Going viral

I was tempted to subtitle this blog post “wtf?” as well, because that’s what I’ve been thinking pretty much every day for the past month and a half. But it seems unwise to abuse a good subtitle. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on the response to my NYT Modern Love article for a couple of weeks now, but every time I sit down to write, I find it hard to make my ideas cohere in any useful way. Perhaps it’s still a little early to process it all. I intend to keep trying, but in the meantime, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the weird, amazing things that have come out of the article. Here goes:

I got a bunch of emails from enthusiastic strangers who tried Arthur Aron’s study. The Times devoted their February 15 Modern Love column to some of those folks.

The Diane Rehm Show did an hour-long interview with me, Art Aron, and Helen Fisher. Chatting with three people whose work I’ve spent years following and admiring was, for lack of a more articulate response, so so cool.

A guy in San Francisco made an art installation!


Two chairs sit by a chest with the questions engraved on its surface. Not a bad setting for a long talk.

According to a Forbes’ article on “life in the time of the 36 Questions,” there are at least eight apps based on Aron’s study. I’ve checked out several and they are all simple and elegant. I definitely recommend trying one. (Also, by the way, there are a couple card games, a book, and web-app–because apparently everyone who is not me has found a way to make money from this story.)

There are videos, made by MTV and Vice, and by Soul Pancake. The latter, which is not about the questions but the staring in the eyes, is my favorite. It captures the strangeness of the experience so well.

I did two interviews that I really enjoyed: One at UBC’s CiTR station for Arts on Air, where I got to talk about lots of things related to romantic love (beyond the study itself).

And another for NPR’s The Takeaway: http://www.thetakeaway.org/widgets/ondemand_player/takeaway/#file=%2Faudio%2Fxspf%2F431277%2F

**Updated to add that apparently The Big Bang Theory is doing an episode on the 36 questions. So strange, you guys. So strange!

And I’ll leave you with this, without comment:

the smitten

Exodus 12:12 goes like this:

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.

It’s classic King James Old Testament; like every Gothic cathedral you’ve ever visited, it’s at once ornate and resplendent and petrifying.

Another good smiting occurs in Deuteronomy 8:22:

The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

The OT is full of smitings. Most notably the mid-night killing of all Egyptian first born sons. But a smiting isn’t always genocidal; it can apparently resemble certain STDs (or bathroom molds?), and includes curses, plagues, punishments, and pestilences of all variaties. Though the word smite has been used in other contexts, thanks to King James we usually equate it with a blow of Biblical proportions.

Reading these verses reminds me of a visit to Mamaw’s one-room Southern Baptist church. I must’ve been seventeen or eighteen–familiar enough with theology to be arrogant, young enough to be angry. Before baptizing my cousin’s new baby, the preacher made a call to the unusually-large crowd (most of which, in this tiny congregation, was my family) to consider God’s daily personal message to us. If our lives weren’t going as we’d hoped, he cautioned, if we were experiencing sickness or suffering, God was probably punishing us for a lack of faith. It was God’s elbows, nudging us back into his worship. I left boiling with anger at someone telling an already-impoverished community that they were sinners, that their suffering was deserved. But here it is, in God’s very own words (by way of a variety of scribes, politicians, and translators, of course).

Sesquiotica considers the word in all its etymologic complexity. Continue reading