Mitchell Abidor

  • Review

    What Marx Got Wrong

    September 20, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    A new biography of the philosopher misses the shortcomings of the Marxist tradition.

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  • Review

    Fauda and the Act of Israeli Ventriloquism

    June 27, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    The new season of the hit Israeli show Fauda continues in its portrayal of brutish Israelis and cowardly Palestinians.

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  • Review

    Indonesia's Unmourned Communists

    May 23, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    A new work addresses the long-neglected mass politicide of communists in Indonesia.

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  • Review

    The Kremlin Ball

    April 24, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    Ex-fascist diplomat Curzio Malaparte's masterpiece blends the real, the improbable, and the impossible in Soviet Russia.

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  • Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: German Cinema in Nazi Times

    April 5, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   OCCASIONALLY DERIDED for being too broad and hasty in its estimation of individual films, Siegfried Kracauer’s 1947 study, From Caligari to Hitler, nevertheless stands as a classic of film criticism. Its old-fashioned, Old-World vision of German cinema from its beginnings until the arrival in power of Hitler, and its focus on the unity of vision in works across countless directors and on the ways they expressed German inter-war psychology, were both ambitious and fruitful....

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    The Uncivil Servant: Where the Hell Did We Come From?

    April 1, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Origin of the Jews, by Steven Weitzman. Princeton University Press, 2017, 408 pages.   AT THE END of Steven Weitzman’s Origin of the Jews, a scholarly but eminently accessible account of the search for the origin of the Jews (which we should not confuse with their beginnings), the author writes: “At the end of the day . . . it is not clear what we can say with any degree of confidence about the origin of the Jews.” There are certainties: “At som...

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    Class Struggle in Portugal and Other New Film Themes

    March 27, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL of works by new and newish directors, New Directors/New Films, will be running from March 29 – April 8 at the film Society of Lincoln Center. I had the opportunity to see a few of those on view in advance. The crisis that has crushed workers in Europe and America has unfortunately resulted in few films that address its class struggle aspects. Rather, it is the rise of racism within the greater societies and, more narrowly, within native working classes...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Richard Wagner, Made (Too) Simple

    March 20, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived, by Simon Callow. Vintage, 232 pages, 2017   IN THIS AGE of doorstop biographies, the actor and biographer Simon Callow’s breezy 200+ pages on Richard Wagner, Being Wagner, appear to be a quirky, quixotic venture. How to squeeze so tumultuous a life and oeuvre and philosophy into so short a volume? In fact, in this book Callow succeeds in taking us on a rapid trip through th...

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    Review

    Revolutionary Bandits

    April 17, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    A new history of the revolutionary criminals who rejected any possibility of revolution coming from the degraded masses—and turned their revolt into an individualistic one.

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    The Uncivil Servant: French Cinema on Display

    March 6, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL of French cinema that is now known as Rendez-Vous with French Cinema has been with us for decades, under different names and in different venues. This year’s edition, running from March 8-18, will be at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Here is a sample of some of what will be on display. There have been countless films about Joan of Arc, at least two of them classics (Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and Bresson’s Le Proces de Jeanne ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Céline's Antisemitism -- Censored!

    February 27, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   YOU CAN OPEN almost any page of Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Bagatelles pour un massacre and find a passage like this one: “You always have to be wary of Jews, even when they’re dead.” Or this one, about Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution: “In Russia, the kikes, as soon as they assumed command, didn’t exactly wear mittens when they decimated the Aryan.” In 1932, the same Céline had published Journey to the End of the Night, one of the classics of the 20th century, a novel t...

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    The Uncivil Servant: London Alexanderplatz

    February 21, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, translated by Michael Hofmann. NYRB Classics, 2018, 458 pages.   ALFRED DOBLIN'S Berlin Alexanderplatz, originally published in 1929,  achieved its greatest fame in the English-speaking world in 1983 when Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s version, made for German TV, was released here. That was also the occasion to re-release Eugene Jolas’  1931 translation. The repertory theaters that showed the film have long si...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Sexual Repression in Iran

    February 13, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Tehran Taboo, a film by Ali Sooznadeh IN ALI Sooznadeh’s Tehran Taboo, a film visually bright yet tragically dark,  we are offered an Iran eaten away with moral and sexual hypocrisy. The film demonstrates that a society and government constructed as an Islamic state cannot control to control the unruly instincts roiling within men and women everywhere, even if religion is omnipresent. The morality police can arrest those with offending urges; they ca...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Full Disclosure, She Wrote a Note to My Son

    February 7, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    THE WONDERFUL WORK OF MAIRA KALMAN by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Hey Willy, See the Pyramids by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Max Makes a Million by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2017; Ooh-la-la (Max in Love) by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2018; Max in Hollywood, Baby by Maira Kalman, New York Review Children’s Collection, 2018.    EVERY NIGHT when he was little, I’d read my son Pascal a story when he w...

