Renata Adler, “Irreparable Harm”


Not infrequently, an event so radical that it alters everything appears for a time to have had no effect, or even not to have occurred. This is true in personal as in public life. A loss, a flood, a medical diagnosis, a rolling of tanks towards the statehouse — life goes on apparently as usual. Nothing is changed. It is particularly true of events that are irremediable. When there is nothing to be done, people go to work, eat their lunch, sleep, awaken to a vastly altered world, in ways that seem uncanny in their ordinariness.

Last week I mentioned, that I was reading the new collection of Renata Adler essays, and now I’m going to mention it again, because the entire book is so fucking good. You have to read it.

The above passage is from one of the last essays in the collection and is, hilariously, about Bush v. Gore. Remember that?! What a time in our shared heritage.

Anyway. I can’t stop thinking about these sentences, both their meaning and their structure, because she is so right about something we’ve all experienced but so rarely name.

You can read the whole article here and the book will be released on April 7th.