Letters

Marriage, Continued

Dear Editors,

Issue Nine was a real barn-burner. Keep it up! And please keep the first person plural in the opening commentary — we are living in a dark age of technological isolation, and speaking collectively is a source of comfort and an act of resistance. I crave companionship and n+1 is good company, in no small part due to its reviving the “we.”

The Letters section was fascinating for the strong reactions to Mark Greif’s “On Repressive Sentimentalism” from Issue Eight. Greif now seems to regret his style, but is it not possible to express ambivalence about the impending triumph of gay marriage? There exists a noble utopian tradition of trying to imagine a world free of the tyranny of the family unit — where children are not owned by parents and sexual relations aren’t reduced to a form of prostitution. I don’t think I’m the only one who has attended parties in the Castro and thought, another world is possible; the gay community has expanded the boundaries of “family” into something more inclusive and humane, and we have much to learn from their example.

Any time civil rights are on the march is exciting, and we all felt the tingle when the court in Iowa ruled in favor of gay marriage. Every person of conscience loves to see the end of institutionalized discrimination. But when the institutions that are becoming more inclusive (marriage, the military) are also wreaking so much violence upon people, some of us are more circumspect about the depth of the victory.

— Bob Downing

More Babies for Octomom

Dear Editors,

I find Mark Greif’s writing about how to be human and in particular how to negotiate the demands of one’s body sustaining. When Greif writes about the darkness of wasting leisure on exercise and health, he voices things I feel deeply; when he writes about the necessity of abortion and IVF, he convinces me that he’s right. But when I think about these two strands together — one reveling in non-intervention and indeed ignoring one’s body in order to cultivate one’s mind, the other favoring extreme interventions that allow some escape from the body’s tyranny — the positions are inconsistent.

In particular, Greif seems to give greater weight to the unwanted events visited on women’s bodies (pregnancy, infertility) than to those tyrannical propensities of the body that are sex-neutral (disease, ugliness). I see that in both cases, his vision is to deemphasize physical demands so as to be more human, but what is essentially human about having babies only and precisely when one wants to through extreme medical intervention?

More from Issue 10

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

The MFA beast has at last been offered a look in the mirror, and may finally come to know itself as it is.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

Today it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism

Issue 10 Self-Improvement
Issue 10 Self-Improvement

The crack-up of the country’s wealthiest, most populous state has been long in the making.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement
Issue 10 Self-Improvement
Issue 10 Self-Improvement
Issue 10 Self-Improvement

Jonathan Franzen’s novel is a feeling-machine.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

The good people of America choose electric cars when given the chance.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

After my two years of war I’ve never been so free, I own nothing now, not even my real name

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

Now, Oates’s colleagues don’t just watch television. They write books about The Sopranos and teach courses on The Wire.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

We are always in search of fiction that is willing to meet the world as it is.

Issue 10 Self-Improvement

There’s no way around it: Commonwealth is an irritating book.

More by this Author

Issue 12 Conversion Experience

After a lifetime of crashing into fire doors I find the open corridoricity of Chicago a great freedom.

Issue 16 Double Bind

Art mostly expresses class and status hierarchies, and only secondarily might have snippets of aesthetic value.

January 8, 2016
Year in Review: 2015
Issue 25 Slow Burn

What’s missing isn’t the anti-imperialist Sanders. It’s the antiwar movement he was once part of, and which no longer exists.

Issue 23 As If

“Let’s face it,” the retired intelligence officer told Hersh. “We’re going to commit a murder.”

Issue 28 Half-Life