Colonialism

Pollito, Chicken; Gallina, Hen

Pollito, Chicken; Gallina, Hen

American Dirt in Mexico

Notice how the register of the prose, with its figures and rates, evokes the rhetoric of nonfiction. The use of general, declarative sentences about Mexico, in particular, makes me think of what my journalism professors used to call the nut-graf—the paragraph in the article where the journalist briefly pauses her account of the news to establish, in the most efficient way possible, the context for the events on which she is reporting. The result is that Cummins’s book often slips into didacticism.

Irreversible Shift

Irreversible Shift

This should be a single-issue election

Is it any wonder that in a century dominated by surveillance, paranoia, terrorism, rendition, financial collapse and hard borders our language has retreated? Our reality, for years now, has been of individual survival under austerity; the erasure of the public in a city of stagnating wages that in eight years lost half its youth centers and half its nightclubs and saw them replaced with sterile glass towers. One by one London’s houses, monuments, newspapers, and artworks are being eaten up by the searching, liquid capital of Indian steel tycoons and Arab petrolords and Russian disaster capitalists. Of course the language has stopped growing: where are we even supposed to talk to each other now?

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.

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.