In A Short Inquiry into the End of the WorldMister Investigator takes on this fraught and dangerous moment in history, and what it says about our future. This particular time, a crisis that feels unique and strange, is actually connected—as Mister Investigator discovers—to multiple precedents. To this end, Stromberg's analysis is first and foremost a reading: of the thinkers, poets, artists, philosophers, and politicians, who have in the past reacted to the unthinkable. He is most committed to those thinkers who managed to hold their despair close to home, or "not to lose it"—a phrase allegedly uttered to Anna Akhmatova by her then husband, the art historian Nikolai Punin. In Mister Investigator's case, it is the likes of W. H. Auden, who chose to look at the fateful events of 1939 with full awareness, or the painter Mark Rothko, whose "recipe for art" includes a willing engagement with death, irony, and tension.

Working Titles, The Massachusetts Review (2021)

 

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