“Porcelain menageries carry in them the uncanny idealized nature, the oddity of imposing the characteristics we most desire on a totemic form to keep resting beside us, or locked safely away behind class. Consider the bull, or the horse, unicorn, or bear, common tchotchke subjects whose cuteness seems to have an inverse relationship to their ferocity (that a house cat will tear an ecosystem asunder and is, in this way, much more of a terrorist than a bear, speaks to the inherent human perspective from which these caricatures are drawn), or the aforementioned stock-still prey items, for whom sitting is death. Skittish horses, coquettish cats, majestic, cuirass-chested working dogs who cannot maintain their sense of regality while huffing through crushed faces and flapping jowls, all are made into exactly what we wish for them to be: perfect, one note—our favorite note—and within our possession. Figurines are our literal molding of nature, their fragility the proper trade for our wonts.”
Articles by B. David Zarley
A rotating selection of new articles and personal favorites; updated periodically.
“Both our literal and social climates are exhibiting fault lines. It is easy to imagine the window, the nation, the world falling apart along these stress fractures. Reimer’s choice of gold, however, adds an element of hope to the show, a suggestion of Kintsukuroi, the Japanese art form of beautifying repair, wherein gold leaf is used to bond broken pottery, the damage enshrined and drawn upon, becoming part of the object’s beauty; and while it requires vision—and faith, and a willingness to give breath to the seemingly dead—one can see, embodied in Reimer’s aurelian wounds, the potential for the pressure and, yes, even the pain, to allow us to emerge stronger.”
“Zack McDermott had his first major manic episode in over five years at a Taco Shop in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. As the psychosis took hold, he laughed at patrons to their faces, inquired about purchasing his order via Apple Pay—something he knew, even in his semi-lucid state, they would not have—and, eventually, screamed obscenities at an employee while lying flat on his back in the rain-soaked parking lot.
Which is when his producers stepped in.”
“He [Trump] does this via shock and awe, brute force and braggadocio, channeling every Wall Street wolf and old school football coach who came before him. He speaks in centipede sutures and staples, exclamations and catechisms field trauma care for the gaping wounds where his thoughts have been punctured or sloughed away. He breaks, plods, stutters, roars, a dog whistle the only sounds cutting through the cacophony, his cadence ambling like a skull rolling downhill and thoughts left dangling from the gallows, the familiar, wayfaring elements of the English language made alien, frightening by their appearance and affect, their design—truly, their lack thereof—and delivery, rhetoric as re-animated cat skeleton.”
“By virtue of keeping her reporting clean and concise, del Bosque easily steers readers through Treviño’s international financial crimes spiked with brutality—the kind that would make Michael Lewis’ usual suspects blush. In tracing the case from the first whispered tip to an FBI agent to the final verdict, she brings a slice of the abstracted drug war into heart-rending focus, turning the bloody diamond before her loupe so that each facet becomes clear.”
“By the time I first reached out to Black on August 22—the rally was scheduled for August 26— the backlash had begun. While the event was organized before Unite the Right, it had the misfortune of taking place after, which may have contributed to the anger. One of the first posts on the event page when I had looked at it was a Lakeview resident castigating the page’s supporters for rallying around such a trivial cause as real problems rage all around us, and Black had penned an explanation in response to the criticisms; unfortunately, both of these were lost when the page was removed, and the cached version does not include them.”
“Eastman Was Here follows Alan Eastman, a washed up author who turns to Saigon for the swan song that will save his career and his marriage. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War, the book highlights the type of authors who have cast a spell on us at some point—manly men boasting manly emotions, who dissolve their Pain in drugs, women and prose. These are writers descended from Hemingway’s poisonous line, but with a more urbane spin, like Roth, Updike, Irving, Mailer and their peers. You know, the stereotypical novelists who were the accolade-winning dicks in the American post-war literary scene.
We’ve all been suffering in their long, dark shadows ever since.”
“Pathogens are among the most ancient, numerous and powerful forms of life (and near-life) on the planet. These replication machines possess the power to shape not only our societies, but all life on earth. From the benign to the lethal, viruses, bacteria, prions and other disease-causing agents are the perfect literary subjects.”
” … radiant and giving off a palpable … vibe, a kind of psychic heat, Heavy Sunshine, buzzing from the apian engine which drives it with the cosmic exigency which only derives from density, an immensely dense little star of positivity, happy imagery—flowers, mountains, clouds, houses, bees, bunnies, books, baseballs, brick facades, bananas, watermelon slices, apples and pineapples and mushrooms, computer monitors, keys, clocks, lampshades, pyramids, the majority made animate, all gaping eyes and content smiles stretching across their faces like cats in a sunbeam—condensing into a heavy star, loosed now and setting in to a dark sea obliterating, by virtue of its weight, all that lays before it, so long as any wavelength still finds its mark among the rods and cones … “
“A massive Hector Duarte painting greets you right as you walk in the front door, depicting an avian heart encircled by gnashing border guard dogs. It symbolizes the pieces of their spirit immigrants must leave behind. Directly next to it is an early Marcos Raya, a portrait of the artist in a bar, the countertop now a butcher’s block, a gun and bottle before him and the leering demons of his alcoholism floating just above. Together they depict the complicated reality of immigrant life, a life Salgado knows personally.”