Self-portrait at the library tonight

Ohio. A properly gloomy November day with cold rain and a heavy sky that looked like it might crash. I often imagine my writing sessions should be quiet and humble, like those stern Dutch paintings of solitary women making lace in solemn bands of light. Maybe someday. But not today.

While working in the library this afternoon, Richie Hawtin and Pete Namlook’s “A Million Miles to Earth” surfaced in my headphones. I’d forgotten how perfectly this song captures a flavor of 1990s techno-optimism that now sounds nostalgic. But my audiofile was missing the cover art. When my search led me to Wolf’s Kompaktkiste, I made a loud happy noise that turned the heads of my fellow library patrons. Since 1994, this website has been a staple for double-checking track titles and release dates, and its continued existence nearly three decades later feels like a cause for celebration.

A few minutes later, I opened the New York Times because of some dumb muscle memory. An explosion in Poland. A deadbeat clown is running for president again. Next to these stories, a headline asked, “What Does Your Favorite Restaurant Reservation App Say About You?” I should start a new habit: keep a book next to my laptop and, whenever I feel the urge to check the news, read some fiction or philosophy instead. There would be less screaming.

More breaking news: the union for part-time faculty at The New School declared a strike tonight. I’m furious a university that incessantly advertises its “commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice” allowed things to reach the point where I must stop teaching my students. The New School has sadly become an excellent case study of how progressive jargon tends to mask more sinister motives. The top twenty-odd deans and vice presidents made nearly $2 million more in 2020 than all 1700 part-time faculty make in a semester. (Here’s a publicly available tax form.) We haven’t had a new contract since 2016, and our pay has been frozen since the pandemic due to “uncertain times.” Hopefully, the brass will recognize you need to practice what you preach.

Richie Hawtin and Pete Namlook – A Million Miles to Earth

From Within I | | Fax, 1994
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