There is something carnival-like about late-night transit, especially alcohol-fueled urban transit, that allows us to break the rules of social interaction. By day, trains and buses are purely functional: they get us to where we need to go. But by night, they’re a rare example of an enclosed public space, somewhere that allows for, even demands, social interaction, the breaking of barriers.
For many of us, the Baby-Sitters Club offered an early glimpse into the world of ambitious working women. Granted, they were middle-schoolers, but they were girl bosses, role models long before pop culture gave us Olivia Pope, Liz Lemon, or Leslie Knope.
Throughout much of Mallarmé’s adult life, he yearned quixotically to create a magnum opus that could encompass the entire world and render it into words. He wanted to collapse the gap between representation and what is represented. Psychologically, this wish can be interpreted as an intellectual defense against the agony of mourning. Perhaps, as Bloch suggests, such a “harmony of words and things” recalls us to St. Augustine and the Holy Sacrament, where language and object merge and past becomes present. But from a psychological perspective, it is a move that constitutes a retreat from the embodied human condition.
No one person can defend everything in America that will need defending in the age of Trump. What we must do, instead, is to find our particular hills to defend, and then to defend them as if our freedom depended on it. Even if these battles are lost, the very act of writing down the progression of that loss, as Winston did, is an act of resistance. The hijacking of public language, as is happening now, is a way to shift perception—to bend and control thought—and must be resisted.