In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.
“Behind the collective feast and public ritual lies a personal dimension: the holiday as each of us has lived it, laughed about it, imagined it or reinvented it.” For their “My Thanksgiving” feature, The New York Times asked nine writers — including Parul Sehgal, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Emma Cline — how they celebrate the holiday. Pair with Nguyen’s 2015 Year in Reading.
Momina Mela writes on the gendered misconceptions about confessional poetry. As she puts it, “In comparison to female confessional poets, male confessional poetry has been regarded with less ridicule as accusations of being merely therapeutic. This is often due to the detachment which occurs with the adoption of personas, even though female poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and even Sharon Olds integrate the use of personas in their work as well.” Also check out this Millions essay on the poetry of mental unhealth.
“But migraines! Everyone relishes a migraine. They have a literal aura! Migraines foster the sort of pure narcissism that only intense, essentially benign pain can. We sufferers (that’s how it’s described, “migraine sufferer”) feel it is meet and right that the migraine should be dramatized in films like Pi or White Heat; this strengthens the perception that migraines are the hallmark of geniuses, or at least psychopaths. Joan Didion writes about them; of course she does.” Sadie Stein on the allure of the headache to end all headaches.