Art for Issue 35


Spectacle of Participation

Endless campaigns may be seen as evidence of a candidate’s eventual priorities. Some supporters of Hillary Clinton averred happily that she had been pulled to the left by Bernie Sanders, but the fact remains that anyone can be pulled to the left during a campaign, because campaigns have targeted ends: votes. Once those are achieved, they usually have no lasting effect on what the candidate does in office. There are few promises that cannot be broken, or so hedged and circumscribed that they are effectively broken.

On the Mueller Report, Vol. 1

An interesting side effect of reading the report is to feel that anyone who claims to have understood its arguments, purposes, and consequences within twenty-four or forty-eight hours of encountering it is likely untrustworthy.

The Evangelical Mind

Yet because of the movement’s own internal contradictions, the evangelical goal of perfect replication has proven impossible. As parents, evangelicals incite their children to take personal ownership of Christianity, but demand that their children conform to their own understanding of the faith. They claim to want us to have an authentic, spontaneous religious experience, yet relentlessly manipulate our emotions.


When feminists call for the criminalization and delegitimization of sex work, they do not ally themselves with sex-working women. They actively create and cultivate a world in which sex-working women are culturally, legally, and visibly separated from women who do not trade sex. They make sure that they will not be mistaken for one of us, and they do so by telling a story about our lives that is about predators and not about work. A story in which the power dynamics are utterly uncomplicated and so are the solutions.

Predatory Inclusion

Placing homeownership at the heart of the nation’s low-income housing policies ceded outsize influence and control to the real estate industry over dwellings intended to serve a disproportionately African American market. Real estate’s wealth was largely generated through racial discrimination. Its profitability was contingent on “best practices” that actively encouraged racial segregation, and the public policies that grew from the partnership between property assessors, brokers, bankers, and federal policymakers reflected the logic of the housing market.

White Voice

I had been telemarketing for a few months when I discovered the industry’s magnum opus, Glengarry Glen Ross, the 1992 movie based on David Mamet’s play. Four salesmen in Sheepshead Bay, at the ass-end of Brooklyn, sell real estate. The top guy at the end of the month gets a Cadillac, the second a set of steak knives, and the other two, announces Alec Baldwin in a legendary monologue, are fired. “Hit the bricks, pal, and beat it.”

Holding Patterns

My grandmother calls me every Saturday around the same time, between ten o’clock and eleven o’clock in the morning. Actually, she should be calling me soon, but this time I’m not going to answer—my phone is in the other room. My grandmother lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so far north she’s in the Eastern Time Zone, although her house is west of Chicago. We usually talk about politics—out of everyone in the family, the two of us are the most left-wing—or about the weather, but now the weather is political, too. “There’s no such thing as winter anymore,” my grandmother says. “There’s only fall, late fall, and late late fall, followed by early early spring, early spring, and spring.” When she talks about it more seriously, she adds, “I’m glad I won’t be alive to see what happens.”

Parasite Air

“I see I have your attention. Good. Your billionaire made a fatal mistake when he plugged me into his network. He thinks I am mere taxidermy. Little does he suspect the wrath I still contain. Or what powers he has inadvertently granted. I hear his conversations. His hidden deals, his inside track. I know the inner workings of his diamond-encrusted loopholes. You want the secret of success? It’s not a matter of genius, Chester—it’s a matter of malignancy.”

The Feminist

His friends, mostly female, told him he was refreshingly attentive and trustworthy for a boy. Meanwhile he is grateful for the knowledge that female was best used as an adjective, that sexism harms men too (though not nearly to the extent that it harms women), and that certain men pretend to be feminists just to get laid.

The Creature

I didn’t know adults who made art or wrote books or played music, and I didn’t know adults who worked with people who did these things. I grasped the distance between me and the people who did these things and could not see a way to traverse it. So when I found myself proximate to people who worked with people who did these things, people such as the curator at the gallery named after the matriarch, I was pleased but also terrified. And in order to impress the curator I had decided my best option was to speak as little as possible; it was hard, I thought, to be disappointing if you said nothing. This was the way I went through life then.

Dreams Are Lost Memories

Domino takes place in Copenhagen, where police detectives speak English and used to be in Game of Thrones. The director seems to have contempt for both his leads. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, playing a not-bright cop who sets the plot in motion by forgetting his gun one morning, has a second-choice feel. Carice van Houten, who exists in Domino like she’s waiting for each take to end so she can go outside and smoke, resembles Noomi Rapace in De Palma’s earlier film Passion, but why? In the past, the resemblance would have been evidence of directorial obsession. Here, it’s probably a coincidence.

On Design Thinking

By embracing “design thinking,” we attribute to design a kind of superior epistemology: a way of knowing, of “solving,” that is better than the old and local and blue-collar and municipal and unionized and customary ways. We bring in “design thinkers” — some of them designers by trade, many of them members of adjacent knowledge fields — to “empathize” with Kaiser hospital nurses, Gainesville city workers, church leaders, young mothers, and guerrilla fighters the world over.

Right Effort

There are only so many hours in the day and days in the year, and we must carefully distribute them between work, sleep, activism, and “other” — where much of the pleasure of life is relegated.