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After Us

The Climate Change in Me (1)

- By Giacomo Sartori

Inside me exists a self that years ago decided to study agronomy—where that idea came from exactly, who knows? Many aspects of our selves remain a mystery. For forty years this self did work in soil science, and, even at a time when few were talking about climate change, he always felt that the best thing he could do for the environment would be to do his work well, putting all his effort into it, so that he would obtain persuasive data, making it clear that our lands are fragile and essential, that they must be protected and stewarded. This indefatigable self has imposed itself, domineering my life, in part because he brought home the bacon—all the other selves lived off the sweat from his brow. During a long period he analyzed mountain soils. They’re lovely,...

After Us

The Climate Change in Me (2)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Part One)

Inside me there’s also a militant self. It first showed itself when I was very young; later it became more stealthy, like a spring with water that doesn’t rise to the surface, leaving the stream bed dry. Throughout my life he has always made an effort to keep current and inform himself, and he has often become indignant for one injustice or another, with special attention to environmental issues, but he has never been moved to direct action. He isn’t in touch with the various associations or groups who share his ideas, even if from time to time he has been tempted to seek them out. He has almost never even gone to a demonstration, even though afterwards, when he hasn’t, he feels...

After Us

The Climate Change in Me (3)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Part Two)

Inside me, though, there is also a writerly self. This me is like a ferocious crocodile that fights to find food and freedom. He’s used to winning and often tears his adversaries to pieces in a single bite, so he’s a pretty fearsome beast. This writer/crocodile self argues that all that stuff about responsibility is nonsense; he tells me that what I have to do is continue to write my books, since they unfailingly engage in the most visceral and intimate nature of human individuality, without wasting my time with anything else. I can already barely manage to do that, he raves, in his cunning Cretaceous reptile voice. He hints that whatever talent I have is limited, so let’s not even...

After Us

The Climate Change in Me (4)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Part Three)

In me also exists—as within any other citizen of a country where capitalism is unchallenged—a consumer self. This self for years now buys almost exclusively organic food, not only because he is careful not to poison himself any more that he has to, but also because he believes this is one way to stand up for the environment. He thinks that organic farming doesn’t plague and decimate farmlands and countrysides the way conventional farming does, and that, if it has now become a major force in both the countries where he lives, it’s also thanks to him, or at least to people like him, who for years have bought organic produce, even if it costs more. And if there is a way to combat...


My American Father

- By Ilan Stavans

(Jules Chametzky. Photo by Ned Gray)

Just a couple of days after I arrived to Amherst, Jules Chametzky called to invite me for lunch. My wife and oldest son (the youngest was born three years later) were still in New York. The following day, we met at a local restaurant. Right away, he greeted me in Yiddish, my childhood language. Still a stranger in a new place, that instantly made me feel rooted.

I remember loving his Brooklyn accent from the start. It felt zaftig. It was unlike the Yiddish I had grown up with in Mexico, more earthly. We talked about Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Israel Joshua and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and I forget what else. And about family, of course: where our respective ancestors had come from, what year they had immigrated, to where, and so on....

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