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

the slowdown perspective published 19/12/2014

New centers are created out of peripheries. New peripheries face centers with fresh ambition. The colonizer and colonized morph into new entities. The purchase of cultural capital, such as indigenous medicine, offers yet new doors into industrial modernity. The extension of the project of late capitalism comes to ride on the shifting position-alities and strategic moves of those that carry such cultural capital.

Atreyee Majumder analyses the representations of postcolonial capital accumulation in James Cameron’s Avatar.

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The Body and the Gaze: On Jacques Rancière’s Intervals of Cinema published 16/12/2014

It is the spectator, as ever, who matters to Rancière; he argues that it is still the case that art is conceived as being either a transmission of knowledge from a pedagogical artist to a spectator, thus creating a hierarchical relation between artist and spectator, or, on the contrary, an attempt to bring the spectator into the same position as the artist, thus denying her freedom precisely as a spectator. Rancière instead insists that the criticism of culture must instead create a position of the emancipated spectator, who is creating her own work in defiance of the hierarchical relations by which art has usually been defined.

Tristan Burke on Jacques Rancière‘s The Intervals of Cinema.

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Deep subjectivity: immaterial transactions of bodiless data published 12/12/2014

This new kind of aesthetics functions not so much as to create dutiful subjects of the internet ecology but to render subjectivity into a commodity. The internet thus exhibits all the signs of the capitalist hegemony that served as the background for the emergence of the first wave of Enlightenment aesthetic philosophy, paradoxically more or less explicit in its capitalist aims.

TheLitCritGuy on the parallels between enlightenment philosophy and net aesthetics.

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beautiful losers published 11/12/2014

To wring success from failure, and printed beauty from online ephemera, and then to strike the balance between weightless comedy and surprising scholarly depth: let’s just say The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure does more than a book of humour is required to do. Taken as a whole, it brings to mind the spontaneous pleasure of a barstool conversation with an overeducated but unpredictable, boozy and boisterous, wholly unpretentious friend.

Julian Hanna on C. D. Rose‘s The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure.

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More Than That: Contemporary Complexity in Mathias Énard’s Street of Thieves published 08/12/2014

Mathias Énard is a writer whose literary identity and spirit seem unbounded. Deep knowledge of the past and presentiments of the future inform his perspectives and insights into the present. With Street of Thieves, he’s written an accessible novel of ideas and politics, propelled by longing for love and freedom.

Lee Klein on Mathias Énard‘s Street of Thieves.

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Grave Desire published 06/12/2014

Simone de Beauvoir in Force of Circumstance of 1963 writes of a night with Sartre, Bost, and Giacometti at the Golfe Restaurant where the sculpturer of Godot’s tree told the story of Sergeant Bertrand the nineteenth-century necrophiliac. The rest of the evening was spent addressing the issue of how one judges obscene unprecedented crimes. Finbow’s great book is an open invitation to join that essential conversation. Why essential? The world has become an inventory of such obscene unprecedented crimes. What Finbow makes us wonder is why we’ve stopped the conversation. This astonishing silence is our putrid wound.

Richard Marshall reviews Steve Finbow‘s Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necophilia.

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A Review of Ned Beauman’s “very internety” thriller Glow published 05/12/2014

Works by novelists such as Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace all predate ubiquitous internet use, but they share some qualities that are commonly identified as “internety”: they are digressive, they are baggy, they are non-linear and often confusing, they mix registers and tones and slangs and technical information, they mess with space and time. Ned Beauman is clearly influenced by all these authors. He shares their interest in the novel’s capacity for encyclopedic reference.

Timothy Kennett on Ned Beauman‘s Glow.

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Sex, Style, and Sewage Farms: Winifred Holtby and Virginia Woolf published 02/12/2014

Winifred Holtby’s novels offer us not the “luminous halo” of consciousness, but the materiality Virginia Woolf rejected as lifeless; to Woolf’s rhetorical question “Must novels be like this?” Holtby implicitly replies that at any rate they can be like this and still convey something important.

Rohan Maitzen on the literary relationship between and legacy of Winifred Holtby and Virginia Woolf.

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Prediction and the flagpole published 29/11/2014

The study of economics is faced with this problem – let’s call it the flagpole problem (I’m borrowing it from the philosopher Julian Reiss) – all the time. The IMF says there is an association between austerity and lower growth. Yet a range of other phenomena were associated with both austerity and lower growth during the study period. Interest rates were at or near zero. The financial system was broken. Households had high levels of debt.

Emran Mian on economic prediction.

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“weird sex under the pier” published 28/11/2014

What fun we had at The Colony, talking books and writers, loving words and laughter we both got on well. Each month we both got up and did The Colony Showtime along with Alabama 3, The Magic Numbers and Badly Drawn Boy; the only night where Shane McGowan paid to sing. I thought it wouldn’t be long ‘til Salena was discovered by the rest of the world, such talent and beauty, inside and out rarely go together and a great natural performer.

Sophie Parkin on Salena Godden‘s books of poetry and autobiography.

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