Twenty years a-growing on CT

by Maria on July 8, 2023

Wow. Twenty years. I’ve recently (perhaps not so recently) aged into the demographic who recall events from twenty years back, even though those events occurred in an already reasonably established professional life. That still seems wild to me. I learnt quickly that saying things to the youth like ‘Well, I’m old’ doesn’t yield reassuring denials. The states you think of as temporary and contingent turn out to be long phases of life or even permanent conditions. And it’s good. It’s all good, really. Given the alternative. Mostly I feel guilty about Crooked Timber, about not writing often enough and not figuring a way to be less essay-ish and highstrung about it. Also about giving so much of my time and thoughts away to billionaire trashfire content-farms. But a twenty-year anniversary is a moment to go, wow, this thing lasted, and what a bunch of people to have seen out those years alongside, both fellow writers and commenters. I’m perennially grateful to my fellow bloggers who keep CT going, especially Chris, whose Sunday photo is occasionally the only post all week. And I feel bad for not getting to know our new bloggers well. I hope time will fix that! But especially, I really, really, really miss our friends who don’t blog here any more. Reading their pieces made me feel part of a gorgeous collective, a joint endeavour. Also, they’re great humans with interesting things to say. But change is inevitable and we’re incredibly lucky to have found people who want to keep doing this thing going. [click to continue…]

Debt: 4,102 days later

by Henry Farrell on July 8, 2023

As Chris suggests, one of the most memorable disasters at Crooked Timber was the seminar on David Graeber’s book, Debt. Timothy Burke described it at the time as conveying:

that feeling of grad school as Hobbesean nightmare, of small arguments quickly and casually intensified into thermonuclear exchanges, losing all potentially meaningful disagreements along the way.

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Twenty years and a few months ago Chris asked me to join a group of bloggers who were going to create a group blog so as to reduce the pressure on each to post frequently and combine audiences.

First I asked him what a blog was.
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I did something both awesome and ill-timed. Well, first I should back up and remind you of something I told you before at some nebulous time in the past, and that is that I am an immersive daydreamer. I said that I was a maladaptive daydreamer but I didn’t even think that was right, because I was just having a great time. I have spent countless hours—wait, no, first I should back up further and say, remember the Belle Waring Unified Theory of American Political Life: Fuck You, It’s Racism Again? Looking pretty prescient now, hmm, isn’t it?

Plain People of Crooked Timber: Lovely to see you and everything, Belle, but haranguing us about racism with ever-more-extravagant uses of profanity is not actually the thing we miss about you.
Me: That’s hard cheese, brother.

Getting back to the plot, I have spent my life making up thrilling stories for an audience of one, usually; of two, for my brother starting when I was six and he three, and going up until I was thirteen and called it off, to his agony; of three, when I played “talking games” with the girls, the last round played when my elder was nineteen. My brother and I just called it “talking,” but with a significant accent, and it may have saved my life. We lived in Georgetown in D.C., in a narrow brick house. I was upstairs in my brother’s room having a sleepover so we could “talk,” for what would be the very last time, when someone broke in through the basement door into the room where I would have been sleeping. The fact that the man [makes unfair sexist generalization about burglary] was an idiot who only stole a lot of Indian-head nickels and was then scared away by the cockatiel is not evidence that he might not have hurt me, because people who commit that crime are desperate, violent morons.
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The wheel turns

by John Q on July 8, 2023

Not quite 20 years ago, I got an invitation to spend a week as a visiting blogger at an exciting new group blog called Crooked Timber. In the manner of the most catastrophic house guests, I managed to turn that into permanent residence.
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