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The tight grip of crumbling-and-flaring dystopia on the Western imagination is a curious product indeed of our age of unrivaled prosperity and technological progress. One might, at first glance, think all this material advancement logical grounds for heartier optimism concerning the horizon of the future. That this is, by and large, not our reaction is fascinating (albeit a chilly variant of fascination).

Though we are enveloped in the heat of civilizational progress there exists the cold shadow of something else — the subconscious rattling of our existential anxieties. The vast scientific strides and technological track-laying made in the past 100…


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There are two attitudes in America today — the classic “don’t touch me” sensibility belonging to the archetypal gun-toting, side-eyeing rural American and the “comprehensive care package” sensibility associated with the liberal urbanite. These two visions clash spectacularly, partly to blame for our present environment of sizzling political tension.

One camp believes it is government’s responsibility to try to do more of what it already does — and this is apprehended as progress. The rival camp ascribes to Ronald Reagan’s legendary manifesto, “the government is the problem.” To small-government enthusiasts, progress is the condensation of bureaucracy. Opposing, much?

Historically, the…


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“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

These words, penned by Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl in his famous Man’s Search for Meaning, strike at the complex origins of the object of so much of human longing: happiness. …


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If the past half a decade has taught us anything, it has taught us that conservatives have increasingly edged into the role of contrarian and their liberal counterparts aged into the mantle-bearers of the status quo. This is a highly interesting state of affairs and once realized, upsets the public’s notions of what roles the conservative and the liberal are traditionally supposed to play.

To most, the conservative plays the part of the stubborn (or principled, depending on your viewpoint) clinger to the past. He is rigid, a little formal, not inclined to cause a scene. And to most, the…


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Diffuse anxiety is anarchic; it follows no rules and tramples over entire mental territories with lawless ease. Diffuse anxiety is an exhausting nervousness; it is not characterized by the tautness of healthy anticipation or excitement. It is not coiled tension destined for a productive outlet, you see.

Instead, diffuse anxiety is a decidedly unproductive free-floating fear. Most of us know a thing or two about it and some of us will admit we are enslaved by it.


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The story of GameStop has been marinating on the Internet for months. It has captured the attentions of many for its outlandish origins and climatic outcome. The sheer degree of media fascination is interesting in itself. Though admittedly, the GameStop tale is uncannily movie-like with trademark elements of high drama and power shake-ups.

Despite its entertainment, many are puzzled and halted before the larger question, “What does it mean? In the grand scheme of things, what does this event represent? And is the story even over yet?” We’d do well to remind ourselves that GameStop has no cinematic fetters; that…


CODEX

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What is the Internet, really? This question, in all its misty abstraction, occurred to me the other day amid my glazed-eye scroll of the YouTube homepage. All was offered up to me: quirky homemade comedic shorts, long-form intellectual traipses, glitzy music video debuts. And all of it in one place too. I could not help but think — what a perfect democratic fusion of “high” and “low” culture. I was then momentarily startled by how. . . lucky I felt.

We moderns are prone to wailing about the various “new dangers” that the Internet presents; we assume we possess a…


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Ask yourself — if you had to name them — what would number among the deepest, darkest anxieties of the collective human experience? Maybe you come up with the haunting prospect of your life not mattering or of not having “made a difference” as that hallowed line goes. Or perhaps you think of dying, of the immobilizing incomprehensible thought of “being no more”. For others, an abiding anxiety is having their grip on freedom, choice, agency, and personal will broken. …


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Children know something we don’t; this I am sure of. They know something about how to properly live. One of those “properly-living” prescriptions sorely missing from the ecology of the average adult is a cultivated spirit of curiosity. There are few among us that do not read those lines and experience a frisson of wistful, knowing recognition.

Curiosity is a virtue too often conceived of as a charming novelty enmeshed in an age of innocence but not transferable beyond this point. We ought to challenge our assumptions when it comes to this abandoned attribute and take time to trace its…


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The liberal and the conservative, how do we sort them? How do we tell them apart in the wild? There may be personality cues or clothing cues, charming little glimpses into political allegiance. We can make a sport of it, weighing geographical location with music tastes with speech patterns.

Americans, with our fashionably pragmatic two-party system are in a unique position to deposit people rather decisively into one of two camps; this is compared to our European counterparts with their fuzzy, fractured multi-party apparatuses. …

Lauren Reiff

Writer of economics, psychology, and lots in between. laurennreiff@gmail.com

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