Digest, 7/3/2021: I Used to Ask My Melville Professor if He Was Really Into Cape Horn
the tenth digest post
The movers come on Tuesday, and we have been working like crazy to get ready. I know it’s sort of privileged to be able to afford movers and still to complain about being exhausted… but I’m exhausted. So sorry if this one is half-assed. I recorded for two hours for a pretty prominent podcast yesterday, though no doubt the actual episode will be whittled down quite a bit. The conversation was spicy.
I’m lucky I don’t follow day-to-day views or subscriptions too closely, as a rule, because you’ll go crazy if you do. Check out this dip in annualized projected revenue:
… but why? Why was July 1 bad? Might not look like much, but that’s a couple grand. In any event, no good can come from trying to guess. I could say “people hated that day’s post!” but it’s more likely that people’s subs just ran out that day. (There is no similar dip on any other first of the month, for what it’s worth.) Who knows. My motto is always to just keep going and keep the faith. I’ll leave the stats-worshipping to the clickfarms out there. I will say, though, to reiterate: what people say they want me to write and what they reward with their eyeballs are very different things. But then that’s part of the point of a crowdfunded project like this, right?
I’m repeating what I wrote recently about the Digest posts here:
To better organize this project, I’ve created a new newsletter section called Weekly Digests. This is where I will house the weekly digest emails, which are sent out every Saturday afternoon. What this will mean is that people who only want a summary of what I’ve put out in the prior week can go to their settings and unclick the main Freddie deBoer newsletter and leave the Weekly Digests newsletter clicked. That way you will only receive the digests, which contain a list of the previous week’s posts and a brief summary. You can then choose what to read from there. Alternatively, if you like the blog but don’t get much out of the digests and their various recommendations, you can unclick that section.
You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want anything to change, as everyone has been automatically added to the new section and new signups will be as well.
This Week’s Posts
Monday, 6/28/2021 - When You Have Come Apart
My advice for people who are near the point of going to the ER for emergency mental health intervention. An accusation, a confession, a lament, a cry of sorrow.
Wednesday, 6/30/2021 - What Bari Weiss Won’t Tell You About Human Right and China A response to a Bari Weiss piece discussing China’s imposition on Hong Kong and elsewhere, I argue that such discourse can never been truly effective as long as it fails to see that the ultimate source of so many of these problems is the profit motive and capitalism.
Thursday, 7/1/2021 - Accountability is a Prerequisite of Respect
I argue that social justice movements like BlackLivesMatter must be held accountable like any other adult human endeavor, and that such accounting is a necessary precondition of respect - and that the media is conspicuously failing to hold them accountable in this basic way.
Friday, 7/2/2021 - Call Me a Normie If You Must, but Valheim is Great - with Friends (subscriber only)
After many many requests, I have written about a video game I’ve been playing recently. Apparently people were looking for another game because nobody read this post lol.
From the Archives
From 2016, a white paper I wrote for the New America Foundation, partially drawing off of my dissertation research, from back when I wasn’t frozen out of that kind of opportunity. There are definitely cool parts of writing for a thinktank; beautiful production values here and I got to go to DC and give a talk and be on CSPAN. Back when I started working on my dissertation it looked like some sort of c
Song of the Week
An underappreciated song from an underrated band from just after the wave of the alternative early 90s crested and headed inevitably downward to break against us. A girl I used to hook up with in Chicago 15 years ago used to play this song and she would cry every time. I think she moved to New Mexico to glaze pots.
Substack of the Week
Too tired to research and I take these seriously. Sorry, next week.
The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse, 1938
The ultimate Bertie and Jeeves book, The Code of the Woosters is light, charming, funny from front to back, driven by the perfect scenario for this series - I love love love it. If you’ve never tried these, they’re the reason we think all butlers are named Jeeves. They follow the slapstick comedy of Bertie Wooster, an immensely privileged English aristocrat as his indolence and utter lack of self-knowledge find him in hot water again and again - and yet Wodehouse’s careful portrayal of Bertie as charming and fundamentally decent compels you to look past all of his self-inflicted wounds. He survives, quite literally, because of Jeeves, his ultra-competent butler who manages to be both effortlessly superior and yet to always radiate supreme affection for Bertie. All of it takes place in a hazy era between the World Wars, with the aristocracy in clear decline and yet its members as cossetted and clueless as ever. For a lot of my left-leaning readers this will likely sound insufferable, but it’s the opposite. There are many of these books; some are better, some are worse. But there’s none that I’ve read that has felt less than completely comfortable, fun, and breezy. This one, to me, is the gem - a caper about a cow creamer that I’ve loved since I was very young, despite never really knowing what a cow creamer is.
By the way, that’s my Jeeves, on this cover - not the fat Jeeves you so often see, but a slender, sharp, imposing but kind Jeeves. Jude Law, for me, but of today, an older one.
Comment of the Week
You are a troublemaker Freddie. I like that. - RJF
That’s it! I’m looking forward to getting this move behind me, and I’m looking forward to starting to serialize the novel in a few weeks. Feel like this project could use a shot in the arm, I dunno. Anyhow enjoy your weekend.
I understand what you mean but I think that your being able to afford movers (and to then complain about it) is not a sign of privilege, it is just a sign of being able to afford movers and the fact that moving is incredibly tiring. And this brings up something that has been bothering me a long time: It makes no sense to attack the middle class for their privilege, or the working class whites for their white privilege. In truth, the privileged are the rich and the upper middle class, not the rest of us working stiffs or the working poor or the unemployed. And besides, all any of the people who are attacking people for their privilege have to do is go to another country where they will immediately discover that they have an American privilege ingrained in them. I always loved James Baldwin's discover upon moving to France that his primary identity there wasn't a black man but an American. And Richard Pryor, too, when he went to Africa. He wasn't black but American. The truth is that it is just fate as to where and when and to whom we are born. Each of us starts where we are and when we are with what we have and go from there. My birth situation was better than many and worse than many others. The damage to my psyche and health was worse than many but not as bad as a great many others. One of the best things that happened to me from going into group therapy when i was in my twenties is to find out that, in comparison, it really wasn't as bad as I'd thought. At least my mother didn't put me into the oven and try to burn the devils out of me. (yes, a true story.) So, from what I do know of your story Freddie (and I realize it is only a tiny bit) I can't in any way use the word privilege in relation to your having movers and feeling exhausted from the process. I am just glad you can afford them and that you found love again and that things are getting better for you. Every single one of us will in one way or another find ourselves in the position you were in after your meltdown. Been there, done that myself. It is what happens after that is important. Do we become a better person, a better man, more honorable, more willing to expose our limits and vulnerabilities? I admire you because within my frame, you took the honorable road.
Friends of mine who do patreon and the like report the first of the month can be an issue because people's debit/credit cards expire and they don't realize until they get an email that payment didn't go through that they have to update with their new card info.
Also, thanks for your post on Monday. I've luckily never had mental health issues so severe I needed to go to the hospital, but I've had depression well more than half my life now, and each time I relapse there's that inevitable "I'm too sick to get myself help" --> "Okay, I feel a little better, let me make an appointment" --> "Huh now that I feel better I kinda feel silly about asking for help" --> "haha, sorry for wasting your time, doc, it was probably just insomnia or something" cycle, which you illustrated in very relatable fashion. Learning to assert for yourself when you have this niggling doubt that maybe the problem isn't real is hard. Mental illnesses really warp your perception of what happened; it's hard for me to remember what it's like to not be depressed when I'm depressed, and vice versa.