The eternal 1993

Today's culture war looks an awful lot like one we had three decades ago.

Welcome, new subscribers! The mailing list for this newsletter got a nice bump following the publication of my Commonweal essay, “Drinking Alone.” The newsletter currently goes out once a month and features updates on what I’m publishing, where I’m speaking, and what I’m thinking about. As you know, it’s free. Please tell your friends. And please drag and drop this message to your “Primary” email tab (if you’re using Gmail), so it won’t get lost in the spam folder. If you want to know more about my work, please visit my website, jonmalesic.com. My big project is a book on occupational burnout, which will be published sometime next year by University of California Press.

Thank you, continuing subscribers, for sticking with me for so long.

Quick announcements: There was more interest in my summer online Spiritual Nonfiction class than we could accommodate, so I will be offering it again through Writing Workshops Dallas, beginning August 31. For more information and to register, click here.

Also, I am a guest on today’s broadcast of “The Attitude” radio show, hosted by Arnie Arnesen, at noon Eastern. You can listen at the WNHN website. Arnie and I spoke about Rust Belt culture, burnout, and what the two things have to do with each other. An archive of the show will be posted at https://www.wnhnfm.org/category/attitude-3/.


As you may be aware, we have a culture war going on within our institutions concerning identity, speech, and what social justice demands of us. This past month the battles were waged in open letters, counter-letters, and multiple levels of metacommentary on the letters. I will confess to having read way more about this debate than was good for me. If you missed it, then I envy you. I won’t rehash it here.

When I wasn’t reading about open letters, though, I was reading Wendy Kaminer’s 1996 essay collection, True Love Waits. Kaminer, now in her 70s, signed the open letter on speech and justice that was published in Harper’s last month. In the 1980s and 1990s, she was writing cover stories for the Atlantic about debates within feminism. She was, at the time, considered a “contrarian,” confounding the ordinary battle lines. As she jokes in the volume’s introduction, “I have always believed in complaining, and in one view, that makes me a liberal. But I complain only in private, to friends and relations, not to the public at large, and maybe that makes me a conservative.”

Kaminer was dismayed that a growing segment of feminists seemed to value “protectivism” more than they valued equal rights. That is, feminist figures from Carol Gilligan (whose 1982 book, In a Different Voice, articulated a feminist ethic of care) to the anti-pornography activists Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, argued that women needed a protected sphere within law and culture. To Kaminer, these disparate thinkers, along with the burgeoning talk-show self-help industry, wanted to preserve femininity more than promote equality.

(In some ways, the 1990s debates echoed the 1970s debates over the Equal Rights Amendment, so brilliantly dramatized in the FX miniseries, “Mrs. America.”)

Kaminer thought the protectivists had an overblown view of women as victims of predatory patriarchy. She also criticized their suggestion that femininity made women inherently more moral than men. She thought they were making a mistake in calling for limits on First Amendment rights, arguing that once you curtail one right, you invariably give up other ones. All of these concerns are back. The principles that were debated within (white) feminism in the 90s are up for discussion today within the broader liberal-to-left political spectrum.

As a result, much of Kaminer’s writing seems uncannily topical right now. For instance, here’s a passage from a 1993 essay:

This exaggerated fear of images and ideas we don’t like, this tendency to imbue them with magical power reflects, in part, a pervasive sense of victimization shared today by even the most privileged. “Women aren’t free. Women don’t have First Amendment rights,” a Harvard undergraduate once told me. When a Harvard student tells you she is oppressed, you know you have stepped through the looking glass.

Kaminer laments the lack of nuance in public discourse, distorted by writers’ economic incentive to build a following through personal branding. “What is most marketable is is absolutism and attitude undiluted by thought,” Kaminer writes, citing Camille Paglia as an example. Or, as she also wrote in 1993:

Today the concept of a feminist movement is considered to have commercial viability once again. The challenge is to make public debates about feminist issues as informed as they are intense.

Leigh Stein’s hilarious new novel, Self Care is about that exact same challenge in the era of Trump (which is to say, the era of social media). For a few days last month, I was alternating an essay of True Love Waits with a chapter of Self Care. I found remarkable resonances between the books. In Stein’s novel, the founders of a social media platform for women (think Goop meets Instagram) are great at turning likes into venture capital but ultimately cannot control the discourse on their site, which devolves according to a pattern that will be familiar to anyone who has been online recently.