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    The Uncivil Servant: After the Revolution

    January 29, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    IN THE INTENSE NOW AND MAY '68 IN FRANCE by Mitchell Abidor   WE ARE JUST a few months from the fiftieth anniversary of the events of May ‘68, the great uprising that seemed as if it would topple the French ruling class but which, in the long run, proved that ruling class's flexibility and strength. João Moreira Salles’ brilliant film essay, In the Intense Now, is an absolutely essential work on that annus mirabilis. Rejecting the triumphalism that was so much a part of the militant films of t...

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    Article

    The Uncivil Servant: Looking in on Western Literature

    January 22, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Essays on World Literature by Ismail Kadare, translated by Ani Kokobobo, Restless Books, 2018, 255 pages; The Wild Book by Juan Villoro, translated by Lawrence Schimel, Restless Books, 2017, 232 pages.   IT SOUNDS like damning with faint praise to call Ismail Kadare the greatest Albanian novelist, since almost no one else from that country has been translated into English. In fact, Kadare is one of the world’s great novelists: He w...

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    The Uncivil Servant: The Butterfly Effect in Lebanon

    January 11, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   LEBANON is a land constantly tottering on the edge. Either it can’t choose a president, or it can’t have its capital’s garbage collected for months, or both. It is subject to the whims of its neighbors (like Syria or Iran) or even of nations at the other end of the Arab world (like Saudi Arabia). There is, then, no surprise, no implausibility, in a Palestinian foreman's repair of a broken gutter in a Christian’s apartment in Beirut leading to riots, death threats, and the...

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    Samplings from the New York Jewish Film Festival

    January 4, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   THE ALWAYS INTERESTING New York Jewish Film Festival will be running from January 10 to January 23 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Information on screenings can be found at nyjff.org. What follows is just a sample of the riches on view. The Romanian director Radu Jude is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, and his latest film, The Dead Nation, is his most radical to date. The images are all still photographs taken between the years 1936 and 1946, ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Fighting Fascism in Italy

    December 25, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: A Bold and Dangerous Family by Caroline Moorehead. Harper Collins, 2017, 432 pages.   IN THE MONSTROUS hecatomb that was Europe from the 1930s through 1945, the murder of the Italian anti-fascists Carlo and Nello Rosselli can and does pass unnoticed in histories of the era. So we owe a debt of gratitude to Caroline Moorehead for her lively, loving, and immensely readable account of the lives of the martyred brothers and their mother in A Bold and Da...

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    Brownshirt Violence and the Nazi Machine

    December 19, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts by Daniel Siemens. Yale University Press, 2017, 459 pages.   OUR DOMINANT image of the German streets, both during the rise to power of the Nazi Party and while it ruled, is of jack-booted men in brown uniforms beating opponents, threatening Jews, burning books, and dissuading people from doing business in Jewish stores. These brown-shirted Stormtroopers (Stormabteilung, aka the SA) served as the ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Refugee Children and Their Teacher

    December 12, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   NICOLAS PHILIBERT'S 2002 To Be and To Have was a moving documentary about the students and teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural France. This lovely film, a deservedly huge success, was in a way a vision of both France past and the mythical eternal France — the students white, the teacher dealing, at worst, with the misbehavior of a student here and there. Petra Lataster-Czisch and Peter Lataster’s equally moving Miss Kiet’s Children, showing at Film Forum from Decem...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Getting Published, Odds and Obstacles

    December 8, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Under the Cover: The Creation, Production, and Reception of a Novel by Clayton Childress. Princeton University Press, 308 pages, 2017.   EVEN SOMEONE who is part of the publishing system as an author is unaware of how the soup is made, and there can be no more fascinating, enjoyable, insightful, and well-written a guide to what goes on in the publishing kitchen than Clayton Childress’ wonderful Under the Cover. No book can be viewed as every boo...

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    The Temple Menorah: Where Did It Go? What Did It Look Like?

