The curse of a liberal arts education, part 2

I was chatting with a colleague of mine at work. Someone who would probably in other circumstances even be a friend. But the exigencies of bureaucracy being what they are, this isn’t really the done thing. In any case, we were chatting about our sense of vocation. He has, for a variety of reasons, hadContinue reading “The curse of a liberal arts education, part 2”

The curse of a liberal arts education

When I write the novel in my head, the novel of bureaucracy, the roman a clef that will stand as the lighthouse to which I always will turn while I contemplate the extent of my ambition, the text that will serve as the key to all mythologies, I find myself recalling a certain passage inContinue reading “The curse of a liberal arts education”

I missed a funeral today

I intended to attend a memorial service, by Zoom, today. I failed to enact, or fulfill, my intention. I could blame external circumstances (my boss, who sent me an e-mail at 4:30). I could blame internal circumstances (if given the opportunity, I’d rather key entry data than have a conversation with my boss). I couldContinue reading “I missed a funeral today”

How dark this time is

The phrase is, the darkest hour is before dawn. Is that this hour? The phrase admits of at least two meanings, depending on how one emphasizes the balance of the sentence: the subject (“darkest hour”) or the predicate (“before dawn”). Which half should one emphasize at this precise moment? Darkness, or dawn? When I watchContinue reading “How dark this time is”

How many times will I have to have this conversation?

My son (age 7), in the bath this evening, asked me, “Daddy, when will we travel out of state again?” I’m going to leave aside all of the rather astonishing class implications of that question, and instead focus on what I think he was really trying to get at: “Daddy, when will it be over?”Continue reading “How many times will I have to have this conversation?”

That glimmer of light? It’s fading fast.

I was driving my sons to school this morning when the youngest (soon to be age 5) asked me: “Daddy, is it a lunar eclipse?” No, son. It’s not a lunar eclipse. It’s smoke. Something fast approaching a cool million acres have burned in these past few weeks, and we have at least a monthContinue reading “That glimmer of light? It’s fading fast.”

Thoughts on the Tyranny of Merit

Let’s tell ourselves a fairy tale, shall we? Once upon a time there was a young man who longed to get into Yale. He didn’t — he got into Stanford instead — but it didn’t exactly poison his soul. Or if it did, the poison merely melded with all the other temptations and inducements, tragediesContinue reading “Thoughts on the Tyranny of Merit”