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First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

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Music

The New Old Flower-Power Fantasy of Greta Van Fleet

If Greta Van Fleet are that wonderful horrible thing called zeitgeisty, that zeitgeist is defined by desire to escape to a fantasized past where the battles were cleaner and the battle lines simpler than today's appear to be.

Books

Culture Is Not Innocent: An Interview with Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto discusses her new book on pop culture from the Global South, which goes above and beyond, among other things, the "sluggish, bloated, less urgent" films dominating Hollywood.

Books

The U.S. Anti-Fascism Reader [By the Book]

Donald Trump's rise in American politics is not a resurgence of fascism, argues professor Enzo Traverso in his essay, "Trump's Savage Capitalism" -- it is something else. Traverso's essay is published in this excerpt from The U.S. Anti-Fascism Reader, courtesy of Verso Books.

Enzo Traverso
Film

Bad and Mad: The Troubled and Troubling Pop Culture War Vet

In these trying times of Trump, as American chauvinism thumps its chest and loudly threatens those who question, there is little room for contemporary filmmakers, or policymakers, who encourage sympathy for the war-damaged, the wounded, the wrecked.

Books

Revolutionary Victor Serge Has a Message for Our Times

Victor Serge, a rare survivor of Stalin's Terror, had a keen, razor-sharp intelligence and made observations that are highly relevant to our troubled times.

Books

'The Poetry of Pop', Stretches the Definition of Pop Generously

Adam Bradley's The Poetry of Pop works for what it obviously wants to be, a primer on American popular music.

Books

Combustible Hope: Critics Simon Reynolds and Darren Ambrose on Mark Fisher's Works and Philosophy

Critic Mark Fisher never stooped to suckle the masses; nor did he fluff the pillows of academics. Colleagues Simon Reynolds and Darren Ambrose provide insight into Fisher's posthumous book, k-punk, and his intriguing legacy.

Film

How Is It That Agnès Varda Is So Well Known -- Yet So Unknown?

Our pop culture landscape is controlled by capitalistic saturation and a deeply-entrenched machismo ethic. It might not be powerful enough to erase Agnès Varda's genius, but it is shameless enough to eliminate her from the common discourse.

Books

'Out of Our Minds' Considers Freedom and Force, Coercion and Custom

In Out of Our Minds, Fernández-Armesto encourages readers to distrust visionaries who promise perfection.

Culture

Jia Tolentino's 'Trick Mirror' Is a Studied Index of Contemporary Ills

Jia Tolentino's first collection of essays, Trick Mirror, expertly navigates how the byproducts of capitalism and the Internet permeate culture, values, politics, and the daily lives of people worldwide.

Film

Absurdism and Power: Robert Altman's 'Brewster McCloud' in Today's America

As in the America of the 1970s -- with its political corruption, war, economic straits, and fatalism -- Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud resonates loudly in these times. Shall we join the circus freaks dancing on the grave of an absurd and unjust society?

Books

Do Canadians Think They're Morally Superior to Everyone Else?

Yves Engler's Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada debunks the myth of Canada the good.

Books

When You Speak to Your Muse, Does It Answer? It Does in 'Boss Broad'

Wild rebellion and reckless combat are increasingly less valued than ethical wit and spiritual sustenance in Megan Volpert's entertaining and insightful Boss Broad.

Books

'Garage': A Visually and Intellectually Rich Study of a Seemingly Blank Space

Olivia Erlanger and Luis Ortega Govela's Garage challenges the beguiling, energizing, and yet limiting power of the garage in America as a symbol of escape and reinvention.

Books

Eula Biss's Reissued 'Notes from No Man's Land' Resonates

Eula Biss's essay collection remains compelling not only for its elegant prose that melds politics and personal essay but because its subject matter may be even more relevant today.

Books

Saving Acid Communism: 800 Pages of the Essential Leftist Critic Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher's posthumous collection of essays, k-punk, edited by Darren Ambrose, is an important reminder of the power and versatility of Leftist thinking in horrible times.

