- Tuesday, July 22, 2014
This year marks the 20th anniversary since South Africa's first democratic elections, which in 1994 drove the final nail into the coffin of Apartheid. To commemorate this event and measure the depth of racial healing between blacks and whites in "The New South Africa," longtime Mantle correspondent Michael J. Jordan launched a documentary-film project, The Clubhouse: A Post-Apartheid Story. Below is Part 1 of his six-part travelogue from his recent production trip, on the making of this film.
- Monday, July 14, 2014
James Wolcott made me hate my computer this week when he put nostaliga in perspective:
Nostalgia isn’t the worst narcotic, but it used to feed a different vein. It was both generational and individual, a distillation of personal experience as unrecoverable as blushing youth. When F. Scott Fitzgerald, the dewiest prose lyricist of the Jazz Age, peered back at the reckless abandon and champagne fizz of the 20s through the clouded curtains of the Depression-era 30s, he elegized himself, Zelda, and the rest of his strewn generation for who they were and what they did. Sixties nostalgia operated that way too, the pang of regret over who so many of them were (rebels, hippies, wanderers, crusaders) and what they became (reactionaries, office drones, commuters, cynics). In our media-saturated age, when every couch potato is king, this mode of nostalgia no longer applies. It isn’t about who we aspired to be as fledglings leaving the nest—full of hopes and dreams and boogying hormones—but about what we watched, played, listened to, downloaded, and identified with as junior consumers. Before the Web became our neural extension, when print and celluloid held reign, the passage of time and the discrimination of critics and enthusiasts winnowed away the flotsam and jetsam of the past, allowing its true achievements and revelatory visions (even those unheralded or derided at the time) to surface and radiate. The Internet, however, is an inexhaustible suction pump that indiscriminately dredges up the dreck along with the sunken pearls. Search engines are scouring devices, algorithms have no taste buds, and monster Web-site aggregators such as BuzzFeed—which one writer called the Hellmouth of 90s nostalgifying, with its inane quizzes (“Which ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Character Are You?”) and dipstick listicles (“32 Reasons Christmas Was Better in the ’90s”)—are to curating what hoarders are to connoisseurship.
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- Sunday, July 13, 2014
If you are a reviewer, The Mantle welcomes your pitches for book reviews. Please direct queries to World Literature Editor Ariell Cacciola (ariell.cacciola[at]gmail.com) with the e-mail subject: THE MANTLE - BOOK REVIEW. We consider reviews for all works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Mantle has a special emphasis on world literature, but reviews are not limited to international literature. If in doubt, please read previous articles on our site.
- Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Comedy works in mysterious ways, I always say. If you get the joke, it is because you recognize the reference to the phrase: "God works in mysterious ways." And not only do you know the reference but you also have a sense of humor. Maybe you associate the phrase with something that has happened to you, and this makes the joke personal. Comedy plays off the audience’s background, their experiences, what they know and believe.
- Thursday, July 3, 2014
“Of all the specific liberties which might come into our minds when we hear the word ‘freedom’, freedom of movement is historically the oldest and also the most elementary. Being able to depart for where we will is the prototypal gesture of being free, as limitation of freedom of movement has from time immemorial been the precondition for enslavement.” –Hannah Arendt
- Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The Idleness of Sisyphus (1981) by Sandro Chia
He was sixteen—or maybe he was eighteen—years-old when he started stealing paperback books in Mexico City. Books by Max Beerbohm, Samuel Pepys, Amado Nervo, and others were purloined by this bookworm. It’s hard to tell which of these writers had a lasting effect on the teenager who would become one of Latin America’s literary giants.
- Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Installation views: Joana Kohen. "Untitled I" & "Untitled 2", polyester and stitch on hand-made cotton paper, 86X91 e/o (2014); "A Robber Who Broke Into Hair Salon Is Beaten By Its Female Owner And Kept As A Sex Slave For Three Days He Was Fed Nothing But Viagra", 83.5X159X2 (2014).
- Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Erich Maria Remarque
The following commentary was presented at the “Writing War” panel discussion on May 1, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature.
- Saturday, May 3, 2014
Still from the movie version of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)