This week we bend our ears towards the Galician artist Isaac Cordal in conversation with LARB’s Brad Evans, convener of an exceptional ongoing series probing the subject of violence, in all its modulations.
Two excerpts below, with images from Cordal’s installation People of Trees, dating from the early days of the pandemic, relayed from his website.
Let’s all repeat that last sentence together:
Creation and the solidarity it fosters may just be the only thing that save us.
As Swan convincingly documents, the toxicity of “modern” life has not only saturated the world’s oceans and most distant deserts, but has also brought polluting “externalities” into our own bodies, bringing fresh dimension to Günther Anders maxim :a world without us.
An excerpt below, as released by the publisher. Images are from the remarkable “Red Body” series by Valentina De’ Mathà, as relayed from her website.
Yet we are sure to cook up some clever “disruptive” tech to resolve this issue through cryonics, nano-robotic sperm, embryonics or some other hubristic device that will permit us to survive as lab-grown meat without changing a single twitch of our collective behavior. As for other species, well, they might remain available for our entertainment and nostalgia-binges via VR and possibly even in hermetically sealed zoos and aquaria.
Now comes the voice of this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Louise Glück, whose quiet excellence we have long admired, and whose aversion to the “collective” tribunal in favor of precarious, accidental intimacy we most certainly share, hence our longstanding rejection of social media. Excerpts from her brief Nobel Lecture below, with the Emily D. poem, strangely (though unsurprisingly) misrepresented on the Nobel website.
Not unlike how we welcome those who find their way to DP.
Now comes novelist Hari Kunzru, author of White Tears, Red Pill and Transmission, with a few illuminating thoughts regarding the social psychology of Q. The entire “Easy Chair” essay, titled Complexity, can be found in the January 2021 issue of Harper’s.
Excerpts below, with images from the artist Mike Jackson’s Birdsong series of Luminograms, relayed from the website of the Foley Gallery in NYC, where they were recently on view.
We note that Kunzru also hosts a podcast titled Into the Zone. We jackknifed briefly into Dead Or Alive, the blurb for which states:
Life’s final border might not be so final after all. From tardigrades to viruses, some things are both dead and alive. Or neither. How do we draw the line between the living and the dead? And how does that line blur in places like in a time capsule buried in ice, or a library on the moon?
Fear not, dear DP reader: we guarantee you that there will never be a DP podcast. That ship sailed over a thousand years ago!
We are forest walkers here at DP; ramblings through local woodlands have offered deep sustenance during Covidzeit. Now comes poet & essayist J. Drew Lanham recounting varied Conversations with Trees, first published in the reliably invigorating digital pages of Wildness. A brief excerpt below, with images from Sally Mann’s Southern Landscapes series, as relayed from her website.
In closing, we bend an ear to a speculative interview dating from the 1990s with a famous yet unnamed tree-whisperer, via Radical Language of Trees:
Hard to believe, yet it has been ten years since the blossoming of dissent and creativity known as the Arab Spring. This week, we listen closely to the nuanced voice of the lawyer and writer Rayan Fakhoury, whose illuminating Still Arab has just been published within the digital scroll of the venerable LAYB.
The essay is worthy of close consideration in its entirety; two brief excerpts below, with images of untitled paintings by Ayman Baalbaki, as relayed from the website of the Dalloul Art Foundation.
One of the key tidal observations throughout our DP voyages has been, simply put, that we cannot change what we do not truthfully understand.
For example: reconciliation regarding the historical experience of American slavery is impossible without coming to grips with how that history lives on in the present through densely interwoven manifestations of white supremacy, with the carceral state at its center.
Now comes the ever-lucid Eileen Crist, with thoughts on a different though related variant of subjugation, not within a single species but rather between one particularly invasive species (homo sapiens) and the rest of life on Mother Earth.
Note: The entire excellent interview from within the pages of The Sun Magazine (not the tabloid, mind!) is worthy of close consideration. The magazine has generously dropped its pay wall during Covidzeit, yet relies entirely on reader support. We highly recommend trial perusal, and then subscription.
On this birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., celebrated during times of racist violence and white supremacist insurrection unleashed in the name of “American greatness”, we give full attention to one of MLK’s most powerfully transformative sermons: The Drum Major Instinct, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968.
We urge close, deep listening to the entirety of the sermon; excerpts transcribed below.
We also take note of an op-ed in the Washington Post written by MLK III in opposition to the ruthless executions staged by a racist & omnicidal thanatocracy during its own dying days, with an excerpt relayed below: