:: Nonfiction archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

Paul Krugman’s Philosophy of Economics, and What It Should Be published 14/09/2014

Reflexivity is everywhere: the entire monetary economy is based on reflexive expectations: think about everyone’s willingness to accept pieces of paper in exchange for goods and services. I accept your paper money because I expect everyone else will accept it, and every one else will because they believe everyone else will. The reality of money is the product of reflexive expectations. Fortunately the paper money bubble bursts only in times of hyperinflation. How much inflation is needed for the breakdown to occur? That is a matter of uncertainty. It depends on, among other things history, and people’s knowledge of that history. But it can also break down for reasons no one ever expected (consider the scenario of The Walking Dead).

Alex Rosenberg continues his thinking about Paul Krugman.

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Ignorance of philosophy, identity politics, and the cosmopolitan ideal published 13/09/2014

I hope we can remember that the neoliberal view of education is pernicious, even when it’s enlisted on behalf of the consumer demands of minorities. More importantly, the cosmopolitan impulse, which was central to the Enlightenment (and present in attenuated forms even in antiquity, especially the Stoics, as I’ve learned from my colleague Martha Nussbaum), should not be given up lightly, especially not by philosophers. Marxists, who mounted the first systematic critique of the purportedly neutral “standpoint” which prior philosophy claimed to occupy, did not abandon this impulse–their critique was in its service.

Brian Leiter goes all Dark Knight on some Jokers in Philosophy’s Arkham Asylum.

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Mapping Space in Fiction: Joseph Frank and the Idea of Spatial Form published 11/09/2014

The reader goes round and round in a labyrinth which, however, is built with a delicate symmetry. As if one was moving in a hall of mirrors, disparate themes are remembered and forgotten, objects and motifs arise and fade into the text at precise intervals that hint at a narrative design barely grasped yet deeply felt.

By Aashish Kaul.

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Synaptic (R)Evolutions: Explorations In Sound And Consciousness published 02/09/2014

Growing up me and my circle of friends were very influenced by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. The first and most obvious way was in a literary sense, but also very largely for their theories and ideas. At a very young age we were obsessed with the notion of breaking down as much societal conditioning as possible and pursued these ends mostly via art, drugs, and meditation. Fast forward years later and I would finally construct my very own dreamachine, and also thanks to technology I would have even easier access to online computer generated dreamachines.

Wayne Mason documents his own practices of entering ‘inner space’ via the use of dreamachines and binaural audio programs.

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chasing mirages: Anaïs Nin’s unexpurgated diaries published 01/09/2014

“Today I am quietly sad. Mirages. Mirages.” Nin uses the word “mirages” throughout her diary as a kind of monastic chant, a linguistic rolling of prayer beads to ease the pain of her reality via ablution of the now mere “illusionary.” The idea of the mirage becomes an escape for Nin, so the world doesn’t have to be real when she doesn’t want it to be.

Callie Hitchcock on the dream and the mirage in Mirages: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1939-1947.

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Shop and Awe published 27/08/2014

I wasn’t the one smashing windows. I just watched as others did. With the other cameraphone spectators I stood beneath a windswept dystopia of sky-high brand names and chain stores while kids in hoods and balaclavas roamed around raiding and looting and stealing. Noisy spectrum interference in the urban fabric, outliers lost among the CCTV and advertising semaphore. Prisoners of our new panopticons. This was the consumer culture raised to the level of violent orgy. This was the twenty-first-century city. This was Britain, 2011.

Dale Lately on shopping, city riots and Manchester.

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After Revolution: A Review of Antoine Volodine’s Writers published 21/08/2014

Like the fictitious novels penned by one of his writer-characters in the newly translated Writers, Volodine’s books consist of “dark scenes, oscillation between political and mystical spheres, biting humor, nested story lines, tangled interior worlds, portrayal of the drift towards madness or death.” And Volodine’s books present a further difficulty for summary: they belong to a fictional-yet-real literary movement named (by Volodine) “post-exoticism.”

Diana George on Antoine Volodine‘s Writers.

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Pataphysics is dead serious published 19/08/2014

Can a man who asks for a toothpick on his deathbed be serious? Can a College which has Committees for Hirsutism and Pogonotrophy or a calendar with names of months such as Phallus (Phalle) or Pshit (merdre) , and whose members devote a large amount of time to spoonerisms and to Oulipo games such as writing novels without the letter “e”, be really serious? Indeed, His Magnificence Irénée-Louis Sandomir, the founder and first Vice-Curator of the College, says in his Opus Pataphysicum: “Doesn’t serious mean anti-pataphysical”? And the College’s specialist of spoonerisms, the Regent Luc Etienne formulated the main axiom:”The real pataphysician takes nothing seriously, except ‘Pataphysics, which consists in taking nothing seriously”, and added a corollary: “‘Pataphysics consisting in taking nothing seriously, the true Pataphysician cannot take anything seriously, not even ‘Pataphysics”.

Pascal Engel on the seriousness of Pataphysics.

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Explanatory Models: The Migrant Poetry of Athena Farrokhzad and Yahya Hassan published 18/08/2014

It has been a long time since Western governments feared poets. Yet as antagonism toward immigrants grows all over Europe and extremist rhetoric merges disenchanted populism with outright racism, two immensely popular poetry collections – one Swedish and one Danish – have garnered significant controversy for their depictions of the immigrant experience, earning their authors the kind of publicity usually reserved for polemicists and politicians.

Agri Ismaïl on the migrant poetry of Athena Farrokhzad and Yahya Hassan.

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The Sauna King published 13/08/2014

We’re in search of moonshine. I’m in a car with Diego Vidart, a Uruguayan photographer, and Kristian Helgesen, a Norwegian photographer. We’re heading from Helsinki to Kitee, a small town among the woods and lakes on the Finnish-Russian border, somewhere northeast of St Petersburg. The organizers of the Montevideo Biennale of Photography want us to install an exhibition ‘to explore the narrative limits of photography.’ To do this Diego has created an alter-ego, Esko Tikanmäki, son of a Finnish Tango musician, Matti Tikanmäki. We aim to gather ‘evidence’ to make the existence of Esko Tikanmaki Portogales real. And to do that we want to go to the village where Esko’s father died, drunk on pontika, the Finnish version of moonshine.

Des Barry recalls his travels to the black saunas of Finland, and the eclectic characters he encounters on the way.

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