I don’t remember how I first came across Cultural Weekly, which is now called Cultural Daily. The site is chock-full of interesting and timely writing about the arts and politics. It includes a wide array of work: poetry, fiction, photo-essays, interviews, dance, literature, fine arts. Check it out. You can sign up for daily emails.
I’ve been posting essays and book reviews at Cultural Daily over the past 5 months. It seems I have started to write essays. Why now? I’m feeling an escalating pressure to write down my thoughts, both because the moment feels so urgent, and because I want to remember them. And really, who knows how long I will be able to write? Carpe diem, as they say.
Of course, I’m reading essays too. I’ve been re-reading some of the wonderful essays of Virginia Woolf and I have Zadie Smiths Feel Free: Essays on board. And I’ve just ordered a forthcoming anthology of lyric essays by contemporary essayists, titled A Harp in the Stars.
Here are the essays I’ve posted at Cultural Daily so far:
Considering the Lyrical Essay- which I first published as a blog here.
The meaning and usage of so many words do not live up to their sounds. “Redoubtable” is a bunch of squishy syllables crashing against a glottal “t.” “Formidable” has the same number of syllables but with the choice of stressing either the first or second. Formidable has “form” in it, echoing its meaning and altogether more pleasing in the mouth. This insight emanates from my editor brain, always trying to analyze and improve others’ sentences. Sometimes to their peril.
I woke this morning thinking that my thoughts are worth writing down. At least to keep them from drowning in the wavy seas of my brain’s currents. To pinpoint where my brimful (brain-full) of thoughts is currently stationed. And where they are heading. And, if my brain’s power is waning—as I know it is—will I be able to see evidence of its diminishment in the language of my own writing?
I am closely following breakthrough COVID infections. COVID may indeed be a pandemic of the unvaccinated, but it is foolish to think it will remain in small conclaves where vaccination rates are low. People are out and about, and spreading variants of the virus that are much more transmissible.
It is equally imprudent to resist changes in language usage on principle, as no principle other than speech itself—and its consequence, behavior—underlie its usage. If the principle is that a plural pronoun cannot support a singular antecedent, consider if that is a more important principle at this moment than avoiding gender stereotyping. Or the true underlying issue of equity for transgendered persons, including our trans-youth.