Emily Ratajkowski, Anne Serre, what art is, etc
all the classic topics
It is rapidly becoming cold and dark and I continue to write demoralizingly slowly. Nonetheless, I have a few things out of late.
The first is a review of Emily Ratajkowski’s essay collection, My Body, in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/nov/18/my-body-by-emily-ratajkowski-review-beauty-and-abuse.
The second is a piece on the French writer Anne Serre—and the relationship between fiction and seduction—in the winter Bookforum: https://www.bookforum.com/print/2804/anne-serre-s-seductive-fiction-24716
And the third is not written but spoken (I hate speaking but can be coaxed to do it under certain special conditions): it’s a discussion with philosopher/essayist/polymath genius Justin Smith, who is the best, about what art is, on his podcast, “What Is X?” The premise of the podcast is that Justin stages Socratic dialogues about what various important things—memory, philosophy, etc—are; if Justin and his guest reach consensus, there are wind chimes, and if Justin and his guest end by becoming mired in aporia, goats bleat. I love this format deeply, and I had a good time, even though my voice sounds so egregious to me that I can’t actually stand to listen: https://whatisx.thepointmag.com/1827398/9639883-what-is-art-becca-rothfeld
Finally, a note to MacIntyre subscribers: I am sorry that I am not writing about MacIntyre! I should (and will, if you ask me) refund you. (One commenter was VERY MAD, reasonably, that I wrote something mean about Dune instead.) The reason I’m not writing about MacIntyre, as I set out to do, is twofold. First, I’m drowning trying to write a book and a thousand magazine pieces while also living a functional life. I’m doing a bad job of everything, especially living a functional life. I’m beginning to suspect I may never recover my pre-pandemic ability to work basically all the time, but it’s taken me a while to accept that I’m no longer a hugely productive person and to adjust my commitments accordingly. The second reason is that, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the most charitable way to read MacIntyre is not really to go through his work with a fine-toothed comb, as one would a piece of more traditional analytic philosophy. Insofar as MacIntyre is good, if indeed he is, it’s not because every small comment he makes can withstand strict scrutiny (most can’t, I think) but rather because the broad shape of his argument is appealing or, minimally, interesting if not ultimately convincing. So the way to do After Virtue justice would just be to write some general summing-up thoughts, and not to go through each chapter at such a granular level. I can of course do this when I have a moment to really think about it, but the fact remains that this isn’t what I promised you. If you want your money back, I understand and will give it back! Alternatively, I can just write mini-essays about whatever pieces of art I love or hate but don’t, for whatever reason, want to formally review, or about bits and pieces of philosophy I’m reading and puzzling through. Some of you may be willing to pay for this, too, but clearly my strategy of just writing about whatever strikes me did not please, e.g., Dune-guy, and it may not please you, which would be understandable.