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Archive: 2020

The Complicating Germs

In April, an epidemic of influenza exploded in the Far East. Starting in Hong Kong, it spread thousands of miles in all directions in less than two months. As we…

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Staycation

From a real-time diary posted on Reddit by newlyweds Rachel and Tyler Torres, who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, off the coast of Japan, following the outbreak…

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Tests of Time

Among the many things disrupted by the spread of the novel coronavirus and the global mobilization against it has been our sense of time. In part, this is simply the…

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Letters

Ordinary People Thomas Chatterton Williams provides a remarkably elitist take on Portugal’s immigration policies [“The Wanderer’s Port,” Easy Chair, April]. His perspective appears to have been shaped solely by his…

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That Passed, This May Too

From a manuscript in progress. It was a typical February 29th, Chiming with the senses, Which reported pink White, and purple fires Lighting up eligible trees One by one at…

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Doctor Do Little

From bogus preventive measures and treatments for the novel coronavirus that have circulated online since January, some of which were initially promoted by politicians and celebrities. Driving a tractor Exposing…

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Going Home Again

The Vietnamese overseas return

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Buried in the Sand

From The Punishment, which was published in April by Yale University Press in its Margellos World Republic of Letters series. Originally published by Éditions Gallimard, the book recounts the author’s…

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Survive and Advance

A letter written in 1943 in response to a request from the Committee of National Liberation in Algiers to outline the mood in France, which was under Nazi occupation at…

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Can’t Spare a Square

From a Facebook post that was published in March by the Newport Police Department in Oregon. Do not call 9-1-1 because you ran out of toilet paper. History offers many…

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The Lives of Others

When does imagination become appropriation?

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Viral Goods

From reports of items whose popularity has increased since the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic in March. Antiseptic wipes Bleach Bicycles Freezers Cologne Ventilators Surgical masks Pornography featuring…

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A Malevolent Holiday

On the fifteenth of March in Paris, as the novel coronavirus outbreak—just deemed a global pandemic—ravaged Spain and Italy, I strapped my infant son into his stroller, grabbed a bottle…

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Sick Sad World

From The Unreality of Memory, which will be published in August by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Viruses and bacteria hijack our minds; they make us act weirdly. For example, Toxoplasma…

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One Size Submits All

From attributes and behaviors of subjects in TikTok videos that the company deemed inappropriate for the site. TikTok is a social network where users share sixty-­second videos, often of themselves.…

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Ground Control

How forests adapt to climate change

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1st Trial for the New Aubade

From Mezzanine, a collection of poems, which will be published this month by Ecco. Does the season match the birdsong, did I hear the birdsong over the white noise machine,…

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Still Life

From Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars., which will be published this month by Ecco. The novel tells the story of John Earle “Whitey” McClaren, a sixty-seven-year-old businessman who is beaten…

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Politics as Usual

From This Is What Democracy Looked Like, which will be published in June by Princeton Architectural Press. The book is an illustrated history of the paper ballots used in U.S.…

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Freegrets III

For and after Vivian Springford, from a manuscript in progress. frameshield forward bloom of a cosmic stain, up on the sun’s old weird edge of expansion, to dispense with the…

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The Malaysian Job

How Wall Street enabled a global financial scandal

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Carrying On

My first years in America

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Cat Burglar

From a sign posted inside Catnap, a café in Christchurch, New Zealand. So you’ve ordered a muffin. Our wobbly tabby cat Bea really likes muffins, so there are a few…

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Lana Del Rey

From a manuscript in progress. Light woke me up What I fed grew Some fun could curve The time of day It’s possible we were Confused by old turns Of…

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June 2020