At The New York Times, Parul Sehgal examines time through the writing being produced during the pandemic, as well as the books she reads (and re-reads). “To describe the passage of time has always been one of the favorite challenges of the writer or philosopher,” Sehgal writes. “‘Where is it, this present?’ William James wondered. ‘It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming.’ In Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor, the heroine declares: ‘We can never know Time. Our senses are simply not meant to perceive it.’ The mysteries of time are bound up in the great unknowns of the body and universe, from consciousness to black holes.”
Recommended reading: The Guardian reports on Varlam Shalamov, a Russian author who spent 17 years in the harsh camps of the Kolyma gulag, wrote more than 140 short stories, and still claimed ““I hate literature. I do not write memoirs; nor do I write short stories. That is, I try to write not a short story but something that would not be literature.”
“These writers project a mythos of healing. Their work says to the world, ‘Yes, we go on in spite of the troubles and we heal. Our stories are stories of braveness and healing. We got this.’ But I don’t got this! I’m trying to affect a calm tone. I’m losing my shit.” Luke B. Goebel reflects on anxiety, medication, and creativity at Catapult. Gila Lyons, similarly, writes on how medication affected her creative life.
The Onion headline Bunch Of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger: “In this big dramatic production that didn’t do anyone any good (and was pretty embarrassing, really, if you think about it), thousands upon thousands of phonies across the country mourned the death of author J.D. Salinger, who was 91 years old for crying out loud.”