Guggenheim Fellow Anna Badkhen writes about zeitgeist in Philadelphia, collective spirit in the Global North, and what the birds foretell.
We may say we like to be surprised, astonished, but we like to be surprised in a particular way that is expected or suits our projected needs. This is why children like to hear the same stories. Their predictability is something to hold onto. This is why I am rereading the classics, which I first read as a very young child: it is like worrying a rosary or a wave-grooved seashell you keep in your pocket, something familiar for the fingers to run over and over. This is why we read projections for how long the pandemic will last, or who will win the election, or whether the global uprising against racism will prevail: we want to know when those of us who survive can go back to normal. We want to project that normal.