History is made up of gains as well as losses. Sometimes it is easy to say which is which. Sometimes it depends on where you’re sitting.
Published as Issue 16 of Crossed Lines, my occasional email newsletter, to mark the launch of a school called HOME. An hour’s drive northwest from here, you take a turning off the two-lane highway, near the bottom of a steep hill. After that, you’re on an unpaved road, heading into the woods. At first, there are red wooden houses dotted to either side, but then the scattered township thins out...
The news came last thing at night. Next morning, the loss lay quietly over everything, like a fall of snow. John Berger, who once wrote that all storytellers are Death’s secretaries, had died.
Published in The CEMUS Diaries, a series to mark the 25th anniversary of the Centre for Environment & Development Studies at Uppsala University. It’s early spring. I’m taking a language course for immigrants with a higher education. Eight years is the average time it takes before an immigrant to Sweden gets to work in a job that matches their professional qualifications: this course was...
It was September and I hadn’t seen Ruben all summer, but there he was, the same as ever, gangly and lounging, his hair cropped almost to the bone, his eyes alert; a kid from the wrong side of town who turns the skills his childhood taught him into art.
The sun is out, the sky is a cloudless blue and the kids around me on the train are talking football. On mornings like this, it’s hard to hold onto the sense that we are in trouble, let alone that this trouble might be deep enough to derail our whole way of living.
I didn’t make it to bed on election night, so it took till Saturday morning to have the experience of waking up in this new reality. All day, I felt a lightness, like the laws of physics just changed slightly — and scrolling through Facebook, I see others trying to make sense of this strange sensation. Mixed in among these posts, though, there are others that boil down to, ‘Will you all stop...
The regular mechanisms of political narration are breaking down. The pollsters lose confidence in their methods, the pundits struggle to offer authoritative explanations for events that they laughed off as wild improbabilities only months before.
I’m no philosopher, but I sometimes drink wine with philosophers, and by the time you get onto the third or fourth bottle, the conversation often comes around to the uncomfortable case of Martin Heidegger.
The world is in flames and if you think it’s all the fault of those people — the uneducated, the bigoted — I urge you to think harder.