Issue #138 Editorial


Issue #138
September 2023

In this issue, Charles Mudede proposes that Octavia Butler brought us a viable theory of quantum movement. Who is capable of moving through time to haunt other people in other places and other times, and in which direction? Paradoxically—and there are many paradoxes—just as the hurt have been hurt, the dead can only be dead, and are for that reason no longer able to move forward in time to haunt us. We, however, are alive in our own time, and we feel pain on their behalf. It is we who reach out from the future—our present—to haunt them in the past. We are in fact the zombies of the already dead, mirrors of our own regrets, just as we are presently haunted by messengers from a future time warning us to not repeat what they know will not end well.

Amelia Groom looks at how the singer Mariah Carey’s eccentric attitude toward time and temporality seems to demonstrate a unique physics of spectacle, or even a philosophy of chronology or history. Often expressed as a refusal of causality or time as measurement—who’s to say what preceded what, or what made something else possible?—Carey’s cheerful denial and insistent creativity in a metaphysical domain suggest an avant-garde sensibility thriving in the most unexpected of places.

Samer Frangie delves into the tense relationships between food, identity, and the social dynamics of crisis in Lebanon. The present political and economic crisis, argues Frangie, is not just a matter of material scarcity; it is a method through which those in power restructure society and exert control. Frangie’s exploration is driven by the current famine, a poignant symbol of the nation-state’s decay. The discourse around food, a once celebrated cornerstone of Lebanese identity, is transformed into a nostalgic relic in the face of contemporary collapse. But the breakdown of basic necessities like electricity also exposes the privileged place of the refrigerator as a fulcrum for modern family dynamics, relationships, and even the experience of life and death across class lines.

In Audre Lorde’s 1974 poetry collection New York Headshop and Museum, the New York City of the 1970s is a necropolis rife with violence, racism, decay, and decrepitude—a site for the ongoing genocidal tendencies of capitalism. In Serubiri Moses’s reading, Lorde’s poetry—including her deep engagement with African diasporic wisdom and spirituality—invites a reevaluation of modernism by highlighting themes of violence, healing, and revolution.

South Indian artist Ratheesh T’s practice of looking has evolved from his early experiences in Indian classical dance, where he encountered the complexities of caste-based politics in the performance world. Faced with overbearing whiteness, he transitioned to Western and cinematic dance, even embracing Michael Jackson’s style before unexpectedly shifting to painting after spending time with artists from the leftist Radical Group. More recently, observations of family and landscapes in his hometown of Kilimanoor have emerged as a central theme in his paintings, as have the “careless objects” Ratheesh finds in the disorderly arrangement of his studio.

Meanwhile, in the first installment of a two-part essay, Sven Lütticken envisions a complex landscape of divergent movements, critiquing dominant organizational structures while seeking ways to prefigure a transformative future. In exploring connections between Huey P. Newton’s “intercommunalism” and the micropolitical turn of the 1970s and ’80s that was associated with Deleuze and Guattari, Lütticken discusses the complexity of emergence, historical narratives, and the potential for creating alternative forms of life against capitalist forces.

One and a half years into Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Keti Chukhrov examines the crisis of emancipation theories. In challenging Western leftist critiques of representative democracy and the enlargement of NATO, Chukhrov highlights the agency of former Soviet countries to voluntarily orient towards European democracy, NATO, and EU membership. The alternative, she stresses, would be continuing to live under autocratic rule. She argues that the war underscores the inadequacy of purely discursive critique by the cultural left, emphasizing the need for realistic strategies in the face of geopolitical crises.

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