Passing the one year mark of the beginning of this cascade of crises means we have started to circle back to our own tail, forgetting what we were looking at before this all began. Romantic social distance movies have been released, sitcoms have incorporated pandemic procedure into on-screen reality; once unimaginable things are now taken in stride. Beginning reflection while still in the eye of the storm can be a tricky task, certain perspectives are often inaccessible without the marination of time passed.
Zadie Smith recognizes and announces these limitations on the first page of her lithe essay collection, Intimations. The Foreward concludes with a denotation of the date, May 31, 2020, becoming the contained catalyst in which so much had already been revealed and uprooted, yet in those early ays we still had no idea what was nearly to come. This collection is nowhere near a cohesive account, by Smith’s own declaration, but instead an obsessive, writerly, capturing of thoughts and observations as they swirled into reconstructed new ideas. This slim artifact documents fascinating introspections into quarantine hobby trends, American inequities, and the psychological experience of witnessing such mass suffering.
Although it can be difficult to peer into a wound that is very much still bleeding, Zadie Smith reminds us that reflection welcomes tenderness; a thoughtful consideration into the life you are participating in. In reading this collection I was stuck by the generosity required for true introspection– the desire to make oneself better so one can be better to others in return. This brief collection is an easily digestable dose of the reflections we all must do and I highly recommend it.