Archive

Angry Letters

13 January 2014

If “global capitalism” is responsible for eliding the local, so too is any cultural criticism that sees the whole world and all its writers as a valuable unit of analysis. The piece simply does not account for work that does speak to local contexts (anticaste literature, for example), hasn’t been translated, and/or is out of tune with the tectonics of the global market. More…

Originally published in Issue 18: Good News

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23 August 2013

The subject of the essay was World Literature, both an object of academic study and a particular prestige category as imagined by New York publishing houses and critics, and whose apotheosis is the annual PEN World Voices Festival, also in New York. As we said in the first paragraph, we were not talking about all the literature published in the world. That would have been a different sort of essay. More…

3 July 2013

I fear World Republic of Losers, though it speaks to the soul, does lose out to World Lite, which is very portable and also captures the piece’s respect for literature and disappointment in its low-cal, taste-free varieties. More…

17 May 2013

I would like to propose a new online course for the Coursera platform. Its title is “The Implications of Coursera’s For-Profit Business Model for Global Public Education.” The goal of the course will be to understand the real relation between Coursera’s mission and the logic of the business plan that led Coursera to be named “The Best Startup of 2012.” More…

13 February 2013

For those who missed the last The Trouble is the Banks reading at St. Mark’s Bookshop on January 23, new audio and photos of the event. Thanks to letter writer Leathea Vanadore for coming out to read on her birthday; to Dave McGee, for contributing not one but two letters to the book; and to Heather Duke, who traveled a long distance to share her incredible story. More…

18 July 2012

And all of us know perfectly well that our fossil-fueled civilization isn’t built to last; we also know that we need to effect a deliberate and graceful transition to another energy regime or suffer a chaotic and violent interregnum. The ignorant as well as the informed know this. You could write a Walt Whitman-style poem about this obvious thing that everybody knows. More…

9 February 2012

I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street. In fact, anarchists like myself were the real core of the group that came up with the idea of occupying Zuccotti Park, the “99%” slogan, the General Assembly process, and, in fact, who collectively decided that we would adopt a strategy of Gandhian non-violence and eschew acts of property damage. More…

20 June 2011

A letter from Alexander Cockburn and reply by Wes Enzinna. “We have here the utterly conventional reduction of a left-wing writer.” “Would that it weren’t the case, but John was as marginal as they come.” More…

11 May 2010

Jason Farago must be the only person left on the planet who will miss Gordon Brown. I’m including even diehard Labour voters here, who must have secretly hoped for or expected yesterday’s resignation announcement. For the periods on the either side of the height of the financial crisis, Brown was spectacularly unpopular. More…

4 December 2009

It was with some surprise that I learned of Emily Gould’s ad hominem attack on me at nplusonemag.com. Her vitriol against my new book, A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the 21st Century, seems based on her reading of its Acknowledgments section. Gould is the person, after all, who “created a small-scale publishing industry out of mutual abuse.” 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…

12 February 2009

Fairey no doubt learned that it’s a good idea to reveal some of your sources of appropriation or inspiration or whatever fair use dictates we call it. He probably also learned that it’s not a good idea to reveal them all. His borrowings from They Live are obvious and not uncommented on, but no serious critic of his has bothered to watch the Carpenter film. More…

5 February 2009

To the Editors: In “Reality Publishing,” [N1BR, January 13, 2009], an article recently posted on the online version of n+1, Darryl Lorenzo Wellington suggests that there is a partnership between the National Book Critics Circle and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. No such partnership exists. More…

3 December 2008

Dear Senator Clinton, I know that it is still weeks before your confirmation hearings, but I write you in the hope that you might redress a grievance that I have with Condoleezza Rice. I realized that sometime between 1998 and 2008 the State Department had redesigned the familiar U.S. passport. It is my hope that your department can swiftly revert to the old, Madeleine Albright-era design. More…

13 December 2006

Robbins apparently believes that we only do things in the service of our own interests and therefore, if we’re to act on behalf of other people, we have to rig up some mechanism (call it culture, call it heritage) to convince ourselves that at least some of the others really are us and so their interests really are ours. And I’m the individualist! More…

16 November 2006

Liu begins his article by self-identifying as a fan of the NBA. One wonders: is it necessary that such self-identification should lead to a thinly veiled pro-corporate political position? Perhaps. After all, sports fans want their “home” team to win a championship. This calls for the best young players, which calls for money, which calls for public funding for arenas. More…

20 September 2004

We are, indeed, sophisticates. And we are certainly seductive. I have used my charms to lure several CEOs to marry me, and scores of pool-boys and paparazzi to bed me. In fact, I am somewhat confused by your use of the word “spinsterism“—as Jane Austen reminds us, chronicling the activities of our ancestors, it’s rather difficult to keep wealth unattached. More…

Image: "Death of Marat." David. 1793. Creative Commons.