Books
Insanely Great Asshole

Insanely Great Asshole

Steve Jobs should have been a rock star. So tremendous was the outpouring of public grief, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that he was a marketing czar. Though the fanboys and cult of Mac kids did their expected thing, it was the grief repeatedly expressed by laypeople that was so astounding, with mourners going so far as to stage homages at Apple stores. More»

Between Worlds

Between Worlds

Neal Stephenson’s latest book REAMDE is an impressive achievement. He manages to fill it with a wealth of detail without stalling the story’s momentum. And though it is hardly a traditional novel of ideas, it provides the raw material for searching reflections on the role fiction plays in our lives. The fantasies it mobilizes are so artfully presented that they are able to seduce readers deeply troubled by their implications. More»

Everyone's a Critic

Everyone’s a Critic

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has long epitomized the liberal, pro-Israel pundit. So, it was no surprise that his latest column was an assault on Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy. More»

Dead Rivers

Dead Rivers

Arizona murdered its rivers and poured the remains onto cotton fields and golf courses.  Some of the largest water engineering projects on the planet have gone into producing suburban swimming pools and green lawns. Today’s Arizona could not exist without the diversion and destruction of its river system.  Over 90 percent of the state’s river system has disappeared. More»

Deserving an Audience

Deserving an Audience

Two weeks ago, my life took a slightly strange turn. My past and future collided in a clash between old media and new media. Let me explain.

Although I’ve never had a secure, long-term post, I’ve been working in academia since completing my PhD in 2001. Over this time, I’ve amassed a number of publications, including two monographs (one of which was co-authored,) a co-edited book, three journal articles and a number of book chapters. More»

Sneezing Into History’s Dustbin

Sneezing Into History’s Dustbin

Here are two profound moments of  ’00s retro culture.

Listen:

Carlos Santana stares directly into the camera in front of a black background. “I love making people cry, laugh, and dance at the same time – giving and receiving a crucial orgasm,” he says. “I never wanted to be anything else since I was a child.”

His choice words are then brought to life. More»

Post-Capitalist Priorities

Post-Capitalist Priorities

At eighty pages, Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? is a brief but fascinating polemic about the insidious ways in which neoliberal ideology insinuates itself into our lives. Riffing on key ideas from theorists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Zizek and Fredric Jameson, Fisher interrogates his own experiences as a UK-based lecturer and culture critic, creating resonant new concepts with which to engage late capitalism. More»

Home Electronica

Home Electronica

Tinkering culture has slowly entered the mainstream. Once the province of Popular Mechanics and Wired, coverage of the making and hacking trend has been appearing regularly in such unlikely periodicals as the New York Times. It’s hard getting adjusted to big media gushing about geek wads tweaking bits and bytes and building fire breathing robots in the back yard. More»

The Gathering Darkness

The Gathering Darkness

Bruno Schulz was a genius. He invented his own language and sensibility.  His narrative style and its fantastic voice create a complex reality, much like the piled-high small shops he describes.  Schulz has been mislabeled ‘the Polish Kafka,’ a mistake because Franz Kafka had a far more specific social vision that addressed relations between citizen and state.  For Schulz, the subjects were self, family, neighbors and the cityscape surrounding them all. His best-known work, The Street of Crocodiles, repeatedly articulates a sense of foreboding. More»

Amongst the Thugs

Amongst the Thugs

Arizona’s extreme right deludes itself that it occupies a central place in American politics. However, there is a difference between being influential, and throwing legislative temper tantrums that gain global notice.  Its leading political figures have become internationally scorned, which doesn’t trouble them, and does not harm their electability either.  The disjunction between local and external opinion is a matter of local pride, an insularity characteristic of oppressive governments in many areas beyond the American Southwest. More»

Across the Great Divide

Across the Great Divide

Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era, just released in English translation, has a plot that is both straightforward and surreal. Six single men in their twenties, all social outcasts touched by madness, band together to form a karaoke club. Six single women in their thirties, similarly cut off from society but much less demented, do the same. When one of the men randomly assaults and murders one of the women, a grisly chain reaction ensues, turning these outwardly unassuming ensembles into de facto gangs worthy of the American inner city.
More»

Mixed Media

Mixed Media

Although it’s been subsumed in the news by the more explosive revolts in the region, Iran’s Green movement provided its own blueprint for how to take it to the man—or imam—a couple of years ago. Its currently nebulous and undulant nature may provide the model for how to make a movement last until victory. More»