I like talking about where I’m from. Occasionally I talk about it so much that I end up inviting people to see it for themselves, and some of them actually come. My roommate Roberto was subjected to this treatment by his three Turkish friends, myself included. So instead of going to his hometown on the US-Mexico border, he ended up spending two weeks of his winter break on the other side of the world, visiting us in Istanbul.
After his 6th day in the city, he had run the gamut of all the must-see sights: all the churches and the palaces and the monuments and the churches-turned-into-mosques and the mosques-modeled-after-churches. There is a tendency to conceive of Istanbul exclusively as a historical city, so I wanted Roberto to visit something from this century. My mother suggested Arter, the newest addition to Istanbul’s contemporary arts scene.
I am a son of Tahrir
Born into hope, into heat, into thousands of voices
I am a son of Tahrir, out in the crowd on the street
Our pain, our pride, our choices
Tahrir is now
And, now is here
We’ll wait an hour, a day, a month, a year
We have cracked the wall of fear
We’ll see it crumble
“Tahrir Is Now,” a song from the musical “We Live in Cairo,” was playing in the background as I read the news about the controversy over the local elections in Turkey. The ruling party, which has been in power for 17 years now, lost the municipal elections to the opposition in Istanbul. However, the newspaper wrote, the ruling party was refusing to accept the election results, alleging that there had been fraud. “Do our choices really matter?” I asked myself.
“No,” the state replied, as it overturned the election results after a few weeks.
Leaving Harvard square, we saw three people in a car lean out all three different windows at once to energetically flip off the car behind them. The car behind them stopped and the driver got out. “Shit shit shit,” said Ariana, the Advocate’s Art Editor. “They’re gonna fight.” The guy stomped up to the driver’s window of the car in front of him and affectionately embraced the driver through his window. Our uber driver whistled. “I thought he was going to deck him,” he said. A minute passed. “Do you even like Takashi Murakami?” my friend Sam, art board member, asked quietly. I thought about it. “No.” “Me either.” But there we were, suddenly at the MFA. There were a lot of bright lights, and a lot of people smoking out front where signs said you weren’t supposed to smoke. We trekked on over two lawns, a parking lot, and the ramp for trucks with large deliveries to get to the press entrance.
Poking fun at Pitchfork Media –– indie tastemaker slash never-ending bastion of cultural snobbery and Portlandia material –– is an act that is facile to the point of being self-defeating. This is the website, after all, that pioneered the decimal-digit review score and worked itself into logical convulsions deciding whether Andrew W.K. was ironically dumb or just dumb, and whether there was any discernible difference between the two positions in the first place. To call Pitchfork hilariously overwrought might be the most redundant statement in the universe. To call it pretentious would be lazy. Pitchfork is certainly both of those things, but more than that it has become a cultural artifact, Rolling Stone for the brunch-goer. When Pitchfork launched in 1995, however, it was essentially a local hub for Minneapolis area bands and college radio station diehards.
(Yoni Wolf has been making music since the mid-nineties and has been frontman of the band Why? since it formed in 2004. Why? released the album Moh Lhean in March 2017 and is currently on tour through the US.)EE: Hey! Thanks so much for doing this. You’ve started off on tour lately—how’s that going?YW: We’ve been on tour for about three weeks now. It’s fine, we have a day off today, so I’m walking around with my lady friend; gonna do some cooking, gonna do some laundry, et cetera.EE: We wanted to ask about your latest album, Moh Lhean— is it pronounced Mo Lean?YW: That’s fine.EE: You’d been on a little hiatus until it came out, right? It’s a lot of new songs — I was wondering if you could tell us a little about what went into it: process, time frame, inspiration…YW: Well, we recorded this one at home, so it went on for a while, as things tend to do when you have as much time as you want to work on them.
