Freudians know that Eros and Thanatos are opposites in the human psyche. The former, the love instinct, pushes us to survive, while the latter, the death instinct, pushes us to destruction. In an essay for Bookslut, Jelena Markovic explores the importance of Thanatos in daily life, using as an example a man she knew with an “instinct for nonexistence.”
David Foster Wallace’s former student, Adam Plunkett, recounts studying with the polite, Midwestern, sometimes embarrassing professor whom he knew as Dave during the spring of his junior year at Pomona College, where Wallace worked until his death that September.
“Insanity, madness, obsession, math, objectivity, truth, science and art. These friends always impress me. They’re sculptors and tailors, not scientists or spies. I’ve chosen them with the peculiar attentiveness of a shell collector stupidly combining the overwhelming multitude of broken detritus to hold up one shell so beautiful that it finds its way into my pocket, lining my clothes with sand. And then another. Not too many, so that the sheer number could never diminish the value of one.” On madness and genius with cosmologist Janna Levin.
In 2012, the Portuguese writer José Luís Peixoto, on the occasion of Kim Il-Sung’s 100th birthday, went to North Korea for a fifteen-day trip. The experience led him to write a travel memoir, Inside the Secret, which you can read in serialized form online at Ninth Letter magazine. You could also read Pulitzer laureate Adam Johnson’s new Granta essay about the country.