    December 7, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Menorah by Steven Fine. Harvard University press, 279, pages, 2016   THE MENORAH IS, among the three great monotheistic religions, the symbol with the longest pedigree. It goes back, Steven Fine tells us in his engaging and informative study The Menorah, three thousand years, far beyond the Christian cross and the Muslim crescent. Focusing on the seven-branched menorah of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, shown on the Arch of Titus in Rome, which ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Diaries of Doomed Writers

    November 25, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries 1917-1922 by Marina Tsetaeva, translated by Jamey Gambrell. NYRB Classics, 2017, 248 pages; and The Diaries of Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia, translated by Robert Croll. Restless Books, 2017, 448 pages.   MARINA TSETAEVA (1892-1941) was part of the remarkable generation of Russian poets who had already hit their stride or were about to at the time of the 1917 October Revolution. Tsvetaeva, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky, Yeseni...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Oliver Sacks's Fabulous Mind

    November 18, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. Alfred A. Knopf, 2017, 237 pages; Oliver Sacks: The Last Interview, Melville House, 2016, 100 pages; Insomniac City by Bill Hayes, Bloomsbury, 2017, 291 pages.   WHEN OLIVER SACKS died in 2015, he left instructions with three friends for the assembling of what is (perhaps) his final collection of essays, The River of Consciousness. If the essays, all beautifully written and providing food for thought, are ...

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    How Stalin Built and Buried Communism

    November 17, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, by Stephen Kotkin. Penguin Press, 2017, 1154 pages.   AT THE OPENING of Stephen Koptkin's magisterial Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, the second volume of his biography of the Soviet leader and gravedigger of the revolution, Lenin has been dead for five years and Stalin, through brilliant bureaucratic maneuvering but also through an astute reading of the world situation, is firmly ensconced in power. The years covered here...

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    Jewish Films at the Doc NYC Festival and Beyond

    November 7, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor FERENC Török’s 1945, currently showing at Film Forum, takes place over the course of a few hours in a small Hungarian town in August 1945, a time of transition. The war in Europe is over, the war in the Pacific is about to end, and Hungary, though Red Army troops occupy it, is not yet the socialist state it will soon be. Throughout the film we hear radio broadcasts about upcoming elections. Everything is unsettled, and into this charged atmosphere two Jews descend from the mo...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Longer than the Jews Wandered in the Wilderness . . .

    November 3, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   WHEN JOSE ALTUVE of the Houston Astros threw out Corey Seager of the Dodgers around midnight on November 1-2, bringing the Astros the first World Series championship in their history, I expected to cheer and well up with tears of joy. I have loved the Astros since their founding as the Colt .45s in 1962, so it’s been fifty-five years —  fifteen more than the Jews wandered in the desert —  that I’ve been loyal to them. But I didn’t cheer. In fact, I couldn’t cheer. Instead,...

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    Articles

    The Rise and Fall of the Russian Revolution

    October 30, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    LOOKING BACK A CENTURY LATER by Mitchell Abidor From the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   Discussed in this essay: October by China Miéville, Verso, 2017, 343 pages; The Dilemmas of Lenin by Tariq Ali. Verso, 2017, 371 pages; Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale, Metropolitan Books, 2017, 354 pages.   AT FIRST GLANCE, the notion of a science fiction author writing a volume on the Bolshevik Revolution, as is the case with China Miéville’s October, might seem bizarre. How can a non...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Four Brothers, One Dream Machine

    October 29, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio by David Thomson. Yale University Press, 2017, 220 pages.   WARNER BROS: The Making of an American Movie Studio, the great film critic David Thomson’s book on the eponymous producers and their studio, is the latest in Yale University Press’s eclectic Jewish Lives series. The series has featured biographies of characters as diverse as Rabbi Akiva, Emma Goldman, Sigmund Freud, and Hank Greenberg, but...

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    The Uncivil Servant: A Novel of Provincial Pettiness Amid War

    October 23, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Blood Dark by Louis Guilloux, translated by Laura Marris. NYRB Classics, 2017, 514 pages.   LOUIS GUILLOUX'S brilliant 1935 novel, Blood Dark (Le Sang Noir), is a classic and mordant portrait of provincial life in an unnamed provincial town modeled on Guilloux’s hometown of Saint-Brieuc in Brittany. (In the photo at top, Guilloux is shown at the far right among the men of Saint-Brieuc in 1934.) The events all occur over the course of one day in 1917...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Murdering Freud

    October 18, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Freud: The Making of an Illusion, by Frederick Crews. Metropolitan Books, 2017, 744 pages.   FREDERICK CREWS, a retired professor at Berkeley, has spent decades taking a pickaxe to the work and legacy of Sigmund Freud. His near monomania on the topic (equaled only by his interest in Winnie-the-Pooh, about which (whom?) he has written two books), has rested on relatively solid ground as Freud’s reputation has sunk. No longer a dominant figure in t...

