“What I do keeps the wolf from the door.”

Karl Ove Knausgaard, writing for The New York Times Magazine:

Marsh brought out the stimulator again. This time it was turned up to 8 before there was a reaction, and Dashi said, “Face.”

Marsh waved me over.

“See this? This little spot here. That’s the center for facial movement. We have to leave that in peace.”

Were all the expressions the human face could make supposed to originate in this little spot? All the joy, all the grief, all the light and all the darkness that filled a face in the course of a life, was it all traceable to this? The quivering lower lip before tears begin to flow, the eyes narrowing in anger, the sudden cracking up into laughter?

Marsh continued working with the two instruments. Using the sucker, he pried and pushed and shoved continuously, while he used the other tool in between, with no trace of hesitation, without stopping and, seemingly, without thinking.

He brought out the electric stimulator again. This time he pushed it toward the bottom of the hole.

“This should be the face again,” he said.

“Nothing,” Dashi said.


Dashi shook his head, and Marsh went on working.

Every adjective I know to describe something intelligent and beautiful and profound and surgically precise would fail to adequately capture how strongly this piece, by my new favorite writer, embodies all of those qualities. If you like reading about science, this is a must-read. If you like having the human condition displayed in front of your eyes, this is a must-read. Fuck all of that—this is a must-read.