John Crutchfield: Chords

O-Brother-Where-Art-Thou

If in the last ten years your travels have brought you through Asheville, North Carolina, you will have noticed something odd: for such a small town (pop. 85,700), Asheville has a disproportionate number of street musicians. Many of these are quite awful — typically a man aged 30 to 50, with a broken harmonica or a guitar he hasn't bothered (or doesn't know how) to tune, playing a classic rock cover.

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Joshua Oppenheimer’s Movie

by Oliver Farry The Act of Killing, dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark/Norway/UK, 115 minutes Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing has made ripples in the West not so much because it’s a good film (though there is much about it that is very good) but because the impunity it portrays...

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Jenny Diski’s Flame War

Mad Men, AMC by Jenny Diski In 1959, by pure accident, Roger O. Thornhill was mistaken for another man. Actually, he was taken for a man who did not and had never existed. Thornhill’s initials spell ROT, which is printed on his monogrammed matchbooks, and when asked what the...

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Imperial Fantasy VII

From FINAL FANTASY VII, Square, 1997 by Simon Ferrari and Ian Bogost Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games, by Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 320pp. In Games of Empire, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter expand an earlier study of “the...

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Grrrls, Grrrls, Grrrls

Juliana Hatfield. Photograph by Christian Kock From The New Inquiry: In the fall of 1991, a 24-year-old Juliana Hatfield had just broken up her college band, Blake Babies, a mainstay of Boston’s fertile indie rock scene, and finished recording her solo debut, Hey Babe, now many years out of...

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Bobbi Lurie: Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Men

by Bobbi Lurie Dear Russell Bennetts, editor of Berfrois. After seeing the god-awful Season Six finale of Mad Men, I have decided to throw away my television set. Here is a tweet I posted immediately after watching it: Bobbi Lurie ‏@BobbiLurie n-n-n-nnooooooooo …. not the “redemption” thing ~ ~...

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W for Welles

Poster for F is For Fake, Specialty Films, 1975 From The New Yorker: When Welles came to Hollywood, in 1939, at the age of twenty-four, he was already famous for his radio work—not least for the great “War of the Worlds” hoax—and heralded as the next big thing without...

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Light First

“I am dealing with no object,” Turrell said in a lecture a few years after producing First Light. “I am dealing with no image, because I want to avoid associative, symbolic thought... I am dealing with no focus or particular place to look. With no object, no image and...

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DRMWorld

From SimCity, Electronic Arts, 2013 From The New Inquiry: SimCity, Electronic Arts’ online multiplayer reboot of the long-­running SimCity franchise, was supposed to be available for download and play on March 5, 2013. The download part mostly worked. The play part did not. The problems were wonderfully and excitingly...

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Daniel Bosch on William Pope.L

William Pope.L is famous for (among other things) carrying a business card that identifies him as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America.” It’s a clever gag because it makes itself true, in a way, every time it draws people closer. The card must be especially useful when Pope.L does...

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A Punk Controversy

From music video “Big City Nights” for Da Funk, by Daft Punk, 1995. Directed by Spike Jonze by Enrique Lima It is nearly impossible for popular music to represent history. The historiographic imagination is beyond it, I think. Linearity, plot, and telos are too important to the telling of...

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Whatever Fitz

Baz Luhrmann adapts Fitzgerald and the result is pretty much as you might expect. There are no surprises here. You have a continual sense that you have seen this film before. That is largely because you have – if, that is, you happened to chance upon any of Luhrmann’s...

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Press the Pedal Again

Piper, Eduard Bersudsky, 2013 From Aeon: You press the pedal at the base of Eduard Bersudsky’s sculpture Piper (2013). The shadow on the wall moves, the cogs begin to hum, the little bell rings, and the pair of gendered fauns flex their legs to activate the dog typist at...

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Jesse Miksic in Columbia

One of the strengths of BioShock Infinite, acknowledged less often than its expansive and detailed historical-revisionist steampunk setting, is the way its narrative is punctuated. The extended forays down cobblestone streets – and the intermittent murderous rampages – are connective tissue, linking a series of scenes that are genuinely,...

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Marcel-Duchamp-Leaving-the-Cafe-1

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

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Bobbi Lurie
Duchamp-smoking-through-the-cracked-glass

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

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fp

Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

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Ernst_Ludwig_Kirchner

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

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ramirez1fullsize

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

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MashaTheDevilProbably

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

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ron-sky-rat-cover

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

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chinua

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

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Masha Tupitsyn
sickert

No one can love anymore because of an overabundance of reaction formation. No one wants to owe anything to their desire(s); to other people’s...

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Hearn1

How could a man born on a Greek island in 1850 be a household name in Japan today? The answer lies in the story...

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kentridge1

Jean Améry titled his renowned book on voluntary death, Hand an Sich Legen – To lay Hands on Oneself. Beyond the argument of Amery...

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letters

Several months ago, I wrote a long letter by hand to a young woman I barely knew. That sounds pretty dubious, if not to...

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Kemmler

In a move that might strike readers as odd, Derrida spends most of these lectures not on the case made by death penalty proponents,...

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proust

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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