Posts from nplusonemag.com
Eggers, Teen Idol“I know there’s an ending somewhere,” Gary said of the Log. “I just don’t know where it is. First I thought: I’ll do it for a year. Then I thought I’d do it until I got up to his age—Log #30. But that was when the Kirkpatrick thing happened, and I couldn’t end it there. Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll stop when they make the movie: like, that’s it, they’ve made a movie of his life, there can be no more.
Literary Readings: Cancel ThemA reading is like a bedside visit. The audience extends a giant moist hand and strokes the poor reader's hair. Up at the podium is someone who means to believe in his or her work, and instead he's betrayed by his twitchy body and nervous laughter. The writer looks like his mother dresses him, he has razor burn on his neck, his hands may be shaking.
I Am Here to Demonize SpotifyFor a while in the 2010s, music critics were obsessed with “hauntology,” the return of dead and disappeared genres to contemporary music in ghostly form. Hauntology was not just nostalgia, the idea that the past was better and that we’d like to return to it. The most famous practitioner of hauntology in music, Burial, produced loving memorials to British rave music of the early ’90s based not on his own memories—he was too young to go to the raves—but on stories told to him by his older brother. Rave culture promised a future that Burial should have inhabited as an adult, but that future never arrived, and that sense of the past failing to keep its promises to those who came after is what made hauntology such a fruitful project for those born to the wealthiest generation in world history.
CassiopeiaHere, a snob was as common as a dandelion, and I began to present myself to the other kids in my dorm as a guy from Long Island; I emphasized the “g” in “Long,” and called myself a guido, neither of which I had ever done before. I wasn’t even fully Italian. Most of my mother’s family was Irish and Czech. But it was a handle to hold: Italian-American Long Islander.
We Keep Us SafeOn Monday night, my second shift, we handed out 200 kale salads, 300 meals of dumplings and chicken, more pizzas than I can count, and cups and cups and cups of hot ramen. It was two days before the City Council vote, and hot and steamy with thunderstorms. A jazz combo had arrived with the AfroSocialist march, and had now set up in the street to play. People danced. People ate, and had seconds, and then came back to our station for coffee and cupcakes. A couple, their belongings piled next to them on a bench, embraced.
Zombie LiberalismDespite the appeal to pragmatism, Mounk’s political vision is utopian, his ideal polity a kind of liberal sublime. In a distant place far outside of history, virtuous trustees of public reason skillfully mobilize the best of nationalism while fending off its “dangerous excesses.” Entranced, Mounk sees in nationalism a muscular tool for legitimizing the political-economic order: “Nationalism is like a half-wild beast. As long as it remains under our control, it can be of tremendous use.” Who is the “beast,” and who is the “us” into which Mounk places the reader?
In the MazeBehind every brave outing I saw a legal liability. I suppose that’s what happens when you know enough men with money. Such men are minor kings among us, men with lawyer-soldiers at their employ who can curtail certain kinds of talk. While I do believe in false allegations, and I do believe that women can be bullies, it’s hard, sometimes, not to be cynical about the defense. Some men love free speech almost as much as they love libel lawyers.
Extinction EventTuition and fees, for decades the apparently inexhaustible engine of growth in higher ed—backed as they are by federal student loan guarantees—have begun to hit a ceiling. Tuition and rental income has long been the gold standard of revenue in higher education: unlike private gifts, federal grants, or state appropriations, it has no restrictions on its use, and can be deployed freely to pay the staff salaries, pension liabilities, debt service payments, and other operational expenses that regrettably cannot be embossed with a donor’s name.
Out HereEvery way we’re photographing Black men, and women, and children, whoever, needs to be humanizing. Photography has always dehumanized African and other African-descendent people. Early photographers documented slaves, so if they ran away, you’d have a photograph to know what your slave looked like. That’s the history, and as photographers now we have a duty to show Black life in a positive light. If we take that humanity away, we’re back at the beginning.
We Used to Run This CountryThe likeliest outcome of war with Iran is a hellish regional power vacuum, one that countries like Russia and China would be better positioned to exploit than the United States. The drumbeat goes on anyway: the insistence that Iran cannot be “tolerated,” that the solution to its malign influence must be military, that “the mullahs” must pay. The persistence of this fantasy reveals something irrational in the practice of American foreign policy, some impulse that asserts itself independent of the usual questions of proportionality and geopolitical strategy.
NewbornThere wasn’t even anywhere for him to sleep. So he built a nesty thing in the kitchen, out of shredded newspaper and strips torn from the couch fabric. At night, when I came downstairs to fill a glass of water or pick at the fridge, his olive-green eye-stalks protruded from a heap of fluff and detritus. They drifted back and forth in time to his silent breathing.
The Family Romance of American CommunismThe communist family in these stories is a fortress and a prison. No one gets out— and just as importantly, no one gets in. Who would understand, who could be trusted? Unable to reproduce, possessed by an inflamed partial recall of historical events drummed out of popular memory, communist families appear in red diaper family sagas as branches of a dying aristocracy.
On the Streets of Philadelphia9:17 PM, Saturday night, Center City, Philadelphia: a soft digital glow emanated from the newly open-air lobby of the Chase Bank at 17th and Walnut. Cartoon people calmly squiggled across the wall-mounted flat-screen TV, depositing cartoon checks on their cartoon phones and taking their cartoon dogs...
Community Defense in MinneapolisAbolition—the notion that prisons and policing are directly linked to slavery and thus antithetical to human liberation—is not new, but it is to some people. That is lamentable, and not unrelated to the challenges associated with social transformation, but it is not avoidable. We need to prepare the ground, look for nascent and emerging practices and nourish them.
My Kid Could Do ThatToday 60 percent of the American population, according to recent reports, possesses a database implant that allows a range of augments to be downloaded directly into the brain. The artificial intelligence can allow a person, for example, with no chiseling experience the ability to create a lifelike wooden sculpture. While there are no reliable statistics within the art world, a recent anonymous survey of working artists in New York City under 40 reported an above-average augmentation rate compared with the general population.
ParaphraseLater, on May 14, when I am making final edits to this essay, I will learn that according to UCLA’s Covid-19 Behind Bars Data Project, there have been 380 confirmed deaths of people incarcerated in jails and prisons across the United States — a number already greater than the 329 formal death sentences that have been carried out in this country since 2010.