Who Needs Happy Endings?
Joyce Carol Oates has written a beautiful book about grief following the loss of a spouse. As Oates is one of the most prolific American writers much has been written about it: comparing it to Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking; praising its prose; considering the psychological split between being a Writer and being a Wife; taking it to task for not mentioning Oates’s re-marriage. Implied in this last is, If you’re happy and you know it, shouldn’t you clap your hands?
My heart beats hard with resentment, despair. Though my effort seems so futile, like cleaning all the rooms of the house in preparation for my husband’s return from the hospital, turning on all the lights—or, turning them off—yet I can’t seem to stop, and the thought of hiring someone to help me, or even bringing anyone into the house for this purpose, is not possible. All I know is—I can’t let Ray down. This is my responsibility as his wife.
I mean, his widow.
Oates writes about feeling defined by that word, “widow.” When she reads an unfinished manuscript of her husband’s found after he died, she discovered that perhaps he had abandoned his own ambition to write in order to help foster hers. From the New York Times Book Review:
Oates expresses regret — if only she had encouraged him! — yet there is also a strong undercurrent of relief, and of gratitude. Oates (who has since married a neuroscientist) is reluctant to face the real power balance between artist and spouse, but her memoir boldly betrays her and in doing so pays fuller tribute to the husband she lost. It seems obvious — and understandable — that Ray Smith was overwhelmed by her creativity; he could not be her competitor, or her editor. But he was a man who faced down his own demons to be the calm companion who helped her career, and her imagination, take off.
This is a story about love. That the book does not include (concede?) that there was a happy ending to the loss —of the author’s new love, new marriage, and presumed new emotional equilibrium—upset readers expecting that as either a fuller truth or as the best trajectory for their own conclusions about the shape of grief. Yet anyone who has suffered loss knows: the spouse who dies unexpectedly is the spouse who lives on, often inalterably. Living happily following tragedy is a natural way to honor that love. The choice to leave the re-marriage out, from a literary as well as an emotional standpoint, was the only one. Had Oates included it, the book would not have been about loss; it would have been about renewal. Don’t we have enough of those stories already?
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.
- Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
- For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
- Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.