Lynne Tillman

  • Peter Wollen, August 1984.


    ON DECEMBER 17, 2019, Peter Wollen died from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a slow, debilitating illness, a cruel death. He had been in a care home in England for fourteen years. Alzheimer’s denied Peter—and us—the life of his brilliant mind. Death may be a writer’s subject—the subject—but it is awful and very sad to write about a good friend’s. I know this will be inadequate to Peter.

    Peter thrived on ideas, adventures, and had many of both. He held strong views and was very knowledgeable. Peter wrote on film, art, politics, fashion, on culture generally. He wrote poems, curated art exhibitions,

  • Hannah Arendt's Men in Dark Times (1968).
    slant November 16, 2016

    Living in Obscenity

    THERE’S A PILE of dirty laundry on my floor, not really. Inside me grievances mount, grief, anger fulminates, ugliness. Feel palpable anxiety for the most vulnerable people, they’re without, without, without resources. Despair for terrors his bullying campaign brought, his election, causing black and Hispanic kids, and gay kids, not to be able to sleep, to fear being killed. Desperate refugees, immigrants. Girls who will get their first period, naive, vulnerable, no protection for them. Gorge rises at the bigots, cleared to come out from their half-shut closets. In this long, dark night, vampires

  • John Waters, Pink Flamingos, 1972, still from a color film in 35 mm, 93 minutes. Divine/Babs Johnson (Divine).

    John Waters’s Role Models

    Role Models, by John Waters. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. 304 pages. $25.

    IN HIS NOVELLA Tonio Kröger, Thomas Mann writes, “Only a beginner believes those who create feel.” Kröger is a young middle-class German who considers himself manqué both as a bourgeois and as an artist. John Waters might be the anti-Kröger—a well-off, middle-class man whose life and art mock high, low, middle, and all their fuzzy gradations. He’s an aesthete and an anti-aesthete; he’s classy and classless. Filmmaker, artist, writer, actor, Waters revels in spectacle and spectatorship; and the joys of

  • Barack Obama

    ORDINARY PEOPLE GET THE NEWS, they don’t make it. Mediacs report, repeat, spin, repeat, and pummel non-ordinaries with self-serving rhetorical questions, and, except for dead people and “undecideds,” or the living dead, Americans are addicted. Media junkies, by definition, can’t stop: They need more of that blah-blah powder. Obama himself, the public recently learned, had to go cold turkey off his BlackBerry—and the world sympathized. He too needs instantaneity, to be connected, like most twenty-first-century characters.

    Once the dramatic presidential race reached its historic conclusion,

  • Image from Stephen Shore’s untitled journal, 1973.


    NOT LONG AGO, diaries housed private thoughts and feelings too intimate or shameful to reveal. Virginia Woolf wrote in hers daily, expatiating on yesterday’s parties, ideas, and dinner conversations. Some believe remembering can keep us sane, but Woolf succumbed to madness, and remarked on its approach in her diary.

    Blogs are, oxymoronically, public diaries, where bloggers play with exposure, others’ and their own. Some use handles for anonymity, but with fingerprints in cyberspace and with erasure near impossible, nothing’s lost and everyone can be found. Billions of disclosures light up the


    I’m not sure how I got to these places, but I realized they were pictures about summerness, fullness-deep, complicated spaces.” —James Welling

    I’M TRAVELING MENTALLY, THE WAY I USUALLY DO, FROM A LUSH MARSH, to a secluded road, to a chain-link fence, to a tower and abandoned railroad tracks. In the hush of these intensely static photographs, I concoct associations that bridge the four disparate, ordered views. Order breeds narrative, but I stop myself. Pictures don’t tell stories, people do, and every interpretation is an exposure.

    Uneven black borders, part of what’s pictured, threaten to

  • The Autobiography of Eve

    A MIND OF MY OWN is the autobiography of Chris Costner Sizemore, better known as “Eve.” Sizemore was the case study upon which The Three Faces of Eve, a popular 1957 movie directed by Nunnally Johnson, was based. Joanne Woodward played Eve, winning an Academy Award for her virtuoso performance as a woman under the influence of a mental illness, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). In the movie Woodward metamorphosed, before the camera and without special effects, from Eve Black, “the party girl,” to Eve White, “the mother/wife,” to Jane, “the intellectual woman,” enacting a female Jekyll, Jekyll