What Will Happen to Kim Kardashian in the Revolution?

Guy Debord tells us the spectacle is what our modern economy looks like: it is what we have produced, and what we consume, congealed into an image. “The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.” In an earlier piece, I suggested that the capital accumulated in the images of Ferguson is our squandered defense budget, expressed on suburb streets and pointed at our own citizens.

It all makes more sense if you don’t distinguish between E! and CNN, between Kim Kardashian and Rosemary Church. The TV is just trying to entertain you, to give you what you want to see so you’ll keep buying. That is, you who it thinks it knows but no longer does…

Staff Picks: Print Favorites

This October, the American Reader is going (almost) all print. In celebration of this shift, the editors have put together an unranked list of twenty of our favorite stories, poems, plays and essays that have appeared in our print edition over the past two years.

Gaza, Ferguson, and the Perils of White Guilt

On Monday night, a ninety-year-old woman named Hedy Epstein in Ferguson, MO, was arrested wearing a t-shirt that said, “Stay Human.” This was the tenth day of protests over the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor and a Jew, said of her arrest, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I’d have to do it when I was ninety”…

“Real Pretend People”: An Interview with Justin Taylor

The characters are products of that world but they are also the justification for its existence (which I recognize is itself a thoroughly religious notion), so the characters and their world have a necessarily symbiotic relationship, which means that in order to get the story to a point of completion the characters must feel completed too. If anything else could be done with them then the story would simply not be over. But of course nothing is final, least of all completion. That’s just a noble(ish) lie we tell ourselves so we know when to turn the printer on…

Dead or in Jail: Ferguson and the Bounty on Black Life

In Ferguson we see the collapse of the urban economy and the explosion of the defense industry all in a single shot. What we see, in fact, is the buoying of our economy, and the enrichment of the 1%, at the expense of human lives, lives like Michael Brown’s. This is the family portrait of late-stage American capitalism: our weapons, deployed all over the world, have no targets left but ourselves.

Read Like an American

I recently picked up A Room of One’s Own because I am beginning to write a novel, and I was wondering if my room and income count. Do I have, quite literally, what Woolf thinks it takes to write fiction? It crossed my mind to see if, adjusted for inflation, I make enough money. What would 500 a year in 1928 be in 2014?

Spaced Out: The Other Berlin Wall

The ultimate fate of the wall is not merely to leave remnant spaces, be they lines or open squares. It is, rather, to reinforce, even in its absence, the primacy of inside over outside, of capital over province, of city over town.

Staff Picks: Ventura, The Appendix, Georges Perec

In the wake of Knausgaard’s My Struggle, it would be easy to pull a Person of the Year and inaugurate “the self” as the exemplary character of contemporary narrative. But this maneuver would too readily stoke the rage that lies beneath the widespread claim that we are all narcissists now.

Imagined Conversations (7.30.14)

D: We are giving people larger derrières.
Dr. C: They want more ethnicity.
D: If Martha Stewart can do it, anyone can do it.
A and B overhearing.
A. Can you believe that guy! I will seize my own day. Carpe penis!

Spaced Out: The Lower Depths

There is a strange word that appears in Ancient Greek literature, a verb that describes a mental process: bussodomeuō. We could translate it as “to inhabit the base” or, more succinctly, as “depth-dwelling.” Such a gloss might be the best we can do.