:: Reviews

Chancing Repetition published 12/09/2017

There is something unmistakable about a double take: that sudden claim of interest in an object initially clocked without much ado—a face peripherally scanned, maybe a voice overheard, one almost too familiar to be attended at first. The ordinary thing become peculiar, significant. An uncanny kind of recognition; an awkward one, tentative or unreliable, a misrecognition, even. Perhaps it was the face of someone you had hoped to see, or feared you might. In any case, we double take when we suspect something is worth a second look, however casual, patient, or risky. Voluntarily or not, we enquire further.

Christian Coppa reviews ‘A Certain Sense of Order’ by tick tock.

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Foucault Now published 11/09/2017

More than thirty years since his death, the self-proclaimed “historian of the present” falls ever farther from our present and farther from the latest work in the eras he studied. What, then, explains Foucault’s continuing influence, not just on academics nursing some intellectual hangover from drinking the koolaid of too much high theory during the disco era, but on some of our most important social critics, such as Judith Butler?

Peter Gratton looks at the enduring appeal of Michel Foucault.

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At Home in Hell: a review of Equipment for Living by Michael Robbins published 05/09/2017

At Home in Hell: A review of Equipment for Living by Michael Robbins

Robbins subscribes to the belief that all art—even the most blatantly commoditised art of pop music—“exposes the contradictions of the present dispensation and thus preserves the yearning for the other better world that can be achieved only by negating the existing one”. For Robbins, it’s wrong to say that all these films and songs and novels and poems and pictures simply make capitalism more beautiful. Rather, they make it more bearable by promising something else beyond the logic of exchange.

James Draney reviews Equipment for Living by Michael Robbins.

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Back To The Real AI published 14/08/2017

There’s no demand for AI with common sense. We seem to like our AI supersmart and dumb. None of our current billion dollar research projects into AI are looking to create fully intelligent AI with common sense. According to Levensque, we’re creating systems that can deal with stable, normal circumstances but which are not able to deal with the unexpected. Levensque is quietly alarmed: ‘ … if this is the future of AI, we need to be careful that these systems are not given the autonomy appropriate only for agents of common sense.’ Automation poses political questions rather than technological ones for the AI community.

Richard Marshall reviews Hector J Levesque‘s Common Sense, The Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI.

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Endless published 27/07/2017

His Endless House was a shock proof shelter, like the rock-shaped formations of his Magic Architecture, rooted in primal regression but rather than being a hypersexualised elastic expression like Paris Endless the new version was rather ‘a palpable luxury of warm soft glowing atmospheres of multimedia affections.’ Kiesler exploded space creating endlessness through illusions that ‘sweep past the boundaries’ dwelling in a solid protective shell.

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen J Phillips on Frederick Kiesler.

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Men and Women Who Will Not Grow Up published 25/07/2017

The novel’s topography is unmistakably London, though it’s difficult to pin down. The Bacchus Bar where the bohemian characters gather is reminiscent of Soho; the nearby school less so. There are echoes of Peter Ackroyd’s theory that holds the place itself, with its demands for sacrificial offerings, responsible for the crimes it attracts. Kersh, however, puts emphasis on ‘a certain midnight’ rather than the place, estimating the balance of probabilities thus: ‘God, as a gentleman, tries to think well of the watchful enemy, but Evil knows all the tricks.’

Anna Aslanyan reviews the reissue of Gerald Kersh‘s Prelude to a Certain Midnight.

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Male Violence, God and the G20: Abraumhalde by Elfriede Jelinek published 20/07/2017


What seasoned Swiss director Simone Blattner did with Abraumhalde in the Kammerspiele Bonn is particularly interesting. Blattner cut up the usual monologue into six voices: five men and one woman. With a remarkably clear eye, Blattner made explicit what is sometimes only implicit in Jelinek.

Marcel Inhoff reviews a performance of Abraumhalde by Elfriede Jelinek.

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The Wandering Path: a Review of Seed by Joanna Walsh published 18/07/2017

Engagement with the natural world is a key part of Seed, which is at once slightly odd and highly relevant. We engage with raw nature less than we used to, especially those of us who grew up before the internet. Also, this is a digital book, disembodied, not an object made of natural materials that can be touched, smelled, and experienced directly through the senses. So while there seems to be a certain nostalgia for the pre-digital world, it is paradoxically expressed in a shiny, postlapsarian, Google-labbed form.

Julian Hanna reviews Seed by Joanna Walsh.

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Vanguard Collectibles: Isabel Waidner’s Gaudy Bauble published 13/07/2017

gaudy bauble review

Gaudy Bauble is what happens when the margins/marginalised suddenly decide to chew on the centre by means of an avant-garde smouldering with differences in language and sexuality – the uselessness and toxicity of binaries as mechanisms of definition are, once again, gleefully exposed.

MH reviews Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner.

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‘This is the third millennium, everything is permitted’ published 11/07/2017

What Despentes means for me will not be the same as what she means for other readers – an obvious point, but the potential gap between the experiences of readers is so large here that it needs to be highlighted. Yet the back of my proof copy of Vernon Subutex I displays reviews and taglines suggesting a universal audience instead: ‘Who is Vernon Subutex? […] a mirror who reflects us all’.

Oscar Farley reviews Virginie Despentes‘s Vernon Subutex I.

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