Urbanist and historian Davarian L. Baldwin on the dynamics between urban universities and the communities outside their walls - but increasingly under their control, and his book In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities from Bold Type Books.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is also, paradoxically, the drink.
On the one hand, you have the ancient traditions of hospitality. You are obligated, by universally agreed-upon human law, to invite a stranger into your tent and feed them. Allow them to rest. If they require it, to spend the night, maybe two, maybe more. After all, the desert can be a dangerous place. Those struggling through the unwelcoming wasteland must be offered respite, and you must give it to them in whatever measure you have the means to provide. They might be angels, so you should offer your virgin offspring to them, so they’ll remember to spare you when it’s time for fire and brimstone.
On the other hand, you have Greeks dumping refugees they view as a potentially unendurable burden into the Mediterranean to bob until they die of exposure or drowning or shark attack. The party Greeks had voted in to extricate their country from the crushing European Union debt turned out in the end not to be up to the task, hence the continued imposition of austerity, hence the feeling of poverty imposed from above, hence the fear of strangers and their needs. Poverty imposed from above always seems to be a good reason for those below to attack anyone perceived as being even lower than them.
You have the Beverly Hillbillies saying, y’all come back now, ya hear? And you have Oscar the Grouch, telling you to get away from his trash can.
The South African Nobel Prize-winning writer, J.M. Coetzee, published a novel about 40 years ago called, Waiting for the Barbarians. He’s written many books since then, and this one is probably not his best. But it may be his most famous, and easiest to read, because stylistically it resembles the outline of a Camus novel, although with an even more allegorical feel. I read his The Life and Times of Michael K, which was published three years later, and then Age of Iron when it came out in 1990. I appreciated those more than Barbarians.
He’s an excellent writer, J.M. Coetzee. The Booker Prize he also won. They don’t give them Nobels and Bookers to no slouches. Politically, he was against apartheid, though never committed to the left in an organizational sense. The perspectives it’s possible to glean from his work are complicated and humanistically moral, and even somewhat universalist. After apartheid he might’ve been called a centrist, if labeling him were... read more
Eugene McCarraher / Interview
Ruth Kinna / Interview
Hadas Thier / Interview
Fabian Scheidler / Interview
Cassie Thornton / Interview
Ariella Aïsha Azoulay / Interview
Jennifer L. Holland / Interview
Laleh Khalili / Interview
Aya Gruber / Interview
Paul M. Renfro / Interview
Vincent Brown / Interview
Gerald Horne / Interview
Welcome to the year-end Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Caveat Ω: The following is satire, or, at worst, a joke. It is neither an earnest account, nor a call to action, nor should it be taken as an excuse for any authorities or their paramilitary proxies to molest or prosecute the writer and/or his, her, or their confederates.
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Can the dead return to life? I know this is more of an Easter question than a Christmas question, but I have to ask because I plan on killing numerous people during and/or slightly prior to the upcoming Revolution, or war for independence from capitalism, and I want to be sure they can’t seek me out from some vantage point in the world of the dead – a mountaintop, or a ziggurat, perhaps – and thus locate me here in the living world, pierce the numinous veil, inhabit some corporeal structure of flesh, bone, and tendon, and do me an injury in payback. It really would spoil my plans, or at least disrupt them terribly.
My plan – and this is just between us – is to commit a few well-chosen assassinations first, either in the first few weeks of the war, or in the weeks leading up to it. This latter option is more difficult to plan for, but if everything we did in following our bliss were easy, it wouldn’t be bliss, would it?
And this particular segment of the plan is not such a worry. No one’s ever gone wrong committing an assassination. I mean, there are the celebrated disasters we’re familiar with from the lurid press – the Kennedys, Lincoln, Caesar, McKinley, King, John Lennon, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and such – but those are the sensational, tentpole assassinations, the splashy affairs.
Your run-of-the-mill assassination is just too run-of-the-mill for the tabloids (and they’re all tabloids these days) to bother with. The Russians, USA, and Israelis get away with them all the time. Israel just did one in Iran a couple weeks ago; Putin just denied an attempted one ten hours ago, and no one even got their hair mussed in consequence. I can hardly imagine anyone but an aggrieved bureaucrat even giving their desk so much as an angry fist-pound. And I think I can muster enough proof of Jewishness to qualify for Israeli citizenship –... read more