A personal reflection on Whiteness disguised as a book review

A few months ago, I saw a TikTok video recommending a book to well-meaning White¹ people. As a well-meaning person who understood that I was perceived as White even if I did not want to identify this way, this was a natural recommendation for me.

The book was The History of White People by historian Nell Irvin Painter. I hadn’t heard of it in the recent rush of books highlighting Blackness and Whiteness in America, and that seeming obscurity appealed to me. Ever the lover of forbidden and forgotten knowledge, I am actively drawn to information that exists on the…

An hour of menial-metaphysical labor

This last week warmed up and melted the snow in my yard, revealing a layer of dead grass, dried mud (which is not to be confused with simple dirt), and, of course, whatever my dog had left behind over the course of the winter. Which meant that before I could clean up the sandbox, set up the chiminea or bring out the lawn chairs, there was only one task that stood before me: manual removal of three months’ worth of poop.

Let’s face it. Picking up after your dog isn’t fun when you’re only dealing with one event; when it’s…

Originally written March 11, 2020

I awoke today to another cavalcade of fearful news about novel coronavirus, its effects on the “market,” and the increasing isolation people are fearfully imposing on themselves. My little internet device, my window to the world, carries grim and fearful news indeed.

What is fear but a suspicion and a terror that there are things left undone, that your happiness is tied inexorably to your circumstances and not to your spirit, that the acorns we’ve laid up for Winter are not a guarantee that we will see the Spring?

It is wise to be prepared, but our preparations mustn’t be…

Years ago, in one of my philosophy classes at Boston University, I encountered an idea whose immense impact still moves me to this day.

The topic of the class was American philosophy, and it focused in part on a group of men who were associated with Harvard University in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and whose writings and ideas have come to be considered to represent “Classical American Philosophy.” The philosophers covered in this class were, among others, John Dewey, Josiah Royce, Charles Peirce, William James, and a man named George Santayana.

Unusually, Santayana was not an American…

It’s a cruel irony for us luddites and backwards-looking romantics that the modern phone has become so efficient.

When I was younger, and not much younger, there was a time that I would pack a bag with an actual honest-to-gods camera, a notebook, pens and pencils, a CD player, and a book or two before going on a long walk. I didn’t know what I’d end up doing in the beautiful places I’d inevitably sit down, so I liked my options open. Beautiful clouds over the city? Pulled out the camera. A poetic line comes to mind while contemplating the…

New England Sage | Peter August

Our day-to-day lives have become disenchanted. I want to help people recover the everyday wonder, awe, and enchantment they want and deserve.

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