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Marina Benjamin

Senior Editor, Aeon+Psyche

Marina is a former arts editor of the New Statesman magazine and deputy arts editor of the Evening Standard newspaper in London. Among her books, Living at the End of the World looked at modern end-time cults, Rocket Dreams offered an off-beat elegy to the Space Age, and Last Days in Babylon told the story of the Jews of Iraq. Marina specialises in the culture of science, developmental psychology and strong personal narratives. In the last few years she has written two memoirs: The Middlepause and Insomnia, and both are available in the US, UK and Australia, as well as in translation. She can be found on Twitter @marinab52.

Written by Marina Benjamin

Edited by Marina Benjamin

The meaning of anger | Aeon
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Mood and emotion

The meaning of anger

Is anger like energy, forever changing form but never dissipating, or part of our repertoire of desires, the cry of a need unmet?

Josh Cohen

Idealising the predator | Aeon
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Sex and sexuality

Idealising the predator

How did certain French intellectuals get away with preying upon young girls, shamelessly, in public and over decades?

Lily Dunn

This is no love story | Aeon
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Stories and literature

This is no love story

Strange entanglements of politics and romantic love marked England’s conquest of Ireland and still haunt the Irish today

Alison Garden

Heritage at sea | Aeon
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Architecture

Heritage at sea

Must we simply accept the loss of beloved buildings and cities to the floods and rising seas of the climate crisis?

Thijs Weststeijn

Feeling, in situ | Aeon
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Mood and emotion

Feeling, in situ

What if emotions are not universal and hardwired but exquisite acts of meaning-making specific to context and culture?

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska

The cliché writes back | Aeon
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Stories and literature

The cliché writes back

Machine-written literature might offend your tastes but until the dawn of Romanticism most writers were just as formulaic

Yohei Igarashi

Literary prostitutes | Aeon
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Stories and literature

Literary prostitutes

I self-published erotica to make ends meet. Could I follow in Anaïs Nin’s footsteps or was I doomed to churn out filth?

Sam Mills

The divine Dante | Aeon
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Stories and literature

The divine Dante

At 700, Dante’s Divine Comedy is as modern as ever – a lesson in spiritual intelligence that makes us better at being alive

Mark Vernon

Is grandad on the moon? | Aeon
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Death

Is grandad on the moon?

We no longer have a clear sense of how to introduce our children to death. But their questions can help us face up to it

Pragya Agarwal

The whitewashing of Rome | Aeon
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The ancient world

The whitewashing of Rome

White supremacists fetishise ancient Rome – but antiquity was more diverse and polychromatic than racists will admit

Jamie Mackay

Hail the peacebuilders | Aeon
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War and peace

Hail the peacebuilders

Conflicts only fully end when the delicate threads of peace have been steadily and quietly woven by ordinary, dedicated folk

Tobias Jones

Shameful | Aeon
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Stories and literature

Shameful

Women who write about their pain suffer a double shaming: once for getting injured, twice for their act of self-exposure

Katherine Angel



Recent Comments

How philosophy came to disdain the wisdom of oral cultures

Marina Benjamin

Beneath Justin Smith’s elegant prose, I am picking up a clear political argument, which is this: by whose light is the canon established? And by whose authority does it change?

The epistemic arguments of the ancient Greeks, for example, feel as dry and peeling as ancient plaster to me. And yet this is what we are taught to revere at school. What is real and what is not? Narrow masculine preoccupations with what can and can’t be know. I can barely stifle a yawn. Like so many other canons - Literature, History – challenge from without should be welcome. In my view it can only do good.

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He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel

Marina Benjamin

What about contemporary ethical debates around Euthanasia? My personal feeling is that anyone who wishes to terminate their own life should be allowed to do so, and be advised on the most humane method available for achieving the desired gentle end. But I know this view is vehmently opposed by others. Often on specious grounds (What if someone isn’t in full mental health when they elect to die? Are there not ways in which euthanasia can be exploited – by malign relatives, for exmaple? Is it moral for anyone to profit from another’s death?). It ought to be relatively straightforward to hedge people’s decision-making with protection. And yet euthanasia is very far from being a widespread, o...

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The future is emotional

Marina Benjamin

What about the outsourcing of emotional work, or, more accurately the corporatising of care? This can be as commercial, and as valued, as the next business. I am thinking, for example, of concierge services. If you’ve no time to book an anniversary supper/holiday/theatre ticket, or you’d like to buy your not-sufficiently-appreciated other half flowers/cologne/that book they keep saying they’d like to read, then that emotional work can be outsourced for a price. Then there’s surrogacy – actually carrying another woman’s baby to term. In the UK, paying for such services is illegal, but this kind of emotional work is highly priced elsewhere. I mention these examples because isn’t it just pos...

