French-Cuban writer Anaïs Nin (February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977) endures as one of history’s most prolific, dedicated, and timelessly insightful diarists. The fifteen volumes of her journals published to date, which she began at the age of eleven and kept up until shortly before her death, span six decades of profound introspection and keen observation of public life.
Nin crossed paths with some of modernity’s most celebrated writers, artists, psychiatrists, and intellectuals, including Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, Otto Rank, Salvador Dalí, John Cage, Robert Duncan, Peggy Guggenheim, and her longtime lover Henry Miller. Her records of these encounters and relationships read like a lyrical alternative history of 20th century intellectual life.
But more than merely recording public life and her private reflections, Nin’s journals exude a remarkable faith in the creative spirit, a kind of optimism about life and the wisdom of the heart even in the direst of circumstances, from world wars to life in poverty to repeated professional rejection. Hers was a tireless quest for wholeness and integration, blending a cultural insider’s perceptiveness with an outsider’s sensitivity – an immigrant, a woman, a struggling writer, who at one point even founded her own press in order to self-publish her and her literary friends’ work, learning to operate a heavy letterpress machine and painstaking typesetting the books by hand.
Nin was also a relentless champion of the female spirit, poetically venerating “woman’s role in the reconstruction of the world” in a 1944 diary entry – a sentiment from which this very project borrows its title.
Last year, when we began contemplating our Beg, Borrow or Steal issue, we thought our survey of the lived economy deserved an ambitious graphical exploration. After brainstorming meetings (“Can we do, like, the whole thing?”) long hours logged on FRED, and a few all-nighters, we came up with a package of data visualization and explanation that we hope will give you an idea of the big picture. The economy is complicated. Let us walk you through it.
Already 85 percent of Americans want government to force private insurers to sell policies to anyone even if they have a pre-existing condition. Is it even plausible that anything like a free market in health care is going to survive the political, economic, and technological developments of the next decade?
He looked like a former linebacker, tall and solidly built. After stowing his wife’s luggage in the overhead, he squeezed past me, sat down and looked straight at the astronomy textbook I was reading. “You’re a scientist?” he asked. “Are you involved in that big controversy over climate?”
I looked into his face and could see he wasn’t angry or hostile or combative. He seemed like a good guy and, by the way his wife gently rolled her eyes, I could see he liked to talk. So I took a chance and replied.
What followed was a long conversation, 30,000 feet above the American West, about a great and dangerous gap. On the one hand we spoke of science and what it looks like on the ground to those who practice it. On the other hand we waded knee-deep into the wreckage that is science in the sphere of politics.
From my seatmate’s perspective the field of climate studies must be awash in controversy. Was the planet warming, or not?
(Image credit: Berkeley Earth)