THE STUDENT who sets out to explore West Campus will quickly stumble upon the shiny new buildings with ceiling windows and delicious cafes — the centers for research in such glamorous subjects as neuroscience, biology, and bioengineering. Stanford can’t get enough of those: in fact, more and more Stanford Medicine buildings are bound to be “renewed” in the next few years.
Move a bit away from the sciences, though, and the picture looks quite different. Back in 2019, Provost Drell announced that Stanford would stop subsidizing its University Press — a move that failed only thanks to professors’ activism. The King Institute, which publishes MLK’s papers, is housed in a makeshift building and has had to make do with a tight budget. And this year, Stanford Libraries — the backbone of all humanities research in the university — appears to be the new target of the Stanford administration’s disdain for the humanities.
Continue reading “At the Library, Stanford Disdains The Humanities Once Again” →
AS AN INTERNATIONAL student from Korea, I had an extremely uncanny experience watching Bong Joon-ho’s award winning film Parasite (2019). Set in Seoul, South Korea, the film begins by depicting the daily struggles of the Kims, a low-income family that lives in basement apartments. Ki-woo, the college-aged son of the family, lands the opportunity to tutor a student from the affluent Park family. One by one, all of the Kims find cunning ways to get employed by the Parks and test the limits of how much the rich family can be exploited. Built-up tension and pressure to keep the fraud hidden culminate in an ending that captures the quintessence of class warfare.
Continue reading “Parasite, or The Cozy Relationship Between the West and Korean Elites” →
DERISIVELY KNOWN as “Bushmen,” the San people of South Africa suffered the fate of many other hunter-gatherer communities. First threatened by African farmers with a more settled way of life, San society was dealt its mortal blow by the entry of Europeans. Following their arrival in Cape Town in 1652, the Dutch treated the indigenous people of South Africa as vermin—massacring the San in the thousands and cowing them into submission. Little evidence was left of their culture, though the cave art that adorns rocks across Southern Africa gives us a momentary glance into their worldview.
Continue reading “How Climate Change Will Change Us” →
In the wake of the political upheaval of 2016, cultural critics predicted that the Trump presidency would, for all of its inevitable calamities, bring about a golden age for political art. They were wrong. Instead of a flowering of genius works of protest art, the past two years have brought a deluge of half-assed attempts at political commentary. We’ve seen enough faux-woke pop songs, prestige TV plots based around “Fake News”, and Oscar-bait that pontificates on “American Culture” over the last couple of years that even the biggest news junkie must be sick of art that tries to be topical — to be important.
Continue reading “Hot and Bothered” →
The most shocking thing about Avengers: Infinity War, the nineteenth film in the all-conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU), is that it is, for the most part, coherent. For the bulk of its two-and-a-half hour runtime, Infinity War operates as if it’s just another movie — one with clearly sketched characters, some of whom have arcs of their very own, and a plot that builds to a climax befitting the movie’s overwrought title. This may sound like damning with faint praise, but just clearing that low bar of coherency is something to celebrate. Considering the vast amounts of capital (of both the narrative and literal kinds) invested over the past decade into the MCU by its owners at Disney, it was always more likely that Infinity War was going to be a mediocre, focus-grouped-to-death product that muddled through its contractually-obligated crossovers with all the joy of negotiating a corporate merger.
Continue reading “The Problem with Infinity War is Capitalism” →