Art for Issue 42

Contents

Walk Away Like a Boss

How tragic, I thought, to reduce life to a procession of microtransactions or contracts. How naive to believe that some agreed-upon set of values could be formalized into code, or that the problems of politics could be made irrelevant by computation.

Lab-Leak Theory and the “Asiatic” Form

I could not direct you to the key evidence that exonerates the Wuhan Institute, and it might not exist. But this is also the crucial point. There are too many lacunae in the lab-leak explanation for the theory to stand on its own: proponents must fill the gaps with their own projections and beliefs.

National Nightmare

I can’t tell how paranoid I’m being when I wonder if we’re at the beginning of a civil war. When we feel paranoid, we project our fear outward, locating it in details and experiences that would seem otherwise benign. Sometimes this fear is justified; the paranoid fantasy is not always implausible.

Rust

On May 29, 2020, the largest fuel storage tank at Norilsk Heat and Power Plant No. 3 (HPP-3) burst at the bottom and spewed 6.5 million gallons of diesel fuel into the Daldykan River. From there it seeped into the Ambarnaya River, Lake Pyasino, the Pyasina River, and finally into the Kara Sea. It was the largest oil spill in Arctic history.

Unfree Associations

The analyst is enjoined not to hate. Or at least, not in the way the patient is permitted on the couch. Psychoanalysis has historically set neutrality as a goal: to contain the feeling mind and its history, the analyst must bracket the world, their sociality, desires. The only problem is this is impossible, especially if we concede that there is something called an unconscious.

Digital Rocks

Eventually DCI scrubbed celluloid film almost entirely from the film industry, ushering in the most significant technological shift since the introduction of sound. The digital revolution transformed nearly every aspect of filmmaking for Hollywood and independent filmmakers. This revolution was invisible, and it was designed to be that way. Its success depended on audiences never noticing at all.

@elenchita

What I’m saying is that when you grow up here it’s harder to take the shit you see on social media seriously. Like, for real, who the fuck cares about your big sushi date night in Dallas or whatever? What’s crazy too is that everybody knows they’re creating a false image of themselves, so everybody has to know that everyone else is doing that too.

The Two Imams

He introduced himself in an English spoken just strangely enough to lend the language the empathy it often lacks. He was striking, his close-cut sideburns giving way to tight curlicues that charmingly splayed over his forehead. It wasn’t until he refused the cot in Imam Salim’s room and slept on the mosque’s floor that we began to double-check our hasty assumption of his imposture. When he showered in the filthy ablution chamber, we figured he was, in all likelihood, a genuine paragon.

New Left Review

The extent to which the iconic movements of the ’60s United States fed on existing liberalism and fed into neoliberalism is, however, all the more reason not to isolate the New Left as a singular cataclysm that destabilized the New Deal order. Far from a gently humming machine that could have kept operating indefinitely were it not for the intervention of a new generation of radicals, the United States’ simulacrum of social democracy was a fragile assemblage of competing intellectual tendencies and political coalition partners that was always threatening to fall apart.

Shadow and Light

There is something to the way Levy writes that makes one believe she could hear, see, read, or experience anything and say: OK. She offers many interpretations, but few judgments and even fewer conclusions. Her loyalties are total and her betrayals are final.

The Everything Snore

Here, within the novel’s warped internal political economy, emerges a final convergence between Eggers and Bezos: a literalized obsession with the customer as both narrative phenomenon and market force, a figure who could put a stop to Amazon’s dominance if only they could resist the great deals.

Radical Narcissist

In just a couple of weeks I cycled all the way from love—listening to episode after episode on long, meditative walks with a stroller and hearing Zahedi’s voice in my head at all other times of day—to the other side. I managed to get my husband hooked in the process. He continued to listen every day as the episodes came out, whereas when I caught the distinct cadence of Zahedi’s voice coming out of the fuzzy iPhone speaker from the kitchen, I began to feel embarrassed. For me? For Zahedi? For me for once liking him and for Zahedi for being so . . . needy.

Buffettspotting

To play, you’d bet a dollar that Warren Buffett was home. Then you’d drive by his house in my friend’s 1992 Geo Prizm. If you saw him in the windows, or if there was a nondescript sedan in the driveway, the Buffett Game Dollar was yours.