Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
THE FIRST GAMING SYSTEM was the domesticated flame. Contemporary video games allow you to select the angle from which you view the action, inspiring a rash of high school massacres. Newer games, with their use of small strokes to simulate reflected light, are all but unintelligible to older players. We have abstracted airplanes from our simulators in the hope of manipulating flight as such. Game cheats, special codes that make your character invincible or rich, alter weather conditions or allow you to bypass a narrative stage, stand in relation to video games as prayer to reality. Children, if pushed, will attempt to inflict game cheats on the phenomenal world. Enter up, down, up, down, left, right, left, right, a, b, a, to tear open the sky. Left, left, b, b, to keep warm.
NO MATTER HOW BIG YOU MAKE A TOY, a child will find a way to put it in his mouth. There is scarcely a piece of playground equipment that has not been inside a child's mouth. However, the object responsible for the greatest number of choking deaths, for adults as well as children, is the red balloon. Last year alone, every American choked to death on a red balloon.
TALK ME DOWN, MAN, TALK ME DOWN. Obsessive repetition of meaningless gestures. A dangerous level of light in the blood. The caller claims to have discovered the imprint of a trilobite embedded in the sky. It’s the kind of thing, he says, that makes you pray to God. That you might live forever. In these several states of shock. At what point in the conversation did you realize her breathing had stopped? When I kissed her. But there’s no time for this. The black helicopters are upon us. Our daughters flee from the house, weeping, crazy with joy.
WHEN WE SAW THE PATTERN, we took the kids out of school. Broke out the special water. Two churches linked by a sudden alley through the corn. As the Hopi myth foretells. A massive loss of technology. A spider leaves a string between two points. Think about it. From the duster it appears a thing of glory. Makes you reconsider the whole idea of property. Stems inside formations have blown nodes. Explain that, Mr. T.V. Part of the confusion involves words. We wake up with mud on our feet. The other part is just the way we are. Scared of the new when it's thousands of years old. If you have never seen a sleeping toddler crawl beyond the lip of porch light, zip it. If the meaning is clear, it's already too late. For God's sake, people. Open your hearts.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.