Announcing Issue 27

Writing by George Blaustein, Aziz Rana, Thomas Bolt, Beatriz Bracher, Caleb Crain, Joshua Cohen, Kristin Dombek, Sam Frank, Victoria Lomasko, A. S. Hamrah, and Naomi Fry.

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The Intellectual Situation

No President by The Editors

If the polity is not the state but its citizens, the most important thing individual Americans can do is deny Trump aid, collaboration, agreement, and acceptance. Not accept, not adjust, not adapt, not appease, not conciliate. There is something sinister in the media’s “ten-step plans” to adjust to a President-Elect Trump, as if this were a personal upset needing therapy rather than a question of democratic legitimacy itself.


The Obama Speeches by George Blaustein

In the narrative world of an Obama speech, the protagonist of every story is in some sense a generation, and the climax of every story is a moment. For Bush, time was always running out, like Jack Bauer’s clock in 24. The decision point was that instant when one billiard ball hits the next, and God willing, your aim was true. But in the greatest Obama speeches, because of their eloquence and ceremonial grandeur, time itself slows. The moment is a sacred, baptismal pause. Christened as part of a generation, you, American citizen, are given a glimpse of the eternal.

Decolonizing Obama by Aziz Rana

With the center in greater disarray than at any point since before World War II, the options feel stark: liberation on anticapitalist and antiracist terms, or the deep entrenchment of racial and economic hierarchy. But as he leaves office, Obama’s inadvertent legacy has been to help bring back the very American radicalism he once rejected. Representing the apotheosis of the creedal story, Obama unintentionally encouraged his own youthful supporters to move beyond the terms that essentially marked American politics from the 1970s to the 2000s.


The Last Last Summer by Joshua Cohen

The word I heard most often in reference to the GOP candidate—from Steven Perskie, the former New Jersey assemblyman and state senator whose original gaming referendum brought casinos to AC in 1976; from Nelson Johnson, the New Jersey superior court judge who wrote the book version of Boardwalk Empire; from Don Guardian, one of the few AC mayors in my lifetime not to have been charged with corruption; from Ibrahim Abdali and his cousin who’d only identify himself as Mohammed, Afghan refugees who sell pipes and bongs and martial-arts weaponry on the Boardwalk—the word I heard most often was failure.

Old Ship by Kristin Dombek

You say you’ve come to the end of the story, but I think you’re stuck in the middle of one. And by writing me, you’ve written yourself into another story, in which an angry and despairing man (my father, a boyfriend, a male friend) calls on me (or so I believe) to name a philosophical principle that will make life seem worth living again.

Don’t Be Scared, Homie by Sam Frank

The first Ultimate Fighting Championships, in the early ’90s, were freak-show tournaments of all sizes and styles: shootfighting vs. kung fu vs. savate vs. kenpo vs. wing chun vs. pencak silat vs. aikido vs. ninjutsu vs. Brazilian jiu-jitsu. There were no time limits: the ref didn’t stop the fight until someone either gave up or was knocked unconscious.

In Tbilisi by Victoria Lomasko

While we were talking, kids from the neighboring houses dashed into the museum. They said it was the first time they had seen the museum’s gates open, and they wanted to see what was inside. They looked at the numerous portraits and busts of Stalin and Lenin.
“Do you know who that is?” I asked, pointing to a bust of Lenin.
They said they didn’t know.


Inversion of Marcia by Thomas Bolt

I’d been “asked” not to bring my computer, and my phone was the wrong kind, so I couldn’t even text. Mom and Dad probably thought it was “healthy for Mary to take a break,” but they didn’t understand: it was like my friendships were these tiny twinkling lights and they’d yanked the plug. I put my earbuds in and skipped from song to song until I realized I didn’t want to listen to anything, not even silence: I listened to the wind. Where was it coming from? Probably the whole building was infiltrated by any breeze that really took an interest.

I Didn’t Talk by Beatriz Bracher

Like a little child learning the language of the tribe, I find myself in the acquisitive phase of a new language. At the same time the old one, the one I knew and used, seems sterile. It was now my cup, my bread, my rage, my 64 years of age. As though I needed once more to name and own what I was taking with me. Return to the first person and to the possessive, the twin juvenile plagues that modernity bequeathed us and against which I had struggled sincerely.

Ward’s Fool by Caleb Crain

Do you remember Alan Burns? While he was in service here as your chauffeur, almost fifteen years ago, he let a number of people know that he thought there was still a place in the continent for a republic and that he was going to fight for it. He wasn’t shy about it; a report of his intentions must have reached you. He was resourceful, as a chauffeur has to be, about foraging and bargaining for parts as well as about making repairs, and I think he was so sure of his value to you that he didn’t care if you heard. You probably remember that I came and told you that I wanted to follow him, without telling you (but without much disguising from you) where I thought he was going and why.


All That Counts Is Getting to a Normal World by A. S. Hamrah

One day during the festival I was sitting in Union Square eating my lunch and reading an email announcement on my phone about a lecture the film theorist Laurence Rickels was giving in New York. There was a photo of Rickels in the email, and when I looked up from my phone I saw a man go by who looked exactly like Rickels: bald, modish eyeglass frames, stocky, well dressed. I got up and stopped him to ask if he was Rickels. “No,” he answered. “I am Gianfranco Rosi, the Italian filmmaker.”

The Age of Insolvency by Naomi Fry

Janowitz’s preoccupation is with portraying the encounter between an uncertain, struggling protagonist and the chaotic, hostile world around her, which can only result in a downward spiral. As she writes early on in Scream, “Try as I might, for me, other human beings are a blend of pit vipers, chimpanzees, and ants, a virtually indistinguishable mass of killer shit-pickers, sniffing their fingers and raping.” In Janowitz’s memoir and in her fiction, the suffering modern subject who must persist in such an apocalypto-Darwinian landscape is almost always a woman. This is not a coincidence.

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