by Claire Skinner
For each essay, I would set myself up as though I were allowed to make a collage using last Wednesday’s newspaper, a 1996 issue of Art Forum, and the notes I took while on layover at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. And the reason for each particular assemblage was not random: there was always some hunch that I was trying to articulate in the gathering. Race, place and art are ongoing themes. So for example, in one essay, the video of Ana Mendieta killing a chicken helps me begin to untangle what it felt like to travel in South Africa. Or, in another essay, I talk about the way that three filmmakers approach the experience of time in their films as I reminisce about living in Paris for a summer with my father.
by Nathan Go
I have to confess I used to avoid going to second-hand stores – not because I’m a snob, but because I’m sort of a hypochondriac. I always imagined those places teeming with viruses and crawling with germs. But my recent move to Ann Arbor as a grad student forced me to evaluate living a more practical lifestyle. It didn’t hurt that the “vintage” fad took some of the stigma out of shopping at thrift stores. But above all, I discovered that millions of germs do indeed lurk behind many of the “re-use” shops – it’s of the strain called fabula ideas.
by Gina Balibrera
On the last day of a month-long research trip that took me all over France and New York City, I filled my flashdrive and notebook with the last phrases and images of discrete data these instruments (and my stacks-woozy mind) could hold, and made my way on several Metro trains, from the Butler Library at Columbia to Rockaway Beach. Early that morning, beneath my white cotton dress, I had thought to put on a bikini.
by Marshall Walker Lee
As opposed to wit, which is often just pedantic cruelty, more ingenious than funny, rarely instructive or heartening, Aphorism is, historically, a manly form, laconic, from the Spartan polis of Laconia. Spartan men were said to hold the rhetoricians and the poets in disdain; the Laconians valued bravery, austerity, and, as anyone who’s seen 300 knows, a direct and very un-pedantic sort of cruelty. The first “Laconisms” come from accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae, the bloody contest that pitted a small band Greeks and Spartans against a superior Persian force. Grotesque, frightening, often hilarious, these early Laconisms make the battle out to be a bloody lark. My favorite: when a Persian envoy sent to Sparta asks for a tribute of “some soil and water,” the Spartans throw him down a well; “Dig it out yourself,” they say.