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Regular dispatches from our contributors.

The Final Set

The Final Set

“Just another thing that people get competitive about”

Her friends, her girlfriends, insisted from the very early stages that he was seeing somebody else. That he had a girl in Texas, an old girlfriend, somebody he had met on tour, whoever, that he kept coming back to. This is what all those airplane trips are about; this is why he keeps having to meet up with the contractors and the architects in person. But Dana shook her head. She genuinely didn’t think that this is what was going on. Part of her wished that he was having an affair—because it would suggest some reasonable ambition or desire on his part, to live a kind of life she could recognize, to make up for whatever was missing in their own relationship, which she could maybe address, in one way or another, after the inevitable upset and recrimination and heartbreak of finding out. Sometimes she even asked him about it, just to provoke a response. “Please,” he said. “You know me better than that.” And she thought she did.

Extraction Rebellion

Extraction Rebellion

A Green Zone of hope

Vast stretches of earth, once rich with vegetation and wildlife, are now barren. Running cracks fragment sun-hardened dirt for hundreds of miles. Increasingly severe dust storms and triple-digit temperatures routinely consume the cities and towns that remain. Electricity is scarce; there are no working fans, air filters, or air conditioners. Water, when available, is often contaminated, but still ingested regularly despite the risks.

The Protests in Hong Kong

The Protests in Hong Kong

“How will it end” is not the right question

What’s been happening here is hard for even the most oblivious tourist to ignore. People try—I’ve seen a guy in jogging gear and earbuds plowing through a mass of protestors—but even the shopping malls and financial centers are regularly teargassed. I hadn’t been to Hong Kong before, and I’ve learned to navigate the city by checking a crowd-sourced map that displays icons representing the locations of protest actions and police presence.

More or Less

More or Less

Maybe he really was going to get away with something

They fell silent. It was strange to be indoors but not at work in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. The excuses they had told at their jobs only gave them a couple of hours, but it occurred to him that it probably happened fairly often that lovers arranged to have time together and then spent it fighting.

Portraits in Oil

Portraits in Oil

Riches without embarrassment

I do not know what it was like to go, French or otherwise, to the original Louvre when it opened in its revolutionarily repurposed palace in 1793. Maybe everything felt borrowed, maybe it was just as hard to tell the salvage from the wreck. The original Louvre had no qualms about trading on the artistic grandeur of former empires. Nor did the nouveau riche Americans of the late 19th century, eagerly snatching up European art and European prestige. The Louvre Abu Dhabi hardly breaks from tradition.

A Cautionary Tale

A Cautionary Tale

The numbers didn’t add up and he kept having to recount

For a while, Ariel and Harriet laid low. Of course, everyone knew it was they who’d trashed Brooklyn Stable. Intense speculation was devoted to why. Finley’s idea that the damage to the bar was a secondary result of violence Harriet and Ariel had inflicted upon each other was plainly false; the nature of the damage made it clear that the violence was directed at the bar itself. Finley must have realized this as well, because he refined his theory in successive tellings such that Ariel alone was responsible for the damage, which she’d exacted in a fit of jealous rage as Harriet stood by helpless to intervene. But no one took this proposition seriously, either, because no one believed Finley could inspire jealous rage.

Then WeCame to the End

Then WeCame to the End

WeWork’s contradictions

What happened since August wasn’t the consequence of the kind of investigative journalism that felled Theranos, or the long-foreshadowed public tumble of an Uber. It was more akin to a Twitter cancellation. Long known facts were re-aired in a new climate. What was once amusing or somewhat confusing was now, in a new light, merely horrifying. The hopped-up teenagers and amorphous social media celebrities who direct cascades of moralistic condemnation at mediocre movies and TV shows were replaced by middle-aged men moralizing about and condemning a 220-page SEC document on Twitter, in real time.

Remarks by Elizabeth Schambelan

On accepting the 2019 n+1 Writer’s Fellowship

All authoritarian regimes try to suppress thought, and n+1’s publishing genealogy places it within an anti-authoritarian tradition. This genealogy includes magazines that are for the general reader, but that dare to posit a general reader who wants to be challenged, who has political commitments but is not looking for ideological marching orders, who is seeking new forms and new ideas, who wants to see received wisdom skeptically scrutinized, not soothingly affirmed—and anyone who regularly reads n+1’s “Intellectual Situation” essays can attest that there is very little soothing affirmation to be found there. If, as Benedict Anderson suggested, newspapers can create nations, then certainly magazines can shape a public sphere. It is so, so important to support magazines and media that help sustain the kind of public sphere in which in which totalitarian assaults on language, fact, and thought can be resisted.

Bright Leaf

Bright Leaf

It was very odd. I felt that I was in a sensory-deprivation tank. Part of that was being in a nicotine-deprivation tank, but there was more to it. My day had no shape. None of my activities made any sense, because my life had become unstructured, as if it were one long, run-on sentence. I had no excuse for getting away from people, and I realized that much of my delight in smoking had to do with the ready escape it provided. Boring dinner party? Endless-seeming movie? Argument with the sweetheart? Cigarettes solved these problems.

Ethnicity As Counterculture

Ethnicity As Counterculture

Counterculture is a praxis

Imagining the person of color as a counterculturalist, as a weirdo or bohemian, means imagining them as someone who cannot be processed easily into the threat/victim dichotomy, but must be imagined as someone who can wreak joy and pleasure and strangeness upon the world.

On Harold Bloom

1930–2019

This was one of Bloom’s gifts, to hear in any single work many voices. Poems were not themselves. A voice was not just one voice. And Bloom as Falstaff was not Bloom either, only a mask, a shadow: “I call to the mysterious one who yet / Shall walk the wet sands by the edge of the stream / And look most like me, being indeed my double, / And prove of all imaginable things / The most unlike, being my anti-self, / And standing by these characters disclose / All that I seek”—that’s Yeats, whose theory of antithetical characters was one of the sources to Bloom’s Anxiety of Influence.