an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"The sliding doors of a supermarket open into a dilemma: Though one may find comfort in the grocery store’s order and abundance..."

"... its high stakes can also provoke anxiety—after all, this is the place where we trade hard-earned money for sustenance. 'Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip,' Don DeLillo’s narrator Jack Gladney observes in White Noise, commenting on the structure that supermarkets, with their rows of neatly ordered products, impose on his chaotic life. Thirty years later, Halle Butler’s protagonist in the novel Jillian enters a gourmet grocery store on a whim.... The prices are so out of her budget that she has to give herself a pep talk before buying anything. 'I mean, I work all the time,' she mutters. 'This is why I work, isn’t it? I’m a hard worker. I can buy this cheese. It’s just cheese, I guess.' But it’s not just cheese...."

Writes J. Howard Rosier in "The Indignity of Grocery Shopping/In her latest work to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux examines the malaise of the modern supermarket" (The Atlantic).

"In the latest of her books to be translated into English, Annie Ernaux, the 2022 Nobel laureate in literature, takes the big-box store as her subject.... Though she’s not without empathy, Ernaux is brutal in her appraisal of other customers.... Everyone has a place in the store, so long as they know their place in the store. Ernaux spotlights the considerations that people—especially those on the margins—make when engaging in the mundane, necessary action of grocery shopping... Contrasting a stray shopping list left in a cart with one’s own, as Ernaux does, might strike some simply as nosiness; but seeing oneself in another’s choices is radical in its quiet way...."


"For so long, they’ve been told things like ‘Oh, this is just emotional eating’ or ‘You’re out of control’ or ‘It’s because you have no willpower’ or ‘Gluttony’s a sin,’ or whatever these things are that people explain it away, without realizing that they have a treatable condition."

Said Cynthia Bulik, the founding director of the University of North Carolina’s Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, quoted in "The Most Common Eating Disorder in the U.S. Is Also the Least Understood/Binge eating disorder entered the diagnostic manual on mental health conditions 10 years ago. It’s still getting overlooked" (NYT).

"Binge eating disorder" only became an official disorder 10 years ago.  "At the time, the diagnosis was fairly controversial... Some thought that it was 'pathologizing normality'... and did not understand how it was different from ordinary overeating."

"The 18% of Americans who are satisfied with the state of the nation today is about half of the 35% historical average."

"Gallup has measured national satisfaction since 1979. The lowest reading was 7% in October 2008 during the height of the financial crisis. The high point was 71% in February 1999 during the dot-com boom and after the Senate acquitted President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial. Currently, 33% of Democrats, 18% of independents and 4% of Republicans are satisfied."
The question asked is: "In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?"

"Self-identified libertarians have always been tiny in number—a handful of economists, political activists, technologists, and true believers."

"But, in the decades after Ronald Reagan was elected President, they came to exert enormous political influence, in part because their prescription of prosperity through deregulation appeared to be working, and in part because they provided conservatism with a long-term agenda and a vision of a better future. To the usual right-wing mixture of social traditionalism and hierarchical nationalism, the libertarians had added an especially American sort of optimism: if the government would only step back and allow the market to organize society, we would truly flourish.... Had you written a history of the libertarian movement fifteen years ago, it would have been a tale of improbable success. A small cadre of intellectually intense oddballs who inhabited a Manhattanish atmosphere of late-night living-room debates and barbed book reviews had somehow managed to impose their beliefs on a political party, then the country.... Ever since the George W. Bush Administration, the libertarian movement, as such, has been disintegrating...."

Writes Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in "The Long Afterlife of Libertarianism/As a movement, it has imploded. As a credo, it’s here to stay" (The New Yorker).

Scientists are working on the use of ultrasound to induce a state of "torpor" — which may some day work on humans.

We are informed as if it's good news — "It’s something humans have long fantasized about for ourselves" — in "Ultrasound Pulses to Brain Send Mice Into a Hibernation-Like State/Experiments offer an intriguing hint at technology that could induce torpor in humans in the future" (NYT). 

We're reminded that "Science fiction writers tend to imagine a mysterious technology that keeps humans in stasis, able to survive centuries of silence before emerging into a new life."

No mention of the potential of ultrasound as a weapon here on good old Earth.

Have you ever fantasized about sound waves reducing you to a state of torpor?

"'Sybil' is part of a long American parade of books about psychologically distressed women, preceded in the 1960s by 'I Never Promised You a Rose Garden' and 'The Bell Jar'..."

"... followed in the 1990s — the cloak coming off — by the confessionals 'Girl, Interrupted' and 'Prozac Nation.' It haunted teenage girls (and surely some boys) from their bedroom shelves, with its distinctive covers of a face divided as if the shards of a broken mirror, or fractured into jigsaw-puzzle pieces.... The book is a historical curiosity and a cautionary tale of mass cultural delusion that makes one wonder what current voguish diagnoses — witness the 'TikTok tics' — might warrant closer interrogation...."

It was a remarkable story — and at this moment of Women’s Lib and changing gender roles, an oddly relatable one: somehow of a piece with 'The Exorcist,' released the same year, and that bonkers Enjoli perfume commercial with a spokesmodel bringing home the bacon, frying it up in a pan and never letting you forget you were a man.... 

Yes, the 70s were bonkers. Easy enough to see in retrospect. The trick — as Jacobs clearly says — is knowing what's bonkers in your own time.  

I remember the "Sybil" craze of the 70s. I didn't read the book but I saw the TV movie. It allowed nice people to consume a sexual torture story and to believe that they cared quite seriously about mental health (and to marvel at the acting skill of Sally Field (as we once marveled at Joanne Woodward in "The 3 Faces of Eve")).

"Senior cords seem to have first appeared at Purdue University in Indiana in the early 1900s, according to an archivist at the university..."

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