Welcome to Issue 52.1 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
It’s week 52.
Surely, my count is a little off—a break in November and another a month later—but what measurement of time has not been warped in this last turn around the sun?
I remarked yesterday that I do not believe the human brain was built for minutes, but for moments, hours. For noting when the light has changed, or when we become hungry, tired, ready to rest until a new day arrives. How can I not be a few minutes late to meetings when my animal mind is shaped to shift in cycles?
This weekend, I sliced my thumb, right at the top, where the skin bends. When I go to clean my glasses now, the bandage smears their lenses. Only because of this did I realize I have, for the last eighteen years, completed this small gesture in such a way, and am clumsy when attempting an alternative. What kind of time is that? Do we have word for this kind of knowing unknowing?
If we pull back our view and look not just at the arc of our own lives, what is the significance of this year? In the middle of 2020, there was much discussion of current generations living in the US holding no active memories of a pandemic-like phenomenon. Now, these lifetimes have that memory built in. What will we do with this? Will it wear into our skin like sun does, or will we shed it, a coat no longer seasonally appropriate?
And bigger: what of the thousands of years of human delusion, stretching back to ancient Greece, the belief that we can have democracy while social classes are cemented and contented, told that this is what’s best for everyone?
And longer: what of our human legacy, perhaps the thing that will outlast us all, the eternal carpet of plastic dust that is inextricably mixed with deep ocean sediments?
Or the remains of ancestors lost at war, repurposed? Memorials to those taken too soon by violence unique of our time, but predicted by long history? What of the attempts to prevent one kind of extinction while riding the wave of an emerging mass phenomenon of the same type? (Our panda friends, below.)
In this 52nd week, a favorite line from Hamilton comes to mind:
“What is our legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”
The Second Look & *Hot Goss*
will both be back next week.