Around The Internet In 8 Articles: James Baldwin; Sex Apathy, How To Not Be Terrible


I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’ve been coping with the post-Trump era by reading up and reading up hard, maybe even compulsively, in a way that’s a little toxic. So I’m not going to recommend things here on that topic, because you’ve probably covered most of them already.


Nope? You DO want to send yourself down an obsessive Internet rabbithole that ends with you checking the news on your phone just before you go to sleep, the moment you wake up and also sometimes in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom? OK cool, check out this, this, this, this and this . Otherwise, please pass Go, collect $200 and proceed to non-Trump specific articles below.


An Unbearable Tension: On James Baldwin and the Nation of Islam

— Ismail Muhammad (Catapult)


I’m a big fan of Ismail Muhammad’s essays — for someone who’s writing now, his work feels curiously timeless. There’s no millennial irony, no overuse of IDK or rn or prefixing the meat of his argument with “let’s be real” (I’m guilty on all four counts).  It’s just well structured arguments and deft prose.  

He doesn’t feel the need to turn cartwheels with his sentences to impress you and yet there’s an elegance to his style that means you’ll find yourself still turning this essay over in your mind days later while walking home from a party. Anyways, if you care about James Baldwin or the nuances of reading how it feels to have your literary hero trashtalk your faith, give this beautiful article your time.


Kool A.D.’s “OK”

— Fiona Duncan (LA Review of Books)


God, this was nice. Do you ever read an interview where you feel like you now know the person so well that you could pull their descriptions of their glorious self-invented routines over you like a blanket and just snuggle up with that reality for a moment? Victor Vazquez, who used to be in the band Das Racist and currently performs as Kool A.D., has just written a book and seems to lead the ultimate dream life, in a non-millionaire way, and Fiona Duncan interviews him in prose that’s so laid back it’s horizontal. This interview feels a lot like eavesdropping on two very cool people you’d like to be best friends with.


What Happened To Sandra Bland?

— Debbie Nathan (The Nation)


This was written last year but I’ve only just digested it. It’s not a read that’s going to leave you filled with joy at the state of the world, but it clarified a lot of things for me and it packs a punch. If you care about the Black Lives Matter movement or the importance of class or talking about mental health or how arbitrary shitty laws put in place to generate enough income for a state that doesn’t have high enough taxes affect someone’s entire reality, give this a read.


You Don’t Know Hannah Arendt  

— Emmett Rensin (The Outline) 


Hey the Left, stop meme-ing Arendt, start reading her: the argument. Haha, this bit — “They’re half-remembered, if remembered at all — Did I do the reading that week of college? A quick Google provides clarity. Of course: The woman is Hannah Arendt, and she has come back from the wilderness to deliver us a message: Fascists are bad news.”


Sorry, everyone: The future of sex is total apathy

— Charlotte Shane (Fusion) 


Remember the glory days of 30 Rock and Liz Lemon eyerolling her way through every sexual encounter? Since then, most of the sex coverage we seem to get via the media is relentlessly upbeat, but it’s not something I find easy to put into words without sounding like a hateful puritan.  

So applause for Shane, who writes regularly about sex, for critiquing “the chirpy, lobotomized sex positivity that’s come to dominate mainstream culture.” Also, this astute depoliticised popstar/sex analogy, in how sexy sex dominates the headlines: “Sex is relentless and uninspiring, demanding yet boring. Sex is Taylor Swift. We get it already. Now can we please have a break? I believe that in the near future, we will.”


How not to say the wrong thing

— Susan Silk and Barry Goldman (Los Angeles Times)


OK, genuinely: here’s one cool life hack. I hate that sentence, but this may be the first time in the history of Internet writing that this isn’t an exaggeration crafted to make you read an article about how to remove lint from your clothes with one easy household object. Nope: this is deeper and smarter and a wonderfully logical way to approach the tricky business of wanting to complain your face off to somebody who’s going through a medical/legal/existential crisis, but also feels relevant to the current moment in terms of being a good ally. 


Carry Me Home, Sisters of St Joseph

— Marie Helen Bertino (Electric Literature)


A short story about a woman surviving a breakup with a rodeo clown by becoming a nun. I know that sentence doesn’t sound all that promising, but don’t let the wackiness of this premise set your teeth on edge: it’s less local improv night gone wrong, more weird and stunning.


Angry Voicemails To Congress Or Texts To A Cheating Boyfriend?

— Nate Varrone (McSweeneys)


I know I said I’d swerve politics, but you’re going to have a wry laugh that hurts a little at this, promise. 


And because no woman is an island, in future editions of Around The Internet In 8 Articles I’m going to be taking recommendations. If you’ve got an article that shortly after reading, doused the world around you in a soft sunset hued pink light and you couldn’t stop talking about it and pestered your best friend to read it and maybe it changed your conception of space and time (or it was just kind of fun and informative), then forward it on to — thanks.


Written by: Sophie

Image by: Coco