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In Memoriam

Miyake’s Layers

Miyake’s Layers

Contemporary fashion often seems to be in mourning for itself

Yesterday’s Pleats are in tomorrow’s seafood (microplastics, it seems, tend to proliferate in mollusks like scallops, mussels and oysters, fancy girl food and treif alike). Of all the myriad toxicities of microplastics, I was most tickled to learn that they are estrogenic and lower sperm count; the red-pilled among us might argue that the Pleats themselves made me trans.

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.

Kids Those Days

Kids Those Days

Mikhail Gorbachev and his generation

Gerontocracy is a relative concept. At his death in 1984 Yuri Andropov was only 69, decades younger than Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein and the other ancients currently presiding over the US Senate. What mattered was not the absolute age of the Soviet leadership but their generational cohort. Soviet history can usefully be understood as the story of the youth, maturity, and senescence of a single age group: people who were children in 1917.

On Janet Malcolm

On Janet Malcolm

From that point on she was fully formed, and she could write about whatever she liked

When I read In the Freud Archives for the first time, I understood myself to be looking for facts, dates, quotations—material. The material was there, and like a good nonfiction writer I dutifully underlined and annotated, but I also found that the particulars of the story she told had difficulty competing with the writing she used to tell it.

Silver Screen

Silver Screen

On Joan Micklin Silver (1935–2020)

If, as Manny Farber and Patricia Patterson wrote, the Godfather movies are uppercase filmmaking, the movie synonym for those Gothic friezes that one submissively admires before walking into the garish church that they adorn, then Hester Street is proudly lowercase.

On Randall Kenan, 1963–2020

On Randall Kenan, 1963–2020

There are writers who should not be allowed to vanish and go silent for so long, much as they might prefer to do so

It was the wrong moment in American letters to be a gay, Black man writing about the South. It didn’t matter if you could write a sex scene of the kind that would, twenty years in the future, earn Garth Greenwell a national book award nomination, while also channeling the blues cadences of Alfred Murray. If you weren’t Toni Morrison or, on the mass market side, Terry McMillan, you weren’t anybody. Publishing had no room for a diversity of diversity.