SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Watching Avatar, I was continually reminded of Zizek’s observation in First As Tragedy, Then As Farce, that the one good thing that capitalism did was destroy Mother Earth. “There’s no green there, they killed their mother,” we are solemnly informed at one point. Avatar is in some ways a reversal of Cameron’s Aliens. If the “bug-hunt” in Aliens was, as Virilio argued, a kind of rehearsal for the megamachinic slaughter of Gulf War 1, then Avatar is a heavyhanded eco-sermon and parable about US misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan…. What we have in Avatar is another instance of corporate anti-capitalism such as I discussed in Capitalist Realism in relation to Wall-E. Cameron has always been a proponent of Hollywood anti-capitalism: stupid corporate interests were the villains in Aliens and Terminator 2 as they are in Avatar. Avatar is Le Guin-lite, a degraded version of the scenario that Le Guin developed in novels such as The Word For World Is Forest, The Dispossessed and City Of Illusions, but stripped of all Le Guin’s ambivalence and intelligence. –“They Killed Their Mother: Avatar as ideological symptom,” k-punk
In 1962, the American Phillips Petroleum Company started looking into the possibility of drilling for oil under the Norwegian Sea. The decision was up to the King (no, really) and I can only assume that he gave his silent nod; a few years later the first big reserves were found. “The Oil Adventure” changed everything. Norway now has one of the world’s most advanced social welfare systems, and the population of 4.8 million enjoys higher living standards than ever. A semester at university costs about $100. There are state-subsidized scholarships for everyone, so students take out only small loans to cover their living expenses. Working parents receive a year’s paid maternity or paternity leave and universal health care assures that no one pays more than around $400 per year in medical expenses. The United Nations keep placing us at the top of their Human Development Index. When the Labor Party’s ski-loving Jens Stoltenberg was reelected prime minister last September, Norway’s stock market was rising and the unemployment rate hovered at 3 percent. –“Into the Woods,” Silje Bekeng, n+1
The rodents were stowaways on sealing and whaling ships that visited the island until the mid-20th century. When the hunters stopped coming, the rats were left to their own devices along with a small population of reindeer that had been brought for food and now roam wild. Without natural predators, the rat population has swollen to many million, eating their way through tens of millions of ground-nesting birds’ eggs and chicks in the process. As a result, the island’s endemic wildlife is under threat, and its only songbird, the South Georgia pipit, is on the brink of extinction…. Absolute eradication is the only option because rats breed rapidly. They can live for around two years, achieve sexual maturity at two months old and are able to produce seven litters of 8 to 10 offspring a year. Female rats reach menopause at around 18 months. Even in the harsh climate of South Georgia, a sexually mature female is likely to have around four litters a year. If just one couple survive, it will only take a few years before the island is overrun again.–“Extermination in Paradise,” Sanjida O’Connell, New Scientist
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”