Scratch just a little below the surface of American writing, and you'll find a substratum of stories that revolve around an impostor, a figure at once sinister and fascinating. This charlatan moves fluidly between personae, and in doing so, proves that identity is — especially in America — up for grabs. The impostor thus is everything we insist we are not. But he's also, I think, everything we wish we could be as the inheritors of our open, yet easily manipulated, American culture.
As cold weather descends on most of the country, we're asking for winter songs — songs that evoke the season, and the memories that come with them. So far in our series, we've heard some lighthearted or slightly wistful tunes, but this next song goes to a far icier place. It's the choice of the celebrated dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor at Boston University and the author of Lost in Shangri-La.
I taught my last class of the semester the other day. Inevitably, my students — all of them journalism majors and most of them seniors — hijacked the lesson plan to vent their hopes and fears about what awaits them after graduation.
This happens every December, and each year I do my best to calm and encourage them, to let them know it's OK to be worried but it's not OK to despair. I give them what I've come to consider my pre-commencement address.