Appreciated the Arendt quotes. I think about these lines when it comes to education, and how schools and school adjacent extracurricular activities allow children little time to develop in privacy. Your writing here makes me think about the formative influence of remembering and mourning, and what we may lose in terms of human (and public) development without supporting these practices.

Also, looking forward to a possible Illich reading group.

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This was a great edition. I'm curious about your use of "we", as in, e.g.

> we've lost touch with a common repository of rites, rituals, gestures, language, and ceremonies through which we might acknowledge, commemorate, and perhaps even sublimate the death and suffering of our fellow citizens.

because, of course, the mandatory response to any deployment of the undifferentiated rhetorical "we" is:

We who?

This is connected, I think, to your identification of the destruction, or the zombification, of

> "the public” or “the public sphere"

singular, which is disassembled by "agents of disintegration," with the implication (I think?) that what remains is… wreckage? Shrapnel? Parts that would be better off as a whole?

There's another reading: that the process is not only disintegration or destruction, but also budding or calving: the production of fresh new publics, densely woven, overlapping.

This possibility seems especially "live" to me when you consider conversations beyond "politics" (as defined, ironically, by that 20th century mass-media public sphere: "the kinds of things you find in the politics section of a newspaper") and look at the publics now organized around, e.g., housing policy in California, home fermentation, cutting-edge AI research, sewing, obsolete printing technology, a particular brainy email newsletter -- all of them political in their own way.

So, a sincere question: who is the "we" of the Convivial Society?

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“. . . has its place, but ideally [not] in the service of values and goods that cannot be accounted for numerically.” presumably?

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"It is striking to me, just now, how little we’ve grieved the loss. I don’t mean to say that families and friends of the dead have not grieved their loss, rather that as a nation we seem to have done very little of it."

I live in upstate NY. I work with and for developmentally disabled adults. Where I'm at, I've seen three serious hospitalizations, one very serious, related to Covid-19. It's a serious disease. I've also experienced the sudden death of a loved one not related to Covid-19 in the past week.

"100,000 COVID-19 deaths" is still an abstraction. It either affects someone you know or it doesn't. For most people, it just hasn't. In any "normal" year, there are approximately 7,500 deaths per day in the US. (please fact check that. maybe it's a little high, but I think it's about right), so 100,000 deaths in a couple of months should not be surprising, especially when it seems like, according to the pop account, non-covid deaths have just magically stopped. It's all covid all the time. It may seem harsh, but to many of us these Covid-19 deaths are tragic, but largely restricted to those elderly with underlying conditions, the people in your life that you wouldn't be surprised about if they suddenly fell mortally ill. Combine this with what we know of overreporting of these deaths, persons dying WITH it are listed as dying FROM it, so you get an infamous case like the guy with the obscene blood alcohol content, three times over the legal limit, likely dying of alcohol poisoning, but listed as a coronavirus death. That's an extreme example, but it's an extreme version of something that otherwise seems common to many grunts in the front lines of the health care system.

For comparison to our current crisis, in New York State alone, there are over 100,000 abortions (legalized murder of unborn persons) here every year. Our governor has enthusiastically acted to "enshrine" (religious language) Roe v Wade into law in NY. As a state and as a nation, we have done very little to mourn this loss.

Most years "we" New Yorkers routinely have 100,000+ largely unmourned deaths (at least in the public corporate sense that you are tilting at) right here in our state. "It demands acknowledgement and a reckoning, not simply a tallying. As I write this, however, it begins to feel almost as if we’re prepared to move on."

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