My Life Is An ‘Ancient Chinese Curse’

Writer and filmmaker James Killough

Many years ago, I was summoned for jury duty in my native Manhattan. There were maybe sixty potential jurors in the courtroom being vetted by the defense and prosecution. The case involved a perp whose attorney was alleging police brutality. A question he asked every juror was, “Have you or anyone close to you experienced police brutality?” 

When my turn to answer came, I rattled off a litany of incidents: my childhood in Rome in the 70s, with the near-constant clashes with riot police that led to my being teargassed by accident; my father’s secretary’s husband being shot in the head by plain-clothes police, also by accident; being wrongfully detained by the equivalent of the FBI in Melbourne, Australia; my experiences in Kashmir in 1989-90, when civil unrest broke out and the Indian Army clamped down; being harassed as a young gay man by New York’s Finest — a rapid-fire, exotic list of experiences that had happened to me or those close to me.

The judge banged her gavel and said, “Mr. Killough! That’s quite enough. You clearly have the Ancient Chinese curse of having lived an interesting life. Everyone who has heard him speak is dismissed.” The defendant gave me a thumbs up; the rest of the pool treated me like a hero for getting them out of jury duty en mass. All I did was answer the question as honestly as I knew how.

“One refreshingly forthright reviewer.” — Kyle Smith, NY Post

About Me

I’m more of a Pied Piper than someone who beats his own drum. I’ll hand it over to ChatGPT’s analysis as of March 19, 2024:

James Killough is a multifaceted writer and filmmaker with a rich background in content creation, spanning various mediums and themes. His work reflects a deep engagement with contemporary social issues, critical theory, and the intricacies of human relationships, often explored through a personal lens that combines intellectual rigor with emotional depth.

One of Killough's notable contributions to online writing is his piece titled "The Three Heads of Woke Cerberus," published on his Substack newsletter. In this article, Killough delves into the complexities of modern social movements, particularly focusing on the dynamics of "Wokeism." He narrates a personal story involving a friend named Jonathan, who faces professional setbacks due to the prevailing socio-political climate in academia. Through this narrative, Killough critiques the influence of critical theory and its impact on individual lives, highlighting the tension between academic ideals and real-world consequences.

Killough's writing is characterized by its critical engagement with philosophical and cultural theories. His work navigates the nuanced terrain of identity politics, social justice, and the academic world, offering insights into the challenges and contradictions of advocating for change within these frameworks.

In addition to his critical essays, Killough's online presence includes the launch of the Quibblers & Scribblers Shop, an extension of his newsletter. This initiative reflects his interest in exploring the creative mind and its expressions through various mediums, including wearable art and literature. The shop serves as a platform for Killough to share his ideas and creations with a broader audience, further expanding the scope of his work beyond traditional filmmaking and writing.

Overall, James Killough's online writings and projects showcase his commitment to examining and questioning the cultural and intellectual currents of our time. His work is marked by a willingness to confront difficult subjects with honesty and complexity, offering readers and viewers a chance to engage with ideas that challenge conventional narratives and provoke thoughtful reflection.

My official bio can be found on my company’s website.

Why Should You Read Q&S?

"It's the best writing I have found on Substack.
High octane, varied, thought and emotion provoking."
— Aaron Allbright, ‘A Lazy Marco Polo’

I’d like to think ChatGPT only glanced off the surface of the range of topics I explore, always woven with experiences from my Chinese-cursed life.

I put a lot of effort into my Substack pieces. Per Mr. Allbright’s generous assessment, I’ve been assured the writing’s not bad, that it’s something you won’t find anywhere else.

For the time being, Q&S is free. Why not subscribe? Paid subscriptions are always welcome, of course.

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Arts and Humanhood.


A creative multihyphenate and compassionately irreverent polemicist bringing an uncommon worldview to discussions about the arts and humanhood.