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    The Uncivil Servant: "Thy Father's Chair"

    October 11, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    AN INTERVIEW WITH THE FILM'S CO-DIRECTOR, ANTONIO TIBALDI by Mitchell Abidor   THY FATHER'S CHAIR is the day-by-day account of the cleaning of the Borough Park apartment of Shraga and Avraham, twin Orthodox brothers who are, as I wrote here a year ago, “kosher Collyer brothers,” hoarders who haven’t cleaned their flat since their parents’ death seven years earlier. The directors, Antonio Tibaldi and Alex Lora, never treat the brothers as freaks, are never condescending. I praised the film, say...

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    Fascism: What It Isn't and How Not To Fight It

    October 1, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Melville House, 2017, 259 pages.    MARK BRAY'S Antifa can perhaps be considered the definitive statement of the movement that leapt to the front page after the events in Charlottesville. Widely though not deeply researched, Bray's book clearly lays out the historical antecedents of today’s antifa, its current activities in the U.S. and Europe, and a theoretical explanation and justification for its ac...

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    The Uncivil Servant: The Fantasy of "Fantasyland"

    September 26, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    IS AMERICA EXCEPTIONALLY ECCENTRIC? by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, by Kurt Andersen. Random House, 2017, 462 pages.   THE FANTASYLAND that is the subject of Kurt Andersen’s Fantasyland is, of course, America. And not just today’s alternative-fact America and its truth-challenged president, but America since its foundation. As Andersen writes: “Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the last half-centu...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Fauda's Dehumanizing Humanism

    September 22, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Fauda, a television series by Avi Issacharoff and Lion Raz.   IN HIS EXCELLENT New Yorker article on the Israeli TV series Fauda (the word means "chaos"), which can be streamed on Netflix, David Remnick quotes series producer Avi Issacharoff as saying of the show that it “was an eye-opener to a lot of people in Israel in that it showed compassion, in a way [italics added], to a Palestinian terrorist, or at last you get a sense of why he would do wha...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Fame and Disillusionment

    September 16, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler. NYRB Classics, 2017, 128 pages.    ARTHUR SCHNITZLER (1862-1931) was so central a figure in Viennese literary life in the first decades of the 20th century that the great cultural historian Peter Gay titled his book on the development of bourgeois culture between the Battle of Waterloo and World War I, Schnitzler’s Century. A Jewish doctor born to a Jewish doctor in the largely Jewish Leopoldstadt quarter of Vienna (...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Trump as a Civil War Commander

    September 8, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   AFTER TRUMP decided to put an end to DACA, he tweeted that it was up to Congress to fix the problem. Commentators commentated on how cowardly Trump was in having his minions make the announcement of the end of the program, and how unlikely it is that Congress could possibly succeed in the immigration reform that has eluded them for sixteen years. Heads have also been scratched this week over Trump’s decision to cut a deal with the Democrats over the budget, embarrassing an...

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    The Uncivil Servant: A Frederick Wiseman Retrospective

    September 5, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   FREDERICK WISEMAN has made forty-three films over the course of a career that began in 1967 with the brilliant Titicut Follies. He eschews explanatory titles, never giving us the names or professions of any of the people filmed. His works focus primarily on institutions (a mental hospital, a municipal hospital, a ballet company, a high-class girlie show, a welfare office) and the ways in which individuals make them work (or not). In celebration of his forthcoming new film...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Protestantism at 500

    August 29, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in the essay: Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet, by Lyndal Roper. Random House, 2017, 540 pages.   WHEN ON NOVEMBER 7 we observe the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution, which died a slow, ugly death after a life of barely seventy-five years, we should not forget the far greater revolution celebrating its 500th anniversary just a week earlier: On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed (or pasted) his 95 Theses to the door of the cathedral of Wittenberg, setti...

