:: Essays

Lumpenproletariat. Writing Attack/Antisystem/Subliterature published 03/01/2017

These are properly “deconstructive texts” in the sense that they burlesque rather than conventionally critique: they occupy the very language of disenfranchisement that is otherwise employed to demonstrate that they do not really exist. There is nothing of a Foucauldian paradigm here: this is not some pretence to an authentic voice of the excluded, a critique of the history of reason from the POV of the madwoman in the attic. The truly subversive character of the sublit project is that it is first and foremost a “locus” of détourning action – a radical poetics – a tropism. While the theorisers of the recuperated avantgarde toil to contain and expropriate the thing they imagine subliterature to be, their grasp necessarily comes up empty: there’s nothing to grasp, in any case, but a hologram of their own transgressed image, which they are more than adept at attending to.

Louis Armand on the Sublit Project.

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Against Literature as System: D. Harlan Wilson’s Splatterschticks published 31/12/2016

It’s all fine and well for literature to pit itself against the world’s many political/social/economic systems, but what about literature as a system? Especially in the late-capitalist Western world where so much of what passes for “literature” is an institutionally approved & commercially successful model of public taste preserving the status quo? And especially in the wake of the digital revolution—the web and the social media—within whose celebrity culture fiction becomes increasingly normalised into a commodity system? What about literary experimentalism whose radicalism is deep-frozen, packaged and to be consumed after mild reheating?

David Vichnar on D Harlan Wilson.

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Adults’ Swim. published 30/12/2016

Sex is narration. A good fuck is nonlinear, and probably nascent of anachronic existence, but there is nothing one can say about “sex” without describing a narrative. Imagery, fantasy, the question of origin in one another’s gaze, the repetition of consent through every fantastical act — all of these are world narrative lines sutured to a personal element always already lacking being.

Bradley C. Bergan critiques that ‘ineffable something’ that philosophical and literary texts about sex strive to grasp, his essay concluding in an implosive narrative allegory of its own.

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Abstract Journalism published 23/12/2016

Song Machine is a paragon of today’s dominant form of narrative journalism, the longer stuff you can read in nonfiction books and magazines like The New Yorker, Wired, and The NY Times Sunday Magazine — what Robert Boynton called “The New New Journalism.” While Seabrook’s industry is less remunerative than pop music, no doubt, the two have more in common than you’d guess.

Trevor Quirk gets to grips with the new abstract journalism in John Seabrook‘s Song Machine.

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Best and Brightest – Trump’s Cabinet of Oligarchs published 21/12/2016

Trump's Cabinet

Trump’s cabinet has been called “bonkers”, “loathsome”, “white supremacist”, “a who’s who of really despicable people”, a group for which “pervasive Islamophobia [is] a central qualification”, “a cabinet of deplorables”, “a cabinet of billionaires”, and a bog of “swamp things”. They’ve also been referred to as “the great men and women who will be helping to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

By William Harris.

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Blame the Nerds! American Punditry Achieves Peak Stupid published 17/12/2016

The sad thing, and I think this is what makes Osterweil’s article truly awful, is that I’m pretty sure he knows that his article is bullshit. He speaks of “the queer, female, and nonwhite contingent that makes up the majority of gamers,” and then notes that “those communities of marginalized gamers have just as much claim to the subject position of the ‘nerd,’ as do queer shippers and comic-book geeks.” And yes they do; so why write an article accusing “nerds” (no qualifier or subset indicator in sight) of contributing to the rise of fascism? Here is a possible answer: An article entitled “Online Assholes Contributing to the Rise of Fascism” would not attract eyeballs to one’s online publication. Worse yet, it might even be true.

EJ Spode takes down bullshit punditry – hard.

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The Resistible Rise of Donald Trump published 12/12/2016

Like a human stingray, Trump stuns with insults and diverting hand gestures—but what shocks people is that Trump’s election victory, and the Brexit vote, are baskets of unexplainables; shocking events in a world of shocking events, generating fear and defying normal explanation. We see ourselves and our world reflected in a shocking mirror; afraid of what we’ve become, and what we’re becoming. So explaining Trump is our dilemma, one which leads us reconsider the past, and past shocks to established order; because the rise of Donald Trump mirrors the rebirth of obscure intellectual Herbert Spencer (1820—1903), who had some shocking ideas of his own.

Paul Walsh on the rise of Donald Trump, Spencer and misarchism

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Tributaries of Afrobeat/s published 30/11/2016

Before Kuti’s adoption by a growing number of hip hop stars, Stevie Wonder had called him “an incredible pioneer” to whom the music world is much indebted. Long before he passed on, Miles Davis regarded him as the future of music. Mos Def, on his part, likens him to Bob Marley, Rick James, ODB, Huey Newton and Duke Ellington. This particular characterisation of Kuti is most unlikely and awkward but probably makes sense from a marketing point of view, that is, in creating a niche for the problematic image Kuti crafted for himself.

By Sanya Osha.

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The Many Self-Reinventions of Toyo Ito published 22/11/2016

Ito’s design pointed ahead in two ways. On the one hand it realised the modernist principle of transparency, exposing certain structural elements, but it did so with a hint of contradiction, by advertising its content like a boutique window: the inside was brought out into the city, but it was also encased as a display, with a glassy façade that looks like one of Jeff Koon’s readymade vacuum cleaner installations. A kind of high street modernism, it disrupted the canon in a second way by estranging the controlled, homogenous rationality of the grid.

By William Harris.

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How To Win Arguments In The Post-Truth Era published 19/11/2016

As French playwright Jean Giraudoux put it: “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Bruno Diaz gets all sincere about our bullshit era.

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