:: Reviews

A matter of light and death published 11/11/2018

In The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer states, “In photography there is no meantime. There was just that moment and now there’s this moment and in between there is nothing. Photography, in a way, is the negation of chronology.” Three Nails, Four Wounds, accelerates time through memory, the “Photograph(s) may correspond to the intrusion, in our modern society, of an asymbolic Death, outside of religion, outside of ritual, a kind of abrupt dive into literal Death. Life / Death: the paradigm is reduced to a simple click, the one separating the initial pose from the final print” and the speed of the shutter becomes “an explicable nano-flash of consciousness that looks to us like a transition between two significant points of entry and exit, but is merely an accident in infinite nothing” as is life.

Steve Finbow on Hector Meinhof‘s Three Nails, Four Wounds.

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The Analysis of Melancholy published 06/11/2018

The essence of the book lies within its own existence, the heft of the ‘book thing’ is equivalent to the ideas held within. I would have been happy if Repeater Books had drip fed the reading public with four books of 200 pages over a period of time but they have published a monster upon which we can binge, within which we can wrestle with Marxism, accelerationism, jungle, the Cthulhu Mythos, late-stage capitalism, Batman, Acid Communism and a host of other issues relative to life, culture and politics in the 21st century. Sometimes, Fisher writes like Michael Bracewell shot through with Marx, like Roland Barthes listening to breakbeat hardcore, or like a radical Geoff Dyer infused with the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft rather than D. H. Lawrence.

Steve Finbow reviews Mark Fisher‘s posthumous collection, k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004 – 2016).

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Ghosts Embodied: The Visions of Amparo Davila published

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila

All of Dávila’s stories can be read as arcs of disenchantment—her characters discover that their imagined freedoms are actually more suffocating forms of captivity.

Darren Huang reviews The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila.

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How Wonderfully Shall Their Wordes Pearce Into Inward Human Partes: The new visual rhetoric of literature & Hunchback ‘88 published 30/10/2018

My interest is not in the manner Hunchback ’88 skillfully juxtaposes Booth’s model of rhetoric with the visual rhetoric of film, but how it abandons the traditional rhetoric of literature for a visual rhetoric that would be impossible without movies, yet is only possible back in the form of literature.

John Trefry reviews Hunchback ‘88 by Christopher Norris.

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“Killers and killed all”: Luis Felipe Fabre’s Sor Juana y otros monstruos published 29/10/2018

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz died in 1695 but has had endless potential for reanimation. To her contemporaries, she was the mysterious nun who wrote impenetrable poetry and searing critiques of the church for its treatment of women’s education. In the preface to one of her works, the monk Pedro del Santísimo Sacramento dubbed Sor Juana a “Monstruo de las mujeres y prodigio mexicano” (“Monster among women and Mexican prodigy”). To readers today, she is Sor Juana, “Fénix de América,” “Musa Décima,” the proto-feminist, Baroque poetess of colonial Mexico — in short, an all-around Latin-American legend.

By Rivky Mondal.

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What We’re Teaching Our Sons published 20/10/2018

As this comic tour de force testifies, Booth is a miniaturist. His meticulous craft bears more than a passing resemblance to that of his hobbyists; all those haunted men, pouring an unspeakable excess of emotion into elaborate displacement activities. The novel’s repetitive format and collective narrative voice provide a safety net of impersonality, allowing the tenderest of moments to bloom in the nooks and crannies of its diamantine vignettes. In the changing rooms at the swimming pool, for instance, where the dads — feeling “the terrible responsibility of lost socks, and impending colds” — try not to to contemplate “all the upcoming catastrophes” they will never be able to shield their sons from.

Andrew Gallix reviews Owen Booth‘s What We’re Teaching Our Sons.

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“It’s Alive!” Theory and Terror in Cinema in the Digital Age published 15/10/2018

The power and charm of Cinema in the Digital Age lies precisely in its commitment to the idea that how a concept is constructed has deep implications for the concept itself. The manipulation of images made possible by digital media—pausing, reversing, enlarging, etc.—has enabled metric-driven, quantitative modes of analysis (Rombes cites studies of Average Shot Length and such entities as the Cinemetrics Database) which, while valuable in themselves, have meant a corresponding shift in the status of language as theory’s primary vehicle. Film theory, though “freed from the tyranny of language,” has perhaps “lost something as well.” It is Rombes’ project, in this sly index-cum-codex, to write through this loss: to see what can still be done with language as carrier of concepts. To this end, Rombes, self-consciously constructs a book of theory that can be skipped, skimmed, flipped through, doubled-back on, and opened at random without loss of sense. It can do this because of its style, because of the way Rombes writes it, for the non-linear, non-cumulative, fragmented prose blocks that nonetheless trace larger, unobvious lines of connection.

Ali Raz reviews Cinema in the Digital Age by Nicholas Rombes.

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Stewart Home’s Bruceploitation Groove published 13/10/2018

If you look carefully there’s something about all of Home’s work that remains consistent. He’s interested in forms of cultural work that is marginal but marginal for a reason. It’s often a sleazy, porny, low-brow sentimentalism he develops and pivots off, one that appeals to clear-cut psychological gratifications rather than sly rational evidence for whatever. He doesn’t waste time on normative theory for consumption by bourgeoise academics and vanguardists of both left and right. He is trying to work out and understand the mechanisms by which Marxist psychology and epistemology works which entails in part understanding better the Marxist theory of ideology.

Richard Marshall reviews Stewart Home‘s new book on Bruceploitation.

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Every Thing Belongs to Someone published 10/10/2018

There are ways of making something or someone feel alive that have nothing to do with movement, Dellolio might reduce a scene to a still, but it is through his sensorial description of atmosphere that he makes the reader experience living with things. He resembles Michael Snow in so far that he applies the tradition of photography, in which the focus of the attention is on scrutinizing the still image, to poetry. Yet, unlike photography, the elements in a room can be felt, smelt, heard, and even tasted, through description.

Elisa Taber reviews A Box of Crazy Toys by Peter Dellolio.

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The Worst of Architects: Reconsidering Borges’ “Library of Babel” published 08/10/2018

The honeycomb is a central motif in Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality, Jonathan Basile’s thought-provoking new meditation on the classic Borges short story, wherein endlessly repeating hexagons constitute the basic architectural units of a universal library, the cells in which all possible books are shelved—including this one. Products of pure permutation, articulated in the abstract logic of formal systems in which the names of things are arbitrarily assigned, these books are “a reminder of the indifference of all expression” to such quaint priorities as personal intention or private meaning: a kind of blasphemy aimed at a gospel of originality that prefers the worst of architects to the best of bees. “It was self-evident to the librarians in the Library of Babel,” writes Basile, “that they could never create an original work; instead they hoped to discover the truth in the prefabricated texts they considered divine.”

Daniel Elkind reviews Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality by Jonathan Basile.

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