Nikil Saval

All articles by this author

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?

On Kobe Bryant

On Kobe Bryant

Late Kobe, like late Hemingway, was a throwback to himself.

Not a single player who is statistically “better” than Kobe has been as glorious to watch. He was a sociopath, and his deep-seated contempt drove him to become one of the most beautiful athletes. The comparison with Duncan, an incomparably nicer man and better teammate, is instructive. Though Duncan may end up being accounted the greater player, I am with those who find his post-up, bank-shot style a chore to watch. Very few, even the haters, have felt this way about Kobe in his prime.

In Baltimore

In Baltimore

Occasionally news crews would insinuate themselves into the crowds and pretend to understand what was happening. “I’m hearing lots of cries for freedom and justice here, not rioting” one newscaster said, authoritatively, while someone next to him continually interrupted: “This is about racism, not rioting. Say the word. This is about state-sponsored murder! Say it!”

The Long Eighties

The Long Eighties

Spend time among the Chinese intelligentsia today and you’ll hear many frank expressions of nostalgia for the 1980s. “Our Eighties are like your Sixties,” someone inevitably will say—in other words, the moment when the possibility of tremendous political transformation flared up only to be extinguished, sending shocks of longing through the dark years that followed.

On Tony Judt

On Tony Judt

Tony Judt began as an intellectual historian; he will be remembered by many as a bracing critic of Zionism, a vigorous proponent of European-style social democracy, and–tragically–a victim of ALS. I have heard many describe as “moving” his snatches of memoir, published over the last year of his life. This is true–but what may have been even more moving was the extent to which he devoted his last days to making the case for the welfare state.

The Turning of Backs

The Turning of Backs

Day Two of the Democratic National Convention

Suddenly Jill Stein, Green Party Presidential candidate, arrived at the tent, whether informed of or anticipating the walkout it was hard to say. She told the crowd that they weren’t walking out, they were walking in (to the Green Party!). This excited some delegates—who chanted “Jill, not Hill!”—and alienated many others, who did not appreciate her co-optation of this captive audience. Once it became clear that many of the delegates wanted to leave—either to return to the arena to see the Mothers of the Movement, or to join comrades in the adjoining Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, a meeting ground for protesters—a golf cart drove up out of nowhere, Stein stepped in, and the candidate was whisked away.

Built in the Cloud

Built in the Cloud

The whole scene felt a little unhinged, exacerbated by the heat.

The booing and chanting was undirected, merely vocal resistance. But it could have been much more: the mere threat of disorder on the Convention floor had been enough to dislodge Schultz from her position; what other constructive work could it have done?

On Kobe Bryant

On Kobe Bryant

Late Kobe, like late Hemingway, was a throwback to himself.

Not a single player who is statistically “better” than Kobe has been as glorious to watch. He was a sociopath, and his deep-seated contempt drove him to become one of the most beautiful athletes. The comparison with Duncan, an incomparably nicer man and better teammate, is instructive. Though Duncan may end up being accounted the greater player, I am with those who find his post-up, bank-shot style a chore to watch. Very few, even the haters, have felt this way about Kobe in his prime.

In Baltimore

In Baltimore

Occasionally news crews would insinuate themselves into the crowds and pretend to understand what was happening. “I’m hearing lots of cries for freedom and justice here, not rioting” one newscaster said, authoritatively, while someone next to him continually interrupted: “This is about racism, not rioting. Say the word. This is about state-sponsored murder! Say it!”

The Long Eighties

The Long Eighties

Spend time among the Chinese intelligentsia today and you’ll hear many frank expressions of nostalgia for the 1980s. “Our Eighties are like your Sixties,” someone inevitably will say—in other words, the moment when the possibility of tremendous political transformation flared up only to be extinguished, sending shocks of longing through the dark years that followed.