Essays

The Long Game: On the Repression of Ai Weiwei and Jafar Panahi

With their artistic freedom limited, filmmaker Jafar Panahi and artist Ai Weiwei have both taken to testing the boundaries of their censorship.

Dispatches from the Labor Market

While shoveling scoops of Zen Cheddar into brown paper bags, my boss decried Orville Redenbacher and the other scions of big popcorn. It was easy to empathize with the precarious position of my employer.

My Way to the Danger Zone

Top Gun didn’t win the 1987 People’s Choice Award for its accurate representation of the fragility of human existence. The opposite, actually.

The Weak State: The Dissolution of Constitutional Iraq

Since the latest crisis in Iraq began, the twin evils of ceaseless sectarian retrenchment and unaccountable governance have been cast in stark relief. Three new books help us make sense of the past eleven years of Iraqi history.

Notes on Not Passing

I’m El Salvadoran to an Oaxacan, mulatto to a Haitian squinting her eyes, black to the negro curious about America’s slave past, and white to any Anglo too busy finding what they want to see there. Either I am nobody, or I am a nation.

The Translator’s Dream

Like nostalgia, the translator’s dream is emotionally — even erotically — oriented towards the past, but the translator’s productivity is not located in memory. His problem is not the return home. How could it be? His provenance is a dead tongue.

This Is What a Feminist Looks Like, Maybe: On the Films of Mary Harron

How dare a woman contain multitudes, and contradictions, and not conform her entire lived experience to theory? How dare another woman, fifty years later, try to capture that on camera without offering some explicit feminist commentary?

Lee’s Corner: The Great American Richards

The Great American Richards are primed to overcome all thoughts about fathers, all thoughts about mothers, all thoughts about wives and children, as though thought about anything is an affliction.

Lee’s Corner: Accounting for Taste

If beauty is truth and truth is beauty and something I find beautiful and truthful is hideous and deceitful for someone I respect, what can happen except bloodshed, a fight to the death?

Wes Anderson’s THE GRAND HOTEL ABYSS

The fulfillment we get from nostalgia can only be taken up, at best, in an ossified, brittle sort of way. Wes Anderson must understand this, as it is essentially what is dramatized in The Grand Budapest Hotel.