Category: Essays

  • Civilization Never Happened

    I. There is a truly noxious moment in Kenneth Clark’s 1969 BBC documentary series Civilisation. The art historian, knight, and life-peer stands across the Seine from Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and ponders the meaning of the series title.   “What is civilization?” he asks before peering over his shoulder. “I don’t know, but I think I can recognize it when I see […]

  • Space Madness

    Space Madness

    Donald Trump wants The Expanse to be real. If there were ever a president who could watch a show about a solar system constantly at war with itself and miss the entire point, it is this man. Picture it: Trump, late at night, holed up in the President’s Bedroom. Crumpled Big Mac wrappers litter the foot of […]

  • Detroit’s Exterminating Angel

    Detroit’s Exterminating Angel

    Before RoboCop was released in theaters thirty years ago this month, it was given an X rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. Director Paul Verhoeven, knowing that this was guaranteed box office death, went back and scrubbed his film no fewer than eleven times trying to achieve its eventual R rating. He toned down at […]

  • Synthpop, the Left, and the Future That Refuses to Come

    Synthpop, the Left, and the Future That Refuses to Come

    Depeche Mode have long suffered in the synthpop scene from what I call “godfather syndrome.” They aren’t the only act of massive influence who find themselves in such a position. Nor is it entirely, or even mostly, their fault. The irony of popular culture’s nostalgic time-loop is that it never really lets you see even […]

  • The End Has to Begin Somewhere

    The End Has to Begin Somewhere

    An observation: in today’s world, “pretentious” is normally code for “this is something I would rather not think about and therefore I am going to judge it harshly without considering it.” During the 2016 American presidential election, a poll was conducted that jokingly included an option for a giant meteor. In other words, it was asked whether potential voters […]