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.
Aaron Timm’s essay on New York’s “supertalls” — skyscrapers that crest 1,000, even 1,500 feet, intended primarily for residential use — made me wonder about Seattle’s own trajectory. The Columbia Center is still our tallest, at just under 1,000, and nothing in the works will compete for the title. The proposed 4/C project would have taken us over the 1,000-foot mark, but the FAA relentlessly cut it down to size. Little has been heard from disheartened developer Crescent Heights since 2016.
But pure height isn’t the story. Residential height is, and the possibility that supertalls will host the superrich, an earthly Elysium. It’s an eerie JG Ballard-ish idea — that the tech elite might simply, literally, rise above the rest of us. We shape our spaces, and they shape us in return, for better and sometimes for worse.
Cities change, of course they do; but what matters is for whom they change, and at what cost. Demolition, displacement, accommodation, and compromise are the conditions of urban life. But the city of the supertalls is engineered to take its denizens beyond these conditions, to deliver them into frictionlessness. It’s a place of moonshot wealth, skinny buildings, no resistance, and no surprises; a city that’s not really a city at all, but its own comfortable superstate.
When we think about how we read these days, it’s mostly to despair over our deteriorating attention spans and hurl curses at our internet overlords (no irony here for the Sunday Post). But maybe our reading brains are more resilient than we think, more tied to who we are and what we value, not so ready to release us.
Law school tried to teach Tajja Isen another way to read, but her reading brain fought back, and eventually led her away from the law. It’s a lovely idea, rendered without sentiment here, that the way we read (not just what we read) can be part of our resistance — to wrong choices, to wrong ideas, to ways of being that are inimicable to who we are.
A few nights a week, I’d make a feeble attempt at proving the world wrong, swimming up through my exhaustion to pick up a novel and push through its pages. Sentences were newly terrifying; tiny minefields of meaning where I might miss a principle I’d later be called upon to produce, freshly plucked. I labored for months over what had once taken me days. I told myself that this was pleasure; that these motions were sufficient proof that I hadn’t allowed myself to be drained of joy and filled with something else.
If I ever have to walk through a swamp at night, stepping uncertainly for solid ground and listening for the quiet splash of a reptile in the water nearby (does anyone else find Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise infinitely more terrifying than the jovial Haunted Mansion?), may Rebecca Solnit be my guide. Here she oulines in crisp, certain paragraphs the case for impeaching Donald Trump, taking us step by step through the murk of corruption and distraction of the past few months. It’s hard to think of anyone other than Solnit who could use these giddy, run-on sentences to both recreate the desperate feel of the chaotic news cycle and map our way through it.
It was hard to remember, with the over-the-top corruption of Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort frothing up like a badly poured beer, to keep track of the conspiratorial roles of Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos, long after everyone had forgotten all about Carter Page, who’d been reported as a foreign agent by US intelligence while he was toddling about Russia and maybe making some secret deals with the oil company Rosneft, or Michael Flynn, who’d been the first to be fired for corruption, and who’d been convicted for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, but whose sentence was being held up because he might have further use for the Special Counsel investigation.