We are often led to believe that the internet has changed everything, that life before 2005 or so was Ye Olden Tymes, essentially the same as the 1950s or the 950s or the 50s.

No: the internet has changed nothing. At least not in our fundamental intellectual situation. We are having some of the exact same debates we had before the internet. Only the vocabulary has changed, and it really hasn’t changed that much. It’s true that there is more attention now paid to the role of race in society, culture, and law, but the way we talk about race still falls into the basic protectivism vs. equality framework Kaminer identified within feminism.

Indeed, Kaminer wrote, again in 1993, “Nearly thirty years after the passage of landmark federal civil rights laws, we still have no consensus on the relationship of individual rights to social justice.” And nearly thirty years after that — we still don’t.

Why is that? Why have we not only failed to resolve these debates but failed even to change the way we debate them? Is it because the intellectual architecture of the debate is simply fixed, just as that architecture always seems also to force debate between, say, realism and idealism? Or is it because we live in an exhausted, decadent culture that can’t imagine progress and just wants to re-tell its old stories, as Ross Douthat argues? I fear that I know the answer.

The philosopher Richard Rorty said that when you find yourself going around and around the same debates, it’s time to radically change the terms. I don’t know what new, more pragmatic terms will help us find consensus on the relationship between individual rights and social justice. But we desperately need some.

Links and recommendations:

My friend Anne Gray Fischer wrote an eye-opening essay on the history of sexual violence perpetrated by police for Boston Review.

Agnes Callard drew an important distinction between literal speech and “messaging” to help answer the question, “Should We Cancel Aristotle?

L.M. Sacasas, writing in his always-thoughtful newsletter, “The Convivial Society,” re-examined James Davison Hunter’s 1991 book, Culture Wars, with an eye toward illuminating present conditions.

Meghan Daum has a new podcast, “The Unspeakable.” This week her guest was Leigh Stein. Great conversation about Self Care and much more.

I was in despair over Twitter discourse recently, but then I watched this discussion of George Scialabba’s new book, How to Be Depressed. It’s a lovely example of the ideal of conversation. It renewed my belief that the intellectual life was still possible. It also strengthened my belief that serious, nuanced discussion is only possible with intimacy.

Again, my Spiritual Nonfiction class begins August 31. More information is here. And while I know budgets are tight in colleges, universities, and religious organizations right now, I am still available to speak via Zoom about burnout and many other topics. I have spoken a few times about “Burnout and the Academic Vocation” at colleges and universities and would love to talk with you about how I could bring my expertise on burnout to your organization.

If you like what you read here, please share it by clicking the “Share” button at the bottom of the message. Believe it or not, that’s one of the best ways you can support my work. And as always, thanks for reading.

Jon

My new essay on social class, drinking culture, and (not) fitting in as an academic in a small Rust Belt city

"Our economic system depletes communities, and you can gain wealth and status within it if you’re willing to pull up your own roots again and again ... while others, more firmly planted, wither."

I have a new essay called “Drinking Alone” in the current issue of Commonweal magazine. It’s hard for me to say concisely what the piece is about, because it’s really about my entire 30s, and the economic devastation in cities like Wilkes-Barre, PA, where I lived during that time, and it’s about strange drinking customs, and it’s about how people form insider/outsider distinctions through those drinking customs and in response to economic devastation.

Basically, I lived in Wilkes-Barre for 11 years, a cosmopolitan outsider in a decidedly not-cosmopolitan area, and I never felt like I fit in, and all the while, I drank. By myself, with friends, with strangers. I sought community, but I never quite found it beyond my fellow-cosmopolitan coworkers at the college where I taught. And meanwhile, the working-class culture of the city was crumbling, and its residents were drinking themselves to death. I want to believe in the possibility of solidarity between people like me, who move all the time for work, and people who never dream of living beyond Wilkes-Barre. But I found that such solidarity is nearly impossible to put in practice. What would be the medium for it?

Here’s the opening scene of the essay:

One night in August 2005, just after I’d moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, for a job as a theology professor, I needed beer. To get to the distributor, I drove over a concrete bridge, its four pylons etched with words like “Perseverance” and “Industry” and topped by monumental eagles. Once there, I wandered through the pallets of warm cases trying to find a thirty-pack of PBR until the thin, gruff man behind the counter asked what I was looking for. I told him, he pointed to the right pallet, and I met him at the register.

