DRDB! 17: The Miracle of the Mundane

"We are hurtling forward—frantic, dissatisfied, and perpetually lost."

If it were not a form of intellectual property theft, I would reprint all of Heather Havrilesky’s “The Miracle of the Mundane” in this space. Havrilesky writes “Ask Polly” for The Cut and she is a writerly saint. In her work you can find examples of all the writing advice you may have ever heard: be observant and detailed, love your characters for their virtues and their flaws, and write with a specific audience/person in mind. Havrilesky wields her awareness like a surgical scalpel and turns out empathetic, loving, affirming prose. She humbles and inspires in equal measure. I’ve never asked Polly anything, but it often feels like she’s writing to somehow help me. I felt that way especially here.

Many of us learn to construct a clear and precise vision of what we want, but we’re never taught how to enjoy what we actually have. There will always be more victories to strive for, more strangers to charm, more images to collect and pin to our vision boards. It’s hard to want what we have; it’s far easier to want everything in the world. So this is how we live today: by stuffing ourselves to the gills, yet somehow it only makes us more anxious, more confused, and more hungry. We are hurtling forward — frantic, dissatisfied, and perpetually lost.

Our bewildered state doesn’t just injure us individually; it impedes our ability to work together for a better world. We can’t stand for justice and effect change until we’ve learned to push away empty temptations, shiny dead ends, and trivial distractions. As long as we’re perpetually assaulted by a barrage of news and tweets and texts, as long as commercial messages and smooth brands and profit-minded discourse are our only relief from our insecure realities, we’ll never develop the ability to live in the present moment. We have to cultivate compassion for ourselves and each other. We have to connect with each other in genuine and meaningful ways.

  1. The Miracle of the Mundane (Longreads)

  2. Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good (NYT)
    Screen-based services and products have become the default for poor- and middle-class people, in schools, in care-taking, in many places, while rich schools in Silicon Valley brag about their largely screen-free curriculum. As John put it: “we live in hell.”

  3. Serving Is Skilled Labor (The Outline)
    Much respect to the service industry.

  4. Every Way to Cook an Egg: 59 Methods (Bon Appétit/Youtube, 27min)
    My YouTube diet lately has been a lot of Jon Bois’ weirdo documentaries for SB Nation (highly recommend The Dumbest Boy Alive and Lonnie Smith). I’ve also gone down a rabbit hole of Bon Appétit videos. Claire Saffitz’s Gourmet Makes are (chef kiss) the best.

  5. ‘Us’ Is Proof That Original Films Can Still Scare Up Box Office Numbers (The Ringer)
    Us not only broke the record for biggest opening weekend for an original horror movie, it’s the second-best opening weekend for an original live-action film ever (#1 is Avatar) and the biggest opening weekend ever for an original R-rated film. Get Out “only” made $33mil its opening weekend, Us broke $70mil. If you look at the history of biggest opening weekends, it’s all adaptations and sequels and remakes, until you reach #68 Inside Out, a PG-rated Pixar film. Jordan Peele is doing very good business with very good movies.

  6. Did you know professional tag was a thing? (Twitter/@dirtyliar)

  7. We are already ruled by “private governments,” and they suck (The Outline)
    The company you work for is a private government. They establish rules and requirements that govern your life. They hold power. In theory employees have some equivalent amount of power, namely to quit and go somewhere else. But that is no longer economically feasible for millions of people, they are dependent on their paychecks to live. Outside of direct employment, companies like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google have all established private governments: holding power over data, social media, and marketplaces. And routinely they all suck.

  8. Here’s Every Defense of the Electoral College — and Why They’re All Wrong (Intelligencer)
    Abolish the senate. Abolish the electoral college. Guarantee everyone’s right to vote and make voting easy. I am here for more direct democracy and some meaningful representation in congress.

  9. Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control) (NYT)
    It’s not laziness, it’s your brain prioritizing short-term mood control over long-term goal achievement. Which certainly explains my entire school/work career. And if you’re feeling particularly unmotivated, try giving some advice.

  10. John Oliver's Rules of Engagement for the "Golden Age of Internet Shaming" (Quartz)
    Have you read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed? It’s a great book, and it rewired how I view social media outrage and public shaming. Angry people on the internet do not have any ability to temper their response. They go overboard. John Oliver’s short set of rules could prevent a lot of shitty behavior.

  11. Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm (WSJ)
    I’ve had the same Macbook Pro since 2012. It works well, mostly. One huge reason I refuse to replace it with a new model is the new keyboard design. Also mine has a DVD drive.

  12. Vermeer’s 36 paintings all in one place (Google Arts & Culture)

More Wit Knits photos here.