Marco Roth

All articles by this author

Jane B and me during the Paris Attacks

Jane B and me during the Paris Attacks

News of the massacres in Paris reached me about fifteen minutes before Nina and I were supposed to see Agnès Varda’s “Jane B.” The showing was at a former mausoleum factory and warehouse in north Philadelphia, a space built to advertise its wares, a white-marbled rectangular tombstone in the middle of brick houses, neon-lit gas stations and chicken joints, and a fortresslike Citizens Bank, down the street from a gun shop. It was all stupidly overdetermined. We went in anyway, not so much on the “mustn’t let the terrorists win” principle, more like “well, we’ve come this far.”

Caucasian Nation

Caucasian Nation

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.

The Rise of the Neuronovel

The Rise of the Neuronovel

Many scientists and philosophers acknowledge that they understand more about how damaged brains work—or, rather, don’t work— than about the neurochemistry of the normal brain. And yet, in its popular journalistic form, the new reductionism can or will soon describe all human behavior, from warfare to soul-making. The British physician, philosopher, and neuro-skeptic Raymond Tallis has summarized the doctrine: “A convergence of evolutionary theory, neuroscience, and other biological disciplines has led countless thinkers to claim that we are best understood as organisms whose entire panoply of behavior is directly or indirectly related to organic survival.”

Jane B and me during the Paris Attacks

Jane B and me during the Paris Attacks

News of the massacres in Paris reached me about fifteen minutes before Nina and I were supposed to see Agnès Varda’s “Jane B.” The showing was at a former mausoleum factory and warehouse in north Philadelphia, a space built to advertise its wares, a white-marbled rectangular tombstone in the middle of brick houses, neon-lit gas stations and chicken joints, and a fortresslike Citizens Bank, down the street from a gun shop. It was all stupidly overdetermined. We went in anyway, not so much on the “mustn’t let the terrorists win” principle, more like “well, we’ve come this far.”

Caucasian Nation

Caucasian Nation

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.