What does it mean to raise a family or to grow up under constant surveillance? How does it affect a person’s quality of life? What does it do to the potential of an individual, a family, a neighborhood, and a society? Assia Boundaoui, who grew up in a predominantly Muslim community in Chicago, is now a journalist, and examines the effect of living under constant surveillance in her first documentary, The Feeling of Being Watched, which premiers today at the Tribeca Film Festival.
I grew up with the sense that true-home was always elsewhere. I was born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican immigrants; our family returned to Jamaica when I was six; and I immigrated to the US after high school. My parents told stories of Jamaica—a place where life was tough, but often, or so it seemed to me, speckled with marvels and otherworldliness. Somewhere between their stories was the unspoken sense that they had left behind something noteworthy and important—and, to my ears, fabulist.
Once it lost the Communist Party (PCF) as the mediating force to represent its grievances, the French working class fulfilled Herbert Marcuse’s 1972 warning that “The immediate expression of the opinion and will of the workers, farmers, neighbors—in brief, the people—is not, per se, progressive and a force of social change: it may be the opposite.” The PCF understood this latent conservatism in the working class of 1968. Not so the New Left student movement. In the end, it had only ouvriérisme sans ouvriers.
How the wildly unpredictable Trump administration might handle a proposal to fundamentally alter the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia after sixty-five years is impossible to fathom—especially if it is one that calls for the expulsion of 23,000 American troops to assuage the leader of history’s only Communist dynasty. What seems very likely is that Trump’s particular American brand of conservatism, now bolstered by the appointment of hard-liners—Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser—will collide with the liberal ideology of Moon Jae-in and his Korean allies.
How Shinzo Abe performs in his meeting with President Trump matters more than usual, for at home, he is under unprecedented pressure. A pair of scandals that have tarnished his administration refuse to die, and few consider it mere mischance or coincidence that these imbroglios have emerged under Abe’s watch. As one member of the main opposition party put it to me, “Japanese citizens are starting to suspect that the prime minister is the source of the disease that is discharging this pus.”
For a time, Iraq’s northern region, Kurdistan, tried to disassociate itself from the rest of the country and represent itself as a new country, promoting itself as “The Other Iraq.” Kurdistan politicians spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying to project an image of their region as a place of peaceful coexistence and democracy. But the face of Kurdish oppression has changed; it’s closer to home, more familiar. Today, the Kurds’ oppressors are themselves Kurdish and that new “Other Iraq” is more and more coming to resemble the old Iraq of Saddam Hussein, a one-party totalitarian state ruled by terror.
On the evening that I first walked out of Steve DiBenedetto’s new exhibition of paintings, “Toasted with Everything,” I looked up at the navy sky, down the asphalt street, and felt dizzy with euphoria. DiBenedetto encodes his works with ideas about paint as if to answer the question, What should a painting look like, in all its confusing, diffuse, and oddball glory, in order to make us feel that we’re human and engaged?
In Antonio Di Benedetto’s novel Zama, there is no shortage of brutality. Not so in Lucrecia Martel’s film adaptation. She is kinder to her protagonist than the man who originally devised him—and for a reason: her Zama portrays a society so violent in its essence that there isn’t much Zama’s body or sword can do to make matters worse. This redirection of attention from individual acts of violence toward the structural violence of colonialism itself isn’t a departure but an acute reading of the novel.
Claudia Dreifus: Did creating Maus help you come to terms with the difficulties of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors? Art Spiegelman: When Maus was first published, in 1986, my answer was, “I’ve had therapy, and I’ve made comics. The comics are cheaper.” That said, I kept ducking in and out of depression. At one point, my therapist told me, “But you weren’t in Auschwitz. You were in Rego Park.” With that, he was saying, “deal with your own reality, not your father’s.” I tried to incorporate that into the book. So, to answer your question: working on the book helped with both.
When Mark Zuckerberg talks about connecting people, as he often does, he leaves two words unsaid: “to Facebook.” For all his talk of community and connectedness, Facebook doesn’t seek to breed social connection and genuine friendship. Facebook makes its money from advertising, so what it wants is for you to keep browsing, scrolling, and clicking on Facebook—and surrender the minutiae of your life to its databases and its algorithms. To achieve this, it has to position itself as the hub of your social life, the mediator of your reality.