He asked for ID, and I showed him my Virginia license. He looked me in the eye. “I figured you had to be out of state,” he said as he handed it back. “The young people around here don’t drink Pabst.” I told him they did in Virginia. I didn’t tell him it was because hipsters fetishized white working-class culture. I mentioned instead that I’d just moved here. “Oh yeah? For good?” “Yeah.” “That’s too bad. You should go back. Welcome to one of the worst drug havens in the country.”

I told him I’d heard of the local drug problem. He then expanded upon his point, and began riffing on racist and misogynist themes. He told me there was no nightlife in town because the cops were always out waiting to nab you after you left the bar and tried to drive home. I stood impassively at the counter, hoping his rant would burn out if I didn’t feed it with dialogue. “And the people!” he continued. “Some of the most ignorant, idiotic people anywhere. They’re petty and vindictive, and they got no personality!” When I said I’d just gotten a job teaching at a local college, he told me to stay one semester, then get out. He was getting out, he said. “I might not be here next time you come in. I’m going to Arkansas.” At that, I bid him goodnight, threw my beer in the trunk, and went home.

The next time I came back, weeks or months later, he was still there.

This essay was in the works for quite a long time. In one sense, I began it fifteen years ago, soon after I arrived in Wilkes-Barre and wrote an email to a friend that ended up becoming the beer-store scene. But I didn’t think of writing this as an essay until I was in a writing workshop led by Anne Helen Petersen in 2017, and she assigned us to write a scene based on our expertise. I said my expertise was drinking in bars in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. So I wrote a scene that ended up in the middle of the essay. The following year, I was in another workshop, this one led by Meghan O’Gieblyn, where I researched and drafted the whole thing. Then there was a long period of revision and figuring out where to try to publish it. Early this year, I realized it was a Commonweal essay all along. I’m grateful that the magazine agreed.

I have received a lot of positive feedback on the piece so far. What might be most gratifying is hearing from former students of mine and others who grew up in Wilkes-Barre saying the piece put to words things they had thought about the region where they grew up. Still, I fear it’s only a matter of time before I get some negative feedback. Meghan Daum tells writers, “No one will love you if someone doesn’t hate you.” What I think she means is, readers respond to writing in which something is at stake. And you know something is at stake when you can imagine someone emailing you an angry response. (Sometimes you don’t even have to imagine!) In writing this essay, I could easily picture the angry email-writer, someone from Wilkes-Barre who thinks I emphasized the negative too much, or who thinks I’m just some out-of-town jerk who never gave the place a chance, or who thinks I’m an elitist looking down on struggling people and therefore I’m the reason Trump won. (I managed to write 4,500 words on Wilkes-Barre without mentioning Trump at all! Surely this is a new record.)

I can also imagine people I used to work with being hurt by some of what I said. Some of the things I wrote were hard to write, both intellectually and emotionally. I think that’s because there is so much suffering in Wilkes-Barre, and some of it is self-inflicted, and there is no obvious way to heal it. Still, many people are doing their best to heal it. My former colleagues are among them. I am somewhat awed by the work they do, because it is hard, and it is often thankless. Ultimately, it was too hard for me, and I burned out and quit. They keep going.


The entire current issue of Commonweal is outstanding. There is a series of articles on George Floyd’s murder, the ensuing protests, and racial justice from a Catholic perspective. In addition, the three feature essays — Tara Isabella Burton’s “Bad Traditionalism,” Matthew Sitman’s “Muddling Through,” and mine — resonate with each other in remarkable ways. Matt’s is a book-review-turned-personal-essay on clinical depression, politics, and how we often need others — just their mere presence — to help us get out of bed some mornings. Burton’s is about her dalliance with traditionalist Catholicism, which coincided with an engagement she ultimately broke off, and how her friends became the community, the Body of Christ, that she needed to reorient her life.

Burton writes that she embraced traditionalism as a refuge of meaning, against what she termed “our sclerotic liberal modernity.” Matt connects depression to the precarious position our economy puts so many people in. And I see the economic devastation of places like Wilkes-Barre as creating a deep sickness of spirit, in which drinking alcohol according to longstanding working-class customs is a collective coping mechanism and a defense against the predatory world beyond the Wyoming Valley. It seems we’re all saying something is deeply wrong in our society, something that long predates the pandemic, but which surely has exacerbated the pandemic’s toll. Economic and political and romantic and professional and social and spiritual life are all braided together, such that you could claim that a problem in any one area is a consequence of the problem in any other. But in fact, they are all the same problem, and they all admit of the same solution: seeing the irreducible human dignity in each other. I failed at that when I lived in Wilkes-Barre, and maybe Wilkes-Barre failed, too. But I have hope, because the people around Matt and Tara managed to succeed.

