:: Essays

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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Not That: reflections on the Election, Choicelessness and Contradiction published

Badiou is clear that the properly political contradiction is not between two forms of the same world, but between a world and something which is beyond the limits of that world. The true contradiction was between Trump and Sanders, Badiou says. In affirmation of real choice, he continues that “today, against Trump, we cannot desire Clinton. We must create a return to the true contradiction. That is, we must propose a political orientation that goes beyond the world as it is …”

Cam Scott on Badiou on Trump.

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Excerpt: Vulgar Tongues published 15/11/2016

Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) listed other slang names for prison which were in use at that time, such as the iron doublet, the sheriff’s hotel, lob’s pound, the boarding school, limbo, the repository and the spring-ankle warehouse. He also recorded that such a building was called a queer ken, and defined queer birds as ‘rogues relieved from prison, and returned to their old trade’, a usage which survived virtually intact into the 20th century, as in the classic 1936 London underworld novel The Gilt Kid by James Curtis.

An excerpt from Max Décharné‘s alternative history of English slang.

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After the Shock Waves of the US Elections, How Do We Locate Ourselves? published 12/11/2016

I can’t help viewing what is happening through the shadows of my family history – the possibility of brutality in a place you once considered safe, the possible need that the people you care about might need to prepare for sudden flight, the idea that the time when you can flee or change things may quickly pass; there might come a time when it’s too late. I would like to think that my fear is irrational, an overreaction, a symptom of being told about trauma and violence for as long as I can remember. But I know that while the particular shape of my fear might be influenced by my family history, the substance of it is not.

By Linda Mannheim.

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Paris Scratch [12 Snapshots] published 11/11/2016

The blind man sipped his café crème in the sun. His smile like a crack in the sidewalk over which people will inevitably trip. Or a riverbed geode cracked in 2. In France, geodes can be found — I looked it up — in the southeast between Cannes & Italy somewhere. His dog deflates into a wetnosed sigh at his feet, resigned to not going anywhere. The ponytailed counter girl in crisp white stares out, outside past her reflection, her job, past the forlorn hedge that hides the beyond & out. She had brought the old man his café crème. Was there someone else? She slaps the comb into her unread palm to a beat, a march or something tribal, something tiere monde, something that may lead her elsewhere if only for an instant. Would she always be this frustrated?

By Bart Plantenga.

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Symbolic Grenade: The Historical Provocations of Carlos Fonseca’s Colonel Lágrimas published 08/11/2016

Displacement is the situation of the writer, who tends to note or interpret rather than act, and this story of a man who isolates himself on a mountain with his memories is an analogue to the trajectory of not just 20th century history, but also 20th century literature. The lines between ‘Latin American’ and ‘non-Latin American’ literature have broken down in meaningful ways, and the question of whether identity based on geographical location even makes sense is a serious one.

Jessica Sequeira writing after Carlos Fonseca‘s Colonel Lágrimas.

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a flight of objects that seemed real [Excerpts] published 03/11/2016

Unica Zurn

I get in a car in Denmark.
Prozac at the wheel and a flatline down the coast.
Starting price for a good view is two million dollars or the price of a new bicycle.

By Lital Khaikin.

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No Blood published 01/11/2016

No Blood by Robert Rient

He made the decision on the way to school to cut off his penis. Immediately after prayers. The night before, God saw him masturbate. Any enjoyment was quickly snatched away by a sense of guilt that lasted until he begged forgiveness.

By Robert Rient (translated by Frank Garett).

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Ghosts in the Dry Bush: Discovering Butoh and the Art of Yumi Umiumare published 27/10/2016

Butoh shares its indefinability with Zen but Butoh practitioners hang out in burlesque bars and not in monasteries. Butoh embraces all of life, its suffering, its creativity, its sexuality, its cruelty, its ecstasy, in order to create a dance of total presence.

Writer Des Barry recounts his foray into the Japanese dance form, Butoh.

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