Books

When Sexually Frustrated Angry White Men (Mis)Read the Classics

Donna Zuckerberg's Not All Dead White Men is a powerful study of the ways the alt-right distorts the understanding of ancient Greek and Roman literature to serve hateful interests today.

Books

Why Is It So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism?

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo commits the error of telling her readers what to think instead of providing ways to use critical thinking to challenge societal norms.

Film

The End of Endings: How 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' and Don DeLillo's 'Zero K' Explain the Current State of Storytelling

Somehow, without realizing it, for both DeLillo and Rowling, death, the end of the world, and endings themselves are best emblematized by a dysfunctional father/son relationship.

Books

The Problem with Joseph Epstein's Essays on Culture

One can't help but wonder what Epstein feels at churning out fuel for those reactionaries most determined to wreck "the best that has been thought and said" in liberal culture.

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The End of Endings; or, Why Won't Anyone Stay Dead?

What does it mean, ontologically and narratively, when the seeming finality of death disappears from our stories? What does it mean when our stories and our characters, unlike our lives, refuse to come to an end?

Books

Alice Bolin's 'Dead Girls' Fails to Closely Exam the Bodies

Throughout Dead Girls, Bolin is too eager to jam pack chapters with popular cultural references rather than fully deconstructing the subjects.

Books

Stuart Hall: Voted Most Likely to Succeed

Seemingly for those interested in Stuart Hall's theories, this text is really just for Stuart's cool kids in the hall.

Television

Hannah Gadsby's 'Nanette' Makes Us Realize the Present Tense

Hannah Gadsby's acclaimed Netflix special is a cultural milestone not only because it demands a better future, but because it teaches us about the present moment and where we might go next.

Television

"Pounding Humility into You Permanently": On Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was loved not for his wit or charming temerity, but for confronting us with our own alienation and cultural isolation. He reminded us that there were connections to be made over the dinner table.

Books

'Bunk' Joins the Dots Between Barnum and Trump

Kevin Young painstakingly presents the history of hoaxes and why we keep falling for the same old shtick.

Books

He's Martin Amis...and We're Not

The recent release of The Rub of Time once again marks Martin Amis amongst our most proficient critics, seemingly without peer in terms of his range and scope.

Books

Christopher Hitchens Embraced and Devoured with Equal Passion

Christopher Hitchens: The Last Interview and Other Conversations is a tantalizing, brief appetizer of the breadth, scope, and urgency of this legendary contrarian's thoughts on such topics as religion, war, literature, and media.

Books

'Chronicles of a Liquid Society' and the Best Dinner Companion for End Times​

The significance of Umberto Eco's work as collected here is found not in his astonishing foresight but in his reasoning.

Books

Catch Dave Hickey's Collection of Criticism a 'Perfect Wave' and You'll Enjoy the Ride

In Hickey's formulation, what is raw is hot. What is cooked is cool. Art and democracy are better served by cool cats, not hotheads.

Books

'Against Everything' Captures Mark Grief's Journey Towards Transformation

Mark Greif tackles the big picture in a collection of interesting, ponderous, powerful essays about music, experiences, identity, and reality in all its forms.

Film

Our Insatiable Techno Zombie Love

The popularity of zombies indicates that powerful techno-social forces have ramped up our fear of joining -- or just being surrounded by -- George A. Romero’s mindless zombie herd.

Politics

Ian Buruma: A Voice of Tolerance and Erudition Among Liberalism's Intellectuals

In Theater of Cruelty the politics of love, war, and popular culture define the career of one of today’s foremost public intellectuals.

Books

'White Girls': How Black Men and Women Have Confronted White Privilege

Hilton Als’ gift is his reinvention of famous figures, but from the angle of how well they succeeded or failed to confront white supremacy and privilege, or in their (in)abilities to give blacks a voice.

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