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Bring back Women’s Lib

Marina Benjamin

Where are the women respondents to this plea to re-vamp the Libertation Ethic to pull up the shortfalls the feminist enterprise? The wall of comments here is filled with men who think they are being well-meaning by suggesting that equality has been achieved (when it hasn’t), and so their arguments feel retro-sexist to my ear. Where are the women? And what do we want?

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Monster mash

Marina Benjamin

Wonder begins where reason ends. Like madness, it represents the sleep of reason. And wonder is tantamount to stupefaction, a dumb reflex response to the sublime.

But Wonder is also romantic, and catch-your-breath exciting, it is dazed and confused ( a natural high). Wonder is the delicious suspension of thought in favour of feeling.

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We are multitudes

Marina Benjamin

Thank you Katherine for such a rivetting essay. The poetry of microchimersim will stay with me for a very long time. Even so, as I was reading it, I kept being reminded of a Robin Cook novel I’d read long ago (the title escapes me) that dramatised the dark side of foetal manipulation of the mother: its premise was that the foetus was bascially ‘colonising’ the mother’s body, diverting its resources, metabolic power and chemistry, to its own ends, stopping short only at the evolutionary buck which demands that the mother survives, if only as a reproductive machine.

Nightmares aside, however, as a mother, I love the idea that my daughter’s cells will linger in me forever. I’ve always...

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Why we need to bring back the art of communal bathing

Marina Benjamin

Wonderful replies here. Thank you. Reading them, I was reminded of two spaces where single-sex communal bathing routinely occurs and almost never invites remark. The first is among sportsmen who play team sports and then shower together - footballers, hockey players, whatever; the bathing here serving to heighten team bonding and camaraderie, perhaps even a shared recognition of the blood and sweat that goes into giving a game your all. Nakedness is important here, too, because it signifies sameness and equality and that feeling of ‘oneness’ that team membership demands.

The second field of communal washing that sprang to mind are the shower rooms at swimming clubs, where you do fi...

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For the love of stuff

Marina Benjamin

There are so many lovely personal stories in this comment thread - which suggests to me that Lee randall has struck a real chord with this idea that our possession are part of us: often the better part.

I’m at a stage of life where I’m doing more shedding than acquiring, but that only focuses attention even more sharply on what I chose to retain (i.e. not shed). You have to think hard and consciously about what each thing means to you before discarding it. And that entails revisiting your past - the good and bad *charge* that each thing carries, the joyous and painful. When we chose to keep something that reminds us of difficult times, it can symbolise putting something away: as if...

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It’s not that your teeth are too big: your jaw is too small

Marina Benjamin

In Melanie McGrath’s east end memoir Silvertown, there is the most vividly described dental nightmare, rooted in reality. When the author’s grandmother turned 17, her mother’s special birthday present was to take her to a backstreet dentist-butcher who strapped the unspsected birthday girl into a blood-strained chair, sank his knee into her chest to keep her from moving, and proceeded one by one to pull out all her teeth. The girl was sent home with her mouth a bloody pulp. Unable to move for pain, or to eat anything but thin gruel for days on end, she was left to recover in her bed. The idea was that as soon as her swelling had died down, she would be fitted with a pair of dentures that ...

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The bloodstained leveller

Marina Benjamin

There’s been a lot of discussion in this thread about the vested interests of those in power mitigating against the impulse to act in ways that reduce inequality. But I can’t help feeling we’re missing a trick if the powerful fail to understand that by giving stuff away, divesting themselves of certain kinds of excess, material and cpaital, they might not only feel lighter for it, but emotionally, and dare I say, spiritually, enlarged as a result! It feels good to give. It feels even better if you can institute systems of fairness more widely across society.

The problem with the powerful is not that they are rich, but that they are small.

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My secret life

Marina Benjamin

For Aeon readers interested in a linked perspective, Anita Kelly at the University of Notre Dame studies secrets and lies, and how they link to mental health. See: http://bit.ly/1PDddeR

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Rise up fellow complainers, let’s be vulnerable together

Marina Benjamin

What a delightful piece Kathryn, thank you. I am persuaded by your argument that compaining about something is not always about the ‘thing’ but often about a need to have one’s feelings acknowledged, or affirmed. But what about when it is about the ‘thing’? When the complaint is lodged because a person feels a keen sense of injustice about something. They might be aggreieved about being charged too much for something, and feel they’ve been taken advantage of; or if someone promises to do something for them then doesn’t do it, they’d understandably feel undervalued; or they might feel unseen, unheard, ignored by friends or colleagues, and complain as a result). Is complaining because you f...

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