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Hospitality and The Hairworm

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When most people think about bugs, it’s usually about how to get rid of them. Applying the metaphor of a bug to a human scales them down to a realm where death is quotidian and inconsequential.

When I began writing this piece about parasitism and hospitality, I was living in an Istanbul in shock from the bombings at Ataturk airport. I was living in a nation where the trending hashtag was “We don’t want Syrians in our country,” referring to them as “dirty, vermin, parasites, freeloaders.” By the time I came to make the final edits I was living in an Istanbul reeling from the attempted coup, after a night spent diving to the ground and hiding in a neighbor’s kitchen as the sonic booms of jets rocked the building and gunfire blasted through the streets outside. Two days later, as news of the purges of thousands of judges, military personnel, police, prosecutors and academics spread, I heard that language again. This time it came from the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he announced that he would remove all viruses from state institutions.

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Bees Are Dying

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It has come to our attention—and it is an alarming piece of news, to be sure—that it may be that bees are experiencing an alarming rate of attrition, and that it is happening all over the world, though that is not yet confirmed, but it is certainly very alarming indeed

IT’S a Saturday night at an idyllic house party. There are constant trills of too-loud laughter, an endless supply of beer sloshing around in red Solo cups. Everyone is smiling or chattering away, except for one lone face, eyes glazed over, as if seeing the totality of human existence through a roll of toilet paper. The surrounding crowd has wound down into slow motion, and Gary Jules’s “Mad World” twinkles around the familiar act of remembering once again: bees are dying globally at an alarming rate.

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Virulence in the Virtual

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Virulent power dynamics manifest in games specifically designed to simulate rape, as well as games that have been modified to include it 

IN December 1993, Julian Dibbell published a groundbreaking article in the Village Voice, entitled, “A Rape in Cyberspace.” The first extensively printed account of virtual rape, Dibbell’s article describes the attempts of LambdaMOO, a text-based online community, to process and adjudicate the in-game rape of two of its players, legba and Starsinger. The culprit was an avatar named Mr. Bungle, self-described as “a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum-stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription “KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH!” (Dibbell). Mr. Bungle used a voodoo doll subprogram to control his two victims like puppets, forcing them into unwanted sexual encounters with other players and acts of self-violation and self-mutilation. Although this crime occurred in a virtual space, its traumatic repercussions extended into the private emotional lives of those involved, revealing the impossibility of drawing a clear line between real life and “virtual reality”. As Dibbell writes, the “meaning lies always in that gap” (Dibbell).

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Do No Harm

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When mental health professionals systemically misdiagnose patients of color, treatment looks more like punishment

I first bought pale blue note paper because that’s the kind Franny Glass used before she had her breakdown, and then, because the pale blue sheets were pulpy, notebooks, small notebooks, multiple notebooks, one in each bag. What ends up working best is a sheet of paper. You landscape-orient it and draw four lines down to create five columns. The first column you title Trigger and the last Evidence to the Contrary. This is called an intrusive thought chart, a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder that leans towards the O end of OCD. There are three other columns in between the thing that made your heart (what a guy) outdo itself beating (“trigger”), and the last step, where your frontal lobe has become engaged enough to help you embrace the mathematical probability of your fears coming true (“evidence to the contrary”), and if you don’t know what those columns are, you cannot ever truly understand. That is okay.

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The Irrelevant and the Contemporary

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Those who are truly contemporary, who truly belong to their time, are those who neither perfectly coincide with it nor adjust themselves to its demands. They are thus in this sense irrelevant. But precisely because of this condition, precisely through this disconnection and this anachronism, they are more capable than others of perceiving and grasping their own time.


—Giorgio Agamben,
from “What is the Contemporary”

Why is poetry #trending in contemporary art? 

POETRY is having a moment. Pasted on walls, crammed into press releases, and crawling across your screen, the word poetry seems to be everywhere lately. At MOCA and MoMA, at the New Museum and the Whitney, in commercial galleries, performance spaces, and underground venues you’re likely to find grand invocations of a literary form few people actually read. The combination is a strange one. The art world is restless and poetry slow; the art world is rich and poetry laughably poor; there must be a catch. In these contemporary art spaces, poetry has appeared in many guises: as object, installation, conceptual exercise, artist book, press release, digital experience, performance, and inter-relational happening. Yet, if you relied on press releases and wall text alone, it would seem as if each show’s version of poetic art or artsy poesy were new and groundbreaking, when in truth, most contemporary artists and curators have been recycling the same material.

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