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Antonia Malchik

Writer, Self-employed

Antonia Malchik writes essays and articles on science, travel and other topics for a variety of publications. Her first book is A Walking Life (2019). She lives in northwest Montana.

Written by Antonia Malchik



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Depressive realism

Antonia Malchik

Brandon Hidaka’s study “Depression as a disease of modernity” looks at many of elements of modern life that are, basically, a poor fit for human evolution – social isolation, lack of movement/exercise, lack of sunlight, poor diet, etc. Johann Hari’s book about depression, Lost Connections, expands significantly on those ideas; both are a good pairing for this essay. What if some (not necessarily all) depression is a deeply sane response to social and cultural structures that are an ill fit for the human species? This is an important question particularly with regards to c...

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On the same wavelength

Antonia Malchik

This was such a beautiful essay, the story of the lost aviator a vivid and gripping example of the thesis. It reminds me of something I was wondering about recently – decades of individual-focused neoliberalism seem to have begun creating a society (at least in the U.S.) where these values truly are the way to succeed or thrive, albeit in what feels to be stunted ways, as they often seem to damage relationship(s). Society at large seems to keep repeating to itself that humans are selfish and self-interested and believing anything else is naive, and then making it true. Yet overall I think that more people believe in our capacities for compassion and connection, even if they believe that t...

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Zoom and gloom

Antonia Malchik

This was an insightful essay in ways I didn’t expect. I am fully of the view that our technologies should serve our humanity rather than the other way around, but what that looks like with regards to videoconferencing I have no idea. I’m inclined to partly agree with Lauren Dove’s comment about teachers using recordings instead, but that’s based solely on my own kids’ experiences with remote learning. It seems natural for the teachers to want to “gather” the students in a virtual classroom, to connect and show the kids they’re still there and caring and attentive, but it never really worked, at least for my kids. It just wore them out. What worked better was the Spanish teacher’s dynamic ...

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A place of silence

Antonia Malchik

What a beautiful essay. Jane Brox’s book Silence has been on my to-be-read shelf for a while. Seems like it’s time to take it out and follow it with yours. I often find criticism of people in cities walking around or sitting on the metro with headphones or ear buds confusing. They’re usually criticized for creating their own bubble and not interacting with the life of the city, but personally I find the constant noise of traffic exhausting and would far rather listen to a podcast or music. I suppose part of the problem is that so many equate “car traffic” (or jackhammers, leaf blowers, etc.) with “life.” It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Ghosts and tiny treasures

Antonia Malchik

Slowness has to be a factor to make the cultivation successful. The phrase “instant gratification” has become so overused that we’ve forgotten what it means, and why it’s so attractive to humans, but that is what we’re up against. The lure of gadgets, screens, consumerism, and speed becomes stronger as our lives become more pressured and stressful. To consciously move away from that lifestyle is both difficult and, for many, expensive. As many have mentioned in the conversation, children seem to have a natural attraction to nature - it’s certainly true of my own kids, and even my Minecraft-loving son will eagerly go for an offered walk over sitting with an iPad - which means we n...

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How to speak in public

Antonia Malchik

I expected this to be interesting and possibly useful, and it was, but the ending was unexpectedly eye-opening. Doing competitive Lincoln-Douglas debate in high school informed much of the way I approach both speaking and writing. The ending of this essay partly explains why I think it’s so important that debate be a central part of school curricula. In debate, you’re required to research both sides of any particular issue, as you never know which side you’ll be arguing, and you have to structure your case and arguments to persuade not your opponent, but your judges, whom you usually know nothing about. Those practices seem like excellent life skills and a solid foundation for practicing ...

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What is global history now?

Antonia Malchik

I’m not sure what historians should write more about, but wanted to say that I really loved this piece. It points to what many of us all over the world have been trying to get back to, which is community. Activists have many admirable goals, but it often surprises me how many of them in the U.S. concentrate all their energies on national issues, and neglect ones at the state, county, or truly local level. There was a lovely line in Robert Moor’s book On Trails, which articulates why this becomes a problem: “[D]eep human connection still cannot move faster than the (comparatively, lichenous) rate at which trust can grow.”

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Economics for the people

Antonia Malchik

Many of the criticisms of this essay–which I found excellent and inspiring as an educated and informed vision of where we’ve gone wrong and how we can begin to right the ship–seem to indicate that it lacks a robust vision for combatting the human tendency to greed and selfishness. But Mr Philipsen’s writing is chock-a-block with robust visions, including Kate Boworth’s Doughnut Economics, which is a detailed and clear-sighted model for how to rebuild systems that meet human needs within ecological boundaries.

There is no reason we can’t pursue this kind of future, only reasons that we can’t be bothered. But if the heels of humanity’s imagination regarding its own potential dig in a...

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Who owns the earth?

Antonia Malchik

Thank you, all, for reading the essay and contributing to this discussion. An essay is a kind of commons itself, as it has no real life without readers and response. Having a community like Aeon’s to share work with is a privilege.

One of those most interesting areas of this work, to me, goes back to the ideas of the Charter of the Forest: should access to a self-sustaining life be a human right? This is a dual-pointed idea, because it requires that the access to the basic needs of life cannot be denied, and also that no human can own so much land, for example, that their private property rights curtail others’ access to fulfilling their needs. Although this last ...

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How Aztecs told history

Antonia Malchik

This was a wonderful read. It relates to so many of the conversations in our societies about hearing from a wider variety of voices, especially from traditionally marginalized voices, and my own interest in seeing history take on a more multi-layered and multi-perspective shape. There are many who rebel against history that teaches a variety of perspectives and stories, but I think we are all better for cracking it open and seeing ourselves and our pasts as richly varied and complex.

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Democratising the digital

Antonia Malchik

Zeynep Tufekci, who published the book “Twitter and Tear Gas” this year, about the role of social media (among other things) in protest, has been discussing the questions posed in this essay for quite a long time. Her book, like this essay, addresses the connectivity the the Internet can bring to social movements, but also their fragility _and_ the problems raised when a private corporation essentially becomes our default public sphere. I would love to know from the author what a commons-oriented Internet would look like. How could such a thing be built? And spread? People like danah boyd, Tristan Harris, and Anil Dash are doing the hard work of trying to make the Internet better – less a...

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Solving chronic pain via the kitchen, not the medicine cabinet

Antonia Malchik

While I have personally found a keto/paleo way of eating improved my health in a variety of ways, I know at least two people for whom chronic pain seems to be intractable, people who eat even “cleaner” than I do and have long since removed all inflammatory foods. They are still in chronic pain. I’m curious if the author knows about Central Sensitization Syndrome or any similar theories and has thoughts on that, and treatment for it. For many, food is an excellent and accessible answer. But it doesn’t seem to be sufficient for all.

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