Creative Class

Old School

Scott BeauchampFebruary 14, 2017
dake_crop_square
dake_crop_square

Anatomist Louis Bolk once called humans sexually mature primate fetuses. (And yes, it sounds suitably disturbing in the original German: einen zur Geschlechtsreife gelangten Primatenfetus.) As Bolk patiently explained, our evolutionary history is something of an arms race between the pelvic size of mothers and the skull size of offspring, which means, in turn, that we’re born half-made and unfinished.

Do Friedmans Dream of Electric Sheeple?

David V. JohnsonDecember 13, 2016
Thomas Friedman
Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman’s books are distinctive for their awesome length and unrelenting banality—sort of like a tech-support chatbot that got a non-fiction MFA. But there’s a question to resolve: Is he a human being or an android?

Bye Bye, Blackbird

Natasha Vargas-CooperSeptember 26, 2016
Gore Vidal. / Carl Van Vechten
Gore Vidal. / Carl Van Vechten

During his long life, it was said that Gore Vidal’s literary and cultural appeal stemmed from one singular feat: that he pisses from a very great height. Vidal’s rarefied, mingent corpus was disorienting and too snobbish for some, but for grown-ups, it’s a delight.

Punk Rock and Protest

G’Ra AsimJuly 07, 2016
Searching for the score to a new generation of protest. / Joe Brusky
Searching for the score to a new generation of protest. / Joe Brusky

Growing up, I learned the word solidarity from a vocabulary flash card. It was not something I had ever felt until my shoe became untied in the mosh pit at a NOFX concert in the early 2000s.

Imperial Style

Mya FrazierJune 01, 2016
A Burberry factory in Basingstoke, UK. / Wikimedia Commons
A Burberry factory in Basingstoke, UK. / Wikimedia Commons

It is the quintessential first-world epiphany: a search for a British-made canvas rucksack for a safari trip is made in vain—and a banker’s life is changed forever.

That’s the opening gambit, at least, to one of the many PR pitches that’s hit my inbox over the last few months—yet another story of some “authentically British” handcrafted luggage brand or leather maker “keeping craftsmanship alive.” Pitches about quitting jobs as stockbrokers in order to create a “truly British” brand and sell “old-style country.”

Today’s British fashion exporters have embraced the aesthetics of Imperial England, and for all their talk of transformative style, a retro-colonialism defines this fashion moment instead.

The Law of Maximum Torment

Ji XianlinJanuary 26, 2016
David G. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gedawei/357228268/in/photolist-xyTw5-apL9WG-mDE7qm-frpvMe-eC1ZMx-eCsbzS-9nSK8G-8RAahx-ifuVc9-eC7ZyG-eCoYGz-f1QLEj-juFdC9-keTJHP-eQvY3s-keTMDP-jqUWGi-ifvgn8-eC1qQr-o8q9ew-hyA7U9-eBZwv9-xyTwb-bJpto6-73V9P2-eQvVGb-eD1Baf-eCovLe-fB5DLD-frpvst-hzDRVh-eC4PgW-i9fm3E-eCmnaQ-fBk9Ff-eQjFY4-fyD7jW-eBZGwN-o8oavq-gPX9gx-eCrPgo-juFgWd-eCoSL6-j3pUgp-eq6kXF-keTMBK-er2pH1-fFUnWs-juGAWY-eQjHdK)
David G. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gedawei/357228268/in/photolist-xyTw5-apL9WG-mDE7qm-frpvMe-eC1ZMx-eCsbzS-9nSK8G-8RAahx-ifuVc9-eC7ZyG-eCoYGz-f1QLEj-juFdC9-keTJHP-eQvY3s-keTMDP-jqUWGi-ifvgn8-eC1qQr-o8q9ew-hyA7U9-eBZwv9-xyTwb-bJpto6-73V9P2-eQvVGb-eD1Baf-eCovLe-fB5DLD-frpvst-hzDRVh-eC4PgW-i9fm3E-eCmnaQ-fBk9Ff-eQjFY4-fyD7jW-eBZGwN-o8oavq-gPX9gx-eCrPgo-juFgWd-eCoSL6-j3pUgp-eq6kXF-keTMBK-er2pH1-fFUnWs-juGAWY-eQjHdK)

 

The following extract is from The Cowshed, published in English this month by New York Review Books. The translator is Zha Jianying. The “cowshed” itself was a makeshift prison for intellectuals who were labeled class enemies during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The Baffler’s Year in Review

The BafflerDecember 30, 2015
We feel you, buddy. / Rich Renomeron
We feel you, buddy. / Rich Renomeron

At the end of 2014, we announced that we would break from our institutional overlords and cast The Baffler’s fortunes into the wilds of independent publishing. So there, zeitgeist!

Let 2015 mark the year we opened a publishing office in New York, as planned, to work in parallel with the editorial HQ in Harvard Square.

Thought Leaders as Loss Leaders

Chris LehmannDecember 02, 2015
Lars Plougmann
Lars Plougmann

The breathless, investor-beguiling fable that the next iteration of the Web has to be the smart one has been around long enough now to qualify as a touching millenarian faith, like the quadrennial fiction of a “deep” GOP presidential field, or the diehard belief that the Chicago Cubs will eventually make it all the way through the postseason.

The Biddable Muse

J.C. HallmanNovember 12, 2015
Hand on Breast./ Christie's Images
Hand on Breast./ Christie's Images

If it had been up to me—and it really should have been—Playboy wouldn’t have abandoned its voyeuristic legacy of naked-lady photo spreads and centerfolds. Instead, I would’ve doubled down, expanded the magazine to the epic scale that, say, Vogue attains at the height of the fashion season.

For Whom the Phone Rings: The Genius Cult

Thomas FrankSeptember 29, 2015
It's Genius Grant season again, when people who already have recognition and funding get more. / Mick O
It's Genius Grant season again, when people who already have recognition and funding get more. / Mick O

A version of this essay was published at Salon.com in 2014.

 It’s genius season again. From NPR to the New York Times, they’re talking about where people were when they found out they had won the MacArthur Fellowship, our society’s most prestigious honor.

The Novel in Analog: Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers

Jacob SilvermanJuly 22, 2015
“If you’re reading this on a screen, fuck off,” writes Joshua Cohen in Book of Numbers. Tobias Myrstrand Leander
“If you’re reading this on a screen, fuck off,” writes Joshua Cohen in Book of Numbers. Tobias Myrstrand Leander

Reviewers are having a hard time with Book of Numbers, the latest novel from the incorrigibly ambitious and graphomaniacal Joshua Cohen. Responses have ranged from dismissive to enraptured, with most both at once. The book is “a mess,” writes the New York Times’ usually even-keeled Dwight Garner, but also “more impressive than all but a few novels published so far this decade,” a mashup of David Foster Wallace and Philip Roth.

Spoof Vs. Spy

Niela OrrJune 12, 2015
Melissa McCarthy in Spy. /
Melissa McCarthy in Spy. /

Summer 2015’s first big blockbuster comedy, Spy, may traffic in elaborate onscreen subterfuge, but it’s little more than the latest variation on a baby-simple, well-worn Hollywood formula.The movie’s admittedly energetic and amusing aim is to lampoon and critique the conventions of the spy movie, and of course, to get laughs. 

Not, you know, that there’s anything wrong with that.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3