Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few pieces of longform writing that we loved reading. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at [email@example.com](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org). Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.
This essay by columnist E. Jean Carol includes direct and specific descriptions of sexual assault that are upsetting and difficult to read. It also includes a direct and specific description of sexual assault by one of the world’s most accidentally powerful men that is upsetting and difficult to read — and should be unbearable to read for any human who voted to put Donald Trump in office.
I must mention that there are two great handicaps to telling you what happened to me in Bergdorf’s: (a) The man I will be talking about denies it, as he has denied accusations of sexual misconduct made by at least 15 credible women, namely, Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson, and Cassandra Searles. (Here’s what the White House said: “This is a completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the President look bad.”) And (b) I run the risk of making him more popular by revealing what he did.
Pagan Kennedy (writer) and Damon Winter (photographer) traveled to Green Bank, West Virginia, to investigate the National Radio Quiet Zone. The Zone is a swathe of land dedicated, novitiate-like, to silencing the signals that come from our chaos of devices. In that silence, the instruments of the Green Bank Observatory listen for the quietest whispers from our planet and the space beyond it. Without wifi or access to digital cameras, they came back with stunning film photography and a thoughtful reflection on the buzz of technology, considered in one of the few remaining places where the buzz is silent.
But who will save the endangered Quiet Zone inside our own heads? What about the thoughts as subtle as the static caused by the Big Bang and the transmissions from the remote galaxies of our memories? Is the ever-present hum of the internet drowning those out, too?
Mr. Holstine said that here in Green Bank, “I use the internet, and then I walk away.” But on the outside, people are “connected all the time,” he added. “They get a text and have to look at it. For a lot of people, the choice seems like it has disappeared. The phone is part and parcel to everything they do, including work. It’s the tail wagging the dog.”
After a few days here, almost entirely offline, I felt I knew what he meant: The world outside the mountains now seemed mad to me, too.
Somewhere between age 45 and age 46, I became invisible. It had been happening for a while — a slow decrease in the anxious signal from men in public places. It was harder to order a drink. Harder to make my way through a crowd, where people did not refuse to let me through but did not even see me. Harder to know what face value I carried through the world.
It was unsettling at first, even frightening. Then, I started to become visible again, but to myself, in a way I never had before. It turns that once the eyes of the world shifted away, and I was alone with my own eyes, I liked myself very much. And it turns out that when I refuse to step aside, the crowd makes space — whether they want to see me or not.
Sarah Manguso is brilliant as usual (yes, my Manguso fangirling is embarrassing, but: Sarah! Manguso!) in this essay-slash-survey of writing on what women lose and gain when our reproductive usefulness ends, through surgery or just time. Invisibility, anger, solitude — what is a gift, and what is a theft?
Recently, at a restaurant with my family, I observed my son scrawling away at the paper placemat with his crayons, rapt, unfettered by his body, and I also observed a young man and a young woman at a nearby table. The woman wore lipstick and nail polish and a little pink cardigan, and, as she talked to the man, she kept arranging herself, adjusting her hair and dabbing at her eyeliner and rubbing her shiny lips together and shifting in her chair, as if she were the stylist arranging a bouquet for a photo shoot, but of course she was also the bouquet. Her discomfort hung around her like a cloud of too-strong perfume. Watching her, I realized that I felt more like my son than like her. I felt both grateful and a little mournful that someday I might not ever have to feel like her again.