I of course read these pieces separately online, but I cannot wait to see them all together in print. The connections among them remind me that a print magazine is more than the sum of its parts. You will read Burton’s essay differently after you’ve read Matt’s. Commonweal is running a subscription special right now, $9.95 for your first year. Please consider subscribing.

Book update

I submitted a full draft of my book on burnout to University of California Press at the end of May. It’s now in the hands of readers who will offer a critique that will guide my revisions. If all goes well, the book should be out sometime in the middle of next year. Over the past seven weeks I have barely thought about the book at all. Lots of other things have been going on in my life and, you know, in the world during that time. I have needed the break from thinking about burnout. (I also needed a month’s break from this newsletter.)

But now I’m itching for other stuff to write about. I have a long list of articles I’d like to do, and I probably ought to give at least some thought to pieces I can publish around the time the book comes out. I am also teaching a spiritual nonfiction class through Writing Workshops Dallas. So there’s plenty to do, yet I also find I’m still a bit worn out from all the work on the book, plus, you know, everything that’s happening in the world.

All of this is to say: Don’t expect much new published writing from me for a while. I will keep posting this newsletter, probably monthly. I’m grateful for your interest in my work. You help keep me going.

Jon

A big step for my burnout book

I'm so close to sending off a draft of my burnout book, I'm teaching an online class I'd love you to take, and I have some book recommendations.

I’m very, very close to sending a complete draft of my burnout book to the publisher, University of California Press. Next to me is a stack of printed-out chapters, which I am currently marking up. It’s starting to feel like a book. It was just a year ago that I signed the contract for this project. I hoped I would be able to write the manuscript in 12 months; it seemed ambitious. In writing, there may be some benefit to setting goals that seem like a stretch. One thing it does is make you feel like you really need to lean on generous friends and readers to help keep you on track.

The book’s title on my contract is Drained: Why the Burnout Epidemic Keeps Us from Flourishing and How Compassion Can Cure It, but I have been calling it Burnout Culture in my head, to reflect the way I’m looking at burnout as a pervasive cultural phenomenon. (In all likelihood, its actual title will be something different altogether.)

To address all the ways our culture causes us to burn out at work, I had to do a bunch of different kinds of writing, often well outside my comfort zone of armchair pontificating. There is history and science writing in the book, philosophy and cultural analysis, immersive reporting and memoir. The book is, in a sense, my answer to the question, Why did I burn out and quit my dream job as a tenured college professor? If I hadn’t burned out, I of course would not have written it, but I also could never have written a book like this if I had remained in academia. I never would have developed the skills I needed to write it, and I would not have felt like I was allowed to.

We’re probably still a year away from publication, so don’t get too excited just yet. But it feels good to know that the heaviest lifting is done.


I will be teaching an online class in spiritual nonfiction beginning in June through Writing Workshops Dallas. More info is here. Here’s a description:

Writing nonfiction about spirituality, whether your own or other people’s, is so rewarding because it is so challenging. It demands that the writer tell the truth about something elusive and often invisible that nevertheless motivates consequential human actions. But like other nonfiction genres, it rests on a foundation of characters, scenes, and the archives of memory, interviews, objects, and written texts. Whether you are religious or spiritual or neither, this class will help you meet the challenge and write more incisive, more inspiring, and more beautiful essays about religious lives.

Each week, we will analyze classic and contemporary spiritual nonfiction from St. Augustine to Meghan O’Gieblyn, to see how the best writers in this genre deal with self-representation, conflict, structure, and other elements of narrative nonfiction. We will also discuss works of craft and criticism to guide the process of writing your own essays. And, most important, we will practice workshop norms of respectful dialog and critique, with the aim of making everyone’s work better through revision. You will have the opportunity to workshop and get instructor feedback on two pieces, up to 4,000 words each. This class is open to beginning students and more experienced writers alike.

It would be wonderful to have you in this class! Again, info and registration is here. If you have questions, please just reply to this message.


