shaan sachdev

my published work

God Save the Top

May 23, 2024 – The Point

Some tops say they don’t bottom because it’s too fraught or too painful. But one doesn’t bottom because it’s easy or painless — one bottoms whether it feels good or not. The core of the experience isn’t really physical anyway. It’s psychological.

Also available in print

Baudelaire Would Be Run Over in New York City Today

A city that no longer accommodates wandering no longer accommodates wondering. A flâneur without freedom falls into a zombified routine.

Jan 7, 2024 – The New York Times

Without unstifled access to our city's tree-lined streets and architectural marvels, New York's amblers are left trapped in tiny apartments and cluttered offices. When we go outside, the domination of cars, scooters, and bicycles imprison us in public.

Beyoncé the Athlete Is Adjusting to Midlife

At an age when Michael Jordan and David Beckham had retired, the pop star known for her dance moves is finding new ways to command the stage.

Dec 22, 2023 – The Wall Street Journal

Humans age. All athletes must eventually grapple with time's sly creep, and when they bow out of the game, we tend not to click our tongues but to throw roses their way.

Sarcasm as Global Export; Or an Ode to Matthew Perry’s Chandler Bing

Dec 14, 2023 – Literary Hub

If young audiences around the world stumbled upon the cheer of collective individuality through Friends, it was Chandler who supplied them with the postmodern irony with which to make sense of it. As such, he became — and possibly remains — one of sarcasm’s most effective global exporters.

Taylor Swift’s invisible merchandise: The era of surprise song collectibles

As the most exciting part of her concert, the surprise songs couplet has become a phenomenon within a phenomenon

Oct 13, 2023 – Salon

Preluded by winking, clue-laden speeches, the songs' unveilings elicit in both live and virtual audiences the sort of manic rush akin to that aroused by the unwrapping of Pokémon cards in the 2000s and baseball cards in the decades prior.

Portrait of the Technocrat as a Stanford Man

Mar 27, 2023 – New England Review

When the Stanford man broke up with me, he told me it was because he needed to date someone more “average.” He told me that intellectualizing and reading tomes were for graduate school, not the stuff of romance.

Pushcart Prize Winner XLIX (49)
Also available in print

Recording Merit

Feb 5, 2023 – The Point

Today’s critical culture and mass culture tend to readily reinforce one another, posing a strange, almost axiomatic embrace of commercialism in the name of relevance.

Monkeypox and Gay Peripeteia

Oct 13, 2022 – The Point

A country as large as ours will unavoidably entail fragmentary realities — what’s evident in New York City isn’t so in Jackson, Mississippi — and I am thereby emboldened to declare a golden age for gay disease in my small, populous and populously gay corner of the country.

Beyoncé Is Finally Embracing Her Role as Fairy Godmother to the Gays

Aug 05, 2022 – The Daily Beast

Renaissance takes us on the psychotropic dance floor trip that explodes into the bloodstream when “Blow” is crushed and snorted — inducing neither blackout nor hyper-anxiety but grimy, gaudy euphoria.

Republished by Yahoo News

Amor Spectatoris

Jul 25, 2022 – HA Journal

Of course, Arendt wasn’t a perfect thinker. She erred. She misjudged. She abandoned empathy. The model of a perfect thinker today seems to be one who has never expressed an offensive thought. Yet, “there are no dangerous thoughts,” as the famous Arendtian maxim goes—“thinking itself is dangerous."

My Complex — and Ours

Apr 26, 2022 – The Point

What I’d really like to do is skip over the statistics-stuffed task of proving that the military-industrial complex is what the military is for. I’d much prefer to discuss why this well-documented fact lies wispily in the margins of serious conversations about the military — why it’s underestimated, ignored, misunderstood, mocked.

America is united on the Ukraine war, right? Still, let's follow the money

Public opinion, both parties and the Pentagon are together on this. That means it's time to ask some questions.

Mar 19, 2022 – Salon

Today's energetically indignant Instagram posts, op-eds and demonstrations will leave defense contractors with a fountainhead of cash long after we've moved on to the next crisis du jour.

Great Times for Merchants of Death

How the United States leads the world in arms production, exports, and spending.

Dec 16, 2021 – The Progressive

On December 6, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published its annual list of the world’s highest-earning arms manufacturers. The Swedish think tank disclosed that in 2020, as hospitals overflowed, morgues filled up, stores shuttered, and the global economy contracted by 3.1 percent, the top 100 weapons makers earned a record total of $531 billion, a 1.3 percent increase from 2019.

The Key to Beyoncé’s Lasting Success

To understand why she inspires a near-religious zeal in fans, look to her live performances.

Sep 4, 2021 – Slate

Because Beyoncé approaches her performances with the sort of ferocious discipline more commonly associated with professional athletes than with pop stars — she practices until her feet bleed — she is our most physically capable living superstar.

