Tom takes on Michael Ondaatje’s 1992 Booker prize-winning novel
Many things happen in The English Patient. A decent chunk of them are interesting, cool things. A few of them are vaguely unsettling things (and not in a good way). However, most of them are just things. Most of them are things that simply occur. Most of them are things that simply occur, but in this specific sentence format, where the subject is repeated each time; each time, doing a new thing. These things do not necessarily correlate with one another or offer progression. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure many of these things matter. They simply happen, die, and then fade away within the same paragraph they are introduced, like Conrad’s natives in Heart of Darkness. If anything, that’s what reading this book is. It’s an upstream journey into the very core of a hazy and mystifying text, in the search for an answer, any answer at all. For the better? It’s hard to say.
Remember the couple of months last year when Kanye West wouldn’t shut the fuck up about his MAGA hat and everyone was mad about it on the internet? That whole saga made crystal-clear the root essence of the American cultural divide, and it went right over all of our heads. Look, the Orange Man may be bad, George Bush may not Care About Black People, we might just All Be Fucked, and I won’t blame anyone for jumping at the opportunity to #cancel Mr. West—but when you start projecting the moral binaries of your cultural bubble indiscriminately onto every Twitter-trending moment, don’t act shocked when you miss the forest for the trees.
The NOTMUN conference was now in session, and all the delegates began power-walking to the various committee rooms. Power-walking was an essential skill in the world of MUN; it created an aura of confidence and ambition without seeming too bold.
Tim and Boris were the first delegates to enter the room. Model UN was extremely serious business, and Tim made it a point to show it. Opening up his briefcase, he began sorting through the printed copies of everyone’s papers to find talking points for the opening speech. His partner, Boris, was slicking back his greasy black hair and practicing how he would introduce himself. “Yo! My name is Boris—think Yeltsin—and it’s going to be a pleasure to work with you. I’m representing Great Britain. And, you are…?” He repeated himself four times before the next delegate walked in.
Last month there was a line to reach the peak of Mount Everest. 11 people died due to the overcrowding. Who is to blame? The usual insight-adjacent suspects, Reddit cynics and The Atlantic editorial board, have found the culprit: Instagram. Close! I think they’re on the right track, but there’s a problem: it’s not Insta-millennials who died on the mountain, it’s aging boomers who should hardly be climbing the stairs of a five-story walkup.