Symbiosmosis; or, the Real Inescapability of COVID-19

Walking through Brighton today, along the main road adjacent to Old Steine, a bus passed by which had the words ‘HIV Isn’t Scary Anymore’ printed in big white letters atop a flowery purple background. While this kind of thing is par for the course for Brighton, a town which wears its LGBT bona-fides with upfront visibility, such a frank statement was startling, containing the not-so implicit declaration that HIV was scary. The admittance of this was unusually candid; HIV was scary, but largely for reasons engendered and worsened by the same kind of people who usually pay to have their messages on the sides of buses. But mainly, seeing the message also seemed grimly ironic, grimly apropos, given everything that is currently happening in the world. Continue reading “Symbiosmosis; or, the Real Inescapability of COVID-19”


A conflict has been percolating for some time, between the responsibility of art in a violent world, and the idea that art has no responsibilities. Slightly different from the idea of censorship, manifestations of this conflict have lead left-wing protestors (typically anti-censorship) to do things like boycott an X-Men film (ostensibly a children’s film) because of a poster showing a woman being choked, and right-wing protestors (usually pro-censorhip) to hide their arguments behind the flimsy muslin gauze of ‘free speech’. A very charitable reading of this debate is that people are demanding higher standards from their art. A less charitable one might be that people, as Jarett Kobek has observed, are so saturated in capitalist media that the very act of seeing a superhero film can be considered ‘activism’, and thus people are requesting that the landscape fit their beliefs.

Continue reading “Skinflicker”