“I’ve spent the past week—as I’ve spent much of the past few years—wanting only for the world to go away, for all engagements to be canceled, and to have more time with my family ... “It’s almost as if the desire for community is a nostalgic one; and the reality, with time’s winged chariot hurrying near, is that one longs increasingly for simple affections, for space, and calm, and time to work. What contradictory beings humans are.”

-Claire Messud, in an email


"When I was younger, I used to meet people at dog tracks and pot farms and other such places and do my best to describe them from the inside out. What we had in common was that we were all in on the same joke about the gap between stories and life, which is a name for a chaos that unfolds according to no given set of narrative conventions. To make sense of the unstable lives of these characters, I imagined them as figments of a much bigger story that could only be gestured at, a big novel whose quasi-religious valences would strike me with great force in the middle of the night as I slept in my one-room apartment in the West Village with my head right next to the oven. The fear to which my idea of some larger metanarrative applied was less about the tracklessness of existence than about what might happen to the particular space we shared, which was the imagined place where writers talked to readers. An onslaught of data-driven technologies coming out of California was replacing the imaginative work writers did with algorithmic outcomes, which would guide a reader’s choices and feelings based on the choices of large numbers of other people who had also interacted with the machines according to pathways laid down by the algorithms. As felt life was mediated and altered in this way, the vast encyclopedia of literary feelings and techniques that had once acted as a kind of thickening agent for writers and readers alike would become progressively obsolete, and reality would come to feel thinned out. Self-censorship would become the rule, even among those who retained the impulse to think and feel beneath a smothering blanket of anticipation and categorization whose only true aim was to keep any stray sunbeams of disorienting newness or weirdness from shining in through anyone’s window."
-David Samuels, "Weirdos"