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

A House Divided published 01/10/2014


Formally, Permission attempts to be a modern twist on the monologic epistolary novel, the strictly one-sided communication between a correspondent and a silent – in this case, non-responsive – recipient. The twist is that Chrostowska claims that the entire enterprise has been a real-life experiment; that she actually sent these emails under the disguise of a pseudonym to an unnamed individual.

Terry Pitts explores S.D. Chrostowska, Permission: A Novel.

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“Not Just Self- but Social-Realization”: On John Cage’s “Diary” published 25/09/2014

The randomized program of John Cage’s “Diary” attempts, to use Deleuzian phrasing, becoming-zero, becoming-hole. What “Diary” stages is a way to live in silence, to listen and respond, to produce affect through exteriority, and locate the otherness within the self by putting one in conversation not only with other humans but with non-humanness, the flips of coins, chance operations. Cage writes: “Home begins outside. Shelter’s inside.” The chance-determined numbers that provide the program of the “Diary” function as a way out of that shelter, dropped breadcrumbs back to the home of the world.

Chris Robinson on John Cage‘s “Diary”

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Cadaqués published 19/09/2014

The city we do not know confronts us as impenetrably as a geometric volume, I think, though I know it isn’t true; as soon as the exterior assaults us we withdraw to the safety of classifications: at the very least, we know the meaning of the shifting streetlights, the purpose of the sidewalks, the words bar and café are the same the world over. After a certain age, perceptions seem to serve no purpose at all but to divest the exterior of autonomy with relation to its self-definition.

By Adrian West.

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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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