Art for

Contents

World Lite

World Literature certainly sounds like a nice idea. A literature truly global in scope ought to enlarge readers’ sympathies and explode local prejudices, releasing us from the clammy cells of provincialism to roam, in imagination, with people in faraway places and times. The aim is unimpeachable. Accordingly, nobody says a word against it at the humanities department conclaves.

Fish Rot

My evaluations that year said, “Leah is strange. Her comments are late. She is also late. She tries hard and is enthusiastic, that’s true. She smells bad. It is difficult to concentrate when she smells like salmon.”

Subtle Bodies

She had to control herself. She needed to be calm and alkaline. She thought, I wonder if he thinks I love taking Clomid and standing on my head après sex, with him holding my feet in the air.

Mavericks

Surfers have the odd habit of saying “I drowned” when they mean “I almost drowned.” Drowning, after all, feels like almost drowning until it feels like nothing.

More Smiles? More Money

Feminists ambivalent about Wages for Housework tend to misunderstand the demand for a wage as a demand for a thing, for “a lump of money,” she says. Money certainly helps, but Wages for Housework is more than a simple demand: it is also a political perspective. In asking for wages for housework, women distill a nexus of demands, critiques, and observations into a single phrase…

Slave Capitalism

Instead of as questions of agency or hegemony, slavery appears here as a system of flows: of energy (solar, floral, faunal, human, and riverine), of money, of bodies, and of information. The result is historical prose of unusual pungency: “The Cotton Kingdom was built out of sun, water, and soil; animal energy, human labor, and mother wit; grain, flesh, and cotton; pain, hunger, and fatigue; blood, milk, semen, and shit.”

Letters

“Too Much Sociology” (The Intellectual Situation) describes the diffusion of ideas from the sociology of culture into the elite worlds that sociologists of culture study. In your account, this crossover marks, at best, the exhaustion of sociology as a critical project and, at worst, active collaboration between elites and their supposed critics. This view significantly overestimates the influence of the sociology of culture and misunderstands the intentions of the elites who borrow from it.