Tag: history

  • The Least Incompetent Empire

    The Least Incompetent Empire

    What does Vladimir Putin want? The question is the obsession of just about every reporter, pundit and politician in the west right now. Virtually none of their answers should be considered reliable. They are spun from the same stuff as the worst Cold War paranoia. And make no mistake, the invasion of Ukraine is the definitive shot across the bow, notifying the world that we have entered the New Cold War.

  • The Alchemy of Militant Memory

    The Alchemy of Militant Memory

    Seventy-eight thousand. That’s roughly the number of names that cover the inside walls of the Pinkas Synagogue in the Josefov section of Prague. Each name is perhaps an inch tall, its calligraphy unadorned and neat, grouped first by town or region, then alphabetically. These are, it is stated upon entering, the names of all Bohemian and Moravian Jews killed during the Shoah.

  • Whack-a-Mole

    Whack-a-Mole

    What is an inauguration?
    Inauguration: the passing of one moment into the next.

    How does it take place?
    Ceremony and/or sacrifice and/or ceremony.

  • No Catharsis

    Entering Donald Trump’s world felt like entering into a bad fiction. For me the feeling was amplified given that news of the elections reached me, in real time, high above the planet’s surface. Months before the 2016 elections I had booked a flight from Chicago (where I lived at the time) to London (where I was speaking at a conference) on election day. Like most people I was under the foolish impression that this puffed up billionaire reality star didn’t stand a chance.

  • The Necessity of History, the Tragedy of Aesthetics

    When we tear down statues, it is an attempt to alter the trajectory of history. Not history as just “what has happened,” which we can never change as much as reinterpret. No, this is history as a great unfolding, as something that is taking place and will take place on one route or another depending on what is done in this moment. You can hear it in the reactions of the right. In their barely contained apoplexy, their cries of “you can’t erase history,” they are, however unwittingly, announcing that there is consequence to how that history is experienced in the here and now.

  • Remain Indoors

    Remain Indoors

    For the past month we’ve come to grips with this strange yet somehow familiar feeling: history happening without our permission. Of course that’s always been how it is. How many of us have ever truly felt we’ve had definitive control over events? Damn few of us, that’s who. But still, in our schedules, our social engagements, our celebrations and obligations and deadlines, we we’ve always been able to cobble together some sense that things move along. That something called a future is, despite everything, still in store. And with that, something called hope.

  • Pessimism, Not Despair

    Pessimism, Not Despair

    It was never going to be this easy. They were never, ever, going to let us have it, just throw their hands up and admit defeat. That is not in the emotional or intellectual wheelhouse of those who unjustly have more than the rest of us. For sure the smug sharing of memes of Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman reminding us that the rich will never let us vote their wealth away are irritating, but they speak to a truth about class warfare in the United States. Namely that it is, indeed, warfare.

  • Havana Notes

    Havana Notes

    It is early afternoon in Havana, and someone hands us a small flier. It reads:  We are a collective of artists that come together every night at a small, dark and decadent underground hideaway. It also happens to be the best dance floor in the city. Looking for something with a little more edge than La Bodeguita […]

  • Of Unfinished Revolutions

    Of Unfinished Revolutions

    Here’s a series of questions for my “fellow” Americans. Answer honestly. Do you really need to know what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle named their son? Should you even give a blue shit? Is the fact that you have twelve years to stop your city from sinking underwater in any way impacted by the naming […]

  • Here In the Empire

    Here In the Empire

    Poway, California. The final day of Passover.  According to one eight-year-old child in attendance, the shooter aimed for the kids first.  The rabbi was shot through the hand, losing his index finger, and reports say that at first he attempted to continue speaking from the front. A member of the congregation, sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye, […]