This series was previously published in WAX Digital Magazine, 2017–2018

On the corner of West 123rd Street, across from Marcus Garvey Park, sits an elegant, brown-brick townhouse. Grecian columns flank its doorway, supporting an ornate arch that circumscribes a fresco. According to a report from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the building is “a particularly fine example of the neo-Renaissance style” of architecture. This mansion once belonged to John Dwight, the millionaire manufacturer of Arm and Hammer baking soda. Its grandeur is only slightly dampened by the fact that it is under construction. A circular hole in the center of the…

At seventeen years old, Ebrahim Anaam is as much of a millennial as it is possible to be. When I met him in August, he was working a summer job at a local deli, raising money for his freshman year of college, which was starting in September. Anaam likes the Marvel movies — his favorite is Avengers: Age of Ultron — enjoys going out to eat, and Friends is “his favorite show.” But as a Yemenite immigrant, his roots lie in a world far from America and the First World. “I don’t have many memories from there,” he told me…

Running a deli in Harlem is difficult work. I know because Rami, the day time manager of Deli Grill and Market, told me. “You’ve got to put at least ten, twelve hours into a business,” he said, in a lull between customers. Rami is friendly and approachable, but catch him during lunch time, and there is no way he’ll have time to talk. He’s too busy frying pastrami. Even as we spoke, he had bacon sizzling on the grill. Many of the deli cashiers who I asked about the deli business told me to come back after hours. “I can’t…

The man who owns 11 West 122nd street was friendly enough. “I’m sorry, I’ve got a meeting,” he said with an ingratiating smile, hovering on the landing of his brownstone’s stairs. “But I’m relatively new here; I’ve only been here for around twenty years.” I thanked him and moved on. I was hunting for samples of a vanishing specimen: the single family, Harlem brownstone. Real estate developers purchasing brownstones generally seek to turn them into apartments for the upper-middle class. …

Debe takes a break from packaging incense to pose with some recent merchantise. Most artifacts are brought to the U.S. by his sister.

It’s not unusual to pass by street vendors selling selections of assorted Africana. But if you want the full kaleidoscope of African culture, you need to step into African Paradise, a small store front on Malcolm X between 126th and 127th Street. You’ll know you have arrived by the undulating rhythms and the sweet smell of burning incense.

The store is run by Debe — he prefers to use his first name only — an immigrant from Nigeria. When I first met him, he was chiding his cat, Zulu, who had managed to rip one of the store’s baskets to…

All page numbers correspond to the 1974 Penguin Classics print, translation E.F. Watling.

Introduction

“[W]here is daddy when you need him?” — Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, reminiscing about her father, a watchmaker, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing with Dr. Rick Bright, May 14, 2020.

I’m sure I am not the only one who finds post-2016 American politics surreal. Every day brings new revelations of the Trump administration’s corruption, stupidity, narcissism, and sheer incompetence. Still, Dr. Bright’s whistle-blower testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week details an unprecedented betrayal of public trust. First, there were Bright’s…

The picture is adorable: a harassed-looking mother, her hair disheveled, bends over to scan a laptop screen as her daughter hangs gleefully from her back, like a baby koala. But I like the print-edition title of the April 28th NYT article better, “Frazzled Parents Are Learning a Difficult Lesson: Teaching is Hard.”

The tone is probably slightly off for the national mood. The nation is mourning over 50,000 dead, and millions face dire circumstances, including unemployment, austerity, and hunger. However, it strikes me that, as millions of Americans remain stuck at home, COVID-19 is producing the sort of social experiment…

Reading Darwish, we are struck by a vision of poetry that stands between reality and myth. “Language will take the place of reality,” he tells us, “and the poem will look for its myth in the entirety of human experience.” And yet, in his poem to Said, we find Darwish say that the “Aesthetic is only the presence\of the real in form.” As readers, we are left wondering: what then is the poem? Is it a myth that replaces reality, or the manifestation of the real? …

“To affirm the priority of Being over existents is already to decide the essence of philosophy.”

Levinas, Totality and Infinity

“Does not Being in general become the Being of “a being” by an inversion, by that event which is the present (and which shall be the principle theme of this book)?”

Levinas, Existence and Existents

Introduction

It is common enough to say that we encounter objects in the world. But what occurs in this encounter? For Husserl, the ability to encounter objects is at the root of all consciousness: it underlies the intentional structure of thought. The principle of intentionality…

Interview by Isaac Fried

Jamie Aroosi is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College. His first book, “The Dialectical Self: Kierkegaard, Marx, and the Making of the Modern Subject,” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), is the first comprehensive analysis and synthesis of G. W. F. Hegel’s two most important disciples and critics, Søren Kierkegaard and Karl Marx. It argues, contrary to conventional accounts that see them as opposed, that the two thinkers are actually deeply complementary halves of a larger whole. He can be reached through his website at www.jamiearoosi.com.

I sat down to speak with him about…

Isaac Fried

Occasional journalist; constantly curious; formerly @YUCommentator and @theharlembee; MA Phil University College Dublin

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