Something in My Pocket: Bakhtin, Freud, and South Park

  South Park is obscenely violent, purposely grotesque, it holds nothing sacred, it is racist, sexist, homophobic as well as heterophobic, and abuses people of every political and demographic persuasion,…

It Sang Itself Utterly Away: the Presence of the Poet

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with memory. Maybe I shouldn’t say lately, because I’ve always been obsessed with memory—mostly my own memories. One second I am brushing my teeth and the…

Land of Masks: the Enigma of James Brown

“Lemme tell you something, Rev. When you kill’em, Rev, you leave. You kill’em and leave. You understand that, son? Kill’em and leave.” —James Brown to a young Al Sharpton  …

Home: 9 LGBTQ Writers Reflect after Orlando

Contributors: Scott Esposito, Rooze Garcia, Gabriel Garcia Ochoa, Melissa Febos, Jill McDonough, H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, Mary Meriam, Annie Won, and Hannah Baker-Siroty. Editor’s Note We at The Critical Flame shared…

Conversations: Laura Ellen Scott and Amber Sparks

Amber Sparks and Laura Ellen Scott are two fiction writers with powerful, parallel voices. The two corresponded throughout May, bridging the distance with a discussion of the performative side of…

I Had to Cut It Down: An Experiment in Destructive Criticism

There is then creative reading as well as creative writing. —Ralph Waldo Emerson The role of the critic is the topic de jour, in part because of the smart and…

A Paean to Summer Reading

Given how I struggled as a child with prescribed summer reading lists—all those obligations to read Hard Times or Lord Jim by the Tuesday after Labor Day—I surprise even myself…

Nothing Outside the Jouissance: On Alfie Bown’s “Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism”

Aristotle gave an early definition of pleasure, which lasted through the centuries, but later the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan twisted this pleasure into enjoyment (jouissance), the positive dimensions of which can…

“Because he is me”: on Jill Lepore’s history of Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell

Joe Gould’s Teeth will be many things to many readers, but it advances most forcefully a clear-eyed critique of History and Literature (the name, incidentally, of the academic program Lepore…

White Heart-Flame of Polished Silver: Amy Lowell and Mary Meriam

  Amy Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1874, youngest daughter of the wealthy Boston Lowell family that would later include acclaimed poet Robert Lowell among its members. From…

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