The Private Intellectual
Ecclesiastes-Based Real Estate Advice

Saturday, May 18, 2013  

The Unwalled City

My column for the latest issue of Let's Talk is up, on the body, solidarity, and the Boston bombing:

We are perhaps now so accustomed to the “security theater” that has characterized the twelve years of the War on Terror that we have lost sight of the essential vulnerability in which we live. There is a small kind of nobility in the creation of so many “hard targets” such as federal buildings, as if a truck-bomber wouldn’t settle for blowing up the office tower across the street if the reinforced-concrete flower planters thwarted his plan to blow up the place where Social Security checks get printed. But we ourselves are the ultimate soft target. As social beings we like to congregate. We might endure security theater — the ostentatious, if practically dubious, display of anti-terror muscle — at some already unpleasant and unsociable venue like an airport. But until we give up our desire to test ourselves, body and soul, against our limits, and to do it in a pulsing, cheering crowd of our fellow bodies, we cannot be assured that our very desire for embodiment and union won’t be used as a kind of weapon. We human beings, as Lucretius put it, live in an unwalled city.
Read the whole thing!

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