:: Reviews

The New Spoilt published 22/09/2017

Being raised in gentrified York for a while I have known families like this, and parties like these. When individual psychopathy, stoked by rural isolation, becomes group psychopathy. The most terrifying aspect of it all is that you are simply not surprised by such events. As you know that hidden behind the Agas, under the lavish carpets, and festering in the drinks cabinet is a very English savagery waiting to spring forth, with no self-awareness. Goddard describes English savagery in 2017 with wit, subtle insight, and compelling accuracy. Dostoevskian in scope, psychoanalytical in depth, Nature and Necessity is grimly addictive. I found myself both savouring, and in awe of many lines that are almost surgical in their insight.

Guy Mankowski reviews Tariq Goddard‘s Nature and Necessity.

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Mister P. Goes To Town: A review of Making It by Norman Podhoretz published 20/09/2017

After Podhoretz had finished Making It, he sent it off to his Columbia professor, Lionel Trilling. Trilling—like most of the other Family members who read the manuscript—advised Podhoretz to throw it away. Trilling was worried that his former student had been too frank about his hunger for worldly acclaim. It made no difference how good the writer was: anyone who admitted so casually to craving attention, envy, and a high salary would be scorned out of their profession.

Jackson Arn reviews Making It by Norman Podhoretz.

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The Vivid Resurrection of a Post-Punk Literary Icon published 19/09/2017

After Kathy Acker engenders a powerful desire to read (or reread) all of Acker’s work in the light of Kraus’s revelations of the connection between Acker’s lived life with the art that emerged from it. Not that it’s necessary to have read Acker before reading this biography – hopefully Kraus’s book will help new readers find the work.

Des Barry reviews After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus.

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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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