What I'm doing here

Dear readers,

I seem to have migrated my writing to Substack. It’s given me a chance to rethink what I write and how much of it to share. For years now my output has been mostly longer essays, usually carefully considered over a period of weeks or months. I’m going to try something different here and open the floodgates wider, at the risk of a bit of silt and foam following the water through the sluices.

That means that if you stay subscribed here, you’ll likely be getting 1-2 communications per week. Beyond essays, I’ll share short reflections, vignettes, addenda to essays and discussions of reactions, transcripts of interviews, excerpts from particularly interesting correspondence, comments on things I’ve read, humor and satire, ruminations on song lyrics, and perhaps bits of fictional or allegorical stories I compose. Much of the above may deviate from my usual focus on public affairs. They may sometimes be more personal.

In the last couple weeks of intense controversy, I’ve had many hours and days of intense self-searching in which I put everything on the table, including retiring from being a public intellectual entirely. That role necessarily involves receiving harsh criticism. I’m not asking for sympathy here; criticism is part of the job description, and there are much worse things in life than being called names. My problem has been that because some of it may be justified, I let too much in. Once inside, it allies with the voices of old unhealed trauma to convict me of all manner of unpardonable offenses. And then I go into a tailspin.

A saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. So I thought about leaving public life, changing careers. How nice it would be to learn to draw and do other things that I’m really bad at.

Meta comment: This right now is the kind of writing I neglect when I get caught up in the public issues of our time. I will continue to write about them, but not exclusively. There’s always something big and important to do instead of enjoying the gift of life. And then one day life is over. Will I wonder where it all went and whether I truly lived it? In my day-to-day life I’m cultivating a new habit – attending to the precious gifts of life – and I intend to reflect it in my choice of writing topics. “Life has so much to offer,” my dear departed mother said in her terminal months. Yeah, I think I will write about that kind of thing too. More raw, less crafted, from the heart.

So, after extensive consultations with my dog, Inka, I have decided to stay in the kitchen. I still am going to learn to draw though.

If you do not want 1-2 compositions from me in your inbox every week, and would rather not sort through the playful, silly, uncrafted, and amateur pieces in between serious essays, then consider unsubscribing from this Substack (button below). You will remain on my original newsletter through my website, through which I will continue to announce major offerings.

You will notice on my Substack page there is the option to become a paid subscriber at $7 a month or $70 a year. The paid subscription comes with zero additional benefits. It is just for those who want to give extra encouragement and support me, my family, my work, my yacht club membership, my butler’s salary, and new racing flames on my 2005 Prius. Paid subscriber or free, you have equal access to all content. If you want to pay less or more than the (rather arbitrary) $7/mo, you can go to the donation page on my website.

Thanks to new subscribers and old for joining me here in exploring something new.

Charles