Reflections on the meaninglessness of terrorism in post-Arab Spring Egypt.
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Harvey Weinstein is right that film mayhem is linked to real-world mayhem. But the amount of carnage on screen probably matters a lot less than how it’s consumed.
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Like countless other middle-aged American men, some of my happiest childhood memories involve watching professional sports with my dad. So it was an unexpected delight when my eight-year-old, previously largely indifferent to my New England Patriots obsession, showed sudden interest a few weeks ago. Last Saturday night, he proudly dug out a long-unused Patriots jersey and joined me on the couch late into the night as the Patriots dispatched the Indianapolis Colts.
It was wonderful. And it made me a little sick.
Design is never neutral. It alters behavior and has life-and-death implications. For Paola Antonelli, senior curator at the MoMA’s department of architecture and design, this fact has been a fixation. She has initiated an impressive share of breakthrough exhibits and events focusing on the way visuals affect the world. Her latest is Design and Violence, an online forum devoted to exploring the darker side of the creative mind, using essays and discussion boards. Given MoMA’s mandate to acquire and exhibit objects of beauty with cultural significance, it’s a somewhat radical move.
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Blood dripped from the wounded bull, staining the sand of the oval arena. My stomach churned. I nearly became sick.
I thought I was accustomed to seeing violence, having spent my life immersed in hyper-realistic war movies and blowing the heads off of enemies in killing-based video games. But while in Spain, I entered the stadium of my first bullfight with a great deal of naivety. I didn’t understand the tradition; I had never been exposed to the specific form of violence portrayed in bullfights. Though I had been inoculated to a great deal of violence throughout my life, this new stimulus had a profound effect on my conscience.
But within an hour, my psyche had been transformed. By the end of the fight, my shackles of empathy had been loosed. My concern for the bulls was completely gone. I rejoiced when the matadors triumphed. I even joined the crowd in thunderous applause and shared nods of approval with complete strangers.
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After hearing about the Chicago shooting last week in which 13 were injured in Cornell Square Park, including a three-year-old, I and writer Mikki Kendall, both Chicago residents, had very different reactions. It’s “not just the park incident,” Kendall told me by email. “20 people were shot this weekend. People are being shot almost daily. And I have a 14 year-old son who can’t go to the McDonald’s in Hyde Park at lunch because the school has noticed an uptick in crime at that location.”
I was depressed and horrified, too — but depressed and horrified in the way that you are when you hear about gun violence anywhere. Unlike Kendall, I wasn’t directly concerned about the safety of my family.
Based on our reactions, you’d think that Kendall lived much closer to the shooting than I do. But that’s not the case. In fact, we’re both in Hyde Park, about 4 miles away from where it occurred on the city’s South Side. I can walk to the McDonald’s she mentioned.
So why does Kendall feel personally targeted and I don’t? Well, Kendall is black and grew up here; I’m white, and didn’t.
In other words, welcome to Chicago, where segregation is almost a civic art form.
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After beatings, knifings, and a bombing, people are questioning whether inequality and corruption have played a role in the attacks.