Silence, Insouciance, Takesmanship: Finding a Way to Write in Wartime

Justin E. H. Smith in his Substack newsletter, The Hinternet:

Today’s ‘stack will principally involve “housekeeping”. I said explicitly a week ago that the war in Ukraine has left me literally speechless, and I meant it. I was able to squeeze out some speech a week ago nonetheless, mostly by soldering together various fragments already written, by descending into mean-spiritedness in a vain effort to be funny, by “just saying whatever”. I can’t rely on the strategy of gonzo bricolage week to week, and so today I can only confess the stubborn silence of my “inner voice”, the homunculus who lives inside me and, when things are going right, dictates what I have to say.

This silence may come as a surprise, as I generally both teach and practice insouciance in the face of global crisis — I believe there is a moral imperative to do so: maintaining good spirits both for the sake of one’s own survival and the survival of good spirits themselves, so that the world, when any given crisis has passed, should still know what good spirits are. Although maintained with a solemn air of duty, this insouciance is sometimes received by others as a sign of my simply not caring, and if you receive it in that way you will likely wish to criticize me, now, for finally caring when it comes to the citizens of Kyiv or Mariupol, but not of, say, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen.

More here.