:: Criticism archive ( click for articles pre-2006)

9 lives of class war published 29/11/2014

There are moments in hell when Dante’s wrath is provoked but kept under control. Similarly with Ray, his anger is controlled and just. In Hell God is Wrath and Vengeance and Dante learns to understand that in this context they are attributes of Divine Justice. Home is clear that the context of Ray’s life is a Hellish place and so his secularized version of anger and revenge amongst the cruel and exploitative toffs are to be understood as similarly just.

Richard Marshall reviews Stewart Home‘s The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones.

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Tony White’s Sinuous Traces published 22/11/2014

Missorts II is a parable about the underground republic of letters launched at a time when huge subterranean rivers of discontent and unrest roll. Anonymous marches, the international phenomenon of the Occupy movements, these are our brief eruptions but there is always the fear of state crackdown that means messages are coded, discrete and secret. Betrayals and misreadings hurt in this advanced state of suspicion. They happen at all levels.

Richard Marshall on Tony White‘s Missorts Volume II.

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Wittgenstein’s Radiator and Le Corbusier’s treacherous knot. published 15/11/2014

Airplanes in the first world war were all typically made out of wood. Wood, however, was exactly the treacherous-knot material that Le Corbusier feared. Metal, on the other hand, was thought less susceptible to error and so very soon after the first war planes were being made of metal. These early planes couldn’t actually fly but were deemed superior to the wooden ones that could because they represented error free reality. Metal collapsed the distinction between explanation and description. The price of this collapse, Hughes writes, ‘ … was flight itself.’ She asks the obvious question: ‘ If airplanes do not need to be able to fly, do explanations need to tell the truth?’

Richard Marshall on Francesca Hughes’s wondrous Architecture of Error.

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Turing-cops and cyborg cat-women published 04/11/2014

How should we approach these visions? To be sure, it isn’t easy to subject them to a sober academic analysis, and that’s the mounting difficulty that Noys must have faced and wrestled with as he was working on this book. If, to quote Elvis Costello, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” then what is it like to write about Nick Land? It’s challenging, no doubt. About as challenging as talking sense to “Turing-cops,” and persuading them that going on a “death-trip” might not be a good idea.

Carl Cederström reviews Benjamin Noys’ Malign Velocities.

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The Jester’s Banquet published 30/10/2014

Come on, people say. Doesn’t the guy have a point? He’s a working class lad from Essex — aren’t you all being a bit snobbish? Surely being a socialite of the MTV age doesn’t disqualify you from having an opinion, any more than being a binman does. So Brand’s wealthy and famous. So what. Maybe a lot of what he says is stupid, but his heart’s in the right place. The choice between Brand’s mashup of trickster myths and Chomsky quotes, and the machine politician who repeats speeches generated by committee, is not an appealing one. And in truth you can see why people get sick of differing variants of establishment authoritarian politics.

Max Dunbar reviews Russell Brand‘s Revolution.

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‘Harmless Eden’: Revisiting D. H. Lawrence’s Kangaroo published 28/10/2014

In the short story ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’ (1927), the writer sets out in the first paragraph ‘to make… a world of his own’ as the master of a small island. Lawrence, like Somers, fantasized about this kind of escape. But he also saw the perils. Soon – driven by his growing disenchantment with human society in any form – the man moves to an even smaller island. Before long he finds that even this island feels like ‘a suburb’ and he moves farther out to settle on a third, almost uninhabitable island; ‘a few acres of rock away in the north’. What started as a hopeful utopia ends badly, and he goes mad on his desolate rock, shouting: ‘The elements! The elements! You can’t win against the elements!’

Julian Hanna on D. H. Lawrence‘s Kangaroo.

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Tara Morgana published 26/10/2014

As ever, Holman is asking that we recognize those deeper, magical roots of writing that modern poetic literature has always recognized – think of Yeats, mystical Eliot, Ted Hughes. He’s working to unfreeze a secular cultural cringe that blushes embarrassment at the supernatural, mystical, occult elements and can’t engage with that vast content… Holman is working to receive occult forces where ‘… each dreamed text is a terma in the mind, treasure best left to be forgotten and then discovered anew.’

Richard Marshall reviews Paul Holman’s Tara Morgana.

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No North West published 25/10/2014

Down the line, after a stint mentoring the craft of a new generation of indie pop acts mostly centred around Scotland’s Postcard Records and a subaltern career delivering mail for the Post Office in London, rather than the dancefloor presence of Edwin Starr it is Edwyn Collins who has given Godard’s songs their second wind on this 2014 release, a significant recapturing and re-rendering of this Camden Town Banshees support set list (Collins himself re-recorded and largely owned ‘Holiday Hymn’ from this album as a Peel Session track for Orange Juice in 1981), both producing and releasing this clearly reverent album on his own AED Records.

Andrew Stevens enjoys Vic Godard‘s Northern Soul tribute 1979 NOW!

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About five o’clock on the sun published 12/10/2014

All truths are identical: Yablo says: ‘ mathematicians know a lot of truths; metaphysicians know a lot of others. These truths are identical if we go by truth-conditions , since they are true in the same cases: all of them.’ Truth conditions flatten out difference. They are insensitive. Hempels ‘All crows are black’ has the equivalent truth conditions of ‘All non-black things are non-crows.’ But it strikes us as wrong to say they have identical meanings. Aboutness nails the difference, suggests Yablo. ‘One is about crows, the other not.’ We should care about this aboutness feature because it is simply interesting, even if there was nothing else. But there is.

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen Yablo’s Aboutness.

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Nostalgia For An Age Yet To Come published 07/10/2014

Permanent crisis, or ‘exception as the norm’, is the standard operating procedure of capitalism. Think of 2001 and the State’s presentation of the war without end and injunctions in favour of eternal vigilance. The tape-loop footage of the aeroplanes crashing into the Twin Towers enforced a perception of events as occurring in a constant, non-immanent, anti-historical present, a repeated insult to be avenged. Violence without explanation, context, or comprehensible cause. Any dissension from the narrative of the Spectacle (no matter what its form and content) has become an effective invitation to annihilation, both projected (from ‘the enemy’) and in the vacuum of the deep silence of the anti-Spectacle.

In Jim Fearnley’s final installment for 3:AM’s Walter Benjamin series, he analyses the Theses on the Philosophy of History while critiquing the restrictive temporal compliances of the historical materialist imperative.

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