I want to tell you about three new, and quite different, books by friends of mine.

The first one is by someone who’s more than just a friend: Love and Depth in the American Novel, by my wife, Ashley C. Barnes. It’s a work of literary criticism that focuses on the love story in later nineteenth-century American fiction, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Henry James. But it’s also about falling in love with literature, and with other people, through attention to the world around them. If that interests you, you can order the book at the publisher’s website (and get 30% off with code 10READ). Here’s an essay Ashley wrote a few years ago on a topic related to the book: sentimentality and the movie 12 Years a Slave. Ashley is truly brilliant, and I have seen her working on this book over many years and from coast to coast. I’m really proud of her!

Next is The Museum of Whales You Will Never See, by my friend and fellow Dallas nonfiction writer, A. Kendra Greene. I promise you have never read a book like this one, which is a series of essays on tiny, idiosyncratic museums in Iceland. (There are 265 museums in Iceland, a country of just 330,000 people.) For a sense of what Kendra is up to, you might read her essay on the Icelandic Phallological Museum that did not make it into the book. The essay, “Upright Members in Good Standing,” is about collecting specimens of penises, and getting rid of one. Kendra is an uncommonly good reader of her own work; she read the audio version of The Museum of Whales You Will Never See. She’s also an accomplished artist, and she did the illustrations. So maybe get both the print and audio versions?

And finally, my friend Elizabeth Barbour, who is a life coach in the Houston area, has just released a short e-book, Smart Self-Care for Busy Women, which is especially relevant at this moment of mass quarantine, when (if you are a busy woman) you perhaps still have to do your regular job while also doing a job you never signed up for: full-time teacher to your children. Elizabeth has a terrific knack for getting across her insights through brief, well-crafted anecdotes. Check her book out!

If you enjoy getting these (currently irregular) messages from me, please share them with others by clicking the red “Share” button below. And thank you for reading!

Jon

Burnout and vocation

How a brilliant new essay helped me make sense of my post-burnout career.

I have two things to share with you today. First is an article I wrote for The New Republic, “Imagining a Better Life After the Coronavirus,” which is based on the surprising answers I got to my question if anyone found that their life was better under quarantine. If you missed it when it came out last week, here it is. I was surprised to have gotten the response I did to that question, and I was equally surprised to see that people actually liked the essay! (I was afraid it would come across as whistling past a graveyard.) The most pleasant surprise came when a friend I hadn’t been in touch with in a few years called — called! — out of blue to say it gave her some hope. I invite you to read it and then call someone who matters to you.

The other thing is an essay in Aeon by Chad Wellmon, who teaches German and history at U.Va., about the sociologist Max Weber’s vision of the intellectual vocation. The essay made so much fall into place for me, not only as someone who thinks about Weber pretty much every day but, more important, as someone who is trying to pursue a vocation to “the life of the mind” outside the university.

Wellmon focuses on Weber’s 1917 lecture, “The Scholar’s Work,” more commonly known as “Science as a Vocation.” (Wellmon co-edited a new edition of this and Weber’s other “vocation lecture,” “Politics as a Vocation.”) In “The Scholar’s Work,” Weber surveys the sorry state of working conditions in German academia and tries to determine what a vocation to intellectual life, for both scholars and students, could possibly look like in those conditions.

As Wellmon writes, Weber

understood that disciplinary scholarship as practised in modern universities was one of many possible ways of leading an intellectual life. It was an all-too-common ‘vanity’, he told the audience, to imagine that the businessman or the artist didn’t also engage in their own forms of intellectual work….

The most urgent questions concerned the forms for conducting a life and the character, habits and virtues that might sustain them. Intellectual work was spiritual work. Anyone seeking to craft a meaningful life engages in it. It is a task for all those who live in a disenchanted world in which meaning is not something that inheres in the world itself or that a job can simply provide, but rather is something to be asserted and made (and contested) by and among humans themselves.

I have thought often of “Science as a Vocation” ever since I first read it more than a decade ago. I always found a strange kind of comfort in knowing that university hiring practices have been unfair and soul-destroying for more than a century:

When young students come to me to seek advice about qualifying as a lecturer, [I ask them:] Do you believe that you can bear to see one mediocrity after another being promoted over your head year after year, without your becoming embittered and warped? Needless to say, you always receive the same answer: of course, I live only for my ‘vocation’—but I, at least, have found only a handful of people who have survived this process without injury to their personality.

