Binoculars Building, Venice, 2015 © Steve Boland | Flickr
EssaysFeature

Restoring Security by (Re)discovering the Culture of Flexible Work

By the early 1990s, Jay Chiat had reached the pinnacle of the advertising world thanks to his firm’s iconic campaigns, especially the Absolut Vodka bottle print ads and Apple’s “Think Different” and “1984” spots. Flush with cash, Chiat commissioned the architect Frank Gehry to design “the office of the future.” Gehry produced the iconic (if mystifying) “Binoculars Building” in Venice, California. The structure’s whimsical exterior, however, clashed with the staid, cubicled ways of work going on inside. And so Chiat soon embarked on a mission to reorganize the ways employees worked at the Chiat/Day offices. His “virtual office,” a phrase Chiat popularized, would be as radical as the building’s shell. The quirky interiors would stimulate creativity and foster equality through open, non-hierarchical communal spaces sure to inspire imagination, collaboration, and flexibility — even playfulness. 

The firm chose associate media director Monika Miller to test-drive the office, which meant she was freed of her desk, chair, and personal office space. Each morning,  …

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Donald Trump speaks at CPAC, Washington, DC, 2011 © Gage Skidmore | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & Publics

Diagnosing American Politics

What the rise of Trump says about American democracy

I have a morbid fascination with Carl Schmitt. Morbid, because he manages to condense, in his political theory and philosophy of law, pretty much everything I find repulsive about the radical right. His pessimism about “human nature” is raw and simplistic and, unlike Hobbes, whom he superficially resembles, he is uninterested in clamping down on sin-infected humanity by way of a social contract that invests all sovereignty in an …

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Book cover of Immortality by Milan Kundera © Faber | Amazon.com
CapitalismEssaysThe Psyche

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The search for authenticity in consumer culture

Milan Kundera begins his novel Immortality with a description of a gesture made by a woman he is observing at a swimming pool. This woman, who we will come to know as Agnes in the story, smiles and waves at the lifeguard who has just been giving her swimming instructions. There is something charming and elegant for Kundera about this hand wave that reminds him of the gesture of a young woman “playfully tossing a bright colored ball to her lover.” This unique gesture reveals to Kundera the essence of Agnes’ charm, and he is dazzled and strangely moved by it. Later in the novel we discover that this gesture is not as unique as it initially seems. …

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