Archive

Marco Roth

7 August 2013

No, I can’t really challenge or logic chop Peter — A) Philosophers have leisure, B) Soldiers have leisure, C) Soldiers are, ergo, now philosophers; spot the fallacy. Sneering seems beside the point. I too once played at war across the toy-strewn floor of my bedroom and eagerly read books with titles like Tactical Genius in Battle. More…

5 August 2013

To be poor and black in America is already to be treated as someone engaged in suspicious, criminal behavior, which is how it happens that Oscar Grant could find himself sucker-punched in a crowded train, and then manhandled by police who of course think he and his friends are the culprits. More…

20 September 2012

The parallels between parenting and torture, unwittingly created by behavioral psychologists in both camps, suddenly intersect and cross over. We rebel at leaving our child to cry because something about it violates our humanity. We may want our child to get a head start on competition in the global economy or, quite simply, to fall asleep so we can catch up on sleep ourselves. More…

15 November 2011

A massive police action undertaken in the middle of the night against an unarmed, defenseless, and mostly sleeping group, with the aim of their forcible removal and the incidental destruction of most of their personal property was ordered, we learned, ostensibly in the name of “guaranteeing public health and safety.” Why in the middle of the night? More…

24 October 2011

The creation of an archive or memorial, even in real time, does not by itself constitute resistance, and it might be the case that the 99 percenters represented by the Tumblr will be viewed by future historians as the necessary fallen of the age of post-industrialization, the great adjustment, or whatever name they give our present moment of economic and social realignment. More…

26 September 2011

Before the memorial comes the checkpoint, an inevitable reminder of the days when the downtown concierge’s “Can I help you, buddy?” was replaced by security personnel’s “Please remove your belt, sir,” the less egalitarian mode of address putting a fig leaf of flattery over potential humiliation. Today, however, the guards are in a good mood. We’re waved through. More…

Even as something about this feels true to your pessimistic soul—you can’t help but feel that we are not all slaves to technological progress. There are still backward parts of the world, like the theater companies of London, New York, Paris, and Buenos Aires where human beings still commit vast amounts of words to memory. You have friends who, when they get drunk, recite Keats, Yeats, and Wallace Stevens. More…

25 October 2010

One begins to think of race in Obama’s America like sex in some caricature of Freud’s Vienna: simultaneously the main theme of all conversation, and the one that can’t be mentioned. Instead of being “overcome,” historic American racism against nonwhite people has gone into deep cover and, with the irrefutable illogic of the unconscious, emerged as a newfangled American antiracism for the protection of white people. More…

26 July 2010

As the novel goes on we find that we are treated to a spectacle of suffering humanity, not displayed to provoke us to outraged enlightenment, but for our pleasure. We like Kathy’s plainness, her simple thoughtfulness, and her growing awareness of pain gives us a charge too. More…

18 May 2010

Great or only willing greatness, Reality Hunger neither dissolves nor founds but slips into a growing mode of authorial self-presentation, an instance of what I’d call either the fallacy of “hipness by analogy,” or “the fantasy of the writer as hip-hop DJ.” More…

30 March 2010

Moore’s film has revived the old debate on the left between ends and means. If Bush is thrown out of office thanks to Fahrenheit 9/11, is it enough? Or ought a man who rose to power dishonestly be thrown out honestly? Slate’s David Edelstein recounts an argument with a friend, angry over Moore’s inclusion of the now famous grieving mother, Lila Lipscomb. More…

3 March 2010

A problem for Tino Sehgal as much as it was a problem for Plato is that performed conversation is still performance as much as it’s conversation. It’s one thing to perceive the stark whiteness and vertiginous openness of the Guggenheim as an ideal contemporary representation of the Athenian “agora,” and another to allow “the art of conversation” to take place unimpeded. More…

29 October 2009

On December 7th, 2006, in a blog entry on “Offprints in the Digital Age,” honestly reprinted in its entirety, n+1 friend and frequent contributor Caleb Crain assured his readers, “not even I am so nineteenth-century as to have my essays privately printed.” But he has now gone and done just that! Not just his essays but the blog itself, “Steamboats Are Ruining Everything.” More…

16 October 2009

Dear Mark, When you and I read Kierkegaard’s Either/Or this spring, in a group that met every morning for a week in the second-floor cafeteria of the Houston Street Whole Foods, we had many arguments about the nature of marriage. Now I seem to be joining you in another, though our private conversation has become, in something like the ambiguous transformation wrought by marriage itself, public. More…

14 September 2009

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Originally published in Issue 8: Recessional

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4 November 2008

I remember the New Yorker “Talk of the Town” when the first rumors of the Lewinsky scandal came out. One of Clinton’s aides was interviewed, not knowing whether the rumors were true or not, convinced (as was the case) that the Republicans, looking for one thing (Whitewater), had found something else (Lewinsky), but adding: “If you want to know who I blame, I blame Clinton. I blame him.” More…