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    Hitler and the Art of the Deal

    August 17, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    HIS RISE TO POWER AS A MASTER MANIPULATOR by Mitchell Abidor Published in the Summer 2017 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, by Volker Ullrich. Alfred A. Knopf, 998 pages, 2016; On Hitler’s Mein Kampf, by Albrecht Koschorke. MIT Press, 78 pages, 2017. IT IS DIFFICULT when reading Volker Ullrich’s brilliant and absorbing Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939, to cast away thoughts of how it relates to our world today. The rise of the right everywhere forces us to v...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Discovering Richard Gerstl

    August 12, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    AN EXHIBIT AT THE NEUE GALERIE  by Mitchell Abidor   THE VIENNESE-BORN artist Richard Gerstl committed suicide on November 5, 1908, at the age of 25. He had never exhibited his paintings, which once numbered around seventy. It would not be until 1931 that they were exhibited, thanks to the efforts of his brother, and Gerstl’s modest fame was posthumously launched. We would have to wait a further eighty-six years for the ever-estimable Neue Galerie, Ronald Lauder’s museum dedicated to the art ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Beauty, Despair, and Globalization

    August 8, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Machines, by Rahul Jain, a film opening at Film Forum in New York, August 9. RAHUL JAIN'S documentary Machines, shot in a fabric factory in the southern India state of Gujarat, is a film of beauty and great despair, a portrait of globalism and the grinding brutality of the overseas factories that provide the clothing we wear, the goods we use. Shot largely inside the factory, we, like the workers there, are assaulted throughout the film by the cease...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Leonora Carrington's Madness

    August 4, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Books discussed in this essay: Down Below by Leonora Carrington. NYRB Classics, 69 pages, 2017; The Milk of Dreams by Leonora Carrington. New York Review Children’s Collection, 54 pages, 2013 [first publication in English, 2017].   THERE ARE FEW more harrowing, more unromantic accounts of that too-often-romanticized experience that is madness than Leonora Carrington’s Down Below. Carrington (1917-2011), an artist and writer, whose centennial we are celebrating this year, le...

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    The Uncivil Servant: The Sour Politics of Sour Grapes

    July 24, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Myths of Liberal Zionism by Yitzhak Laor. Verso Books, 2017, 162 pages.  IT'S POSSIBLE, when reading a book with which you should agree, to be so repelled by the author’s tone and mode of argument that you come to doubt your own beliefs. Such is the case with Yitzhak Laor’s The Myths of Liberal Zionism, a book that establishes a tone of anger from the first page and by the end descends to nearly unhinged ad hominem rage. The book is a furious ind...

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    The Uncivil Servant: New Films in Darkness and in Light

    July 13, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    THE FENCER AND FALSE CONFESSIONS by Mitchell Abidor   ANY VIEWER who, five minutes into Klaus Härö’s The Fencer (opening in New York on July 21 and in LA on August 11), is not able to divine the rest of the film should look deep into his or her soul and try to figure out what is wrong with them! The Fencer is the story of Estonian fencer Endel Nelis, played by Märt Avandi, who arrives in a small town in the final days of Stalin’s rule. Hired by a reluctant and suspicious principal, Nelis hit...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Reading to Baby Bolsheviks

    June 30, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Fire Horse by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Osip Mandelstam, and Daniil Kharms, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky. The New York Review’s Children’s Collection, 2017.   THE SOVIET UNION sought to turn babies into Bolshevik babies. Schools were, of course, a key element in this, as were the various youth organizations. But as in almost every modern society, a literature aimed specifically at children, one that taught them the values they were expected to ad...

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    The Uncivil Servant: A Grand Home for Essays

    June 24, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this article, six books published by Notting Hill: Beautiful and Impossible Things: Selected Essays of Oscar Wilde; Essays on the Self, by Virginia Woolf; Junkspace, by Rem Koolhaas; The William Hazlitt Essay Prize 2013 the Winners; A Eulogy for Nigger and Other Essays; Cyclogeography by Jon Day; Questions of Travel by William Morris.   SINCE IT FIRST hit the scene in 1980, 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold, making a fortune for Tom Kremer, who did not i...

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    The Uncivil Servant: On "Killing" Trump

    June 16, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   IN THE AFTERMATH of the shooting in Alexandria on June 14, the New York Times published an article describing it as a “test” of the movement Bernie Sanders founded. The journalist, Yamiche Alcindor, described this as “a moment for liberals to figure out how to balance anger at Mr. Trump with inciting violence.” She cites examples of Sanders’ allegedly overheated rhetoric, with Bernie calling Trump “dangerous” and "a demagogue.” Alcindor and the Times are not alone: we’ve ...

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    The Uncivil Servant: Jerusalem's Outsider Architects

    June 14, 2017Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Till We Have Built Jerusalem, by Adina Hoffman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016, 352 pages. A CITY'S ARCHITECTURE is often an excellent guide to its history, politics, and vision of itself. The Haussmanian Paris we know today still speaks of the need for clean, airy streets, as well as the need to be able to put down working-class revolution. Adina Hoffman’s beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and deeply felt Till We Have Built Jerusalem reve...

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