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Bringing Darkness to Light

Bringing Darkness to Light

Forest Haven Asylum is the most disturbing place I’ve ever visited. Maybe that’s why I felt compelled to return there repeatedly. Nothing could undo the human atrocities the asylum witnessed in its seven decades of existence. Maybe documenting their horrific legacy could show people how terribly wrong the ideology behind the asylum system really is. More»

Chechnya Déjà Vu

Chechnya Déjà Vu

The Russians are here. The echo chamber couldn’t be any larger. From Beirut to Washington, everyone has been repeating the same thing. Referring to Moscow’s military build-up in Syria, you can understand the surprise. For the first time in fifteen years, Russia had comitted military assets to the War on Terror. Or so it appears. More»

Looking for a Job?

Looking for a Job?

Your rewards taste old and rotten, like something from the last century, your promises are worthless. “Back in my school days my parents and teachers always told me I would never amount to anything! I guess they were right… More»

Flyer and Survive

Flyer and Survive

Journalism is where you find it. One of the maxims upon which Souciant was founded, the idea was as much about expressing the aesthetic considerations influencing the magazine’s editorial policy, as much as it was an attempt to stake out how different our content is from other online publications. More»

Stop in the Name of Hope

Stop in the Name of Hope

How do people cope with the sheer amount of information that bombards them every day? So much of the world seems to be in grave peril. Many are depressed to the point of paralysis. How, then, can we still “speak for hope, as long as it doesn’t mean suppressing the nature of the danger? Social media provide some important clues. More»

Branding Jews Exotic

Branding Jews Exotic

I spend a lot of my time thinking about and writing about Jews. Much of my work takes place within the confines of the Jewish community, but I also try and engage the wider world with Jewish issues. That often leads me to publishing think pieces and reviews in a range of ‘non-Jewish’ publications such as the The Guardian, The Independent and more. More»

Watching Z in Pakistan

Watching Z in Pakistan

Z is “no more about Greece than The Battle of Algiers was about Algeria,” said Roger Ebert, in 1969.  Ebert spotted parallels with the United States and South Vietnam, and last night, in the industrial city of Faisalabad, I spotted more than a few with Pakistan.  Indeed, the legendary drama feels timeless in its portrayal of political crises, and elites willing to undermine democracy. More»

Consuming Amy Winehouse

Consuming Amy Winehouse

Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy, about the singer Amy Winehouse, is suitably gutting. How could it not? Hers is a tragic story of a vibrant young woman with extraordinary talent whose life is cut short by drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder. It is also, Kapadia takes care to show, the story of a girl surrounded by thousands, all who wanted a piece of her until, bit by bit, she disappeared. More»

You're Welcome

You’re Welcome

“You’re Welcome,” reads this most appropriate tagline to the sequel to Magic Mike. Once a snide reminder of forgotten thanks, this phrase has come to mean the inevitable grateful outpouring in response to something highly desirable or cool. The anticipated gratitude could be for a number of things. More»

Museums From Below

Museums From Below

One of the benefits of living in a small-ish city like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is that I frequently run across people I actually want to see, like my old friend Shaun Slifer, one of the area’s many multi-talented and underappreciated artists, as well as a longtime champion of the underdog. Enthusiastic as always, he told me about a project he had been working on called the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. More»

Stories Matter

Stories Matter

The ending of a fiction represents the point at which its essential artificiality is most acute. While individual lives do end, life itself does not end (or at least, will not end on earth for a literally unthinkably long time). When a fiction ends, it is the apotheosis of the human ability and desire to chop up the flow of time into manageably finite stories. More»

The Revolution Must Be Documented

The Revolution Must Be Documented

A glance at the photo inspires a tortuous quest for meaning. The handsome man, presumably of Middle Eastern descent, strikes a pose that would please the most severe proponent of Socialist Realism. And he has his mobile phone out to document it. Or does he? That’s the beauty of having both a rear and front-facing camera. Mobiles are the mirror-shades of our era. More»