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

Bartleby Politics: On Disavowal, Derangement, and Drugs published 19/06/2014

The disavowalist favors the pole of derangement, compassion, and drug over and against the pole maintained by the state and its program of sobriety. More aptly, the politics of disavowal might name the figure of Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener as its spokesperson. It is precisely the difference between weak and radical disavowal that is illuminated when one utters: “I would prefer not to.”

Jake Nabasny on Bartleby politics.

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now we are all angry published 16/06/2014


In the UK, the mantle of urban guerilla was taken up by a group who called themselves the Angry Brigade – the subject of Carr’s considerate and in-depth account, which describes the group’s history from genesis to conviction. It is a journey that follows the protagonists from their radicalization and rejection of society’s values, through the wild underworld of freedom fighters and libertarian politics, to their eventual entrapment and prosecution by the law. Part-history, part-noir detective story, the reader can hardly help but hold their breath as the story relentlessly progresses to its inevitable climax.

Gyorgy Furiosa on Gordon Carr‘s account of the Angry Brigade.

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Enter Mister Maurice published 14/06/2014

With Maurice Girodias there would always be hidden minefields, unresolved passions, booby traps, contracts and wills waved about by shrill solicitors who represented giant insects from another galaxy, absentee thought lords, lost manuscripts from Aubrey Beardsley and Frank Harris found in pumpkins, Czarist promissory notes, smooth assistants lurking in the background who want to find out everything you know for the price of a cheap Indonesian dinner, ghosts in the catalog, a never-ending concealment of revelations and revelations of concealment.

William Levy looks back at the turbulent times of maverick publisher Maurice Girodias of Olympia Press.

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Béla Tarr’s Turin Horse published 07/06/2014

‘In Turin on 3rd January, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Alberto. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse.’

Richard Marshall on Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse.

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Under Demolition published 02/06/2014

It’s funny to think about the difference between London back then and the way it is now. There were plenty of things going on, but you would struggle to find more than two or three of any interest at one time. They would also be localised. The West End and Soho was the hub of most things, the occasional gig forcing you further afield – The Rainbow in Finsbury Park, The Nashville in West Ken, or Dingwalls in Camden Town. The number of pubs worth visiting could be counted on one hand, and while we all drank, there wasn’t the drinking culture that exists today. Warehouse parties were starting to take off, largely because of the lack of venues, but within months the police became wise to them, and more often than not, a night would be ruined by an unexpected raid.

Simon Fellowes on Seventies Covent Garden as Downtown.

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Turtles, Madeleines, and the Girl with Fluorescent Green Eyes published 30/05/2014

Maybe by watching the film we are all actually rewriting our childhoods, eating that madeleine, or connecting with some central nerve, our own sci-fi Combray. I always assumed my childhood to be peripheral and yet I can share an obsession with a guy — say – in Memphis, Tennessee. Or Kathmandu. Someone in Paris. Some sea-staring New Yorker. And maybe some other freak in Argentina. There is a community of unknown people out there with whom I have more in common than most of those around me. We have all been touched by the same film, at around the same moment in time, in complete different parts of the world, in different languages. We have been changed by it. We kept coming back to it. For over thirty years. If that is the benchmark of what good cinema entails, then The Bermuda Depths is one of the best films ever made.

Mermaid hunter Fernando Sdrigotti revisits B-movie The Bermuda Depths.

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In the flicker published 27/04/2014

Look east along the Thames today and you see corporate glass stretching into the night sky, part of the new financial colonialism that has seen the Docklands redreamt as a privatized Shangri-la. It continues to radiate waves of gentrification through what were once the slums of East London: kebab shops swallowed by upmarket cafes, Brick Lane made safe for DJ bars and indie record stores, loft apartments seeding themselves in former sweatshops. Myths brawl for space here. Jack the Ripper and Cable Street, the young Lenin and the embryo of Communism, Old Nichol, Dickens’s London. This is Tower Hamlets, famous and infamous, a borough tangled together in 1963 from the crumbling backlots of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney, its clumsy name – that jarring collision of rural yeomanry and the inner-city – somehow perfect for a heartland of pie-and-eels cockerney transformed into multicultural Kebabylon: minicabs jostling with microbars and art galleries, third-gen Hindus and Sikhs touting curries to thriftstore hipsters.

Transition and permanence in the city of eternal change, by Dale Lately.

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Shamans in the Creative City: An Autumn in Korea published 22/04/2014

It is a city that had grown from half a million to 18 million in 60 years. The 1960s mayor, Kim Hyeon-ok called it “aggressive construction”: the development of the Metro system; the sequenced opening up of areas to develop as the population grew; how attention was turned to south of the Han river in the 1970s; and the impact of both the 1988 Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup. It also showed how the late 19th century opening up to being a cosmopolitan city was cut off before it started by the military take-over of the country by Japan during which many of Korea’s own historical buildings were destroyed. This made sense of another of the tangles of ultra-modernity and the past, the need to recreate facsimilies of much of what had been destroyed.

John Barker reports on art, architecture and modernity from the post-dictatorship International Business Zones of Seoul and ‘Dynamic Busan’.

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lana del rey’s lynchian noir published 18/04/2014

In Lynch’s Inland Empire Nikki Grace is stabbed by a woman with a screwdriver after an affair and at the moment of death she fantasises narratives of being a successful movie star, of a haunted movie project where infidelity, retribution and violence continue to multiply an interior world. Throughout she is being watched by her terrifying double. Lana del Rey sings songs out of the dark shapes of such fantasies. There is a sense of performative action in all this. Her sound draws attention to itself as a performance so each song claims fidelity to their escapist hopes and leaves us with the same sense of dread that pervades Lynch’s worlds.

Richard Marshall on the eerie sound of Lana del Rey.

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Resnais, Giacometti and Seductive Maniera published 10/04/2014

According to Badiou being able to seduce women is also a reason for using conversational French for your philosophy. Again he cites Descartes: ‘ Such a varied and complete knowledge of all is to be found not in some aged pedant who has spent many years in contemplation but in a young princess whose beauty and youth call to mind one of the Graces rather than grey-eyed Minerva or any of the Muses.’ Badiou suggests that the French have been turning philosophy into a pick-up line ever since. ‘This intention will be repeated by all the notable French philosophers, who comprise a significant anthology: Rousseau, and also in his own way Auguste Compte, and then Sartre, as well as Lacan. All of them wished to be heard and admired by women and knew that they mustn’t be courted in Latin nor in the language of pedants.’

Richard Marshall on the attractions of Seductive Maniera.

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