Virgil Abloh, the artist and fashion designer, died on 28 November of cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer. He was 41. The news was unexpected, as Abloh had chosen to keep his diagnosis private. An exhibition of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2019 was called Figures of Speech. One of his best jokes was to put the words ‘FOR WALKING’ in bold, all-caps lettering on a pair of women’s cowboy boots.
The death of the actor Michael K. Williams, at the age of 54, was reported on 6 September. He had been found unresponsive in his Brooklyn penthouse. Williams was a major player in The Wire, one of American culture’s sharpest analyses of what happened to the country in the wake of 9/11.
‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, a sermon delivered by Jonathan Edwards in Massachusetts and Connecticut in July 1741, takes as its text Deuteronomy 32:35, ‘their foot shall slide in due time.’ Edwards warned of the ‘fearful danger’ people were in: ‘There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment,’ he said. If the events of the last week are to be believed, Lil Nas X is a singer in the hands of an angry God, and certain ultra religious, homophobic segments of the American public, including Edwards’s televangelical heirs. Made famous in 2018 by his smash single ‘Old Town Road’ and its chart-topping remix with Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X is now at the centre of a media firestorm.