:: Essays

Reactionary Sentimentalism Part 2: Berlin published 27/08/2017

There is more reality in Berlin than any other city” – precisely because Berlin is the paradigm of the divided city, that primally conflicted zone in which the conscience of the race (to paraphrase Joyce) uneasily dwells: “the sun shines on the divided city, / today, as it did on the ruins in 1945 / & the ‘Front City’ of the fifties, / as it did before there was any city here, / & as it will when there is no longer / any city.” As Heiner Müller once said, “Berlin is the ultimate. Everything else is prehistory. If history occurs, it will begin in Berlin.”

Louis Armand on underground Berlin.

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Modern Art: A Game of Three published 22/08/2017

Lives, deaths. The variables. Some come and some go. Then they all go. To the main question. So what if Mishima and Kawabata hadn’t succeeded in killing themselves? What if Kurosawa had been more serious about the razor in his hand? The director dies, the writers live. Which is to say, what if literature had lived but films hadn’t?

By Kyle Coma-Thompson.

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Two Views of a Prose Poem published 15/08/2017

The collage was prompted by a desire to see at a glance the mirrored symmetry I found in Simic’s prose poem, and I arranged some of Simic’s text atop a page from a discarded auction catalogue on which were pictured a pair of mirrors. I thought, afterward, of the sculptor Christopher Wilmarth’s statement “If [art’s] not magic, it’s merchandise.” Unblemished by its brush with stuff so blatantly for sale to the highest bidder, the magic of Simic’s prose poem prevails, and the dead auction lot gets a new life to boot. 

Carrie Cooperider pays close attention to Charles Simic.

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The Malls of My Dreams published 07/08/2017

Not long ago I dreamed of a shopping mall. It was not a mall I had ever visited before, or even a mall I had heard mentioned in casual conversation while standing in line at the grocery store or post office. It was a secret mall, hidden from sight within the labyrinthine expanse of the old Westinghouse Electric building near where I live in the Churchill Valley. Still the mall was familiar in the way common places register in your mind: hotels, schools, hospitals, and banks. Its bland architecture was reassuring, so much so that it was almost invisible.

By Matthew Newton.

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Reactionary Sentimentalism published 14/07/2017

Lydia Lunch relates the broader cultural impact of the moment: “I wasn’t expecting the toilets at CBGB’s to be the bookends of Duchamp’s urinal, but then again maybe 1977 had more in common with 1917 than anyone at the time could’ve imagined. The anti-art invasion of Dada… & the Surrealist pranksters who shadowed them had a blast pissing all over everybody’s expectations. The anti-everything of No Wave was a collective caterwaul that defied categorisation, defiled the audience, despised convention.”

Louis Armand on the passing of the New York moment.

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Government Security Zone published 04/07/2017

In 2003 following an increased terrorism threat an area of central London was designated as the Government Security Zone (GSZ). In May 2004 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commissioned a GSZ police control room. The control room is staffed 24/7 365 days a year by highly trained police officers and police staff. The control room has access to significant CCTV and ANPR resources enabling officers to provide an immediate command and control facility in support of any type of incident.

By Andrew Stevens.

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Adolescent Sex – Pistols published 30/06/2017

As a young wannabe pop star, it would have been very convenient to have her on my side, with the long list of conquests and connections she’d made over the years. Indeed, her current boyfriend, whom she would later marry, was the figurehead of the burgeoning Punk Rock movement that had recently exploded onto the London music scene. Winning the trust of VIPs, my manager explained to me, was an essential pursuit, a perk of the trade, if you will, because, as we all know, a gift horse should never be looked in the mouth. I could sense how serious he was about this, constantly on the lookout for a good press angle by which to sell my band, as he was. His association with Malcolm McLaren, the notorious Sex Pistols manager, had given him ideas, but whereas McLaren was an intelligent guy, our manager wasn’t.

Channelling Joseph Andrews’ encounter with Lady Booby, Andy Blade recalls being seduced by the King of Punk’s girlfriend.

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The Road to Grenfell Tower published 24/06/2017

The Road to Grenfell Tower

The tenants at Grenfell Tower saw the danger, noted it when they walked into their building at night, and reported it – just like the tenants in the building that collapsed in Harlem more than 20 years before. And, just like the tenants in Harlem, they understood that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord.”

By Linda Mannheim.

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Saturday’s Alright For Dancing published 15/06/2017

From a sociological point of view, it’s almost impossible to imagine SNF emerging onto the screen today. For starters, there would be concerns that the final scene, where Stephanie lets Tony into her flat a few hours after he’s tried to rape her, would provoke a feminist backlash. Given current concerns about STDs the depiction of casual sex in the film’s pre-AIDS age would be difficult today, too, despite that fact that modern society is not exactly a casual shag-free zone (vide Grindr and Tindr). Additionally, the racism directed by Tony’s friends towards Puerto Ricans would cause problems, as would a homophobic incident in the film when a couple of gays are hassled on the street. Such features would be seen as giving aid and comfort to Trump-supporter populism, a criticism which avoids confronting the uncomfortable point that condemnatory populist views on racial and sexual matters may be more widespread than cultural and political commentators are prepared to admit. Yet such well-intentioned attitudes of metropolitan fear would be a corporate loss because they fail to face up to harsh realities which have to be faced down.

Nicky Charlish revisits Saturday Night Fever.

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The Articulate Cruelty of Men published

The Articulate Cruelty of Men

It has become my habit to read for the body of work, to regard each individual narrative as part of a larger whole and to engage in a concentrated – often chronological – reading of one author’s oeuvre. This approach seeks out the points of connection between each book and in these connections discovers a consolidation of allusion and theme, a slow accretion of meaning, tone, atmosphere. In Jones’s case this has led me to focus on love and violence, the hold of place and the desire to break free of it.

By Anna MacDonald.

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