In our afternoon reading: a review of Madeline ffitch’s new novel, a playlist from Mona Awad, and more.
Sara Ahmed argues that fear behaves like a metonymy. It is a sticky, parasitic attachment to objects that slides easily from sign to sign and, in the process, remakes how matter are named, and hence how they exist in the world. This is how “terrorist” sticks to “Islam, Arab,” or “criminal” to “Mexican,” even in the face of arguments (with facts!) that should otherwise unmake them. Whereas anxiety is static, it becomes fear when the object recognizes the fearful (or the other way round), and approaches. Ahmed, citing Freud, explains that these affects are responses to a love that can disappear, that connection which “secures the subject’s relation to the world.” Because fear expects pain, the fearing subject is split psychically between a present and a future, and is felt intensely in the former at the same time they are dissociated from it. Fear may unveil how absent we are in the present. In the moment of fear, the body wants to flee in the face of the feared object. To whom does it turn? Ahmed writes that fear also turns us towards love, towards protection and care for an other. “In this way,” Ahmed argues, “fear is that which keeps alive the fantasy of love as the preservation of life, but paradoxically only by announcing the possibility of death.” At the instance when the body erects a wall between it and the threat, fear also intimates the possibility of a love as intense as fear.
Morning Bites: Devi S. Laskar’s Debut, Helen Phillips, Joe Halstead Interviewed, Trupa Trupa, and More
In our morning reading: thoughts on Devi S. Laskar’s novel, talking with Helen Phillips, and more.
Afternoon Bites: João Gilberto Noll’s Latest, Jeff Jackson, David Leo Rice Excerpted, Hugo Nominees, and More
In our afternoon reading: thoughts on a newly-translated novel by João Gilberto Noll, Jeff Jackson on the making of his latest, and more.
Anyone can be a provocateur for a day. All it takes is a single inflammatory word to ignite the frenzy of distractible dopamine junkies, who quickly move on. Maybe you can spin another day or two out of the pushback. Maybe you live on in the digital stockades after you burp up a few mea culpas that no one believes. But real sustained provocation, the kind that sears and twists and deepens over years, is another matter altogether.
In our morning reading: delving into Ocean Vuong’s debut novel, reviews of books by John Domini and Juliet Escoria, and more.
Micah Piero Salmon Champagne
by Cara Dempsey
I.The Angel Gossips
My guardian angel is so hung up on trashy magazines.
She’s a sucker for celebrity divorces and baby names. They crack her up. You know the ones. Those A-lister babies with names like Micah. Piero. Salmon. Champagne.
In our weekend reading: an interview with Elisa Gabbert, an essay on the importance of memoirs, and more.