My latest: Great Sinners
Dostoevsky, my father, and me
“In prison it sometimes happened that you would know a man for several years and think he was a beast, not a man, and despise him.... And suddenly a chance moment would come when his soul, on an involuntary impulse, would open up and you would see in it such riches, feeling, heart, such a clear understanding of his own and others’ suffering, as if your own eyes had been opened.”
-Dostoevsky, Notes From a Dead House, 1861 (translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky)
It's been a while. How the time flies when you're having fun.
So, I have a new (rather long, rather personal) essay in the March-April issue of The Baffler. Some of you know me only as a "climate writer," because that's primarily what I've been for these past 10-plus years. But that's not how I started out, and this piece has nothing to do with climate, per se. It does, however, have everything to do with "holding on to our humanity," as the saying goes, which seems every bit as important these days. I should warn you, though, it's the heaviest and most personal thing I've written in a long time, maybe ever, because it has to do with my parents, who both died within the past two years, and especially my relationship with my father. The essay is for them. And it’s for me. But it’s also for anyone who may find it, I don’t know, helpful in some way. I’ve always felt that if something I write is helpful to even one other person out there, then it’s worth the effort.
My friend and comrade Todd Gitlin once wrote, apropos of a long since forgotten book about the climate movement: "to take the climate crisis seriously is to take it personally, to let it shake your soul." I feel pretty sure that Todd—who was taken from us much too soon, on February 5—would agree that the same applies not only to the climate crisis but to our existential political-cultural crisis as a whole. He is deeply missed. I wish he could have read this new essay; I think he would have appreciated it, but more important, he would have also seen things I didn't, and inspired me to think harder. His novel (yes, novel!), The Opposition, is coming out in June, and we were hoping to do a conversation about it. I think I'll still try to write something.
Thanks, as always, for reading. Responses are welcome, including the critical kind. Or, if you just want to drop me a line and say hi, that's always welcome, too. It can get lonely out here on the margins.
Peace—and I don’t use that word lightly,
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.