Republished in Everyone's an Author (4th edition)

Hysterical Empathy

On identification and interventionism

Sep 2, 2021 – The Point

I walked away with a portrait of this new style of empathy. It was anchored in the sorts of outrages that had fueled humanitarian interventionism, but the outrage now also appeared to be personalized, applicative and, to some degree, recreational.

Also available in print and audio

The War in Afghanistan was a Huge Victory — for the Military-Industrial Complex

After 20 years, the Taliban are back in power. But for the defense industry, that massive failure was a big win

Aug 22, 2021 – Salon

When we lose sight of the bigger picture — of history, cycles, agendas and consequences — we can find ourselves seduced by the smaller picture: a bombing here, an atrocity there, a rifle-toting militant sitting behind an ornately carved presidential desk. We forget who attacked whom first. Who funded whom. Who profited. Who lied. In isolation, sensationalized increments capitalize upon our outrage, preserving axioms and insulating institutions.

The Philosopher’s Trail

On Samantha Rose Hill’s “Hannah Arendt”

Aug 7, 2021 – Los Angeles Review of Books

Philosophers’ lives are, of course, irresistible. They tend to be bestrewn with dysfunction. Something about the gulf between the life of the mind and the life of the person leaves us marveling at the cost of luminescent thinking (or of practical drudgery, depending on your side). But Arendt, while “a magnificent stage diva” when compared to the theorists and scholars of the Frankfurt School, was extraordinarily disciplined.

Body Talk

Escaping into privacy while naked on camera

Jun 10, 2021 – Real Life

I was only dabbling in the world of OnlyFans, stepping into the skin of the adult performer, because requests to film casual hookups had come to denote a new frontier of urban gay encounters.

God Bless the Garbage Person

On the phony moralizing of our celebrity class

May 14, 2021 – Soft Punk

There are no radicals in Hollywood. Most seem to be centrist Democrats. They kowtow to war. They thank the troops. They hate red presidents and love the blue ones.

Murder on the A Train

Below NYC, journeys end in assault, mutilation, & death

Mar 6, 2021 – Soft Punk

Today, however, the world’s largest rapid transit system bestows upon its dowdy loyalists no more badges of honor or comradeship. Nearly a year after the governor ordered its late-night shutdown, my underground world is a sort of hell.

Wikipedia’s Sprawling, Awe-Inspiring Coverage of the Pandemic

The online encyclopedia reveals that there are at least 31,000 ways to talk about Covid-19

Feb 26, 2021 – The New Republic

If life imitates art, then Wikipedia pursues life with unflagging voracity. As we mark the site’s twentieth anniversary, the Covid-19 pandemic tests the status to which it has risen: a breathing, collective record of our past and present—and the digital age's most expansive and accessible English-language encyclopedia.

Trump’s Global Grim Reaper, Mike Pompeo

The real reasons he was a shameful Secretary of State, and how Antony Blinken can do better.

Feb 12, 2021 – The Progressive

In his thirty-three months at the helm of the State Department, Pompeo came to caricature rightwing jingoism. Economic and rhetorical warfare were his first resorts; obstructionism was his modus operandi.

Republished by Common Dreams

The Accord Between Israel and the United Arab Emirates Will Preserve the Endless Wars

A diplomatic agreement celebrated by the United States could end up making matters worse.

Sep 1, 2020 – The Progressive

While the accord benefits Israeli, Emirati, and American governments and companies, it also embraces a Middle East roiled by foreign intervention and widespread violence.

Trump Gets One Right: U.S. Should Pull its Troops from Germany

The President’s pledge to reduce troops in Germany faces resistance from war hawks on both sides of the aisle

Jun 22, 2020 – The Progressive

The bipartisan rejection of this proposed troop reduction exemplifies an “any price is worth it” mentality toward national security, propelled by the revolving door between government and companies that profit from American armament and adventurism.

Leaders of ‘Rogue Regimes’ Have Some Thoughts About Police Brutality in America

Statements by China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and North Korea use U.S. violence against protesters and journalists to point out American hypocrisy on the global stage.

Jun 10, 2020 – Reason

Governments around the world are routinely antagonized by the United States for quashing dissent and democracy. This week they are reveling in the nationwide chaos and global demonstrations prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pundit of the Blue Ridge

My agrarian reclusion

Jun 3, 2020 – Soft Punk

When my sister and her husband offered to drive me from New York City to their home on Shannon Farm, in Rockfish Valley, Virginia, I acceded. Happily. I’m spending my quarantine surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and 520 acres of forests, pastures, and hayfields.

Bookforum talks with Caleb Crain

On surveillance, mind-reading, and his new novel, Overthrow

Oct 22, 2019 – Bookforum

In Caleb Crain’s new novel, Overthrow, a thirty-one-year-old graduate student named Matthew meets a poet who recruits him to volunteer at Occupy Wall Street. The poet and his friends read tarot cards, and some of them even believe they can read minds: with a mixture of irony and earnestness, they refer to themselves as the Working Group for the Refinement of the Perception of Feelings.

Late this summer, Crain and I sat down to talk about technology, Occupy, and how fiction helps us understand life.