As I will be taking two weeks off from this newsletter - though not from my column for paying subscribers - I thought that it was time to look back over 2020.
Unnecessary self-absorption. This year, with a couple of weeks to go, I have written 98 articles for online and print magazines, 36 newsletters and 37 columns for paying subscribers. Some of these pieces were absolute crap. Many were forgettable (literally, when I counted up the articles I kept pausing to ask myself, “When did I write that?”) I hope that some are worth remembering though. As I have done in previous years, I have selected my ten favourites, restricting myself to those freely available:
“Year of the Cold” Arc Digital
“Theater of Cruelty” Athwart
“Politics as Pro Wrestling” Washington Examiner
“Coming Up for a Smoke” Agonist
“Burn In Hell, Steak-Umm” Spectator USA
“Dave Rubin's Ode to the So-Called “Independent Thinker”” Spectator USA
“Rutger Bregman is (Largely) Wrong About Human Nature” Arc Digital
“The Accidental Masterpiece of Gucci Menswear” Arc Digital
It's been a tough year. I have not seen my relatives at all. There has been a lot of hard work (I appreciate how maddening that could sound coming from a columnist so I should emphasise that I have another job). With that said, I have had a lot of good times with friends and a lot of fulfilling work and many people cannot say that. Thanks so much to all my editors and readers.
My favourite prose. Those of us who inhabit the regions of the online world where politics and culture are debated and discussed forget almost as much prose as we consume. There are some essays from 2020, though, that I have remember - not necessarily because I shared their opinions but because of their freshness, insightfulness and entertainment value. I hope you enjoy revisiting, or discovering, one or two of them as well.
“On the Commodification and Technologification of Urban Spaces and Relations” Ahmed, Post Apathy A powerful, humane analysis of time, urban spaces and civilisation.
“Wisdom That Is Woe” Joseph Keegin, The Point A sad but lovely essay about intellectual life outside institutions.
“Bring Out the Bodies” Jacob Phillips, Jacobite Poetic, incisive reflections on COVID-19 and liberalism.
“Joe Rogan is the Aleph” Jacob Siegel, Tablet A really fun as well as insightful piece about one of the more unlikely cultural icons.
“Our Humanity Depends on the Things We Don’t Sell” Mary Harrington, Palladium A great essay opposing left and right-wing forms of economic reductionism.
“The West's Monumental Crisis” Aris Roussinos, UnHerd Powerful writing about architecture and the sacred.
“The Terrible Mercy And Love Of A Child’s Casket” Leah Libresco, American Conservative Beautiful reflections on death, charity and craft.
“Bring Back the Bison” Santi Ruiz, National Review I like articles that take subjects you would never have thought to care about and make you feel really enthused about them.
“The Blob” Herbalis, Herbalis A provocative, unsentimental analysis of governance in the UK
“Why the Rich Are Revolting” Ed West, UnHerd Valuable thoughts on elite overproduction and the dynamics of dissent.
“Bound and Gagged By the Bugmen” Lomez, American Greatness A very rude but entertaining article about managerialism and soulless politicospeak.
“A History Of Sprawl In One Road Trip” Addison Del Mastro, American Conservative We need more photo-essays from ostensibly unexceptional places. I can't get enough of them.
“Democratised Cruelty”, Richard Seymour, Guardian An incisive piece about social media and the soul. I wish I had written it.
Thank you for following my newsletter this year. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2021,