FAILURE ABOUNDS TODAY, but also its recuperation. Who hasn’t been sold “resilience,” what with a vast industry of self-help hucksters and combination fitness-business influencers imploring you to grit your teeth and embrace the grind? Samuel Beckett’s call to fail again and better has been repurposed as prosperity gospel by and by Buddhist nun and best-selling self-help author Pema Chödrön. It’s been consumed like so much protein powder by retired Navy SEAL, podcaster, and “leadership instructor” Jocko Willink, who militarizes the Irish playwright’s bleak, language-starved injunction in a YouTube video that’s been viewed twelve million times: “Get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reengage.”

Some refuse this mandate to try again, differently. Take the Democrats, who, as Jennifer Berkshire shows, have failed to look beyond the neoliberal educational policies of the past thirty years even as conservatives lead an assault on public school teachers, who are leaving the profession in droves. Or the warmongers, berated by John Dolan in his survey of recent military trends, who are happy to march anyone but themselves to a bloody end despite dwindling numbers of the young, willing, and able across much of the globe. In the United States, as Jasper Craven points out in a profile of Willink’s fellow ex-SEAL influencer Eddie Gallagher, we seem to prefer our military members to hawk supplements and gun-themed coffee.

How should the left recalibrate? Jules Gill-Peterson considers Judith Butler’s analysis of the reactionary anti-trans forces surging worldwide and finds the philosopher’s solutions less vital than fatiguing. Hannah Proctor places the major Anglophone electoral losses suffered by the left at the end of the last decade into a larger history of left melancholia and burnout, arguing for the necessity of mourning—and its acknowledgment—in politics. Drawing from the psychoanalytic tradition of the Middle Group, Sam Adler-Bell contends that at least a moment of lying fallow after defeat is necessary. Convents were once a place for such contemplation and renewal, but as Lauren Fadiman shows, the United States’ Catholic sisterhood is now shrinking to the point of nonexistence.

When reengaging, best to avoid easy absolution and fictitious succor. This is often easier said than done, as Jess McAllen demonstrates in her study of celebrity endometriosis surgeons, who have flourished by offering supposed cures in an environment of misinformation and false promises. Hubert Adjei-Kontoh lambasts the too-easy conflation of dance music’s emergence from the marginalized with its supposed ability to bring about utopia, while Liam Baranauskas makes a plea to free ourselves from the isolating tyranny of the Netflix algorithm in favor of seeking ourselves in others, that “most affecting and holy of reactions to art.” He finds common cause then with Andrew Norman Wilson, who narrates his departure, replete with a rib removal and an episode of penguin-induced dissociation, from a contemporary art world whose works serve no one but yacht owners and curatorial bureaucrats with terminal degrees.