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

lana del rey’s lynchian noir published 18/04/2014

In Lynch’s ‘Inland Empire’ Nikki Grace is stabbed by a woman with a screwdriver after an affair and at the moment of death she fantasises narratives of being a successful movie star, of a haunted movie project where infidelity, retribution and violence continue to multiply an interior world. Throughout she is being watched by her terrifying double. Lana del Rey sings songs out of the dark shapes of such fantasies. There is a sense of performative action in all this. Her sound draws attention to itself as a performance so each song claims fidelity to their escapist hopes and leaves us with the same sense of dread that pervades Lynch’s worlds.

Richard Marshall on the eerie sound of Lana del Rey.

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Resnais, Giacometti and Seductive Maniera published 10/04/2014

According to Badiou being able to seduce women is also a reason for using conversational French for your philosophy. Again he cites Descartes: ‘ Such a varied and complete knowledge of all is to be found not in some aged pedant who has spent many years in contemplation but in a young princess whose beauty and youth call to mind one of the Graces rather than grey-eyed Minerva or any of the Muses.’ Badiou suggests that the French have been turning philosophy into a pick-up line ever since. ‘This intention will be repeated by all the notable French philosophers, who comprise a significant anthology: Rousseau, and also in his own way Auguste Compte, and then Sartre, as well as Lacan. All of them wished to be heard and admired by women and knew that they mustn’t be courted in Latin nor in the language of pedants.’

Richard Marshall on the attractions of Seductive Maniera.

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The Register of Candied Decay published


These three books have much in common. Each can be read through the lens of the parapornographic, and, each is voiced in Glenum’s ‘register of candied decay’. This register, which infects Pop Corpse, is also at the heart of Fatty XL’s desire to eat only ‘one nutrilett bar a day’ so she can lose weight. Bad, diet food is the ultimate horror here – predicated on an industry which sells addictive chemical junk in the place of real food. The excess and decadence in The Parapornographic Manifesto also takes place in this candied decay—the ultimacy of luxury is discovered equally in recreational murder and the pistils of a flower.

Laura Joyce reviews works by Carl-Michael Edenborg, Tytti Heikkinen and Lara Glenum.

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losers published 29/03/2014

How should we read? In circumstances where disasters are daily presented like a statement of accounts then the recommendation to read inattentively has appeal. Of course when Beckett did make the recommendation he read Proust as a writer on the prowl for laws and Kafka plain alarming. ‘Nothing is sure but emptiness and error,’ writes Beckett, ‘ … nothing but this idiotic race that every man seems condemned to engage in for no gain and which seems rather, as in Kafka, to be the effect of some divine curse.’ Readers crawl over their pages like across a burning globe, and our futile wheels turn in dying fires.

Richard Marshall reviews Brittain-Catlin’s Bleak Houses.

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Knot the bees! Woodrow, Deacon and the silence of sculpture published 21/03/2014


Bill Woodrow’s recent exhibition at the Royal Academy and Richard Deacon’s new exhibition at the Tate are events broached by a discussion between the two sculptors which took place on the 14th of February. During the discussion, Deacon spoke out against the title of William Tucker’s book The Language of Sculpture, intimating that this implied that sculpture is something which can be learnt and ‘spoken’ when in fact it is something which cannot be expressed. Both artists also spoke—what might seem on the surface paradoxically—about their interest in the idea of narrative; that narrative was something which was disdained by their teachers and by the sculptors immediately preceding them. These remarks, which shone through from their slightly awkward conversation, go a long way toward explicating how the two approach form and materials.

By Daniel Fraser.

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GDP published 16/03/2014

‘Acceptance of the new measure for this period [pre 1950] would involve a major reinterpretation of American history.’ US productivity would be shown to be lower than the UK in 1914, and growth of GDP was lower than the UK by 1929. In the 1970s Thatcher came to power on the back of a calculation of the GDP that showed the UK economy in crisis. But later recalculation showed that things weren’t as bad as had been originally thought.

Richard Marshall on Diane Coyle’s GDP.

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Borges’s funes the memorious published 09/03/2014

In 1887 John Langdon Down lectured on what he called ‘idiot savants’ . The film ‘Rain Man’ features a character with this syndrome. The film is based on Kim Peek who is said to have the most astonishing memory on earth. It was estimated that he knew the content of 12,000 books. He could read different pages of a book with different eyes. He read eight pages in 53 seconds and recalled 98% of what he’d read. He couldn’t filter. He had limited capacity to reason. Any problem not based on memory stumped him or proved difficult. He only read factual books. Multiple interpretation and ambiguity was avoided. He processed information literally. He ended talks around the world saying, ‘We are all different. You don’t have to be handicapped to be different. Treat other people like you would like to be treated and the world will be a better place.’

Richard Marshall reads Quiroga on Borges and Memory.

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Dancing With Bolivar published 06/03/2014

To suggest that Simon Bolivar is a controversial figure is not, in itself, controversial. Even in his own time, this was true. How things have changed. Today he is glorified as the messianic figure who freed Latin America from the Spanish conquistadors, who bravely traversed the most unaccommodating of terrains in the name of liberating his people – and to deny him this would be to lie about the place in Latin American history he certainly deserves, a history which loves its heroes.

By Rodge Glass.

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Stefan Zweig’s pity in a modern setting published 05/03/2014

A close friend of mine gave me Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity over the summer saying it was a book by a “writer’s writer”. Hackneyed as that may sound, I cannot think of a better way to describe Zweig’s hyperconscious prose. The novel destroyed me in the best way possible. I experienced the rare feeling of being taken almost against my will as a reader to a dark familiar place, a place consciously evaded.

Elias Tezapsidis on Stefan Zweig‘s Beware of Pity

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Waterloo fragments published 04/03/2014

I watch the old Eurostar terminal creep in as I walk to the last carriage of the train. Sometimes, when I arrive a bit late, and jump on the first carriage available, I even get to capture it through a slow tracking shot. When this happens it is as if I am watching an uncanny film, one in which the main haunting is my own arrival twelve years ago. I know it is a matter of time until I even catch myself walking down the abandoned platform, carrying only a small bag, looking scruffy and skinny and a bit happier than lately. It will be eerie and humbling, I know. ‘However long you’ve been here,’ the abandoned platform will say that day, ‘you will always be still arriving.’

By Fernando Sdrigotti.

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