TO MANY, Vivian Maier is known as the mysterious Chicago nanny who took photographs secretly — thousands and thousands of photographs, often left as undeveloped rolls of negatives, which she then boxed up and stored in lockers. She was perceived by the locals in her Rogers Park neighborhood as a cantankerous old bag lady who […]
IN 1979, the California poet Robert Hass published his now-famous poem, “Meditation at Lagunitas.” Hass’s poem criticized poststructuralist literary theory (which he called “the new thinking”) for disregarding particulars in favor of “the luminous clarity of a general idea,” and for adopting a pathologically mournful philosophy of language in which “a word is elegy to what […]
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AMERICAN LIBERALISM is in crisis. It has long been in crisis — at least since the rise of Reaganism in the 1970s, but perhaps since the fracturing of the so-called liberal “vital center” in the 1960s. In a sense, American liberalism has always been in crisis; it has been shaped and reshaped by political battles […]
A SHOW OF HANDS: If you knew the baby in your womb would become manic depressive, would you abort? A psychiatry professor polled her class in 1981. Many of her students had only just encountered bipolar disorder for the first time, at UCLA’s mood disorders clinic. They saw patients hospitalized at their worst: suicidal, psychotic, […]
TO READ Petra Hůlová’s Three Plastic Rooms is to enter the disquieting mind of a 30-year-old prostitute as she muses on the state of her business and relentlessly battles the specter of aging. It is a journey through a person’s soul in search of something resembling happiness and humanity in the gloating world of capitalism. […]
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RICHARD ROTHSTEIN, fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, is on a mission to cast light onto a little-known historical fact of American urban policy. In this broadly accessible yet painstakingly researched book, he posits that residential segregation of African Americans was not the result of numerous private, though racist, choices, […]
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IN MARCH 1982, after months of heated negotiations among veterans groups, officials, and donors, a construction crew broke ground on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The sloping black granite walls may never have been built if not for the deft politicking of Jack Wheeler, the chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund responsible for planning and […]
TOWARD THE END of his life, Ricardo Piglia (1940–2017) and I planned on writing a volume of conversations for the publisher Anagrama in Spain. He had taught at Princeton for decades and was back in Buenos Aires after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. We had only written a few pages (I shall make them […]
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Featured Image: Radical Women, Installation view, Sin Titulo (Untitled), 1970, by Gloria Gómez-Sánchez Banner Image: Installation view, Radical Women at the Hammer Museum, foreground, Popsicles by Gloria Camiruaga; background, works by Sonia Gutiérrez ¤ THE FIRST THING you see when you enter the space of the exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 at the Hammer Museum is a lightweight structure adorned […]
ONE WAY to get closer to something is by way of distinctions — by considering what that thing could be but is not. I have in mind the buzzword mansplainer, and I’m hoping to use it to get a bead on the writing of John McPhee. The mansplainer as we all know him looks to […]