Alex Mar's article "Blood Ties" in The Oxford American is lengthy, but well worth the read. It examines the very American fascinations with our ancestral—or "consanguine," one of my new favorite words (thanks Alex!)—pasts, our family's previous homelands, our lineage, our long-departed ancestors, the beginning of a story we are now living the most recent chapter of. It's also just remarkably well written and structured.
My personal history is, as with so many Americans, a fiction, self-spun. I am half-Cuban and half-Greek, born in New York City. First-generation, my two halves consist mostly of whatever pieces I’ve chosen or conjured up whole, rooted only in the barest understanding of the realities of those countries and what it means to live there. The version of Greece with the most cultural heft comes from an era that ended centuries and centuries ago; for Cuba (at least if you talk to my family), that time ended in the fifties, with the Revolution. In this way, Greece does not exist, and Cuba does not exist—not the countries that live in my mind, my mostly imagined homelands.
And from Spanish colonialism to French colonialism... of the moon. The Public Domain Review has posted a short piece on the earliest science-fiction film, Le Voyage Dans la Lune. The Review notes, "While at once a spoof of more serious science fiction [the film drew inspiration from Jules Verne's novels From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon], the film can also be seen as a comment on France’s colonial exploits (it was at the time the world’s second largest colonial power)." So, just remember—the French wanted to colonize the moon. Good thing we got there first!
The New Yorker has been keeping up its recent spate of high-quality articles: Daniel A. Gross' "The Custodian of Forgotten Books" follows Brad Bigelow, a former IT advisor to the US Air Force, who now tracks down forgotten books and authors, rescuing them from obscurity on his blog, Neglected Books; Jill Lepore's "Crying Trump" casts its eye back on the megalomaniac's previous threats/attempts to run for president; and Vinson Cunningham delves deep into Kendrick Lamar's recent "untitled unmastered":
Given his steady motion, continued on this EP, toward hip-hop’s avant-garde edges, it also reads as evidence of a Post-Impressionist sort of self-awareness. Cézanne’s still-lifes were as much about the act of spreading paint across a canvas as they were about what, for instance, an apple looks like. Lamar’s music seems increasingly preoccupied with rap, and songcraft generally, as a means of freedom, and as a subject worthy of its own scrutiny. To listen to “untitled,” so clearly the work of a restless innovator, is to look at hip-hop itself—to be reminded of how young an art form it is, and to be tantalized by how many evolutionary transformations it must have left to undergo.
And—as a fitting climax to this entry, especially as these times are dark, cruel, and vulgar, and a laugh-snort is sometimes the only way to find any meaning in existence as our lives push ever closer to the event horizon of an abyss—a new entry in The Toast's dirtbag series, "Dirtbag Jason and the Argonauts."
HYPSIPYLE: welcome to Lemnos
you will find there are no men here
as we have murdered all our husbands
HYPSIPYLE: you see, we neglected our worship of Aphrodite and as punish – what?
JASON: aw yeah I like a challenge