These days, I often feel like I’m using Big Data to figure out the history of Big Data so I can better understand how Big Data is making me obsessed with Big Data. There are a few things I know for sure about this often perplexing pattern:1. The history of Big Data and the rise of the Internet appeals to me in part because I know it is inextricably tied to the history of American National Security and the rise of the military-industrial complex, 1950-1990, which also feels super consequential. 2. The plethora of data-driven archival databases and the precise search methods within them make it possible—in ways unimaginable even fifteen years ago—to pin down the corporations, figures, and products that made possible both the incomprehensible vastness of our government’s worldwide surveillance state and the incomprehensible vastness of the Internet.
1. Our favorite artists are human. I’ve always questioned the accessibility of Romantic poets. I’ve always been hesitant in the faces of vast catalogues, of established names, of Enlightenment reactionaries, the free-roaming, the supernaturally-inclined, the metaphysical, the intensely personal. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Blake— skimming the tops of these collections in my AP Literature course had always had the adverse effect of revealing just how much there was left to know. When it comes down to it, William Wordsworth owned a copy of Paradise Lost bound in the skin of his pet dog, Pepper. No one is perfect.2. We don’t walk nearly enough. According to hosts of concerned locals, Wordsworth often composed his poems while pacing back and forth over the high mountain trails and lovely cobblestone streets of Cumbria.
The air of urgency came as little surprise. It read in the face of the woman who closed her parchment store early for a front row seat. It read in the wringing hands of the man who wore a Hillary campaign hat and a fixed scowl in upper left corner of the auditorium. It read in the feet of a pack of book-toting poetry students rushing over late from their Monday night workshop. The silence that sits before speech had never felt so fitting.A poetry reading was held in the basement of the Cambridge Public Library this past Monday, the 30th of January, to premiere a deceptively small and unassuming chapbook of thirty-five different poets titled "Poems for Political Disaster." It was jointly hosted by the library staff and Boston Review, with Review poetry editor B.K. Fisher making the opening remarks.
It’s Friday last week and I’m accompanying my mother on one of those annual visits to the doctor. I’m thinking about how it used to be the other way round when I was younger - accompaniment was a grown-up enterprise entirely, and the idea of going anywhere at all by myself would mean tumbling into the jaws of the world of strangers and their lairs for lost children. Emerging from my thoughts, I check my wristwatch: we have been sitting in the waiting room for just over an hour, and I, all too rapidly, seem to be running out of patience. It’s not that I’m not used to waiting, or that there’s some environmental quality to the beige-grey waiting room that makes me physically uncomfortable; rather, I have never been in the presence of so many pregnant women all at once. Bellies bulging like those of malnourished children – nature has a mind of its own – the women have more than simply the obvious in common.
1. Some people think the children should be confiscated and raised up by the state, but I think the state should be confiscated and raised up by the children.1.1 "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." 1.11 But who around with a fish-surplus really would let the fellow starve on his way to learning, or if he could not learn? 1.12 The president-Electoral’s candidate to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development says that the best thing the state can do for recipients of welfare is to "get them off it."1.121 By way of our ethical fish-rubric we may understand Dr. Carson to be in favor of the prompt cancellation of any general program of fish-provision: no comment as to fishing-education. 1.1211 Whence this callousness? Generalized disdain for herd-immunity?1.
“If we don’t ever sleep again, so much the better,” José Arcadio Buendía said in good humor. “That way we can get more out of life.” But the Indian woman explained that the most fearsome part of the sickness of insomnia was not the impossibility of sleeping, for the body did not feel any fatigue at all, but its inexorable evolution toward a more critical manifestation: a loss of memory. She meant that when the sick person became used to his state of vigil, the recollection of his childhood began to be erased from his memory, then the name and notion of things, and finally the identity of people and even the awareness of his own being, until he sank into a kind of idiocy that had no past. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude I read this, appropriately enough, just after four in the morning, in that languishing time of night when falling asleep is depressingly unlikely and sunrise is equally depressingly far-off.