Thoughts on American Economy. I wash my own shirts and rub and rub, leaning over the wash-stand or the bathtub and dirt wont come off—an off-white, off-blue, off-tan line remains along the collar and the cuffs, and my back hurts and my shoulder blades hurt, and my time passes without writing or reading. I wonder whether it would not pay to give them to the laundryman whom I have no reason to trust because he must use bleachings: he can't pay for this kind of loving treatment given each individual shirt; he either burns them clean on premises or sends them out for miles and miles, through hundreds of traffic lights in a blue truck, to be treated like humans in the great nazi state, then sends them back to me, ironed out of existence, almost changed into monuments of marble or clay. Is that the way to treat free men: put them in uniform, the uniform of resignation to this kind of economy? And they still call it division of labor and pretend it is so divided only according to skill: they know best, in their limited field, and they limit it knowingly for the purpose of excellence alone. Oh no. And they mark them, like political prisoners again: they murder cotton as they murder silk, they tear the fabric to drive steel claws into it bearing the markings that will help the police find me if I should learn this lesson and treat other people's property as they treat mine, or if, driven to despair, I should relieve another human being of a life that for me has lost all meaning. No, oh no and once more no. If economy deals with human Goods, my shirts are too good to be treated that way, I am too good to be left all alone and told: stuff your mouth full with daily cotton (bread?) and shut up.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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