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Blair McClendon

All articles by this author

Our Godard

Our Godard

Godard never forgot that in art, as in life, beauty persuades

“Art today is Jean-Luc Godard,” the French poet Louis Aragon wrote in 1965. “Godard is not satisfied with the world as it is, he remakes it in his own manner . . . in Pierrot le fou red sings like an obsession.” It would again, decades later, in The Image Book. Godard has long been one of the few who believe that color is not a given, that it is a craft like any other. If his movies—the ones with Belmondo, with Gorin, with Miéville—have staying power, it is because he never completed his own search, for color or anything else. It is customary for any legendary artist to lapse into an academicism of the self. They have figured out how to do what they do and do so indefinitely. Godard wasn’t like that.

Pictures at a Restoration

Pictures at a Restoration

On Pete Souza’s Obama

Once safely out of office, he acknowledged that “millions of Americans” had been “spooked by a black man in the White House.” An undeniable truth, but one that was miles away from the embrocations he had offered the country when he launched his national career by declaring that “there is not a black America and a white America.” That kind of thing sounds like denialism to some, a postracial utopia to others, and then, in certain places, like a threat.

Lost Lost Causes

Lost Lost Causes

The day went how it went

“This is not America.” That strange, contradictory phrase seems to descend like fog every time a legible and precedented event occurs in the United States. If it wasn’t America, it wouldn’t need to be said.

A Gathering of Wolves

A Gathering of Wolves

Fascist America, like America in general, has rarely had a problem with absorbing the cultural output of those it seeks to destroy

To anyone psychically invested in the velvet glove of normal life, we are already in the throes of an insurrection that must be stamped out. We are nearing the end of a summer that taught us nothing is inviolable, not precincts and not the promise that black people will entertain us to the bitter end. Republicans know that what has been unleashed will not be pacified easily. Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD union, gave a speech castigating the left and the Democrats and all but swearing fealty to Trump. The congressional Democrats who embarrassingly kneeled in kente cloth were featured in a video roll call of radicalism alongside the DSA and toppled Confederate statues.

Such Things Have Done Harm

Such Things Have Done Harm

The only people I ever hear saying the world needs stories are the people involved in telling them

We should be willing to demand more than fellow feeling. The New York City Council crowed about its progressivism in passing a billion-dollar reduction in the NYPD’s budget. That number would just about return the department budget to the levels it was under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration. It is indicative of a dangerous lack of imagination if the best we can do is make a tacit admission that it was unwise to give the police more resources in the years after the rise of Black Lives Matter.