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

Sunday Rationalism published 30/01/2015

Many so-called postmoderns found their way back to Kant one way or another, and Châtelet fits with a certain ‘90s moment in that regard too. But the result is simply too extravagant to be commensurate with the Grandma Simpleton Kantianisms of yesteryear. Châtelet’s commitment to autonomy is much more Turbo. Deleuze thought much of Foucault’s ‘diabolical sense of humor’, which he linked to an ontological seriousness in Foucault’s work. This same union is at work in their generational confrere. The ‘Sunday rationalism’ that Châtelet skewers is a rationalism born of boredom. The real scandal is that thought would be a matter of leisure time, and not work, not life as such. Aghast at this scene, Châtelet seeks a rationalism of the everyday, of the plainly quotidian rather than the consumerist daily.

Knox Peden reviews Gilles Châtelet’s To Live and Think Like Pigs.

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Bullet Points: A review of The Missing Pieces by Henri Lefebvre published 28/01/2015

The Missing Pieces

The complexity of Lefebvre’s poem is belied by the simplicity of his project. Lefebvre provides no index, no table of “missing” contents; the organisational principles of the poem must be inferred (or not). Lefebvre’s poem characterises its author as one who knows loss, who attends to loss—and perhaps to everything—better than we do, one who has been remade by his attendance upon perdition and un-making.

Daniel Bosch on The Missing Pieces by Henri Lefebvre.

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Infinite Fictions published 23/01/2015

Dungeness

These are the only serious questions for readers and writers now. Winters’ sense of yearning running through all his essays here is an immense inquietude. He’s nailed the portable solitude of reading, its source in the noise of the universe’s silence.

Richard Marshall reviews David WintersInfinite Fictions.

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The Age Of The Crisis Of Man published 18/01/2015

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There are TV sets in every room and the grim politics of this techno-human relationship is quickly established. Greif makes clear that Yoyodyne aerospace and Republicanism grow up side by side. What Pynchon starts to articulate is a creepy, X-Filey sense that technology is draining us away.

Richard Marshall reviews Mark Greif‘s The Age of the Crisis of Man.

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Marie NDiaye’s Lost Souls published 16/01/2015

It’s a truism that terrible or unpleasant things, when they take their place in a work of art, can afford readers and viewers great pleasure or enjoyment. That which is most feared in life may be most welcome in literature. As Aristotle says, “we enjoy looking at the most accurate representations of things which in themselves we find painful to see, such as the forms of the lowest animals and of corpses.” The meaning of Marie NDiaye’s writings seems to stand in close relation to this principle.

Jacob Siefring on Marie NDiaye‘s All My Friends and Self-Portrait in Green.

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Don’t Worry About the Future published 14/01/2015

One of the book’s truly thought-provoking themes is the tendency of gizmos to quickly go out of fashion. In “The Longhand Option”, Dinesh Allirajah’s satirical take on the future of writing, a granny coming to visit her family sends her luggage ahead. “The blimp contained one item of office equipment: a pen. There was also an electronic breadmaker – ‘That thing was an antique when she bought it,’ – Dill eventually managed to say – and sixteen bags of flour.” You sense that the breadmaker must have been bought new. As for the pen, it can be programmed to guide the user’s hand, yet fails to overcome that ancient, never-ageing condition, writer’s block.

Anna Aslanyan reviews Beta-Life (Martyn Amos and Ra Page eds.)

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Balzac’s Physiology of the Employee published 13/01/2015

Does being demoralized but self-aware save those of us who manage it? It must, to some degree. Balzac’s The Physiology of the Employee can be read by those who are not self-aware, and the reward of studying it can teach a despairing employee to recognize their despair as well as to locate allies in the annals of history.

P.T. Smith on Honoré de Balzac‘s The Physiology of the Employee.

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Are we electoral fundamentalists? published 05/01/2015

At the heart of Van Reybrouck’s book is a provocative contestation of the commonly held belief that “democracy” is synonymous with “elections.” Based on a comparative and historical analysis of democracy’s evolution from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance, the French and American Revolutions to present day, Van Reybrouck proposes a bi-representative system. Alongside elections, he says, we should re-introduce the classical Athenian practice of sortition, or the drawing of lots.

Claudia Chwalisz on David Van Reybrouck‘s Contre les élections.

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The Curious Legacies of the Brothers Grimm published 22/12/2014

There’s a sense of improvised sketching in them, as if the torso of some earlier attempt is being hinted at, some failed draft to get further. But that is just an illusion. The tales refuse the fixture of print, its authorities and policemen and prefer the threads and cobwebs of speech that become theophanies of an unwritten and ever-long tragedy fit for laughter and sacrifice. These are tales from the undercurrents of shamanic crazies, the terrifying anonymous oddness of women from the family tree of Sycorax.

Richard Marshall on Jack Zipes on the Brothers Grimm.

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“breeding and feeding” published

Tiffany views her role as a wife, devoid of a career, as a parallel to Stephen’s term for the ornithological lifestyle. She “breeds and feeds” now, after entering her thirties with a useless liberal arts degrees and a series of menial jobs. Marriage offers Tiff the promise of financial stability, above anything else. “Breeding and feeding” may not be such a pejorative. For Tiff, aside from economic freedom and the ability to read, think, and observe, her married life is comprised almost solely of unwanted sexual attention from an inexperienced and selfish sexual partner.

Patrick Disselhorst on Nell Zink‘s The Wallcreeper.

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