This week we introduced a mini interview series called “Private Message” on Substack Reads. The first post was with E. Jean Carroll. In it, I refer to a public conversation I had with E. Jean, at the Book Club bar here in New York. It was a cozy evening, attended by predominantly local Substack writers (though some flew in especially, such as the wonderful
I have looked it up this word, Sophia, and translated it from the Greek. It means:
"I AM A GODDESS."
That's what it means. And, by Zeus! Seven billion human beings "can fact-check me to their deaths."
P.S. Claire Zulkey and Wislawa Szymborska will back me up on it!
Perhaps the curiosity I see peeking through is the need to know that there is more to life than a daily grind and hope for a purpose driven life not driven by performance-based acceptance.
This was a lovely read. I can’t find it right now but there was a video made years ago showing the Fayoum portraits from Egypt (referencing the last piece of art in your post) alongside modern-day Egyptians, and the resemblances were uncanny! The Egyptian saying is يخلق من الشبه أربعين (From one face/look, forty are created). 40 seems to have been a popular number (days of mourning, etc.)... Maybe the existential despair also stemmed from wrestling with mortality? It might be comforting to remember that “the sea refuses no river.” But yes, it is terrifying to think of giving up one’s individualism.
love this and you and the you who wrote that on the train about repetition is right
I think about this often. And we’re all uploading our faces into the Ai now. Trying to teach ourselves to the algorithm.
I really like the James Baldwin quote - "You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in world history, and then you read". It's amazing how much more of our stories are similar than they are different. That is why the paradigm - It's "Us Against them " is shear folly
God that drawing hits hard as a parent 😂
And we all owe Herodotus some gratitude
Existential despair on the F train: now that's an experience I'm proud to share with you. <3
“My face, yours, whose—
you’ll never know.” 😎
Szymborska's writing is striking. Your thoughts open the mind to a soul's oblivion. 🧐☺️🧚🏼♀️
I'm a new subscriber and fan. Thank you for sharing such a lovely train ride insight from years ago. Curiously, I think I find comfort in the sameness of it all? Maybe it relieves a pressure to try too hard, encourages a presence to be exactly where I am on this star. Hadn't really occurred to me in that way until I read this but also broke my heart in a funny little way to read, "how you will not get to see how far man will go." I hadn't thought to mourn that truth. Gratitude for a thought provoking Sunday read and very excited to be a subscriber here.
In plain sight lay insights, universal truths bonding humans, true for all, since the wars started, tradeships sailed away and since some of us got curious, since then we are looking for answers yet unable to see the “repetition”. They are simply there, before our eyes, but we need to leave the “self” and go look from the stars.
Thanks Sophia! ❤️
This was wonderful to read on a Sunday afternoon. Thank you.