“As expected Harvey has intensified into a Hurricane” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo taken from flickr under Creative Commons license: CC BY 2.0

There is nothing benevolent or beautiful about the forces of Nature mercilessly unleashed on Texas, indiscriminately flooding its precious oil refineries and destroying its population’s homes and livelihoods. We watch helplessly as successive hurricanes rip across Puerto Rico and much of the Caribbean, ravaging the dwellings of the poor and hopeless, along with the near-perfect havens of panicked tourists.

The horror continues. A seemingly harmless retired accountant and real estate magnate rents a two-room suite on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas resort hotel to rain down 10 minutes of random fire from 33 rifles and semi-automatic weapons. The leader of the most powerful country in the world flouts science and spouts inane drivel, as the spectre of fire and fury – the beast of war – licks its chops, anxious to sink its teeth into new and never-before-developed weapons of destruction. Distinctions between good and bad begin to blur in the smoggy haze of a new normal. Heaven and hell switch places. In the chaos and confusion, blame is directed at everyone and no one. An alliance seems to be emerging: the benevolent and the malevolent; the intelligent and the cunning; the artistic and the crafty – an unholy alliance that clouds the core issues of a deep divide.

Articles in this issue peel each layer to reveal yet another. Bernard Miller’s essay entitled “What Goes Up…” delves into the current bubble in the Canadian housing market and uses that as his entryway into a scathing exposé of today’s world order, where selfishness has its virtues, an ex-Nazi is placed at the head of the United Nations, and “… the financial world’s influence wielders – successors to those who caused the 1929 crash and then benefitted from it – had a broader vision…. They aimed to make debt and debt trading so commonplace that everyone on the planet would eventually be caught up in it.”

Also featured are poetic prose pieces and equally poetic paintings by Naghmeh Sharifi, recipient of the Impressions Residency and grant at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Her Peuple dilué is a series of ink-on-paper drawings inspired by the Roma population of Sutka, Macedonia, exploring “the idea of a people versus a nation and transient identities.”

Rana Bose ponders the future of “quantum computers” – computers that can operate at “two wavelengths, with a mind of their own,” that can be taught to make their own choices and “learn the language of emotions.” He writes about Artificial Intelligence that is no longer artificial… it is our new normal. In another piece, darkly mulling over the roles embraced by Anthony Hopkins, Rana reflects on the perfection of pure evil – the Silence of the Lambs kind – played with masterful artistry and brilliance.

Pietro Ferrua muses on cinematography and the adaptation of books into films, turning his thoughts to the history of the remakes of the 1976 novel by Nan and Ivan Lyons, Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, in which nothing is as it seems.

William Davis’s book, Undoctored: How You Can Seize Control of Your Health and Become Smarter than Your Doctor, is reviewed by Maya Khankhoje, along with Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. Nilambri Ghai reviews Jaspreet Singh’s new book of poetry, November.

On the fiction front, Taryn Foster’s short story leaves us in a motionless state of shock. An intricate essay by Nilambri Ghai uncovers the coalescing of religious truths and untruths, and examines alliances that create fear and violence:

“Since the very beginning, leaders have used religion as an easy and effective tool to control masses, instill fear, hatred, revenge, communalism and violence, and build powerful alliances with the “unholy.”

But every unholy alliance has to hit a wall at some point. And in this issue, it’s a wall of UNCEDED VOICES (https://decolonizingstreetart.com/) – Indigenous women’s kickass murals in the working-class neighbourhood of St. Henri. The pièce de résistance.