Hume makes both a metaphysical claim and a psychological claim. The metaphysical claim is that the mind is in fact a complex bundle of different perceptions standing in causal relations to one another. A consequence of this is that, while the bundle may be made possible by a continuing but changing human brain, a person is not an immaterial soul or self underlying and in addition to the bundle itself. The psychological claim is that we ascribe unity (simplicity at a time and identity through time) to this complex bundle only because of the power of mental association operating on perceived relations of causation and resemblance.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Don J Garrett.
Painting by Mark Manning aka Z.
I knew that Pope, like many others, put sexual desire at the heart of human sociability: people are attracted to one another sexually, reproduce, discover the intergenerational contract that gives us an interest in loving children and loving parents. But I was surprised to see him present sexual desire as one of the appetites that is thwarted by scarcity of resources – but that need not be if things were only slightly different. Pope imagines an earlier stage in social life where nature’s resources are sufficient to satisfy all the wants of a community, including sexual wants. He says that ‘half the cause of Contest was remov’d, / When Beauty could be kind to all who lov’d.’
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tom Jones.
Painting by Mark Manning aka Z
Roland Barthes dreamed of Armand’s book when he writes: ‘only allude to writing before going off somewhere else’ where writing becomes a quasi-linguistic function existing already in excess of itself, ‘rehearsing the contemporary tropes of the semioticians’. For Barthes the photographic image can’t be made into an analogue for something else because it is the analogue of the impossible, ‘an image whose detonation is … finally reducible only to the reflexive movement of its own enframing, between two shots, two anachronistic moments. ‘ It represents ‘the perfection and plenitude of its analogy.’ And that analogy risks being mythological and artefactual. ‘an issueless predicament of nothing.’ Armand’s novel is a sequence plenum of this Barthean process.
Richard Marshall reviews Louis Armand‘s The Combinations.
The flâneur has been a liberal-creative archetype almost as long as there have been cities – what Lauren Elkin describes as ‘a 19th-century phenomenon – the flâneur, a figure of privilege and leisure, with the time and money to amble around the city at will.’ Origins of the phenomenon were romantic and delirious: however, British contemporary literature can make anything dull and these days flâneuring consists of Iain Sinclair or Will Self, picking endlessly around a London orbital – or some young man of the Brutalist movement, blinking in rapture at tower blocks.
Max Dunbar reviews Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin.
I think that the type of high level of expertise demonstrated by professional athletes, performing artists, grandmaster chess players and other individuals is (generally) infused with conscious concepts. This is not to say, of course, that every aspect of expert action is conscious—it’s not permeated with consciousness. When athletes consciously focus on one aspect of their movement, other aspects run offline. But I do think that the conscious mind in expert action is typically directed at some aspect or aspects of skill. This might be a high-level aspect, such as speed, or low-level, such as hip rotation.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Barbara Gail Montero.
Painting: Mark Manning aka Z
“We are in a world in which each one of us comes along with his fixed idea, irreducible to that of his neighbour.” The problem, for Fondane, is universalism. “We don’t want a unanimity of agreement, but a defensive unanimity.” At the gut of Fondane’s argument – whether we want to pin him as a writer, thinker, philosopher or poet – is the claustrophobia innate to our verbal categories when it comes to the industrialisation of original thought.
Dominic Jaeckle reviews Existential Monday and “Cinepoems” & Others by Benjamin Fondane.
The places he visits are the kinds of places that most readers, having read about them and the disappointments and small epiphanies that they give, are unlikely to ever visit themselves. Dyer begins by going to Tahiti in the coloured footsteps of Gauguin; visits the Forbidden City in Beijing; experiences land art projects in American Nowhere; flies to Norway to see, and fail to see, the Northern Lights; fears for his life after realising that he and his wife have picked up an ex-convict on their way to El Paso; makes a pilgrimage to the house, that is no longer the house, of Adorno in LA; and concludes by serenading LA, where he now resides, eating a double-baked croissant with hazelnuts, but with an intimation of mortality.
Leonid Bilmes reviews Geoff Dyer‘s White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World.
The moment of connection is contained and assimilated as one perspective among many, one particular manifestation of a reading and writing practice which Prynne calls ‘almost a discipline’ and Peter Larkin something like ‘an ascesis’, and which has drawn me into a matching practice of my own. I hope it’s high praise to say that these extraordinary poems now feel as radically ordinary as I want my life to be.
By Jack Belloli.
On lonely dark cold Prague winter days all one can do is drink heavily and contemplate their minuscule existence. But my grief was deeper. Two months out of a job, I was beginning to run out of options. My tiny shack of an apartment was falling apart and I didn’t have enough money to pay for electricity or gas next month. With tears fueled by cheap white Australian Bush and self-pity, I suddenly glanced over at the rough dirty-grey brochure I got at the supermarket yesterday, having spent the last 150 crowns on booze and bread, in true Czech starving artist fashion.
New fiction by Katya Luca.
After reading Gellner it’s clearer what the Brexiteers in the UK and Trump in the USA get right, as well as where they go wrong. They get right that some if not all of the important cogs in the advanced industrial machine have become damaged, some seriously and certainly more seriously than those holding the levers of power have let on. And they are right to identify inequality in its many guises as the defining issue. Where they’re in error is in the options they think they have. What they’ve opted for is a confused mix of neoliberal economics plus the exploitation of nativist, ethnic fissures expressed as belligerent and nasty Nationalism. Neither are sensible choices. Both neoliberalism and virulent nationalism are the subject of Gellner’s work. He helps explain why they seem attractive whilst being exactly the wrong sort of medicine.
Gellner gives us a suggestive picture of our current dilemma. ‘The modern industrial machine is like an elephant in a very small boat. Either the boat is built around it so as to accommodate it, or it becomes an absurdity.’
Richard Marshall reads Ernest Gellner on Brexit and Trump.