The Century of the Fugitive and the Secret of the Detainee

Cops used a forward-looking infrared device (FLIR) to find traces of Tsarnaev’s heat signature.

The 21st century will be the century of the fugitive. Not because fugitives are proliferating, but because they are disappearing. And not disappearing in the way that fugitives like to disappear, but disappearing because they simply won’t exist. Technology won’t allow it. A manhunt summons forth the great machinery of the state: scores of armed… Continue reading The Century of the Fugitive and the Secret of the Detainee

“A Very Kind and Peaceful People”: Geronimo and the World’s Fair

(Exactly ten years ago this week I turned in my last graduate seminar paper, for a class on late 19th and early 20th century American literature taught by the magnificent Nancy Bentley. The paper was about the 1904 World's Fair and Geronimo, a figure I've been thinking about deeply since Sunday night. Because of the… Continue reading “A Very Kind and Peaceful People”: Geronimo and the World’s Fair

Maps and Timelines

Over a period of a few days last week I posted a series of updates onto Twitter that, taken together, added up to less than twenty words. I dragged out across fourteen tweets what could easily fit within one. And instead of text alone, I relied on a combination words and images. I'm calling this… Continue reading Maps and Timelines

The Archive or the Trace: Cultural Permanence and the Fugitive Text

We in the humanities are in love with the archive. My readers already know that I am obsessed with archiving otherwise ephemeral social media. I've got multiple redundant systems for preserving my Twitter activity. I rely on the Firefox plugins Scrapbook and Zotero to capture any online document that poses even the slightest flight risk.… Continue reading The Archive or the Trace: Cultural Permanence and the Fugitive Text

Eric Rudolph and The Lone Wolf

I have often suggested that Eric Rudolph, who for five years successfully evaded the largest federal manhunt in U.S. history--until he surrendered himself to a rookie sheriff's deputy in the alley behind a local supermarket, exemplifies the modern fugitive. The fugitive summons forth the great machinery of government: scores of armed agents, ballistic tests and… Continue reading Eric Rudolph and The Lone Wolf

Are you a guest or a host?

Thinking more about fugitives and detainees, and how fine the line is between them, I am wondering if there is some corollary relationship between the detainee and the detainer, between the prisoner and the warden. I am guided here by a curious etymological fact: the words "guest" and "host" share the same root. Both words… Continue reading Are you a guest or a host?

Fugitives and Detainees in American Social Life

Two years ago in Tracking the Fugitive I predicted that one of the dominant symbolic figures of the 21st century will be the fugitive. In film, literature, music, art, video games--in all these arenas, the fugitive will play a central role. And the reason, I suggested, is because there is no room anymore for fugitives… Continue reading Fugitives and Detainees in American Social Life