- The internet was born out of US Imperialism, according to Vincent Bevins in the Baffler:
In Odd Arne Westad’s magisterial volume The Global Cold War, the Yale historian reaches one conclusion that has received insufficient attention. Westad (who is Norwegian) asserts that “globalization” is the wrong word for the rapid expansion of a specific type of capitalist order in the late twentieth century. A better word, he says, is “Americanization.” In the early twentieth century, an aggressive and militaristic Western European settler colony was ascendant, and it became the world’s predominant power in 1945. With the accidental suicide of Soviet communism, the system that the United States had been imposing on its lessers in this or that territory became globalized—even if you might operate according to different rules domestically. From 1990 on—and now this is my contention, not Westad’s—Americanization was so profound that it became hard to even notice it. Invisible, that is, until it begins to fall apart, or is contested.
- Check out Charmaine Chua’s “Abolition Is A Constant Struggle: Five Lessons from Minneapolis” in the October 2020 edition of Theory & Event. The first lesson is titled “Abolition Is a Horizon, Not an Event” and reads:
Contemporary abolitionist theory and praxis draws its lessons from a long history of Black radical insurgency against the continuities of containment and capture, from rebellions against chattel enslavement and the Jim Crow South to women of color feminist theorizations of violence, and queer critiques of the rise of the modern carceral state. Recognizing the foundational anti-Blackness of carceral logics, abolitionist theory and praxis begins from the position that prisons and policing are not solutions to the problem of violence, but constitutive of its making. If liberal reformism views incidents of police “brutality” as exceptions to an otherwise just system of “law and order,” abolition posits that brutality is not an exception at all, but a core component of the normalized, state-sanctioned violence of policing. To recognize this constitutive violence is to seek an abolitionist horizon that stops not at the dismantling of the institutions of police and prisons, but seeks to dismantle the entirety of oppressive systems that rationalize inequality and normalize white supremacist systems of containment and capture across multiple sites, institutions, and conditions of life.
- For their new publication, Offshoot Journal, Kim Nguyen and Eunsong Kim pen this article about institutions and racial equity:
Statements without withdrawals of power are expressions of structural domination and white supremacy. Public relations without actionable items merely confirm open secrets.
- Blake Butler reviews British-born Mexican Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington’s 1974 novel, The Hearing Trumpet, which was just rereleased:
The result is a mind-flaying masterpiece, held together by Carrington’s gifts of wit, imagination and suspense. We ourselves arrive at the end feeling reconfigured, as if the book — like “Mount Analogue,” by Carrington’s fellow Surrealist René Daumal — has only just begun where it cuts off. We are reminded, then, of the power of fiction not to reflect or to define, but to create a gateway to a place that wasn’t visible to us before the text, and yet has always existed just beyond our present reality’s dull edge.
- In a writeup of the pro-Trump DC insurrection, Karen Attiah spoofs what passes as foreign news coverage in the US by using the same type of framing. Some gems here:
The international community is watching with great concern. Leading observers wonder whether the United States is in the grips of an anti-constitutional seizure of power. “It’s not actually a coup unless it comes from the coup d’etat region of France,” said writer Rémy Anne on Twitter. “Otherwise it’s just a sparkling authoritarian takeover.”
- Psychics, palm, and tarot readers are having quite a year. For the Washington Post, Jessica Contrera writes:
“People call to ask about the new year, but I’ve never been in a pandemic before either,” said Charley Thompson, who owns Psychic Shop DC in Dupont Circle. “This is all new to me.”
“We are going to be in this a while, you understand,” said Kadosh, who moved her Eastern Market business entirely into phone and virtual readings. “This is the oil spill cleanup of planet Earth. People think they can do whatever they want and guess what? Mother Nature will let you know.”
Vague musings like these are what keep psychic-skeptics skeptical, but keep Kadosh’s devotees coming back, paying $25 for a 10-minute reading, or her “covid special,” $40 for 20 minutes.
- Some good news we can all use:
One of the Trump administration’s biggest environmental rollbacks suffered a stunning setback Wednesday, as a decades-long push to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ended with a lease sale that attracted just three bidders — one of which was the state of Alaska itself.
Alaska’s state-owned economic development corporation was the only bidder on nine of the parcels offered for lease in the northernmost swath of the refuge, known as the coastal plain. Two small companies also each picked up a single parcel.
Half of the offered leases drew no bids at all.
- Maybe we should all reconsider ever using Facebook Messenger or Instagram messages (same company):
- This was one of the best TV reports from the January 6 tragic events:
- Well, as the American Republic crumbles, Danish TV now has a children’s TV show about a man with a giant (and very flexible and strong) penis. Helen Russell, writing for the Guardian, reports:
The Danish equivalent of the BBC, DR, has a new animated series aimed at four- to eight-year-olds about John Dillermand, the man with the world’s longest penis who overcomes hardships and challenges with his record-breaking genitals.
Unsurprisingly, the series has provoked debate about what good children’s television should – and should not — contain.
- This is a masterclass in autocratic propaganda wrapped in the guise of Western politically correct rhetoric:
- There’s probably already a version out there:
- Randy Rainbow has created a spoof called Sedition! Enjoy:
- Seems the insurrectionists lost the support of Axe body spray:
- Don’t buy a giant snake, kids:
Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.