Lunchtime Photo

As the week draws to a close, I leave you with this enigmatic yet profound declaration of self against an uncaring universe. South Gate Is. But is it? How can we know? In the 17th century Descartes believed existence was proven by his own consciousness. In the 18th century Johnson demonstrated it by kicking a stone. Kant later added German notions of rigor to the question of existence by distinguishing between the ding an sich and our mere observation of the thing, which was necessarily incomplete and ultimately unknowable. In the 19th century, advances in pure mathematics brought new insights, with existence implied by the Zermelo–Fraenkel axiomatization of set theory. In the 20th century, as modern science captured the popular imagination, Schrödinger insisted that existence was contingent on observation. Schrödinger’s cat thought Schrödinger was a crackpot, but put up with him anyway because he provided a nice bowl of cat food every day.

In the end, despite the brave affirmation of this sign, perhaps we can never know whether South Gate truly is. And even if we did, what is it? The sign itself—rectangular, cold, and asymmetric—provides no clue, and anyway, south is a purely relative term. South of what? At the north pole, every gate is south. At the south pole, no gates are south. In space, the word lacks meaning entirely. We can therefore hardly accept South Gate Is as a statement of universality, but only as an aspiration limited in spacetime. Life sure is complicated, isn’t it?

June 1, 2018 — San Onofre, California


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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