The Language Behind a (Short) Brutal Affair: An Interview with Translator Stefan Tobler

By Stephanie LaCava

One of two published long-form works by Brazilian writer Raduan Nassar, A Cup of Rage is a tiny book clocking in at a carefully wrought 65 pages that tackles the dynamic between two sparring lovers, fraught with competitive ire and dueling politic. The couple is comprised of a reclusive older man and a younger woman, who works as a journalist. The man narrates all but the final passage, expressing disdain for his lovers privilege and simultaneous claim of hard-won moral integrity. You shitty little intellectual, he says, it never occurred to you that everything you say and everything you vomit up is all stuff that youve heard from other people, that you havent done any of the stuff you talk about, that you only screwed like a virgin and that without my crowbar you arent any-fucking thing. Having lived through more years, he thinks her posture of higher ground claimed humanism is neither sustainable nor truthful. He feels superior; or rather, knows the power he wields in seeming so. He reflects: above all [] the more indifferent I seemed to be, the more attractive she found me. Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: I Can’t Look Away from the News Feed

Dear Olive, 

I have become obsessed with the news. I was addicted to the scroll before, but with this new administration, my addiction has been taken to a whole new level. With my eyes glued to the screen (screens), it is hard to be present in reality. I can no longer think about anything other than what new fresh evil is about to take place. How do I find balance? Social media felt unhealthy even in the best of times, but now I feel lost without it. Any advice? Continue reading

Between the History of Zimbabwe and the Future of America

By Nathan Deuel

We fell to our knees, high above a gorge, at an under-visited safari lodge beside one of Zimbabwe’s national parks. Our daughter was with her grandparents in Illinois. Our friends from Los Angeles stood there with us, mouths open wide. Bemused, or maybe proud, but surely aware he was the reason we’d come so far, our pal from Harare closed his eyes. The beauty we beheld was incongruous, after everything I’d read, and I was strangely relieved when I learned the river below swarmed with crocodiles. Back in America, it was just barely 2017. Continue reading

How to Be a Good Communist

By Austin Dean

Last summer, a bookstore in the Shanghai Pudong Airport listed an unlikely bestseller: To be Turned into Iron, the Metal Itself Must Be Strong: How to Be A Member of the Communist Party. It is hard to believe the book was flying off the shelves. Perhaps the rankings were manipulated; maybe all 88-million members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had to buy a copy. Still, no matter how it got to the top, the book, though part of an old genre, has much to tell us about something quite new: the ongoing anti-corruption crackdown under CCP head and PRC President Xi Jinping. Continue reading

On “Traditional Ecological Knowledge” for the 21st Century

By Jon Christensen

There are different stories to be told about our relationship with nature, different understandings, different knowledge, still.

Tending the Wild, a new documentary on the traditional ecological knowledge of California Indians produced by KCET and Link TV, makes this abundantly clear. The documentary builds on the work of ethno-ecologist M. Kat Anderson and her book of the same title Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of Californian’s Natural Resources (University of California Press, 2005) through in-depth, personal, on-the-ground stories from around California about indigenous management of the essential trinity of fire, water, and food. Continue reading

What Happens When Young Adult Protagonists Grow Up?

By Jane Mendle

Anne of Green Gables makes a terrible adult.

Whimsical, imaginative, and open-hearted as a young girl, the 30-something mother of six has given up her writing and set aside her ambitions. As she bluntly explains, “I had wonderful dreams once” but “a busy mother hasn’t much time for that.” Instead, she frets about her marriage, agonizes about whether she is still attractive, and takes a vindictive pleasure that her husband’s glamorous college girlfriend has become “considerably stouter.” Continue reading

The (Un)Draped Woman: Contemporary Iranian Art and New Self-Portraits

By Austin Park

The (Un)Draped Woman is the third in a series of pop-up shows organized by Roshi Rahnama and Advocartsy, a “collaborative visual arts platform” examining an exciting and highly active Iranian contemporary art scene in Los Angeles and beyond. This particular iteration seeks to challenge and interrogate the established or conventional image of the woman in Iranian culture, a central visual aspect of which is the image of women in various states of cover. Virtually all the works in this show engage primarily with questions about the image of self or the self-portrait. In this sense, the show as a whole attempts to visualize a contemporary Iranian and Iranian-American image of feminine self, ones that might possess qualities and inspirations from both Western and Eastern culture. Continue reading

Unlocking Arabic: the Art and Poetry of Etel Adnan

By Mona Kareem

If you type Etel Adnan’s name into Google — in Arabic or English or French — you won’t find a single picture of the poet in her youth. Even if you type “Etel Adnan young,” you will only see results from her later years. Among these is a black and white picture of an elder Etel, her face partially covered with a flower, like an Ottoman girl preparing to transcend time. Continue reading

Touch Me

By Jon Boorstin

Trump won on November 8th. Then came our shock, our shame at getting this country so wrong, grief and despair. A few days later Leonard Cohen died. “You Want it Darker.” My wife, a cheerful person buoyed by hope, fought back. She saw web scuttlebutt on a Million Woman’s March and before it had a permit or a place or speakers, she booked her brother’s sofa in DC. Just another internet fantasy, but her own. Then she asked my opinion, knowing I’d boost her. Forty years on, we’re getting darker together. Continue reading

When Chris Marker Freely Photographed, and Briefly Fell in Love with, North Korea

By Colin Marshall

Even though I live there, I still only with difficulty perceive Northeast Asia through any lens not borrowed from Chris Marker. This owes mostly to the influence of dozens of viewings of Sans Soleil, his 1983 fact-and-fiction cinematic travelogue through places like Iceland, Cape Verde, San Francisco, and especially Japan, a feature-length realization of the peripatetic form of “essay film” he invented with 1955’s Sunday in Peking. Between that and Sans Soleil, he’d gone to Tokyo during the 1964 Olympics and come back with the materials for a 45-minute documentary about the titular young woman whom he happened to meet in the street there. Le Mystère Koumiko came out in 1965, just three years after his best-known work: La Jetée, the short drama of apocalypse, time travel, and memory made almost entirely out of still photographs. Continue reading

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