I’d been wandering for the better part of two hours through the outskirts of Lviv, or Lvov, or Lemberg or Lwów—it was hard to know what to call this city, given how many countries and empires had conquered, reconquered, occupied, reoccupied, or otherwise staked claim to it—looking for a concentration camp called Janowska, where upwards of 200,000 Jews, including, possibly, my grandmother’s older brother, Pinchas, had been worked to death or shot, unless they’d somehow survived all that and been put on a train to Belzec where they were taken care of once and for all.
Summer has come to “The Last Frontier” as well as the Lower 48. In Alaska, we’ve already begun the hurried rush of summer activities, sprinting against the onslaught of the coming winter, making the most of 24 hours of blessed daylight. The arriving summer solstice will be the longest span of daylight the whole year, and here it’s a cause for celebration. In the spirit of these wild things, I’d like to offer up a different idea of the word resource in terms of writing: mainly, the Wilderness as resource. It’s not a new concept. Thoreau went to the woods to live a very specific life. Bill Bryson took us on a walk in the green embrace of the Appalachians. It is ever more true across history. Even in a time of advancing technologies, we remain obsessed with our relationship to the natural world.
Depending on whom you ask, Brian De Palma’s 1980 thriller Dressed to Kill is either a brilliant reworking of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) or a cheap style-over-substance rip-off. From IMDb message board shouting matches to painstakingly nuanced scholarly reappraisals, the debate (as part of a larger one regarding De Palma’s body of Hitchcockian films) survives in one form or another 35 years later. Yet what interests me, having viewed Dressed to Kill for the first time only recently, is the relative (not total) and conspicuous silence surrounding what should be a more important cinematic appropriation: the film’s representation of transgender identity.
As Game of Thrones approaches the finale of its fifth season, the show faces an interesting dilemma. It has caught up with its inspiration, George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, and is set to outpace it in the upcoming sixth season, venturing into territory that the books have not yet explored. While Martin stated in an April 2015 interview that he hoped the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, would be published before the series premiered in 2016, the likelihood that the seventh book, A Dream of Spring, will be written before the series exhausts the material of The Winds of Winter is close to impossible.
But Lucia was everywhere in Dessau for me. I have spent time with her posthumously, reading her diaries and letters kept at the Bauhaus archive, and looking through her photographs, which include a series of nude self-portraits she took in 1930 after she was “liberated” from Dessau, the Bauhaus, and László. I have been the voyeur she never intended to be leafing through her life with white gloved hands. I don’t take this privilege (for which I never asked her permission) lightly. Her story is now folded into me as we walk through the streets of Dessau, where she is a ghost, haunting the place in which she longed for the city.