The Sunday Post for February 4, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

Hello, Goodbye

Jessica Mooney, talking about loss and inevitability, translates the small details of her experience into something lyrical, heartbreaking, and breathtaking.

I don’t know how to say what I mean. As a kid, I mixed up the words for things. Cat, I’d say, pointing at an alarm clock. Taxonomy remains mysterious. Walking around my neighborhood, I don’t know the names of things. Sinister witch-fingered bramble. Orange thing I want to call persimmon. The part of the foot that keeps me upright. The sinewy blue veins under the tongue. How do I not know the basic recipe for standing and speaking?

I love you. I wonder if I hear the words in the same place I hold my missing father. My brain’s translation: goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

To Be, or Not to Be

Masha Gessen, a citizen of and outsider in both the United States and Russia, asks what choice (of home, of gender, of passion, of person — of who to be, and of what to say and do) means in a totalitarian regime. For example, the one into which we’re rapidly sliding …

Choice is a great burden. The call to invent one’s life, and to do it continuously, can sound unendurable. Totalitarian regimes aim to stamp out the possibility of choice, but what aspiring autocrats do is promise to relieve one of the need to choose. This is the promise of “Make America Great Again” — it conjures the allure of an imaginary past in which one was free not to choose.
The Unabashed Beauty of Jason Brown on Ice

Your eyes might try to glance past this piece on ice-skating from the New York Times Olympics special, especially with the Tonya Harding media resurrection blaring from screen and page. Don’t let them: Patricia Lockwood’s take on figure skater Jason Brown is sympathetic and fascinating, capturing what is loveable, changeable, and eternal(ish) about the sport.

“Does ‘Riverdance’ bang?” you ask yourself uneasily. “ ‘Riverdance’ might actually bang.” Suddenly, here come the goose bumps. The elasticity of his Russian splits belongs to ballet; his flexibility is less like rubber bands than ribbons. His spins are so beautiful that they look as if they might at any moment exit his body completely and go floating off like the flowers in “Fantasia.” And running alongside the joy is something grave, which seems to me to be respect for the gift.
Him Too? How Arthur Miller Smeared Marilyn Monroe and Invented the Myth of the Male Witch Hunt.

The accusation “witch hunt” is a favorite weapon for powerful men seeking to silence the #metoo movement. For another powerful, fearful man, says Maria Dahvana Headley, it was a way to silence — on the page, if not in life — a woman who asked for more consideration than he wanted to give.

Women, unless they are very devout and very old, The Crucible tells us, are unreliable and changeable. They’re jealous. They’re vengeful. They’re confused about sex and about love. They might, given very little provocation, ruin the life of a good man, and everything else in the world too.

Miller wrote it that way for a reason.

The cult of Mary Beard

Charlotte Higgins’s profile of Mary Beard is full of toothsome details and cursing. Here’s how one woman became a celebrity scholar more or less by not giving a single fuck.

Her career stands, in a way, as a corrective to the notion that life runs a smooth, logical path. “It’s a lesson to all of those guys – some of whom are my mates,” she said, remembering the colleagues who once whispered that she had squandered her talent. “I now think: ‘Up yours. Up yours, actually.’ Because people’s careers go in very different trajectories and at very different speeds. Some people get lapped after an early sprint.” She added softly, with a wicked grin: “I know who you are, boys.”