Listen: Writer Jeannette Cooperman On How Today’s Humans Shuttle ‘In And Out Of Doom’ Every Day
A few weeks ago, St. Louis writer Jeannette Cooperman published a richly sourced essay titled “Not With a Whimper but With a Bang.” Appearing in Washington University’s online Common Reader, the piece traces the way today’s humans are learning to, as she puts it, “move in and out of doom.”
As Cooperman explained to St. Louis on the Air, she set out to probe “our dire predictions of the way the world ends.”
“I kept hearing people, including me, make wisecracks about ‘the world is ending.’ It was just so much in the air, so much sense of doom and catastrophe and ‘things have never been this bad,’” the longtime journalist said. “And I was at a meeting, planning a literary award, and we were talking about next spring, and somebody said, ‘Oh, well, I can’t imagine things will be better by then.’ We were making three levels of contingency plans. And we all laughed because, yeah, blithe optimism seems absurd these days. So I wondered what all this is doing to us.”
In the essay, Cooperman inspects the often surreal and striking contrasts between “our quiet, lamp-lit private life” and “the shadows outside our window” in the contemporary world.
“It’s as though we’re holding two opposite futures in our heads at once,” the writer explained. “And slowly I’m learning to make my peace with that, not with the dire future, necessarily, but at least with the need to acknowledge its possibility.”
In this sound-rich episode of the talk show, Cooperman shares an audio version of her essay and reflections on it with St. Louis Public Radio.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.