Hunter Stockton Thompson began writing about politics in the early sixties while working as a roving freelance contributor, in South America, for the Dow Jones–owned newspaper the National Observer. “Democracy Dies in Peru, but Few Seem to Mourn Its Passing” is one of the more than a dozen pieces he’d eventually publish on South American politics, but a specific moment, in 1964, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, seems to have crystalized his broader political perspective. Read More
A couple of weeks ago, before the president attacked the show on Twitter, I was asked to appear on Morning Joe. This surprised me. I was under the impression that Morning Joe was a political program. It seemed to me the producers had made a mistake. Maybe they’d mixed us up with the New York Review? With the London Review? Or, could it be … the Partisan Review? After I found the studio in Rockefeller Center and was deposited in the empty green room, my anxiety continued to mount. Howard Dean bounded in, looking for a piece of fruit among the battered doughnut boxes, and bounded out. In the corridor outside, I heard producers discussing the Senate health bill. As I was led onto the set, the previous guest, Al Franken, gave me a vague, encouraging pat. I must have looked as nervous as I felt. Not just nervous—disoriented, as if I’d wandered into somebody else’s dream.
The hosts nodded hello, then, just before the commercial ended and we went on air, Joe Scarborough mentioned a poem, one we’d published in the Review. “You know when you read something that makes you want to drop what you’re doing and run upstairs and find a highlighter?” he asked the others. “That’s how I felt when I read that poem that begins with the pirates.” So the penny dropped. I had been invited as the editor who’d published “Historically Speaking,” by Stephen Dunn, the same poem that haunted me all through the election—and the opening piece in our Winter issue. It was a better reason than any I could have dreamt up.
It was a year of pirates in speedboats,
anonymous bullies spreading privacies
on the Internet, and the worst of them
doing worse than that and wishing to be known
for what they’d done, their perfidy
an advertisement for a cause …
Subscribe now to read the whole poem—and everything else we’ve published over sixty-four years of grappling with piracy, anonymous bullies, and other current events.
Text is composed of lines both literal—the ink on the page—and conceptual—the story line or plotline that, like thread unwinding from a spool, guides us through the turns of a narrative. When we depict someone reading, we tend to signify text with a continuous wiggly line on the pages or the cover of a book. This kind of squiggle, hovering somewhere between text and image, conveys the singular shape of a narrative text. It’s a figure for the act of reading.
One of the most recognizable literary lines of the eighteenth century is precisely such a squiggle. It occurs in the ninth chapter of the fourth volume of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, during a conversation between Tristram’s Uncle Toby and his faithful manservant, Corporal Trim, about bachelorhood and celibacy. The corporal, a character usually prone to long, sentimental speeches, declares, “Whilst a man is free—,” and gives “a flourish with his stick thus—” Read More
New notes on Dawson’s Creek.
Because the dream of the nineties is still on life support in Portland (seriously, check our real-estate listings), yesterday I walked over to the independently owned brick-and-mortar music-and-video emporium near my house to buy a used copy of the Dawson’s Creek season 6 box set for $6. They had a second copy going for $8.50, which I assume meant it was in slightly better condition, but I’d decided beforehand that $6 was my price point. In fact, I’d come to this store a few times before and almost bought this particular box set, each time thinking, Am I really going to do this? And each time the answer had been no. It’s not no anymore.
Dawson’s Creek premiered in January 1998, and if you want more establishing detail than that, I suggest you Google it. I was fifteen at the time, halfway through tenth grade, and so not only part of the show’s prime demographic but the same age as its main characters. Granted, I lived in semi-suburban North Miami Beach, and they lived in small-town (would it be unreasonable to say semirural? It always felt that way to me) coastal Massachusetts, though the show was ﬁlmed in North Carolina, which is sometimes more and sometimes less obvious when you’re watching, but I don’t think any of this matters, at least in the context I’m planning to discuss the show today. Read More