rebecca solnit

image by lieko shiga

“are you sleeping?” a series of 9 short works on sleep in the august 2013 issue of harper’s magazine

restlessness by heidi julavits & motherhood by sarah manguso seem most relevant here, however i enjoyed them all. i also loved insomnia by rebecca solnit.

my children are now 5 and 7 – i am currently sleeping 10 to 12 hours a night – so are my kids – we have been doing so for 2 years – i truly believe i am still making up for the 5 years that i did not sleep – and the girls are simply sleeping as much as they are supposed to now – these two pieces of writing speak to the entirety of that experience – placing the years of seeking and yearning for sleep in some sort of beautifully coherent nutshell – the other 7 pieces offer a nest for this particular metaphorical nut – thank you to harpers for including the sleeplessness of mothers – it is not something anyone can prepare you for and yet camaraderie is so important – from one mother to another (fathers too), i hope you enjoy these as much as i did….xo


down on the right column, under “influences” there is a link to a talk astra taylor gave in october 2009. after seeing it for the first time a couple years ago, i took another big step toward the unschooling life. she immediately became my poster child. i watched her film examined life and decided that i loved her mind. i recently looked for a sign of her out there in the slipstream and found she had published an article in n+1. i ordered it immediately. it arrived today. i just finished reading her essay titled unschooling.

n+1 (issue thirteen, winter 2012) – some of it is from her talk at the walker – she asks important questions about privilege, race, politics, action and emotion. she gives a birds eye view into the albany free school whose unofficial adage is : “never a dull moment, always a dull roar.”

she paraphrases rebecca solnit: “politics of prefiguration” – one tiny corner of the world – one small community, one co-op, one school – models a different way to run things, embodies principles we want to see more of: democracy, egalitarianism, compassion, creativity. “activism in this model, is not only a toolbox to change things but a home in which to take up residence and live according to your beliefs,” solnit writes, “even if it’s a temporary and local place, this paradise of participating, this vale where souls get made.”

“many people, liberal and conservatives alike, are deeply offended by critiques of compulsory schooling. every day we’re told that schools hold the key to equalizing opportunity, that the proper credentials will allow poor and marginalized people to participate fully in society, and that education provides the only legitimate path out of poverty. the question is a difficult one. are schools social levelers or do they reinforce the class pyramid by tracking and sorting children from a young age? presumably they do both.” (n+1, p.77)

“growing up i experienced unschooling as a compromise, the more appealing of the two extremes available in georgia given my family’s modest budget: staying at home and teaching myself, or going to public school and having my spirit crushed. what i really wanted – what i still want, even now, as an adult- is that intellectual community i was looking for in high school and college but never quite found. i would have loved to commune with other young people and find out what a school of freedom could be like. but for some reason, such a possibility was unthinkable, a wild fantasy – instead, the only option available was to submit to irrational authority six and a half hours a day, five days a week, in a series of cinder-blcok holding cells. if nothing else, we should pause to wonder why there’s so rarely any middle ground.” (n+1, p.78)

order now – support this publication. accolades to n+1 for printing such a piece.

then read:

astra taylor!