Showing posts from January, 2023

Myths of Disenchantment

  You know the story: once upon a time, the world was full of magic, then the Enlightenment and Darwin banished superstition, and though there was much scientific progress, the world no longer had a sense of wonder and mystery — the world had become modern and disenchanted. A moment’s reflection on history and culture will poke holes in this story, but it continues to hold power as a belief (particularly for people in North America and Europe) about who we are and how we got to here and now. Every idea of Modernity as a social and historical concept relies on the idea of the disenchanted modern against the enchanted primitive. (My own book on modernism explores the idea of crisis , and certainly enchantment/disenchantment fits into that topic.) Arguments about disenchantment tend to be about its extent and its positive and/or negative effects. The idea of disenchantment holds appeal because it fits so easily alongside other ideas that structure stories of where we are going and where w

For Barry Lopez on His 78th Birthday

  "Barry was not one to invest in answers. It was the questions that pulsed in his body and propelled him forward no matter where he traveled in the world." —Debra Gwartney, "Fire and Ice"   Barry Lopez died on December 25, 2020, shortly before January 6, 2021, which would have been his 76th birthday. Of course, that date two years now lives in infamy, a day of insurrection in the United States. Within the next few months, a little book I wrote in the wake of that day will be published: About That Life: Barry Lopez and the Art of Community . (It was originally scheduled to come out this past fall, but the publisher got a little backed up.) It will be published as an open-access book with a Creative Commons License by Punctum Books, so the PDF will be freely available and the paperback will be as affordable as possible. I will have more to say about the book when it is released. I want to note Lopez's birthday today, however. Of the people I have met in my life,

2022: Looking Backward

  Another year gone. To this one, I am not quite so ready to say, “Good riddance!” as I was some other recent years, but I also have no great reason to want to hold on to 2022. I expect it is a year that will grow less and less defined in memory, its borders bleeding backwards and forwards, until it becomes the early 2020s and then sometime in the 2020s … When writing the recent Archive Dive post about past year-end summaries, I discovered I had not done one for 2021 … and I missed it. I regretted the handful of years I had not done any sort of summary, even just a basic list of favorite books. Not wanting to miss another year, I started taking notes for this one, and kept taking notes whenever anything occurred to me. So even though I'm sure there are plenty of items I've forgotten, it all get pretty long.  But the whole point of having a blog/newsletter/thing is to not be limited by the soundbite culture of social media, so I am going to glory in the opportunity to just go