Weekly Review — December 6, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

The first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February brought to the polls an unprecedented 62 percent of registered voters, many of whom had never voted before. “I donâ??t know any of the parties or who Iâ??m voting for,” said a Christian woman in the southern city of Assiut. “The first names I see, I guess.” The hard-line Nour party, which seeks to impose strict Sharia law, won 24 percent of the vote, while the Muslim Brotherhood, which claims it will apply Islamic law “in a fair way,” led with 37 percent. “We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood,” said first-time voter Iris Nawar. “But we lived for 30 years under Mubarak; we will live with them, too.”APAPAPAPProtesters attacked the British Embassy and residential compound in Tehran after Britain imposed new sanctions on Iran, prompting Britain to expel Iranian diplomats and recall its ambassador, Dominick Chilcott. “The dog,” said Chilcott, “has been left behind.” A representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated the rioters, noting that they had targeted the “epicenter of sedition.”APBBCAnti-American rallies were staged throughout Pakistan after a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and demonstrators marched outside the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where the United States and Canada were stalling efforts to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. “Itâ??s a conspiracy against the poor,” said the Council of Europeâ??s rapporteur on climate change.APBBCAPIn Germany, the driest November on record caused a major drop in the Rhine, revealing a two-ton World War II “blockbuster” bomb with a badly eroded fuse; the city of Koblenz prepared evacuation plans for 45,000 people but waited until Sunday to implement them, so as not to interrupt Christmas shopping. “People in Koblenz are used to bomb findings,” said a fire-brigade spokesman.Daily MailCNN

Following multiple accusations of marital infidelity, Herman Cain dropped out of the G.O.P. presidential race, saying his reputation was under attack by a conspiracy of “elites” and political reporters. Cain closed his withdrawal speech by quoting at length the theme song from “PokĂ©mon: The First Movie”: “Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. Itâ??s never easy when thereâ??s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. Thereâ??s a mission just for you and me.”Mother JonesRaw StoryFox News decried liberal bias in the film “The Muppets,” which features an oil-drilling villain named “Tex Richman,” and the ACLU charged that Appleâ??s virtual iPhone assistant, Siri, was promoting a conservative agenda. “Siri can point you to Viagra but not the Pill, or help you find an escort but not an abortion clinic,” said a post on the organizationâ??s blog.Washington PostABC NewsOR-7, a popular Oregon wolf wanted for cattle killing, continued his 730-mile trek in search of a mate.Daily MailThe worldâ??s first college of applied sexuality opened in Austria.Daily MailOscar Wildeâ??s tomb reopened with an anti-kissing barrier.GuardianAnn Marie Kennedy, a resident of Effin in Limerick County, Ireland, complained that Facebook was blocking her from listing her hometown on her profile. She wanted to show her pride in her parish, she said, along with “so many Effin people around the world.”BBCA woman from Bumpass, Virginia, was arrested for smashing a salt bottle over her dateâ??s head while he slept.NewsleaderAn inquest confirmed that reggae singer Smiley Culture stabbed himself through the heart.BBC

The trial of three women accused of raping men began in Zimbabwe, where police believe a syndicate of female rapists may be collecting semen for use in rituals to bring business success. “You must exercise caution,” said a man named Witness. “I wonâ??t get a lift in private cars, especially if there are women inside.”BBCSaudi academic Kamal Subhi presented a report to his countryâ??s legislative council warning that allowing women to drive would encourage prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and divorce, and would lead to the “end of virginity” in the nation.BBCA woman filed suit against a clinic in St. Louis, alleging that she had sought help for anorexia but instead been given psychotropic drugs, hypnotized, and convinced she had 20 different personalities and had been raped while belonging to a baby-eating satanic cult.AP via Fox NewsSex crimes against illegal immigrants were found to have been ignored in El Mirage, Arizona, and Mozambique denied that it had imported flesh-eating bananas.APAFP via Courier MailNuon Chea, on trial in Phnom Penh for his role as second in command of Cambodiaâ??s Khmer Rouge, blamed Vietnam for the 1.7 million deaths attributed to the regime. “I donâ??t want the next generation to misunderstand history,” said Chea. “I donâ??t want them to believe the Khmer Rouge are bad people…. Nothing is true about that.”AP

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It has become something of a commonplace to say that Mike Pence belongs to another era. He is a politician whom the New York Times has called a “throwback,” a “conservative proudly out of sync with his times,” and a “dangerous anachronism,” a man whose social policies and outspoken Christian faith are so redolent of the previous century’s culture wars that he appeared to have no future until, in the words of one journalist, he was plucked “off the political garbage heap” by Donald Trump and given new life. Pence’s rise to the vice presidency was not merely a personal advancement; it marked the return of religion and ideology to American politics at a time when the titles of political analyses were proclaiming the Twilight of Social Conservatism (2015) and the End of White Christian America (2016). It revealed the furious persistence of the religious right, an entity whose final demise was for so long considered imminent that even as white evangelicals came out in droves to support the Trump-Pence ticket, their enthusiasm was dismissed, in the Washington Post, as the movement’s “last spastic breath.”

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Just after dawn in Lhamo, a small town on the northeastern corner of the Tibetan Plateau, horns summon the monks of Serti Monastery to prayer. Juniper incense smolders in the temple’s courtyard as monks begin arriving in huddled groups. Some walk the kora, a clockwise circumambulation around the building. Others hustle toward the main door, which sits just inside a porch decorated in bright thangka paintings. A pile of fur boots accumulates outside. When the last monks have arrived, the horn blowers leaning out of the second-floor windows retire indoors.

When I visited Lhamo in 2015, most monks at Serti attended the morning prayers, but not Ngawang Chötar, the vice president of the monastery’s management committee, or siguanhui. Instead, he could usually be found doing business somewhere on Lhamo’s main street. Like all Tibetan monks, he sports a buzz cut, and his gait, weighed down by dark crimson robes, resembles a penguin’s shuffle. When he forgets the password to his account on WeChat, China’s popular messaging service—a frequent occurrence—he waits for the town’s cell phone repairman at his favorite restaurant, piling the shells of sunflower seeds into a tidy mound.

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As he approached his death in 1987, the photographer Peter Hujar was all but unknown, with a murky reputation and a tiny, if elite, cult following. Slowly circling down what was then the hopeless spiral of ­AIDS, Peter had ceaselessly debated one decision, which he reached only with difficulty, and only when the end drew near. He was in a hospital bed when he made his will that summer, naming me the executor of his entire artistic estate—and also its sole owner.

The move transformed my life and induced a seething fury in lots of decent people. I can see why. Peter did not make me his heir for any of the usual reasons. I was a good and trusted friend, but he had scads of those. I was not the first person he considered for the job, nor was I the most qualified. In fact, I was a rank amateur, and my understanding of his art was limited. I knew his photographs were stunning, often upsetting, unpredictably beautiful, distinctively his. I also knew they were under­rated and neglected. But I did not then really grasp his achievement.

Photograph by Peter Hujar
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The truth—that thing I thought I was telling.—John Ashbery To start with the facts: the chapter in my book White Sands called “Pilgrimage” is about a visit to the house where the philosopher Theodor Adorno lived in Los Angeles during the Second World War. It takes its title from the story of that name by Susan Sontag (recently republished in Debriefing: Collected Stories) about a visit she and her friend Merrill made to the house of Adorno’s fellow German exile Thomas Mann in the Pacific Palisades, in 1947, when she was fourteen. It seemed strange that the story was originally …
Photograph by Augusta Wood

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