Well, what did you expect? Reading this week


Family matters.

I deleted all the excuses I made for making excuses (right here). Disclaimers? That’s writing under pressure, this is just a blog.

Anyway, here’s the stuff I wanted to share – my favorite reads of this moment:

Sunday Confessions of a Lapsed Priest – Science Blogs – Aardvarchaeology (I admit it, it was the name that pulled me in, how irresistible?)

“I don’t know where else to start than from the beginning. I was raised Roman Catholic and always felt drawn to do something to give back to humankind, to be great and benefit my fellow man in some way. Some might call that a “vocation” or a “calling” I suppose. As a Catholic boy the most obvious and highly encouraged manner of “ministry” is to enter the priesthood, especially in this day and age of priests’ shortage. It would be in my twenties that after reading Camus and Sartre and others that I realized even atheists want to “do good”, but when I was growing up I bought the demonizing portrayal of intellectuals and scientists promoted by some in my faith.”

This week:

“…If you just add the word or phrase you want, and don’t add an actual shortcut, it will stop autocorrecting the word you mean to type. NO MORE DUCXKING.”
How I Got My Iphone to Finally Let Me Swear   – The Awl

“The Sicilian boss Leonardo Messina told investigators in the early nineteen-nineties, “All men of honor consider ourselves Catholic; Cosa Nostra sees itself as descending from St. Peter.” Michele Greco, the head of the internal commission through which the Sicilian Mafia regulated itself during the late nineteen-seventies and early nineteen-eighties, was nicknamed Il Papa, the Pope, because he was known for saying prayers several times a day…”

“What we’re capable of is often found at the heart of confession in creative nonfiction. Among the most common criticisms of the genre, nothing seems to fan the flames of controversy like the confessional. While I agree with practitioners like Vivian Gornick and Michael Steinberg that successful personal narrative must push past anecdote, as Schraffenberger’s does, I also believe the confessional is still important, and not because it’s brave or courageous to show our uglier selves to the world, not because those uglier selves require absolution. The term “confession” suggests something invalid about the action or urge confessed, but in cases like Schraffenberger’s, where the narrator’s actions are meant to be representative, confession becomes inclusive, offering a way out of isolation. It presents us with a mandate to sanction human experience.”
In Defense of the Confessional – Parenting, Inclusivity, and J.D. Schraffenberger’s “Dropping Babies”  –   Essay Daily

What did Carl Jung write in his letter to James Joyce?

“…But I must tell you that I’m profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus, because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don’t know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses because I couldn’t help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non stop run at the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn’t.”
A string of veritable psychological peaches – Letters of Note

“We might think that the phrase great expectations, tinted with a slightly tired irony, is the perfect translation of lost illusions. We lost them, what did we expect? Perhaps we lost them because our expectations were so high. Almost all of these great novels address the question of how and when we grow up. When we become wise, or when we are defeated. When we get married. When we stop making our favorite mistakes. The interest of the titles is that they suggest that readers have already come of age yet are longing to go back in time to watch another person go through the process. Any novel of disenchantment and maturity must conjure up the very magic and youth that will, happily or with regret, be left behind. The reader tracks the full story with sympathy and surprise but enjoys a kind of prudential advantage over the characters.”
The Long Goodbye – Lapham’s Quarterly (via Arts & Letters Daily)


“…Or, well … not apologizing. But also not not-apologizing? Sorrynotsorry? Sorry for notbeing sorry? Sorry for not saying sorry? Something like that. It is incredibly confusing. (Sorry.) What we we have come to, the shampoo brand has helpfully reminded us, is an apologia for apologies for apologias for … I don’t even know: a weird whirligig of contrition that spins along indefinitely, fueled by the forces of power dynamics and gendered behavior and probably The Patriarchy, because always The Patriarchy, and everything blurs, and then everyone feels bad about the blurring, and then everyone feels bad about feeling bad about the blurring, and we whirl and we whirl and it’s a whole sorry mess.”
The Sociology of Sorry – The Atlantic

“…But here’s the thing about the domestication and evolution of dogs: we also evolved to live with them. They changed us, as well. They became part of the human ecosystem. There’s evidence that dogs and humans co-evolved brain processes and chemicals such as serotonin. Given enough time, algorithms might have such an impact on us as well, changing how we think. And while (unlike dogs) algorithms might not change us at a genetic level, they are changing our behavior.”
Why We Need to Tame Our Algorithms Like Dogs  – Wired






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