The challenge for Salman Rushdie nowadays is finding a fitting subject for his self-consciously lush style. To avoid giving the sense that he is a queen dressed as an emperor, Rushdie should write about emperors and queens from faraway longago, as he does in this excerpt from his newest novel. More…

14 January 2007

In my Philadelphia neighborhood, Monday is garbage day, which means Sunday night is garbage night. Exceptions are made for any national holiday. Yet, for some reason, the streets are all piled high with garbage as I walk home tonight. I can’t help wondering if the citizens of Philadelphia know something I don’t. Is Martin Luther King Jr. day really a garbage day? More…

9 January 2007

When I was in elementary school, we used to play a game that was called “Would you prefer to be frozen or burned alive?” At the time, I always chose frozen. It seemed like it would be possible to just curl up in the snow and die, which I had read about in White Fang. Whereas with burning, what I really imagined was boiling—in a big pot. More…

31 October 2005

Here’s a thesis to try out on friends: The anti-war movement, in its current form, is an unwitting complement to US government policy, not an opposition to it. It will enable a cowardly premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, an event that will be a horrendous betrayal of the Iraqis we promised to “liberate” and a complete failure of political imagination, and which both the Bush administration and the anti-war movement will claim as a victory. More…

31 October 2005

Wilson knew Europe before the war, but his accounts are almost entirely free of nostalgia or even acknowledgment of the past. He wasn’t there to write a guidebook, and the guidebook genre makes a clumsy frame for what became a furious polemic against the English at the moment when only a few red rays of Empire remained. More…

6 May 2005

True hoaxes are radical. Chabon’s posturing turns out to lend support to a conservative a vision of Jewish identity that’s ideologically noxious and, ultimately, cruel. As I listened, I found myself laughing and impressed, but I also listened to the audience’s enthusiastic clapping and wondered whether they were applauding the entertainment or the sentiments behind it. More…

5 April 2005

If parenting, even responsible parenting, made me feel like a torturer, it wasn’t exactly because I’m melodramatic or overwrought, but because the official torturers now conceive of themselves in the same terms as the parenting manuals. They, too, are technicians of the naked human personality. More…

19 February 2005

Clothing really has become indecent, and there’s little harm in passing an unenforceable law acknowledging this. In the library where I’m writing this piece, I count ten women with visible midriffs and two with “ass cleavage.” Among the men, fewer in number, two wear close-fitting tank-tops. This is to go to the library? More…

14 February 2005

In this gentle and permissive way we were enjoined to get high on pot and take up oral sex, but not do any favors for Philip Morris. Now I know that when shaggy, Dionysian Allen Ginsberg takes on the role of forbidding father, and you still take up smoking, you must really be on the wrong side of history. More…

Originally published in Issue 2: Happiness

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Director of our research branch, Mark Greif, has sent me on a French fishing expedition. Here are some results, though for the moment just the Paris branch of them (no colonies). I’ll also try to call Houellebecq this week, for those translation rights, if we have the right number. More…

18 October 2004

Jacques Derrida died last weekend. Polite French journalese will refer to “sa disparition,” his disappearance. If I were a “deconstructionist,” this would be the moment to reflect on the words disappearance and appearance. We only say someone has disappeared, we do not speak of his life as an appearance, but this is what is implied by someone’s disappearance. More…

16 October 2004

What if all the libels, brazen lies, gerrymandering, and fake voter registration groups that tear up the cards of Democrats are a shift from the symbolic violence of games to real violence in a real war where anything goes and not even the past will be safe if the enemy wins? More…

20 September 2004

As last Sunday showed, 2004 is not 1968, and the confrontation with the Man is less important than the relationship between demonstrators and the media who cover them. The new breed of demonstrators understand themselves as event planners for an audience of journalists who will then pass on the message to their readers and viewers. Primarily, they are performers. More…

20 September 2004

So far, so anticlimactic. The supposed repeat of the 1968 Chicago convention and its disastrous consequences (violence, Nixon’s election) has not taken place. The protesters have behaved themselves and the police have settled for arresting bicyclists and bystanders, some of whom happened to be lawyers and journalists. Things may yet get worse in the coming days, but right now this looks like another Orange alert. More…

14 July 2004

This is the way to dignify an American Empire. Right now we plant democracy like an orchid and depart—leaving behind oilmen to drain nutrients out of the soil. Better to offer a plot in our own garden, so to speak, protected and sheltered by many hardy perennials, who find the new shoot in no way inferior. More…

Originally published in Issue 1: Negation

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24 April 2004

Dale Peck cuts a figure both tragic and ludicrous. He posed for the New York Times in flannel shirt, clutching a woodsman’s ax, staring wildly into the camera with hooded eyes. On the jacket of his book, a second photograph announces his slow fade into knowing self-parody. There he seems to slip away from the camera in coy profile, the ax held lazily over one sleeve of his pastel blue t-shirt. More…