A Genre for the Times

Though promising so much more, the technology that enables our ridiculously easy communication (ridiculously easy in historical terms, I mean) mainly delivers opportunities for us to snark at each other, opportunities that we seize con brio, certain in our entitlement to say what we mean and, damnit, to be heard.

There’s an alternative to our screeching certainty — a tentative, humble, feeling our way around, testing, trying things out, asking others with the same humility and tentativeness what they think about the whole thing, alternative historically given form in the essay.

That, more or less, is the argument presented in Christy Wampole’s The Essayification of Everything in the N.Y. Times. She says it better:

…I would advocate a conscious and more reflective deployment of the essay’s spirit in all aspects of life as a resistance against the zealous closed-endedness of the rigid mind.

She makes a good point, I think. She also writes a good sentence:

We need a cogent response to the renewed dogmatism of today’s political and social landscape and our intuitive attraction to the essay could be pointing us toward this genre and its spirit as a provisional solution.

This is worth reading a couple times. Once for the general idea, once for the fun of the words.

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