THE INTELLECTUAL SITUATION
Listen Up, Ladies
What do women have to do with the internet? We submit that, at least in the eyes of media executives, women are the internet. Women, we mean the internet, are commanding a larger share of the print market. The internet, we mean women, never pays for its content—or for their drinks!
Let Them Eat Print!
The magazine for men is not the Atlantic, which treats the internet like a woman and placates it, but Harper’s, which treats the internet like a woman and ignores it. Harper’s remains almost entirely male and for all practical purposes appears exclusively in print, where it pursues its passion for solving arithmetic problems, arranging newspaper clippings, and recounting logistically complicated vacations.
Back from the Dead
An original schism—original sin—simmers beneath every article extolling the virtues of print and lamenting the waning of its empire. For what is it that made magazines so good, anyway? What was their private and singular claim to the truth, and the authority to tell it? That they were not like the stuff women read, or wrote.
Complacencies of a Beach Towel
We love the new Paris Review, partly because it always makes us forget what year it is, but never in a depressing way, like Harper’s. We opened a recent issue and found all our favorite hits from the archives: poems from an ancient civilization, an experimental short story by a woman, some brightly colored art that must have been very expensive to print, and obscene fiction by a Jewish person.
Politics no longer involves the public use of reason; it is instead a matter of psychopathology, and is already treated as such by politicians and the public alike. Only this can account for the political centrality of the “gaffe” or the slip of the tongue, an eminence that verbal inadvertencies have not enjoyed since the early days of psychoanalysis.
I cannot get my fill of the map you included of your island homeland, the painstaking labor of your inspired imperial cartographers. And you know, I just may pin it up here on the wall. I’ll look at it and try to guess where you are there right now, among those mountains, deserts, lakes, felt-tip bushes, and capitals. What have you been up to?
The Oxfords went for exhibition and fullness, the whole way, and took it straight to those break-dancing older slickhead clowns from Woodlawn. Yeah, they was popping and breaking, helicopter and all that, but that shit is for tourists. I copped our step from this old head who rocked coach’s shorts and a touring cap, and who gave up the flow downtown every summer.
Letters from Oslo
Anders Breivik is so fair you can barely see his eyebrows. He blinks and flutters his eyes in an uncomfortable way, as one might to adjust contact lenses. His face appeared so immobile while the prosecutor read the charges against him that he reminded me of a newborn.
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.
How to Quit
Outside, people are climbing up the steep slope of the bridge’s pedestrian walkway, on foot or skateboard or bicycle. Only a few look at the building, and even fewer try to glimpse inside. I am in here, watching the bridge and chain-smoking.
On Shulamith Firestone
When I think of Shulie, it is not to those now-mythical meetings I return, not even to the astonishing book, but to the very beginning of our movement for women’s liberation, that scene in Chicago in 1967, when Shulie and Jo Freeman faced humiliation, sexual insult, and ridicule, and responded to men of the left with rage and magnificent indignation. Where did they find the nerve, the strength to confront male contempt?
On the Affordable Care Act Decision
Conservatives have spent the last thirty years constitutionalizing their political-economic vision. Rather than respond in kind, liberals have insisted that the Constitution is largely silent on what William Forbath has called “the rights and wrongs of economic life.”
On Jeanette Winterson
Winterson often conveys “failure of feeling”—which she cites in her memoir as the cause of her own biggest mistakes—by depicting marriages that are maintained only for convenience. On the whole, her work argues for the rejection of the prescribed social roles that are satirized by writers like Amis and considered philosophically by writers like Barnes.
On Katherine Boo
Boo’s defenders, among them a number of Indian critics, argued that it wasn’t fair to fault Boo for not including what she hadn’t seen. If in four years Boo saw no collective activity in Annawadi, how could someone who hadn’t been there argue with her?