1. a trying-out … placing a variety of pressures on each essay’s titular subject, seeing what happens, where it leads … form is determined by the action of a restless mind
2. like Barthes, exploring middle ground between autobiography and criticism, imbuing collective experience of culture with intimacy, vulnerability, even if merely by virtue of subject selection … critical unpacking of shared/common behavior … housesitting becomes occasion for reflection on “commensalism” and the “citational,” etc.
3. certain propriety about syntax, tone … implied author and the “man of letters”
4. closed-book constraint is refreshing in part because there’s not that excessive referentiality that’s become so common among lyric essays
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