Essays

Police Unreality

The police uphold the law in the same sense that a poltergeist upholds a cabinet as it drifts menacingly through the air. Cops don’t uphold the law, they haunt it.

Agents on the Beach

Immerse yourself in work and life, daily writing and editing and analyzing life until the world opens up again and offers details and ideas for the world you’re writing.

Dyer’s Straits

Present throughout Geoff Dyer’s ANOTHER GREAT DAY AT SEA is a desire to be subsumed totally in one subject or task, anything that will obliterate the ego and its demand for a paralyzing abundance of choices.

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?