

Horses in Company (2017) – Lucy Rees, who wrote some of my favorite pony books when I was a child, has spent the intervening thirty years catching up on new science around equine ethology. Much as alpha wolves and cocaine-addicted rats illustrate the stress of being an experimental subject rather than authentic wild animal behavior, the received wisdom about dominant and submissive horses reflects domestic animals under resource constraint. Rees argues that wild horses, who can eat the grass beneath their feet, live in the real-world version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and that in this state of nature they’re feminist matriarchal gestalt entities. I jest, but only a little. If we could take violence out of the way we interact with animals and children, maybe we could take it out of the way we interact with one another.

lost children archive, by valeria luiselli

Something changed in the world. Not too long ago, it changed, and we know it. We don’t know how to explain it yet, but I think we all can feel it, somewhere deep in our gut or in our brain circuits. We feel time differently. No one has quite been able to capture what is happening or say why.

command and control, by eric schlosser

“The computerization of society,” the technology writer Frank Rose later observed, was essentially a “side effect of the computerization of war.”

ancestral medicine, by daniel foor

If you find yourself drawn toward the tendency to help or “do something,” you might instead work to increase your capacity to sit with others’ suffering

the rape of nanking, by iris chang

…atrocities such as the Rape of Nanking can be seen as a predictable if not inevitable outgrowth of ceding to an authoritarian regime

old in art school, by nell irvin painter

I thought I understood the fact of my mother’s impending death, but I had not. I had no idea of the feelings and fears and complications, the pit opening up before me, the loss of the key to my identity.

history of violence, by édouard louis

You’ve also stayed away because you’ve discovered how easy it is to cut her loose, how little you actually miss her