The New Yorker December 6, 2021

Founded in 1925, The New Yorker publishes the best writers of its time and has received more National Magazine Awards than any other magazine, for its groundbreaking reporting, authoritative analysis, and creative inspiration. The New Yorker takes readers beyond the weekly print magazine with the web, mobile, tablet, social media, and signature events. The New Yorker is at once a classic and at the leading edge.

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contributors

Ian Urbina (“The Invisible Wall,” p. 36) is an investigative journalist based in Washington, D.C. This piece was published in collaboration with The Outlaw Ocean Project, a nonprofit news organization that reports on environmental and human-rights issues at sea. Rachel Syme (The Talk of the Town, p. 19;“Growing Pains,” p. 22), a staff writer, has covered style and culture for The New Yorker since 2012. James Somers (“Head Space,” p. 30) is a writer and a programmer based in New York City. Hala Alyan (Poem, p. 52), a clinical psychologist, is the author of six books. Her latest novel is “The Arsonists’ City.” Pankaj Mishra (Books, p. 70) most recently published “Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race, and Empire.” His novel “Run and Hide” will be out next year. Carrie Battan (Pop Music, p. 78) began contributing…

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the mail

DANCING AGAIN Jennifer Homans, in her review of the New York City Ballet’s long-awaited return to the stage, notes that today’s dancers approach the now classic George Balanchine repertoire, which has defined the company’s identity and aesthetics since its beginning, with “spine-straight” rigidity and orthodoxy (Dancing, November 8th). There is “no fragility or spontaneity in sight”; the dancers have traded “vulnerability for perfection.” Homans laments that the company’s zipped-up approach to the founding choreographer’s ballets is not “something anyone can undo.” But, to the contrary, much could be done if the keepers of the George Balanchine Trust opened his works to new interpretations by dancers and choreographers. Balanchine himself remade dozens of his dances during his long career—notably, “Serenade,” a ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings”—altering the sets, the costumes,…

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goings on about town: this week

DECEMBER 1 – 7, 2021 In 2014, the Venezuelan singer and producer Alejandra Ghersi, who records as Arca, emerged as a forward-thinking electronic artist with an inventive, almost alien sensibility. In 2020, her focus shifted and she released the album “kick i,” the first in a series that moves toward a more pop sound, featuring art-pop progressives such as Björk and Rosalía. On Dec. 3, Arca completes the anthology, sharing the remaining three installments of the project, each carrying on an extended metaphor of individuation. ART Vasily Kandinsky Some eighty paintings, drawings, and woodcuts by Kandinsky, the Russian hierophant of abstraction, line the upper three-fifths of the Guggenheim’s ramp, in the retrospective “Around the Circle.” The show’s curator, Megan Fontanella, recommends starting at the bottom, with the overwrought works of the artist’s final phase,…

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tables for two: bathhouse kitchen

Bathhouse, a ten-thousand-square-foot restaurant and underground spa that opened in Williamsburg in 2019, is not a Turkish hammam, a Russian banya, or a Korean jjimjilbang, though it integrates elements from all three. Jason Goodman, one of its founders, wanted to create a bath complex unconstrained by any particular tradition. He sought something more universal, transcendent, and atavistic—a cosmopolitan spiritual sanatorium offering what he calls “an uncomplicated borderline-primal human experience.” He once encountered, in National Geographic, a photograph of droopy-eyed snow monkeys lolling about in hot springs and felt an instant affinity with them. “They were all in there together, and they were grooming each other,” he told me recently. “That’s who we really are.” Goodman’s earliest foray into ritualized perspiration occurred twenty-five years ago, in the mountains of north Georgia, when…

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comment: the forest for the trees

In 1989, the year that Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, for writing “The Satanic Verses,” American parents in Laytonville, a small town in Northern California, demanded that their children’s elementary school take Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book, “The Lorax,” off its list of required reading for second graders. The book is “Silent Spring” for the under-ten set. “I speak for the trees,” the Lorax says, attempting to defend a soon to be blighted forest, its tufted Truffula trees chopped down and knit into hideous thneeds—“a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need”—until there is nothing left but one single seed. Like the long-ago banning of E. B. White’s “Stuart Little,” by the New York Public Library, the rumpus about “The Lorax” is at first bewildering. Dr. Seuss—Theodor Geisel—deemed it…

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crowd-sourcing dept.: parchment

A dozen or so friends from the Internet gathered recently at Sotheby’s in Manhattan to buy a first printing of the U.S. Constitution (estimated value: fifteen to twenty million dollars). The group, who called themselves ConstitutionDAO, had just spent a week raising millions of dollars on Twitter, TikTok, and Discord from anonymous screen names: recent immigrants, college dropouts, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of someone who fought in the American Revolution. (The “DAO” in “ConstitutionDAO” stands for “decentralized autonomous organization”—a leaderless corporate structure that resembles an online chat room with a bank account.) They raised four million in the first twenty-four hours. Then someone pitched in another four million, in Ethereum’s currency. By the next evening, the project had gone viral: seventeen thousand donors had given more than thirty-three million (median contribution: $206.26).…

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