:: Essays

The Negative Dialectics of Social Distancing published 26/03/2020

Today, in the middle of the global pandemic of COVID-19, we find another opportunity for negative dialectical thinking in the phrase “social distancing.” Offered as a recommendation for how best to hinder the spread of the virus, social distancing is, on the surface, a simple synonym of avoidance, isolation, or quarantining. If we, as individuals, limit our exposure to other bodies, then the chances of spreading the virus will decrease. Seems simple enough. But, as with so many phrases, this one has a lot lurking beneath the surface. Negative dialectical thinking plumbs the depths.

By Will Daddario.

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Limited Resources: A Recycling Story published 23/03/2020

Like most health-conscious alternatives, it’s not all couscous and post-sky current colors. It seems like they’re making it increasingly difficult to recycle. It takes a lot of time and burns a lot of energy. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it, especially when everyone says it’s ridiculous, and since half of what we wastrel warriors painstakingly manage to recycle supposedly winds up in Holocaust-like ashtrays anyways.

A lot of people have given up their human right to recycle fight, but our back slinging silver scrapping guerilla army’s numbers remain strong.

By Charles J. March III.

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The Replicant Real, Part II published 17/03/2020

In a culture on the brink of absolute psychosis, the voodoo-magic of a weaponized peace is cantilevered over the abyss of nowhere is safe. It’s a devastating exchange of intolerable sadness and despair, for the mask of hysteria is normalized at the very limits of what it is to be human, or human as we’ve known it.

Part II of “The Replicant Real,” an essay by Jeff Wood.

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The Replicant Real published 03/03/2020

“I think I swallowed a bug,” Brando announces. He had. And I had. There was no difference, in those looping late-night moments, between what was happening on the screen behind my eyelids or in front of them. Apocalypse Now had crossed the blood brain barrier of the symbolic and fictional real, just as The Day After had done, and Blade Runner would eventually do in the looping future of itself that has lasted until precisely now.

In the first installment of a two-part essay, Jeff Wood considers how we arrived at our hall-of-mirrors world through an exploration of film and television.

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In the Basement of the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum published 25/02/2020

Later, at the restaurant beside the stream the women removed their head scarves.
“It’s safe here to do this. The owner supports us. There are many places like this in Tehran,” Mahsa said.
She spoke about the so-called “White Wednesdays” sparked by Masih Alinejad, where women post Instagrams of themselves in public places without head scarves, and how things had moved beyond that now so that in certain public parks and even bazaars this is tolerated, not just on Wednesdays.
Then she said: “I would normally remove mine here in this restaurant but I’m not going to because you’re here and I don’t want to be some stereotype for you.”

By Nicholas Rombes.

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Talking Lucy Ives’ The Hermit published 24/02/2020

OK. Back to what we were imagining. Imagine that you, the professor, decides to say something that isn’t about The Hermit by Lucy Ives, just to see if student X will continue to write in her notebook. For instance, what if you, the professor, decides to describe to the class student X taking notes as if it was part of the lecture.


you look at student X, making notes, and you say, “She draws a line.” Perhaps, then, you describe her appearance: “She wears pale pink. She’s sickening in her youth, mouth an overripe strawberry and big, plain teeth.”

By Adam Golaski.

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The city alight published 12/02/2020

In Paris, many praise the architectural ingenuity of Georges-Eugène Haussmann for providing the city with its iconic beauty in the 1800’s. We are encouraged to marvel at the uniformity, the rows of windows and sandstone fronts. It is a source of pride for the Parisian and something we are expected to be thankful for.

The history behind the transformation of Paris, however, is a violent one. Haussmann, working with Napoleon III, ran grand boulevards through shanty towns, evicting the residents outside of the city he envisaged—beyond the outer circle. Haussmann was selective about who he unified and at best careless about those who suffered as a result. Working class areas were divided to make it easier for the military to quell uprisings. ‘Clean water and fresh air’, was the project sold to the people; though not without thousands of them being displaced.

By Joshua Kepreotis.

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Mayo-Optimism: Thinking Blackness and the Philosophy of Food published 03/02/2020

There is no easy emancipatory trick in mayonnaise. It is not that its resistance to spatiotemporal solid/liquid binaries immediately allows a means of thinking outside the violence of American aesthetics and production modes. But its ability to suggest otherwise, without the framework of American culinary logic, is the possibility of a conceptual refuge. As Fred Moten says about something else, ‘It cannot be denied that [mayonnaise] is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that [mayonnaise] is a place of enlightenment.’

By Elliot C. Mason.

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Stiegler’s Memory: Tertiary Retention and Temporal Objects published 23/01/2020

The fact that we can experience one temporal object a multitude of times implies that the temporal object is not merely remembered through primary retention; in fact, the very idea of perceiving the exact same temporal object numerous times implies some kind of technical reproduction e.g. a recording device (either analogue or digital). Thus, Stiegler’s main line of argument suggests that as we can experience a melody multiple times, and our experience of that melody changes depending on the multitude of times we experience it, we must therefore have a form of technical retention, or ‘tertiary retention’ in which the repeatability of a temporal object becomes possible. Our primary retention is also therefore dependant on both the secondary and tertiary forms of retention.

By Matt Bluemink.

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Time Crises published 15/01/2020

One doesn’t scroll through a book, eyes in fixed in roughly the same place, but instead scans across, down, and across, turning the page when appropriate. Unlike a feed, the content isn’t infinitely regenerated, but has a discrete (if large) quantity: you’re heading towards an ending. At issue is two experiences of time, one associated with codex and one with the refreshing web page. The first involves racing forward into the future, awareness of a coming end pulling you forward and a visible, easily accessible past behind you in the form of surrounding text and turned pages. The second involves a continuous present, the narrow aperture of the screen, the past erased with a single algorithmically-generated refresh. Less the experience of moving into the future than the future cascading into the static now.

By Andrew Eckholm.

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