I began this series with the declaration “Politics sucks.” Boy was I right.
If you’ve been anywhere near the internet lately, you’ve already heard what others have to say about racism, sexism, coastal elite bubbles, millennials, the FBI, voter turnout, minority voter turnout, the real media, the fake news, the electoral college, etc. — basically any and every reason Hillary Clinton did not close the deal on November 8th. In the spirit of this series’ mission to recommend the best coverage, I found the most insightful and comprehensive reaction piece to be this one from Dave Roberts at Vox. For myself, I have largely stayed quiet because, as election day showed, it’s a bad idea to make decisions when you’re scared and angry.
But a series about the 2016 election should include some response to the results. And in the time since those results came in, we’ve seen a lot of evidence for a very unpleasant truth: Continue reading
This is the latest entry in Words, Words, Words the ongoing liveblog of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest.”
October 24, 2011, pgs 343-379/1025-1028. This is one of those sections that makes you think someone could pull a Jefferson Bible on IJ and, by removing all the tennis and Incandenza and deadly entertainment stuff, end up with a quiet, sad, hilarious novel that would be among the best AA stories ever written. If it wasn’t already taken, a good title might be “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.”
The previous chapter was all about fighting; this one is all about surrender. And it’s easily one of the most religious things I’ve ever read. The Don Gately-POV is outlining a conversion experience, complete with capital-M Miracles, and the maintenance of life under a Higher Power. I don’t have any William James to back that up, just some limited experience of interpreting faith in the face of serious skepticism. Wallace is tricky on faith; he was a churchgoer, though for all I know that may be entirely related to AA meetings. According the this story (NYT paywalled, sorry), “Back in Illinois, he began to attend Sunday services at various churches around town — there is something about religious faith, which was missing from his rearing by two atheists, that entices and calms him — and he formed his closest social relationship with an older, married couple, Doug and Erin Poag. They met at a Mennonite house of worship.” Then this from a Details profile: “Brought up an atheist, he has twice failed to pass through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the first step toward becoming a Catholic. The last time, he made the mistake of referring to ‘the cult of personality surrounding Jesus.’ That didn’t go over big with the priest, who correctly suspected Wallace might have a bit too much skepticism to make a fully obedient Catholic.” Gately’s experience with the program sounds, to me, almost exactly how religion should be: humbling, confusing, questioning, supportive, inclusive (i.e. “They can’t kick you out.”) and just in general content with giving people what they need to be normal and functional. “Only in Boston AA can you hear a fifty-year-old immigrant wax lyrical about his first solid bowel movement in adult life.” I would like for church to be like that too.