Stunning piece as always! Your discussion on "individual vs society" made me think about Iris Murdoch's work, which I read recently. In particular your words about seeking individual gain at the cost of the broader environment made me think of this passage from her book:

"What we have never had, of course, is a satisfactory Liberal theory of personality, a theory of man as free and separate and related to a rich and complicated world from which, as a moral being, he has much to learn. We have bought the Liberal theory as it stands, because we have wished to encourage people to think of themselves as free, at the cost of surrendering the background."

I too feel that at some point the notion of freedom will find itself encapsulated in a messy web of contradiction between objective/scientific reality and the individual machine of self-desire. I think we need a globally unified vocabulary to capture that contradiction or paradox that there is no 'real freedom' without a broader appreciation of the complex causal chains our actions have on the world.

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Feb 1, 2022·edited Feb 1, 2022Liked by Antonia Malchik

>>"I keep meaning to write about light, about sunlight and darkness and what it feels like to watch the sky slowly lighten as the planet turns for a couple of hours, to watch Sirius move from high in the sky to behind a neighbor’s larch tree until the sky is day-bright, and to watch it slowly darken long after the sun has set."


(Kathleen Jamie's essay on the sacred, welcoming darkness of Orkney was one of those "I still want to be writer but I'll never be a writer like THIS" moments for me: https://www.theguardian.com/books/lrb/articles/0,,1124890,00.html)

Also - would you say your creative writing brain is also tethered to the light? If so - how do you manage this? Do you manage it, or does it just kind of happen? If you don't already, could you maybe tether a daily writing routine or prompt to that light? When is the time the light will help you most to write about light?

(A thing I've always liked about the idea of writing to the light: because of changing daylight hours, it's a seasonal creative cycle, building to a crescendo in the summer. Feels a bit like a training routine, with the longest day of summer as the target for bringing it all together.)

Also, I would love to read a long deep dive into "freedom," that word being thrown around so flippantly and self-righteously these last few years, so selfishly. 'Freedom From' vs 'Freedom To' sounds like a brilliant place to start. As you say, somehow freedom now means "the right to do what I feel like" for so many people, and if that's not a complete misreading of the purpose of societal freedoms I don't know what is...

So, I'd love to read it by you, at Aeon.

I know, I know. (I'm just being a pest.)

Regarding NFTs, I share your feelings. I'm trying to keep an open mind on this issue as so many tech-industry friends keep telling me that in *principle* they're amazing for creators of all kinds, even if in *practice* right now they're a sack of...something unpleasant. One question I can't get out of my head: does anyone buy NFTs because they genuinely like and enjoy them as a thing in themselves? Because if the answer is "haha no," isn't that a colossal alarm-bell as to the real worth of them beyond the stock-market-gambling side of things?

I could go on. But for 2022, I promised to limit each of my comments to less than 10,000 words. So, fin.

ps. That top photo is completely gorgeous, and reminds me so hard of my favourite videogame:


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Jan 26, 2022Liked by Antonia Malchik

What a wonderful and delightful column! Loved the Freedom From vs Freedom To thoughts, and the implications, esp how personal responsibility seems to have morphed into doing whatever one's wants. And it's an eternal struggle, only conversations/discussions/engagement can find a balance in each situation. And not sure we can artfully do those discussion today.

Love the pics! A great time of year for light, as the sun stays lower in the horizon. Did not realize you have night skiing (assume you mean at a lift served area?), we have 2 areas I am aware of that have it. Too cold for me :-).

tnx for Scott's article on NFTs, and Roberts' quote is so good about the long view. You are probably aware of: https://longnow.org/clock/

I love Math too - was math major back in the Stone Ages. Thanks for that link.

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My goodness, those photos. I love the changing light too. I am up early enough every day to see it arrive, change the view both east and west, in all kinds of weather. I'm generally there for the sunset too, and it occurs to me for all my talk of it, I need to do a better job of making sure I DO see both events, every day. They are glorious.

I never thought of it before but you are right: "at some point the desire to damage the commons for profit or other kind of personal gain—or just because you feel like doing something and don’t want to be restricted—at some point requires science denial." Anyone with any respect for science and "resources" can't possibly believe we are dealing with a planet that offers infinite abundance. One can argue that our ancestors didn't understand that so well, but today? Or even over the last century or so? It is a callousness and disregard for the future that I simply can't get my head around.

I will say I enjoy taking my morning coffee with your thoughts, my dear friend.

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