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Category 'Favorites'

The Value of Dystopia

Image by Jonny Hughes/Flickr

In response to Michael Solana’s “Stop Writing Dystopian Sci-Fi—It’s Making Us All Fear Technology,” which had inspired “We Need Dystopias Now More Than Ever.”

Solana’s essential message is, “Technology is our salvation, so why do those pesky Luddites keep trying to challenge progress and scare us?” Science fiction, like life, has always contained both utopian and dystopian themes, optimism and pessimism. If dystopias are suddenly overrepresented — which I think is untrue — it’s probably worth asking why they’re so popular, and maybe even trying to learn from them.

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Thoughts on Taxidermy, Fashion & Bighorn Sheep

Seen on the G train: A bookish young hipster bringing home the taxidermied head of a bighorn ram. Continue reading

September 11, Fall Migration and Occupy Wall Street

On my way to Ground Zero on the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, I stopped for a slice a pizza and to clear my head. The previous week had been a somber one; every anniversary recalls the past, but some make you reflect on what’s happened since, and a cloud hung over the intervening years. The nation felt like a different, far darker place than before that fateful morning. Continue reading

Marilynne Robinson, Subway Ride, Lesson

In the opening essay of When I Was a Child I Wrote Books, Marilynne Robinson writes of the miraculous improbability that is every human being: each mind containing more neurons than stars in our universe, arranged in patterns complicated beyond our reckoning, loving and hurting and thinking, floating through a vast vacuum gulf; if from a certain scale even a chair would look like a cloud of energy, what might each of us appear to be….

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A Perfect Bookstore

I don’t know if a Platonic ideal of bookstore exists. Maybe one’s tastes are shaped, as with food or love, by first experience. Whatever the case, my original bookstore is my favorite: Lippincott Books, which I first browsed more than twenty years ago, and which will close this month. Continue reading

The Other Seasons

Even though winter isn’t yet over in Maine, spring has signaled its arrival. Evenings are brighter; sparrows are flocking; here and there a warm breeze surprises the cold. But before spring fully arrives comes a period of thaws and rain known locally, for self-evident reasons, as mud season. And then, after spring but before true summer, comes blackfly season, when the cost of a pleasant evening is a ring of itching bites at your sockline. Continue reading

On Waldman’s Pond

“The water,” said John Waldman, “varies between green and shockingly green.”

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White-Lined Sphinx Moth