:: Essays

The Road to Grenfell Tower published 24/06/2017

The Road to Grenfell Tower

The tenants at Grenfell Tower saw the danger, noted it when they walked into their building at night, and reported it – just like the tenants in the building that collapsed in Harlem more than 20 years before. And, just like the tenants in Harlem, they understood that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord.”

By Linda Mannheim.

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Saturday’s Alright For Dancing published 15/06/2017

From a sociological point of view, it’s almost impossible to imagine SNF emerging onto the screen today. For starters, there would be concerns that the final scene, where Stephanie lets Tony into her flat a few hours after he’s tried to rape her, would provoke a feminist backlash. Given current concerns about STDs the depiction of casual sex in the film’s pre-AIDS age would be difficult today, too, despite that fact that modern society is not exactly a casual shag-free zone (vide Grindr and Tindr). Additionally, the racism directed by Tony’s friends towards Puerto Ricans would cause problems, as would a homophobic incident in the film when a couple of gays are hassled on the street. Such features would be seen as giving aid and comfort to Trump-supporter populism, a criticism which avoids confronting the uncomfortable point that condemnatory populist views on racial and sexual matters may be more widespread than cultural and political commentators are prepared to admit. Yet such well-intentioned attitudes of metropolitan fear would be a corporate loss because they fail to face up to harsh realities which have to be faced down.

Nicky Charlish revisits Saturday Night Fever.

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The Articulate Cruelty of Men published

The Articulate Cruelty of Men

It has become my habit to read for the body of work, to regard each individual narrative as part of a larger whole and to engage in a concentrated – often chronological – reading of one author’s oeuvre. This approach seeks out the points of connection between each book and in these connections discovers a consolidation of allusion and theme, a slow accretion of meaning, tone, atmosphere. In Jones’s case this has led me to focus on love and violence, the hold of place and the desire to break free of it.

By Anna MacDonald.

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Helafizzles published 11/06/2017

Short story idea when watching Persona, but now it is gone. I think it had to do with people I know.

I hope when you are old you’ll read a Henry James novel and we will talk about it and I’ll remember that angry man I used to be, who thought this thought, and I’ll wonder, Why? Why, you mad fool, did you hope for something like this when old?

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by social media.

Nervous, I once asked Don DeLillo if kids had taunted him, calling him “Don Dildo.”

When I cry, my eyes burn. Does this happen to you?

Most people cheat on their lovers with another not because the other shines so bright, but because the lover dims. The heart wants twilight.

By Greg Gerke.

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Pulp Friction published 09/06/2017

Corporate America, having obliterated its own soul, proceeded to cast its shadow across Hollywood and the media in general in its pursuit of global dominance. Delivering a coup de grace to aspirational democracy was achieved by branding dissenting voices as persons threatening national security. Macro-America, armed to the teeth…and with Hollywood’s help…was about to blockbuster the world into creating new enemies to replace the ghosts of the fallen demigods of the Soviet era… America had reached the point where there was no war it didn’t like…its righteousness, marching onwards in jack-boots, was now ready to stomp on those ‘unrealistic motherfuckers’ anywhere in the world they found them and relieve them of their lives and assets.

Denis A Conroy draws some contemporary political lessons from Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

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Wipe it Clean – the Metaphysics of Surface in the Twentieth Century Russian Novel published 06/06/2017

The vanishing of Soviet power at the end of the century did nothing to undo the primacy of the image. Indeed, the first decades of post-Soviet Russia coincided with a period of intense image-proliferation. Never have citizens been bombarded by so much surface: broadcast into their living rooms, carried in their hands. Yet the Russian state has proved itself proficient at keeping a firm grip on the sources of these images. We all live in a world of surfaces, today. In Russia, the state retains a central role in their manipulation and distribution.

By Thomas Evans.

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Vestibular Disturbance published 04/06/2017

A few years ago in the Louvre’s Salle Rembrandt, though, I heard an old man softly crying as he sat before Bathsheba at Her Bath. Though it felt sinful to listen, listen I did. (It was Graham Greene, I believe, who witnessed a mother at her son’s deathbed and realized without enough shame that he was taking notes on the scene.) My French was just good enough, and the old man’s whisper was just loud enough, that I understood him when he told his granddaughter— who had managed to get him there despite his obvious grave illness — that he was crying because it was the last time he would see his favorite painting.

The entire museum was eerily empty that day in a way that I have not seen before or since, and I left them alone. When I returned an hour or so later to gaze at Bathsheba myself, the old man and the young woman were only just leaving and his face was still wet.

By Elise Blackwell.

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The Alien That Therefore I Am published 02/06/2017

Organic life was born as the contingent effect of a confluence of material causes that are rationally intelligible without thereby implying an intrinsically meaningful raison d’être . David, an android named after the Michelangelo sculpture, is told by Weyland, his creator, to seek out a different answer to creation concealed beyond the Copernican sun of our galaxy. What David finds is not our alien origins, as the film suggests, but an allegory of the alienation constitutive of subjectivity.

Matt Ossias reflects on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and subjectivity.

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The Goldfish and the Whale: Honouring J. M. Coetzee published 31/05/2017

Coetzee’s presence at the ceremony failed to produce widespread euphoria. In fact, as I glanced around at the crowd of faces behind and alongside me, I struggled to detect a common interest or excitement. When I murmured something imbecilic like, “Wow, it’s Coetzee” to my neighbours, I was met with querying looks and awkward fidgeting.

By Shannon Burns.

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an introduction to politics of/as sorcery published 21/05/2017

Postmodernism is not ‘suspicious’ of empirical evidence. It is alert to the ways in which evidence is marshalled in service of particular sets of arguments and the way that ‘common sense’ ideas are invoked in order to foster and perpetuate particular formations of knowledge such that they become regimes of truth. Postmodernists, just like everyone else, use evidence to determine the credibility of a series of knowledge claims while maintaining fidelity to the assumption that credibility is contingent and conditional on a particular historical, social, and political context (as is the idea that ‘evidence’ is the determinant of credibility). As post-structural theorist Laura Shepherd points out: “one can be ‘suspicious’ of Fact as a regime of truth and still have grounds to criticise the Trump administration for peddling outright blatant lies because they are lies within the total structure of meaning-in-use that we take to be our current reality.”

Adam Kingsmith on Esoteric Politics.

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