Despite miserable conditions, these scholars kept working for the sake of their vocation. When I first read “injury to their personality,” while I was still more or less happily teaching full-time, I just thought it meant the scholar might become eccentric or embittered, a crusty old professor. Now, of course, I read it in light of burnout. I pursued my vocation within the university until I realized just how much doing so had injured my personality.

The thing is, even though I don’t have a full-time, tenured academic job anymore, I do still have the vocation. Weber went through a similar crisis. Around 1900, he underwent a cycle of intense work followed by “nervous exhaustion,” followed by an extended period of rest (like, up to two years), a return to work, and another breakdown. He finally had to resign his position, but he did not stop doing research and writing. In fact, he wrote his best-known work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, soon after he quit full-time teaching.

When I was teaching full-time, I took inspiration from Weber’s claim in “Science as a Vocation” that a teacher’s task is to help his or her students to “render an account of the ultimate meaning of [their] own actions.” Every person needs to render such an account; that’s the human vocation. But none of us can do it without others’ help. We need parents and teachers and neighbors and scholars and writers to help us. As a teacher, and now as a writer, my task is to help other people give such an account. That’s why I do what I do. And I offer all thanks to Wellmon, and to Weber, for helping me finally put words to that.

(I also recently read this profile of Fred Moten, the radical poet and philosopher, which also engages with how the vocation to what Moten calls “study” is distinct from the life of the university.")

If you enjoyed what you read here, please pass it along to others by clicking the red “Share” button below and, from there, forwarding the message or posting a link to social media. Please encourage others to subscribe; that’s one of the simplest and best ways you can support my work. I am aiming to post these newsletters monthly while I finish a draft of my book on burnout. Expect the next one in early May. And thank you for reading.

Jon

My essay on regret is now free to read!

You know you need 15 minutes' escape from everything; why not read about my regrets and contemplate the value of your own?

The good people at The Hedgehog Review have opened up their current issue to all readers, which means my essay on the value of regret, “Je Regrette Tout,” is now available to read and share. I hope you enjoy it.

I gather that the issue will be open for two weeks, so click while you can. There is a lot of good work in this issue, as always. I’ve already enjoyed Tara Isabella Burton on modern mythical monsters and Phil Christman on Richard Nixon.

By the way, Phil has a book coming out soon, Midwest Futures, that is going to be really good. I recommend his earlier Hedgehog essay, “On Being Midwestern.” If you like it (you will), you can order the book. (David Brooks gave the essay one of his end-of-year Sidney Awards in 2017.)

The current coronavirus shutdown of so much of our public lives has me thinking about how we might one day reorder our society around something other than paid employment. I’m thinking once again about Jonathan Lear’s excellent book, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation, which is about forging new moral values after a culture’s framework of meaning collapses. (It would make a great Kindle or audiobook read/listen right about now.) Lear writes about how our cultures are built on little more than the wish that they are valid: “It is as though, without our insistence that our outlook is correct, the outlook itself might collapse.”

I think we’re seeing how flimsy that insistence is. This moment feels terrible in a hundred different ways, and it is filled with legitimate fear, with suffering, and with death. For the most part, we don’t have a semblance of a common life right now (though I have been impressed by efforts to maintain social solidarity even amid isolation). But without so many ordinary obligations (and with the recognition that many people’s obligations have only grown in the last few weeks), the quarantine feels like a blank slate. Every routine is just gone. If ever there was a time to reorient society toward what we truly love, this is it.

I asked people on Twitter a taboo question: is anything about your life better now than it was, you know, before? I didn’t expect much of a response. I expected parents to say it was much worse. But I got a surprisingly large response, and many parents said they were glad to have extra time with their kids. (I know, I had to go back to Twitter, but it was worth it; the answers I got were illuminating.)

If you want to share any positive experiences with the quarantine, I’d love to hear them. I am planning to include some of these stories in my book, or possibly in a short article. If you want to be anonymous in any publication, that’s OK. (Several of you graciously responded to an earlier query I sent out about burnout more generally, and I have not replied. Don’t despair! I will be in touch soon.)

Here, once again, is the regret essay. For more on the possible collapse of the culture we have built around work, here is my previous Hedgehog essay, “When Work and Meaning Part Ways.” Thanks for reading.

Jon

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