Been thinking a lot about private and public, about what we show and what we do not show, about how we navigate spaces, especially interspaces. Also been enjoying reading The Guilt Project by Vanessa Place, a meditation on the existing state of law on rape and sexual offenses in the U.S. Halfway through now and the book is a fascinating look at the system through her perspective as a appellate defense lawyer for sexual offenders. I was stopped in my tracks tonight by this paragraph:

As a people, we still shudder at the sight of our neighbor's smoke, and can't abide his smell. We like bigger houses on bigger lots, blocking off many square feet of air to no purpose but buffer. We throw our arms open to the world and keep out hearts and minds strictly to ourselves. We don't much like the idea of anyone knowing who we are, not exactly, which is part of the reason we eschew the public intellectual, or any spokesperson beyond the Hollywood or Washington celebrity, because we understand they are neither entirely real now representative. Even the promise of salvation and life everlasting is a private promise, for we are a private people.

The kind of national "we" she uses is a little irksome upon second reading and yet I am still struck by Place's ability to generalize in ways that feel helpful and productive. Not only does her analysis ring intensely true, it's also written with such wit and skill. Check it out.

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