2 min read

The sentence level (Against)

The sentence level (Against)

This is Friday Letters, an AGAINST THE LAW edition.

The new Against

"Nothing is lost but it changes ...
and the new not new
the new not new
the new not new"
- "Ragtime," Anaïs Nin

Welcome back, we're on Ghost now.

Nothing—on your end—should have changed from our days on the S-stack. But if you notice anything off with your subscription, let me know and we'll get it sorted out. (The Ghost support team have been stellar.)

There is a difference I am adjusting to: from writing accurately at the level of a sentence, to writing accurately at the level of a paragraph or something else, or some new idea of what accurately means over the length of something I've had years to work through. (I don't believe some of the same things I wrote just a year ago.)

Here's one sentence:

The carceral state is everywhere and I am rounding the corner of my block and repeat it to myself so I remember to write it down when I get back to my desk, and that won't be for another ten minutes by the time I get my keys out and put my coat down and put my phone down (and forget where I put my phone down) and the carceral state is everywhere, in the United States I correct myself, on my stoop now, because that's where I am the carceral state is everywhere, in the United States, but not for everyone I add and I keep adding and then I stop myself, because I'm not wrong but if I don't stop I will lose what attracted me to the sentence, which wasn't that it was correct, but that it was correct and it landed in that form all at once.

It's a kind of toggling that journalists must be terrible at (I'm not great at it, or I'm just observing it now). You might notice it when a headline repeats something someone else said that you know isn't correct, but it's between quotation marks, and it's roughly attributed to the person who said it (or the kind of person who said it, at least—administration officials say, or experts warn, etc.), which by headline standards technically passes for a correct statement. If the reader wants to know, really, they can just keep reading and somewhere, maybe in the second sentence or third paragraph, the statement will be fully attributed to who said it, or it will be countered by someone else saying the opposite, or maybe the writer will appear and attribute an opinion to themselves, further complicating the incorrect statement they or the top editor chose to lead with in the first place, rather than the accurate one, which—ostensibly—is why it is the news and not fiction.

Something can be wrong or at least inadequate on the sentence level, yet on the paragraph or page level, be faithful and correct. A rotten move in a short piece of reportage, the only move in a non-fiction book.


"The Conservatives Who Attacked School Boards in 2022 Are Now Going After Libraries," The New Republic, January 11, 2023


"High Wall," The Sonics

I'm not sure when "High Wall" landed on the playlist, but it sounds like it could have been in New Orleans, up against "Storm Warning" (Dr. John).

Friday Letter // 00098