Robin Sloan
main newsletter
November 2021

The appreciator

A painting of a factory belching black smoke, amidst a nice snow-covered town
The Furnace, 1924, Carl Gaertner

Adam Tooze is one of the great synthe­sizers of the global moment; maybe THE great synthesizer, in the Anglos­phere at least. As you follow his output, in his newsletter and essays and books — really serious books; he is no pop historian — you get the sense of someone surfing a massive wave.

Among my friends and correspondents, it has become a running joke to drop his latest link into a text message with the single exclamation: TOOZE!

I could recommend almost anything from TOOZE!, but a recent newsletter is exemplary of something critical to his appeal:

Tooze is a great appreciator.

Not always what you expect from the intel­lec­tual of the moment, right? Very often, they are centripetal rather than centrifugal. Not so with Tooze: he is constantly commending, convening, looping in, hyping up.

Of course, this endears him to me because I feel, or hope, that I am a service­able appreciator, too. (My admi­ra­tion is, in this way, a bit vain.)

Appreciators are most useful when you’ve read them long enough to know their enthusiasm, although bountiful, is not indiscriminate. The opposite: appre­ci­a­tion can be as sharp and specific as criticism! This fact is … underappreciated.

Tooze’s newslet­ters are addi­tion­ally endearing because they are so obviously dashed off, which gives a dual sense of, “wow, even someone working at this level makes typos, writes weird sentences” alongside “THIS is dashed-off? What does Tooze’s really tight stuff look like??” (It looks like his books, of course, including the magis­te­rial Crashed, which is for me, even post-pandemic, THE framing document for the current world system.)

Enough introduction! Here’s Adam Tooze’s appre­ci­a­tion of Andreas Malm, who I knew as the author of How to Blow Up a Pipeline and that is all. Even though it’s osten­sibly just the “liner notes” for a more tradi­tional essay, the newsletter is bracing and inspiring.

November 2021