For a little perspective: Read

Dear Rebecca:

Everything feels shitty this week, right? Like we’re at the end of the world and nothing will ever be good again?

It especially feels that way, I suspect, if you marinate — as I do too much — in the tidal waves of political rage that define much of Twitter and Facebook. But I have a solution to this: Read. It can help one regain perspective.

I’ve been reading Rick Perlstein’s “Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus,” which is turning out to be handy as a guide to the roots of our modern politics, but also to realize that while history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, it very often does rhyme.

There’s the apocalyptic rhetoric:

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 8.23.45 AM.png
The “deplorables” have always resented the elites: Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 8.25.37 AM

Conservative leaders tend to resent compromise or negotiation of any sort:

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 8.27.22 AM.png

And Americans are always arming the shit out of themselves to ward off tyranny, with the side effect of terrorizing the rest of us.

There’s more — and hey, I’m only a quarter of the way through the book — and while it’s all kind of terrifying, it’s also weirdly comforting: There’s little that’s new in our troubles. Mostly we survived. Which means we can do it again.

Reading might not save us. But at least we’ll die with a head full of facts and stories.

Literarily, Joel

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