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Democracy in Concrete

Visitors to “The Project of Independence” at the Museum of Modern Art are greeted on their right by seven shadowy faces in a Margaret Bourke-White photograph. They belong, according to the picture’s original caption in Life, to “spindly but determined” Sikh refugees from Pakistan, forced to relocate to a newly independent India after Partition. Their...

Dimensions of Devotion

The art critic Dave Hickey died in November 2021, aged eighty-two. In our June 23 issue, Jarrett Earnest grapples with Hickey’s legacy, and finds that behind his reputation as the “iconoclastic” “bad boy of art criticism” was the originality, rigor, and sensitivity befitting a man who “was not interested in ‘beauty’ as an aesthetic or […]

Ruling by Fear

By enshrining a constitutional “right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen all but guarantees more guns on streets already bristling with them. It ushers in a world that many people will not be happy to inhabit. But […]

On the Grid in Leisang

Leisang, India—People in this remote northeast Indian enclave still talk about the day back in 2018 when the light came. By “light,” they mean electricity: the village was being connected to the national grid for the very first time. The three dozen or so adults in the village brought some of their children and gathered […]

Choreographed Uncertainty

In March 1962 the choreographer and dancer Trisha Brown debuted Trillium, her first original performance, at the Maidman Playhouse in New York City. In the three-minute work, she attempted to sit, stand, and lie down in quick, unpredictable succession. With enough repetition and acceleration, she recalled, she’d reach a point where “lying down was done...

Generation Mélenchon

Nathalie Cullell lives in a small French village of eight hundred people called La Cabanasse in the Pyrenees mountains, near the Spanish border. For some time, she’s been noticing that public services have been disappearing, one after the other. Schools are being closed, as are post offices. Her neighbors travel further to go to work. […]

The Oversoul Speaking to the Undercarriage

“The danger of memory is going / to it for respite,” Diane Seuss writes in her poem “Weeds,” from the Review’s June 23, 2022, issue. This bracing advice is characteristic of a poet who often favors, in collections from It Blows You Hollow (1998) to this year’s Pulitzer Prize–winning frank: sonnets, a present tense and […]

Altars of Novelty and Profit

“French society would be the historian; I was only to be the secretary.” So Honoré de Balzac humbly characterized his sprawling, multi-volume panorama of French geography and social life. But as the Dantesque title of his Human Comedy suggests, Balzac was more a commentator—a Virgilian guide—than a copyist. By analyzing how historical forces and social...

Wegman’s World

On February 11, 1982, in front of a live studio audience, Man Ray sat on top of David Letterman’s desk and lapped milk out of a drinking glass. The Weimaraner, named for the dada photographer, was a guest on Late Night with David Letterman with his owner and collaborator, William Wegman. Wegman showed clips of […]

The Accidental Internet Scholar

In the June 9, 2022, issue of the magazine, Ethan Zuckerman reviews The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media by Kevin Driscoll. The book looks at the early history of what became the Internet, before dial-up ISPs, back when users interacted on bulletin-board systems—closed computer networks that brought hobbyists together across the continent and...

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