Public philosophy, online stalking, curling up into a small ball, etc

Hello, all!

I have two new pieces of writing out:

This piece, about Markus Gabriel’s new book but also about what form so-called “public philosophy” should take more generally, in the TLS: https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/the-meaning-of-thought-markus-gabriel-review-becca-rothfeld/

And this essay, about online stalking and Ingmar Bergman, which I have been thinking about and working on forever (please read it!), in The Yale Review: https://yalereview.org/article/stalking-1

I think that’s pretty much all I’ve got. I am still recovering from my online savaging, for which reason I remain inclined to curl up into a small ball and to do my best to forget that anyone is actually reading my writing. I’ve never believed that I was floating in a sea of charitable readers, since I am too steeped in The Discourse to remain ignorant of its excesses, but I never really understood what it would feel like to be read so aggressively against my intentions until it happened. I knew it would feel bad—but I didn’t know just how bad it would feel. Obviously, I am glad that people are reading my writing, even if only to loathe it, since the “point” (maybe?) of writing is to be read (and since you can’t get compensated for writing no one is reading). Still, I’ve always written in part to answer questions, to figure out what I think, and it’s hard to write in a searching, seeking mode when you suspect that many people are poised to attack you if they think you misstep even slightly. But I know that succumbing to the temptation to write proleptically is what transforms formerly thoughtful people into combative professional contrarians, a fate to be avoided at all costs, so I’m trying to forget I have readers at all, at least until I learn to stop caring so much what they think of me.


I’m not saying people shouldn’t Tweet snarkily about essays they think are bad. They should; I did, when I had a Twitter; Tweeting mean shit about things you hate is one of life’s sweetest pleasures. I’m only saying that being on the receiving end of a barrage of snarky Tweets is extremely unpleasant, and I feel very bad about it. I am aware that this is a dramatic overreaction befitting a “snowflake,” a little blob of slushy fragility, but I’m allowing myself a period of slushy fragility because a year of virtual solitude has eroded most of my usual defenses. Someday I will develop Inner Resources, rumored to be helpful in situations like this one. For now, I am telling myself what I’ve told myself for years as I’ve attempted to navigate the world of academic philosophy (where I am also a freak, but for pretty much diametrically opposite reasons, namely that I am interested in continental philosophy and the Arts and insist on writing in a belletristic way): I’ll keep doing this as long as they’ll let me.