Joy Setton

Joy Setton

Of Franco-American nationality, Joy Setton is a professional dilettante and an amateur writer living in New York.

Cindy Sherman at the MoMA


Photographers, Real and Imagined

After finishing a series of photographs, Jed Martin feels like he never wants to take another shot. So does Cindy Sherman. There are other similarities between the fictional photographer Jed Martin"€”whose pictures are described in Michel ...

Untitled (The Cow Jumps Over the Moon), 1937–38 by Willem de Kooning


Of Oil and Oil Paints

The de Kooning show just closed at MoMA, and I just finished reading The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin. We are as obsessed with oil as de Kooning was with oil paints. ...

Lit Crit

The Year Is Almost Over—Is the World?

Things aren’t looking too good these days, says Slavoj Zizek in his latest book, Living in the End Times. The underlying premise of the present book is a simple one: the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point. Its ...

Art Basel Miami 2011


Hanging by a Thread

In Miami Beach on Monday morning, the convention center was strewn with cardboard, Scotch Tape, Styrofoam peanuts, and other packing litter. The hotel bars were littered with hung-over Europeans loitering over their Scotch and peanuts, the aftermath ...

1956 Cadillac Eldorado

Lit Crit

From Black Robes to White Coats

I just drove to Kansas and back, 2600 miles listening to the radio and pondering American industry, the heartland, affairs of the heart, and other organs. On either side of the road were billboards advertising psychological release—deferred (up in ...

Lit Crit

The Most Brutal Species

David Grossman. To the End of the Land. Vintage (reprint edition), 2011. 672pp. Dave Grossman. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Back Bay Books (revised edition), 2009. 416pp. This is a story of two writers ...


What is and What Doesn’t Have to Be

On Lake Geneva I float, looking at France across the water, where the grass is not greener but the prices are much lower. I don’t know how it works exactly, but I gather it has something to do with floating exchange rates: Things being ...

Silvio Berlusconi


Stock Characters and Stock Prices

On the blue Mediterranean I float, reading: It’s only now that we realize that the gleaming wealth of the past years was shored up by a perverse conjunction of bank loans, dizzying rounds of postdated, overdrawn checks, [and] the extreme ...

Apocalypse Now

Of Drama and Drachmas

On the blue Aegean I float, reading: Greek cities were at least for a while taken over by populist strongmen swept into power partly by the demand for radical debt relief. This is not in the latest newspaper, but in a new book by anthropologist ...


The Effluent Society

It is summer in the city and the smell of trash rises from the hot streets. There is trash on the sidewalks, trash in the bookstores, and trash in the movie theaters. It is, as it already was at the turn of the last century when Henry James said it, ...

Lit Crit

Of Confucius and Confusion

In his new book On China, Henry Kissinger looks at what makes China what it is. In his new book The Origins of Political Order, Francis Fukuyama attempts to explain why China is not Europe. The first book is written by a diplomat. It is in large ...

Jonathan Franzen

Lit Crit

The Freedom to Be Middling

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen came out last year, but since it has been called the novel of the century, I suppose it is still relevant. Freedom is what is now called a “literary novel”; even an “ambitious literary novel,” as the author ...

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