In this month’s issue of Foreign Affairs, there is a provocative essay from Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Entitled, ‘The Myth of the Liberal Order: From Historical Accident to Conventional Wisdom,’ Allison provides a much needed corrective to the history of American foreign policy since the Second World War. Allison argues, correctly, that American foreign policy was never about maintaining a liberal world order. Rather, she argues, the world as we know it globally arose out of the Cold War, a bipolar world where the United States and its allies confronted the Soviet Union and its allies in a battle of the hearts and minds of the global populace. In essence, the two core belligerent nations cancelled each other out in terms of nuclear arms, so they were left to forge and uneasy co-existence. And then, the USSR collapsed in 1991 and, the US was victorious in the Cold War. And, of course, Francis Fukuyama made his now infamous, laughable, and ridiculous claim: What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. How Fukuyama has any...Read More
Month: July 2018
Santigold I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions Downtown Records Santigold has always struck me as an exhaustive artist, meaning she is careful about the curation of her public self as viewed through her music. So it was a surprise when The Gold Fire Sessions dropped as a sudden mixtape last week with no real warning. Actually, no warning at all. Suddenly, there it was. This is new territory for her, essentially the mix is a dub-fired collection of Jamaican-influenced music. Working with Dre Skull in the studio, on music for someone else, she suddenly got influenced and inspired to do this. She describes it as a mixtape because it’s her with someone else, though she acknowledges that a true mix is usually the artist with a bunch of different people. Whatever, don’t care. This is her first mixtape since 2008, and she’s been, uh, rather busy of late, giving birth to twins (she recorded parts of this mix whilst 9 months pregnant) moving to the City of Angels and prepping to open for Ms. Lauryn Hill’s coming tour, though Ms. Hill appears to be busy cancelling dates on that jaunt. This is her summer party mix. And it is that. With big, phat dub beats, Santigold’s beautiful voice wraps around the spaces in between the beats, smoothing over classic reggae guitars and other flourishes. She has described the lyrics...Read More
Riding the metro in Beijing the other day, listening to Wolf Parade’s track ‘Valley Boy,’ I suddenly had this moment of vertigo as my mind was riding the 55 bus up blvd. St-Laurent back home in Montreal. ‘Valley Boy’ is a tribute to Leonard Cohen, our city’s patron saint of letters. Wolf Parade, though from Vancouver Island, are also a Montreal band. A few minutes later, my friend, Darryl, who is in Montreal from Alberta this week, sent me this photo. There is nothing more alienating than to feel yourself in a city over 11,000km away from where you are. But I was in Montreal. But not the shiny Montreal of 2017, the grittier Montreal of the early 2000s, when the Main was half dug up in construction, and the rest was littered with discarded coffee cups and remnants of the weekend’s detritus. In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to see Cohen wandering around, visiting his favourite haunts, talking to the occasional person brave enough to actually approach him. I never did. He was Leonard Cohen, He wasn’t a man for small talk, or pointless conversation. I did, though, meet Cohen once, a long time ago. It was the early 90s, he was touring behind The Future, and in a laundromat in Calgary, there he was folding his laundry as I was putting mine in the dryer. It was a...Read More
Sean McCann has the last word in the final installment of a dialog with Walter Benn Michaels, which began with his critique of Michaels’ book The Beauty of a Social Problem: Photography, Autonomy, Economy in the May issue of Politics/Letters Quarterly. I’m grateful to Walter Benn Michaels for continuing this conversation and to the editors of Politics/Letters for giving us the space to continue the debate. Like Michaels, I have found our disagreement clarifying. I think Michaels is right, however, that our differences may be too fundamental to be resolved. He argues that a great deal hinges—politically and epistemologically–on...Read More
Iggy Pop & Underworld Teatime Dub Encounters ep Caroline International Back in 1996, Iggy’s ‘Lust for Life’ opened up the absolutely brilliant Trainspotting soundtrack, whilst the other book end was occupied by Underworld’s amazing ‘Born Slippy NUXX.’ It wouldn’t be an understatement to declare that that track set Underworld on a new course, both musically and in terms of fame, especially in North America. And there they were again on Trainspotting 2‘s soundtrack last year. Teatime Dub Encounters literally arises from tea time, and a chance encounter between Underworld’s Rick Smith and Carl Hyde and Pop in London. Recorded in the wake of both Underworld’s (criminally under-rated) last album, Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future and Pop’s Post Pop Depression, this ep seems more a means to work out a few more ideas than a full-on collab. Musically, this plays to Underworld’s sound, ethereal sounds, big beats, and occasional big sounds. Hyde’s voice, though, is reduced to the background, which is kind of unfortunate as he is as much Underworld as Smith’s beats. As for Pop, he is larger than life. Because he’s Iggy Fucking Pop. Over four tracks, Pop alternates from singing and speaking, sounding at times like he did with the Stooges 40-some-odd years ago and sometimes like the septugenarian he is. But he’s still Iggy Pop. The first track, ‘Bells & Circles,’ is classic Underworld, all menace and beats, but Pop takes...Read More
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