CURRENT ISSUE: Winter 2017
Airea D. Matthews
In dreams, Mary comes draped beneath a veil, Dead
Sea breaking at her feet, arms outstretched in that maternal
welcoming. She wades waist-deep, covers her scars, not
wanting to scare the children. Every mother’s duty:
Keep the unholy origins hidden, those hauntings quiet.
Like her, I cloak my immaculates in robes, send them off
to learn. Soon they'll wonder, though, about the white
detritus on my tongue when they come home, as I nod off
mid-endearment, weighing hope against their smiles, our
heavy goodnights before the tiny Mary in my well shakes
her bottle full of pills, beckoning:
Three Garden Clubs
“The very word culture meant ‘place tilled’ in Middle English, and the same word goes back to Latin colere, ‘to inhabit, care for, till, worship’ and cultus, ‘A cult, espe- cially a religious one.’ To be cultural, to have a culture, is to inhabit a place sufciently intensive to cultivate it—to be responsible for it, to respond to it, to attend to it caringly,”
– Edward S. Casey, via the Wikipedia article on “Culture”
Garden of Collective Knowledge
Somewhere in your neighborhood lives a lonely nerd with a big old brain and a big old monitor and no one to see in his spare time. This is the kind of guy who felt his identity ossify when he picked the username that suited him just right – the one that would stick – and created his first account with it. He likes the experience of logging into any given site, feeling his fingers migrate of their own accord to those familiar keys to tap out his well-loved moniker and the dopamine rush when the software recognizes him. Once inside, his otherwise unstable sense of self calcies into a solid eggshell of persona. The shell does not encase his soft and eshy body but instead wraps around the window of his web browser, bringing him enough protection from the trolls and the amers that he might step out into the wide world of the world wide web and offer something of himself to it and procure some small satisfaction in return. There are other people there and he doesn’t have to deal with their bodies. Bodies are a lot for him: they require facial expressions and gestures and tones of voice and socially appropriate words that ow free on the spot. People reduced to text on the screen – bite-sized chunks of interaction and maybe intimacy – are a more comfortable alternative.
Fingers of Familiar TV
Post-modern pop culture points to itself. Or at least it did in 1990, when David Foster Wallace, idol to many Warby-Parker’d lit mag wannabes (myself included, minus the glasses), wrote his meandering manifesto on modern TV, E Unibus Pluram. Early in the essay, Wallace identifies a cultural switch from the television of the 1960’s, which pointed “beyond itself...usually at versions of ‘real life’ made prettier, sweeter, better by succumbing to a product or temptation,” to the self-conscious and self-referential TV of the 90’s, where the drama of an amnesiac who thinks he’s Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show might play only minutes after an MTMS marathon.
The Pregnant Women of Florida
Their navels pop out, poking like thumb-tips against the ribbing of their tank tops. A soft skirt, a pair of track pants, tiny shorts, waistband cupping the circumference of the belly’s bottom rim. No maternity jeans—this heat! A sundress, anything with cinched elastic, breeze. Flip-flops with flattened rubber soles. The flapping accentuates their widened gaits.
FROM THE BLOG
An Interview With J.D. Daniels
J.D. Daniels’ writing has provoked a response that only a unique talent could. In both praise and criticism of Daniels’ recently published first collection, The Correspondence, there exists a common tone: a sort of what the hell is this? It’s a confusion that fresh style demands – a confrontation with the sheen of the new. Daniels manages to marry registers that might sound contradictory, but, in his hands, appear natural: bravura and vulnerability, academic erudition and folk wisdom, humor and frankness. And this wealth of material somehow finds the space to rattle around in a tightly bound, rhythmic prose. His essays take the liberty to chase ideas and often become something that they once weren’t in the span of just a sentence. It’s a thrilling agility. To read him can be like watching a brain at work.
FROM THE BLOG
The Merchant of Chinatown: a Review of ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail'
The end of the 2008 financial crisis marked the beginning of an agitated love-hate affair between Hollywood and Wall Street. Movies that satirized, maligned, or celebrated the exploits of the veiled “masters of the universe” became incredibly popular. Hollywood had found its new villain, and the following years saw the release of a string of movies like Margin Call (2011), Too Big to Fail (2011), and The Big Short (2015). Steve James’s new documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, might be described as the anti-Big Short. It refuses to play into the tropes and excesses of its precursors. For one, it makes no attempt to glamorize the work of bankers or bamboozle the viewer into dumb awe with a barrage of inscrutable technical terms—CDS’s, MBS’s, tranches, and the like. Instead, the only source of the fantastic comes from the film’s very premise: Abacus is a profile of the only bank to have been criminally charged with mortgage fraud in the wake of 2008, and the family behind its operations.