Art for Issue 45

Contents

The New New Reading Environment

For larger publications, the upside of newsletters is obvious. Email-bound readers can seamlessly swipe over from their Zocdoc appointment notification to their health insurance bill payment notification to their student loan payment notification to their local mass shooting notification to a Washington Post opinion newsletter about the biggest threat facing the nation (still, somehow, cancel culture). Of course, no one has pursued newsletters as zealously as the legaciest legacy-media operation of them all: the New York Times.

J. D. Vance Changes the Subject

Vance’s form of far-right politics is so ominous because it responds in a primal, perverted way to something actual. We are caught under a heap of wreckage, an accumulation of social and historical trauma that we are largely without means of getting out of. Millions are dead, and millions more permanently sick, from a pandemic that everyone now pretends didn’t happen, and even more vigorously pretends is not still happening.

The Catastrophe in Turkey

One way of reading the AKP’s progress is as a two-step process of privatization. In its first two terms, the AKP government privatized a large portion of Turkey’s state assets; since then, it has moved to make the state itself the private property of one man and his friends. The first phase — standard neoliberalism — won the AKP applause from the Western establishment, which is now aghast at the second phase, which looks more like Putin than Thatcher. 

Cowboy in Sweden

For the first time in my life I would be an official roadie. I wasn’t merely in charge of the driving: I would also help build and dismantle, lift and position, carry and fetch — armed with duct tape and a Swiss Army knife. My writing would be full of self-mockery and rich with funny observations about my wife. Moreover, having experienced the splendor of the gig, my dispatch would be transformed, alchemically, into an essay that contained a series of pointed, even revolutionary, observations about art.

Love and Wizkid

The album gives me space to imagine beautiful places and sappy romantic love. It gives me the space to imagine intentional rest that does not imply lockdown, to imagine interactions with people that don’t signal death, and to imagine a healthy, abundant sex life that I have yet to experience.

The Ellipse Maker

It was disappointing that these devices didn’t operate on different principles. The sameness suggested that the mystery in them was limited, that the idea behind them was a known form that Jacob hadn’t encountered before only because he didn’t know very much about the world.

Kairos, the Lucky Moment—and the Long Time That Follows

Kairos, the god of fortunate moments, is supposed to have a lock of hair on his forehead, which is the only way of grasping hold of him. Because once the god has slipped past on his winged feet, the back of his head is sleek and hairless, nowhere to grab hold of. Was it a fortunate moment, then, when she, just 19, first met Hans?

Quarantine

I would see all her bright colors and form a very hazy idea of the whole. She seemed to be repainting the same picture over and over again, and every time I walked by my impression grew more distinct. I also began to feel uncontrollably jealous, half convinced her painting was one I had conceived of long ago and simply hadn’t had a chance to paint yet.

Little Miss Bigmouth

When she’s in a state of panic, my mother bargains with the Lord and imposes fioretti on herself: no eating sweets, no going to the movies, no reading magazines, no listening to Rai Radio 3, for weeks, months, years. These days she can’t go to the hairdresser’s or watch TV. Sometimes the combination is no Radio 3 and no sweets. Or no coffee and no new shoes. She mixes them, matches them — it depends.

Ace

We transformed the living room into an arena. Hauled the coffee table from the center of the room and carried it into the dining room. Removed objects that could cause a freak accident — a statue sitting on a low mantle that my parents picked up on their honeymoon, the fireplace poker we never used. We took the cushions and pillows from the couch and spread them across the floor, covered sharp edges with throw blankets and with my bedroom comforter.

Outside the Museum of Literature

Solenoid’s parasites take us well over the horizon marked out by any kind of realism. In one of Cărtărescu’s odder fantasias, his narrator comes to know a librarian with a messianic vocation: to find a way to communicate with the subject of his obsession, the world of mites, on whose astonishing variety, beauty, and omnipresence at the edges of our attention he soliloquizes at length.

Joanna Hogg’s Women

Female silence animates many of Hogg’s dramas, which follow women whose problems manifest as failures of expression: women with suppressed desires, thwarted ambitions, or a reluctance (sometimes approaching inability) to say what they mean. Hogg’s own biography featured a long period of what might be thought of as creative silence: after graduating from film school in the mid-’80s, she spent nearly two decades directing music videos and television episodes.

Careworn

Writing by adult children about the aging parents they care for — a genre likely to expand in the coming decades as the old exceed the young — is marked by a twinned consciousness. Written out of the exigencies of the present as much as those of the past, it strains to acknowledge one’s parents as people yet wants to remain true to one’s own experience of those people as parents.

The Cheapo Stuff Wins

In the late ’90s there was this trend toward blob cars that was probably seen as very ugly at the time, but now represents an infinitely more beautiful path lost to the auto industry by the late ’00s. Now all we have are cars that are soft and hard at the same time, like the swole AF backend coders we all apparently want to be.