lawrence wright

Some Similarities Between Osama bin Laden and Arthur Rimbaud

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There is a boy who has captured a considerable amount of my heed lately, and that boy is called Osama bin Laden (or, if you’re in the CIA, UBL). Obviously, I, along with the rest of the world, was aware of this boy for quite a while. But it wasn’t until one of the most disgusting days in recent history (that is, the day when the Supreme Court repealed formidable features of DOMA) that I began to discern the details of his origins; for, on that disgusting day, girl-boy Judith Butler told me that Osama, by residing in the Middle East, was surrounded by ungreivable lives — lives that could be erased and encroached upon without any kind of fuss because they already “inhabit a lost and destroyed zone.”

The devil-may-care attitude affixed to Osama’s homeland and peoples made him murderously upset. After some further investigation, I found that Osama’s consternation correlated to that of Arthur Rimbaud’s. In the late 19th century, Arthur declared war on the Western world with his poem “What Do We Care, My Heart.” He wanted America to “vanish!” He screamed: “Power, Justice, History, fall!” A century later, Osama, too, declared war against the advance, civilized nations, telling them (though, really, just America): “You are not unaware of the injustice, repression, and aggression that have befallen Muslims through the alliance of Jews, Christians, and their agents, so much so that Muslims blood has become the cheapest blood and their money and wealth are plundered by enemies.”

Uh-huh, both of these boys have bellicose bones to pick with, what Judith Butler describes as, secular modern states. The traits these countries confer upon their subjects — ones that make their lives grievable — violently appall Arthur and Osama, as Arthur and Osama exhibit an affinity for behaviors that don’t comply with those of normative Western humans. What follows are a few of the ways in which both Arthur and Osama contrast with humans from democratic, Capitalistic societies.

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August 15th, 2013 / 1:55 pm

A Few Words about the New Yorker

The New Yorker has the same giant bullseye on it that anything that has risen to the level of cultural significance will. It sits at the top of the news chain alongside the New York Times, but its volleys are more focused because it doesn’t publish every day, and instead of shotgunning hundreds of stories a week into the world, it offers four or five high caliber rifle shots. The day a new issue comes out, you’ll hear one or three of the major stories as a headline on NPR or CNN or the networks or even ESPN (the magazine has lately been taking aim at the violence football does to the bodies and minds of those who play.) Also, the numbers: It has the broadest circulation of the few remaining smart people magazines, and because it is the most prestigious magazine in the world and one of the best paying, it can have its pick of writers. It serves, therefore, not just as a mirror to American culture (albeit from a usually-lofty and Eastern vantage point), but also as an influential shaper of American culture. Among its readers are the some of the most powerful among us, and, like it or not, power gets to do the greater share of the shaping. The New Yorker has the ear of some of the shapers.

I stopped subscribing to the New Yorker for three reasons. First, it’s expensive. READ MORE >

Random / 41 Comments
February 15th, 2011 / 8:57 pm