COLUMNS

  • Books

    Gore Vidal's Screening History

    Screening History, by Gore Vidal. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

    THE THREE LECTURES COLLECTED in Screening History, and delivered at Harvard in 1991, give us Gore Vidal at his most relaxed and digressively avuncular. His first sentence refers to that ever approaching Final Exit we must all take sooner or later—Vidal speaks of his Now as the springtime of his senescence—yet I detect no slackening of the nimble, wacky mind that summoned Myra Breckinridge in 1968. It must be said that Vidal, half politician that he is, tends to hone certain themes into aphorisms and to repeat these for

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  • Film

    Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs

    Let me tell you what “Like a Virgin”’s about. It’s about this cooz who’s a regular fuckin’ machine. I’m talkin’ morning day night afternoon dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick.

    Then one day she meets this John Holmes motherfucker and it’s like, Whoa baby. I mean this cat is like Charles Bronson in The Great Escape: he’s diggin’ tunnels. All right, she’s gettin’ some serious dick action and she’s feelin’ somethin’ she hasn’t felt since forever. Pain. Pain. It hurts, it hurts her . . . just like it did the first time. You see the pain is remindin’ the fuck machine what it was once like to

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  • Film

    the Other Ireland

    We see it often enough: revelations about the private life of a public figure escalate into full-blown political and media spectacles. It also happens, though, that “ordinary” individuals are wrenched from everyday life and projected onto a national stage, as if acting out some deeply repressed anxiety in the social psyche. What was it about narratives of sexuality in Ireland, for example, that earlier this year turned the private trauma of a 14-year-old girl into a crisis that convulsed the entire nation?

    In January, a Dublin schoolgirl, pregnant after an alleged rape by a neighbor, sought

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  • Film

    Tom Kalin's Swoon

    ON MAY 21, 1924, Nathan Leopold, Jr., and Richard Loeb murdered Robert Franks, their 13-year-old neighbor, in the back of a rented pale-blue Willys-Knight while motoring along a busy Chicago highway. They then made a failed attempt to extort ransom money from the dead boy’s father, a wealthy entrepreneur. Eight days later both were arrested, brought in on circumstantial evidence—Leopold had inadvertently left his custom-made eyeglasses at the marsh where the naked and mutilated body had been secreted. Two days later the friends confessed. Subsequently tried and convicted, they were sentenced to

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  • Books

    Strange Weather

    Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits, by Andrew Ross. London and New York: Verso, 1991

    OF NEARLY ALL cultural theorists and critics writing today, Andrew Ross has the most explicit, concrete, and sanguine political agenda. His latest effort, Strange Weather: Culture, Science and Technology in the Age of Limits, a collection of related essays, continues his ongoing project to locate positive and progressive possibilities for informed and effective political action within the imbricated discourses and concrete interests (both common and diverse) that exist among

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  • Books

    Crack Wars

    Crack Wars: Literature/Addiction/Mania, by Avital Ronell. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1992.

    IN AN INTERVIEW scheduled to be aired on the BBC’s “Theory in the Art World” program later this year, Semiotext(e) publisher Sylvère Lotringer says that too many American artists and writers have gotten bogged down in the formality of recent French theory and that he looks forward to the next stage: “I think there was perhaps a misreading not so much of French theory, but the way French theory was produced. So you find Americans intimidated by the literality of theory. Why? Get the

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