The annotated table of contents below offers an overview of the contents of issue 26. To get the issue delivered right to your doorstep, subscribe now.
Letter from the editors
On language games
It can be hard to resist the charms of the linguistic game of definitions, perhaps because it allows us to “play” politics without ever leaving the smooth terrain of conceptual manipulation. Yet this is also why we so often have the impression that, far from advancing, the conversation is only slipping from one side to the other.
“Alas! of falsity and insincerity, … and depredation, as proves overpaid places-of obtaining under false pretenses, as proves Non-residence, Pluralism, and sinecurism—be vicious—on the scale of vice.”
where dreams come true
National Conservatives head to Orlando
[Joseph M. Keegin]
National conservatives gathered again the first weekend in November, a year after Trump’s re-election loss, this time away from the White House in Florida, unlike COVID. The inaugural summit was at a Ritz-Carlton near the beating heart of power, the whole affair steeped in the thrill of victory: this year it was at a Hilton near SeaWorld.
Sex and Sensitivity
Of some recent bodies and minds
[S. G. Belknap]
“It doesn’t have to stop,” she said. “You should know I’m afraid of you,” I said. And we were holding on to each other, holding each other’s arms and clothes. And that was it, the last kindness. We started arguing again, our voices started to rise, we separated our bodies from each other, we started sneaking in the directions we needed to go, and then we told each other to fuck off and we walked away.
The life of writing and its discontents
The gig economy sucks and capitalism sucks and Twitter sucks and nepotism and schmoozing suck, so it makes sense that the fiction and cultural criticism that resonates with us reflects this experience of dissatisfaction. But… all that writing just risks adding the experience of reading and writing to that long list of rubbish.
On identification and interventionism
Digital space can open up to the immensity and complexity of the world as easily as it can shrink, shorten or caricature it. Illusions of closeness can make us believe we understand and sympathize with distant and distinct forms of suffering, and in this cozy realm, presumptuous empathy becomes a fashionable application.
[John Michael Colón]
Why do ideas need novels?
Here is a syllogism with falsifiable but true premises: graduate students are alone; loneliness implies despair and/or longing for the warmth of a body paled by the fluorescent lights of the library, that is, excitement; therefore, graduate students are excited. The premises and therefore the conclusion, as they say, verify.
[Peter C. Baker]
The letter is, like all his letters, written in Italian. Amira has no way of knowing if he is doing this for his own benefit or in hopes of thwarting censorship. There is no indication of when it was written. It doesn’t tell him anything. He does worse than tell him nothing: he takes Ayoub – his Ayoub, the real individual – and crushes him with an infinity of possible Ayoubs, each Ayoub changed forever by what he had to endure, what he is still enduring (potentially right now), whatever he might still have to endure in the future. Reading the letters, Ayoub feels further away.
Reflections of an Apolitical Man
As much as Mann defies moral fanaticism, he implicitly poses an even more terrible challenge to those who would resurrect his defense of apolitical art today. Is it possible to do so without eminently political consequences, that is to say illiberal and anti-democratic?
When I come back home
Loving black art is something quite different from listing its citational references. Magnet When I come back home is not an act of cartography. When I come back home is both less, and therefore more, than a card.
Worry turns to wonder. We pass through dry irony and a few justified doubts to say, without losing face, that Turrell’s art makes people dream.