HEWN, No. 287

"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it" -- Hannah Arendt

One day, a couple of months ago, I logged in to Skype — something that, thankfully, I very rarely need to do — and found a contact request from an old friend from junior high school. I accepted and sent her my email address (a better way but not a perfect way to reach me) and didn’t think much about it again. But she wrote me a long email last week, catching me up on all sorts of changes to her life since we’d last been in contact about a decade ago.

She included her mailing address and promised me an even longer by post. I know she’s good for it; the two of us, even in junior high in small-town Wyoming, knew we wanted to be émigrée writers when we grew up. She lives in Australia now; I’m a writer. I think we did okay, all things considered.

And now I’m inspired. I bought some stationery yesterday, something I haven’t done in a long long while, as well as a couple of greeting cards. (I sat in on a class, virtually, at Georgetown this week and the discussion turned to whether emoticons and emoji were more expressive or more standardized forms of communication. Capitalism bolsters templated expressions; the history of the greeting card industry shows us this. And yet, I think I paid extra for greeting cards with no message on the inside.) I like very much the idea of returning to a regular practice of handwriting letters — except that as I have started to work on the first few I plan to send, I’ve noticed my hand cramps easily, and my penmanship sucks.

That’s all a very roundabout way of saying I’ve been writing letters and reading books this week, and as such I haven’t paid as close attention to what’s been written and published online as I normally do. I am, I’d argue, in excellent company.


Politico says that “Psychologists’ couches are filling up as Americans seek relief from Trump Anxiety Disorder,” and I hear some people suggest we should all tune out a bit more. I don’t know. I think we have to pay attention. If you tune out, you miss the fight, so that doesn’t seem like a good idea right now, as exhausting as all this can be. If nothing else, if you tuned out this week, you might have missed these gems: “The Return of the Face” — Adrian Daub on physiognomy. Finlay Young on the More Than Me Academy in Liberia, a school that was supposed to protect girls from sexual exploitation but instead exposed them directly to it. Katie Prout on “Going Hungry at the Most Prestigious MFA in America.” “The Other Secret Twist: On the Political Philosophy of The Good Place” by Robin James — “hell isn’t other people, it’s neoliberalism.” New motto right there. Anand Giridharadas on “Silicon Valley’s Saudi Arabia Problem.” (This is ed-tech’s problem too, and I alluded to this through this week’s Hack Education Weekly News, as Saudi investment dollars back some of the most prominent companies in education right now.) And the most delightful article, particularly in the midst of such a shitty week (month, year, etc) for journalists, “Daniel Radcliffe and the Art of the Fact-Check” by Michael Schulman.

(Wood pigeon. Image credits.)

Yours in struggle,