From the Archives: My First Published Essay … from 1998
From the Archives
I am launching a new series for paid subscribers called From the Archives as a way of sharing past writings that don’t necessarily fit into my usual Substack topics. They may be more personal in nature, published works, fragments from unfinished books, jotted-off poems, or never-before-seen ephemera.
My First Published Essay
Tasked with choosing one word to explore for a collection of essays, I wound up writing a piece that encapsulated my weltanschauung at the time of its publication.
Twenty-five years later, this word remains central to my ethos, and my core values still align with those expressed in the essay. My resonance with this word and what it signifies also explains why I found the Canadian trucker protests so inspiring and why I have always united with the people over philanthropaths, tyrants, propagandists, and celebrities.
Yes, I would make a few cosmetic tweaks—replace a repeated word here, remove a superfluous adjective there, insert more paragraph breaks (I did nix a few unnecessary commas)—but otherwise, you will recognize my voice, my mind, my heart.
I still have the same favorite poets, playwright, and filmmaker (in the case of the latter, I pretend he stopped making films after 1997 since their quality declined as his fame and funding rose), and you can see their influence on my work.
Even the novelist is still a favorite of mine. I only wish I had kept my musty, broken-in paperbacks, scribbled with epiphanic marginalia and accented with multicolored highlighters, instead of replacing them with pristine hardbacks after becoming a more serious book collector in my twenties.
I hope you enjoy this time capsule from my college days. The world may have changed drastically in the last quarter-century, but I did not—except for layers upon layers of awakenings as my knowledge expanded, deceptions fell away, and understandings deepened over the years.