Hello world, I hope this week hasn't been too terrible for you. I spent a few hours the other night watching footage from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and it made me want to curl into a ball and cry, or at least donate all my money to one of the many organizations helping to care for the untold number of animals who have been displaced by the storm. I think I'm going to foster a Hurricane Harvey dog.
Anyways, here are some great pieces of writing that have come out recently to help you make sense of the monumental suck that is existence these days. Read them while smoking weed, or maybe read them and then get high and think about them? Either way, they might provide you with some respite in an otherwise-horrific week for this country.
How Not to Die
Chelsea Murray for The Deep
Despite dubious studies claiming otherwise, it seems that marijuana truly can help veterans dealing with PTSD, as Chelsea Murray's report on Fabian Henry, a Canadian military veteran turned cannabis evangelist, brings to light. As the American scientific community works to play catch-up on marijuana research and bad actors design studies rigged to produce results that support their ideological agenda, it's important to remember the striking evidence, even anecdotal evidence, that can be found just to the north.
How Identity Became a Weapon Against the Left
Briahna Joy Gray for Current Affairs
If you haven't yet read Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies, I highly suggest you do so. It is, perhaps, the most incisive and even-handed assessment of how the internet's information economy –– defined equally by sensationalism and indiscriminate appeals to various pockets of identity –– created the social clustering and political polarization that allowed Donald Trump to become President while we all weren't looking. It's 125 pages, and you can read the whole thing in a weekend without moving your schedule around.
But if you don't have time or hate books or whatever, you can read Briahna Joy Gray's essay for Current Affairs, which examines how totally reasonable criticisms of the centrist and probably anti-weed Senator Kamala Harris are in danger of getting stifled by commentators claiming that anyone who doesn't like Harris is sexist and/or racist. Writes Gray, "Belonging to a protected class does not immunize a politician from error, nor should it insulate [Harris] from criticism," continuing, "a critic should not be impugned on the basis of a candidate's identity, but on the soundness of the critique itself."
The Sucker, the Sucker!
Amia Srinivasan for The London Review of Books
I had no idea, but octopi are trippy as fuck. I'm just gonna turn it over to Srinivasan here, to help explain why:
They are sophisticated problem solvers; they learn, and can use tools; and they show a capacity for mimicry, deception and, some think, humour. Just how refined their abilities are is a matter of scientific debate: their very strangeness makes octopuses hard to study. Their intelligence is like ours, and utterly unlike ours. Octopuses are the closest we can come, on earth, to knowing what it might be like to encounter intelligent aliens.
After reading this essay, I am never eating octopus again.
J.D. Daniels for The Los Angeles Review of Books
I don't care how snooty it might be of me to include two articles in a row from publications with the phrase "Review of Books" in their titles, because I will always stand for J.D. Daniels, whose recent book The Correspondence is one of the strangest and most psychedelic works of literature released this century. Here, he manages to write a scathing takedown of Donald Trump that doesn't mention that dumb fuck's name once.
The President of Blank Sucking Nullity
David Roth for The Baffler
Sometimes, though, you have to mention Donald Trump by name, if only, as David Roth does in his essay for The Baffler, because you need to write a trenchant and hilarious analysis of his psyche that begins with Roth's dad fretting over his dog's supposed embarrassment over having to wear a protective cone and ends with a meditation on the asshole. Like, humans who are assholes, not physical, anatomical assholes. Though, to be fair, he also mentions dogs sniffing each others assholes, which he terms "b-holes" so we don't get confused.
How Instagram Makes You Basic, Boring, and Completely Deranged
Lauren Oyler for Broadly
The world has decided to present us with a pair of entertainments –– the novel Sympathy and the film Ingrid Goes West –– that are both about creepy Instagram friendships, and the writer Lauren Oyler celebrates the occasion by writing a review of the pair that lays out why Instagram is a dumb app that brings out the worst in people. "Instagram has changed how many people move through the world," Oyler writes, adding that "no other social network has done more to normalize anti-social behavior, and no other social network represents better the current moment, an era in which the obviousness of our problems seems to have no effect on our ability to solve them." Which, well, yeah.
(BONUS SHAMELESS PLUG BONGREAD)
Letter of Recommendation: High-Visibility Golf Balls
Drew Millard for The New York Times Magazine
I wrote a thing. It's about being depressed and playing golf. I promise I will never again use this column to link to my own writing.
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