:: Essays

The Empty Sweat of Sport published 07/03/2018

Make no mistake, for all its cardiovascular benefits, running is wasted time. It’s boring. Friends have often asked me what I think about while I’m running, and it’s a deceivingly difficult question. At the risk of sounding like some fortune cookie runoff, I have to say I’m actively thinking about not thinking. I’m not thinking about the pain blossoming under my right kneecap. I’m not thinking about the burning in my lungs, like a cigarette being dragged down to the filter. There’s so much to not think about. There’s no ball, no points, no coach on the side-line. No one to hold you accountable. No teammates depending on you. No heterosexual butt-slapping.

By Chris Ames.

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Twin Peaks as Islamic Process Metaphysics published 03/03/2018

The notion of incomplete souls and transmigration fused with bodily resurrectionist metaphysics is shimmering darkly all the way through. Yet we also see a metaphysical repertoire that includes at least three views: firstly that when death strikes for some the soul is separated from the body; secondly that there’s an eternal cycle of transmigration involving an infinite process of reincarnation to human and subhuman bodies; and thirdly the perfect and intermediately perfect are disembodied and the deficient undergo transmigration for the purpose of purification. In this there are interesting though imperfect links with the Islamic philosophy of Ibn Abi Jumhur al-Ahsa’i.

Richard Marshall on the strange metaphysics of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.

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Frozen Ropes published 01/03/2018

What did D.C. Williams say?

Time flows or flies or marches, years roll, hours pass,
Time flows by like a river with the flotsam of events upon it; no… time is a moving picture film, unwinding from the dark reel of the future, into the dark can of the past.
Or maybe it’s is a plain or ocean on which we voyage,
or a river gorge down which we drift;
maybe it’s a row of house fronts along which the spotlight of the present plays.
What did Santayana say?
“The essence of nowness runs like a fire along the fuse of time.”

By Tony Oats.

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Re-Reviewings in Light of the Zeitgeist published 23/02/2018

She went from taking on very interesting material to doing too many things beneath her, giving too many interviews, being too political, and buying into and then top-selling the delusion of Hollywood’s “progressive” or “liberal” agenda, which amounts to them patting themselves on the back about their “causes” without stepping back to see how they adumbrate the hypocrisy, with their own myopia, whether it be around the income gap, gun control, or shielding sexual predators for years. They niggle about scripts and reconstructing the details of mostly American history past all in a pursuit to make “meaningful, socially-conscious” films—that is, crap to comfort and make one feel the air of Kennedy. Spielberg/Hanks/Streep are the biggest purveyors in this obscene charade, as they always position themselves to be on the green side of the high moral ground.

By Greg Gerke.

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The Three Rs published 02/02/2018

Yet that chord change comes along just to throw you off when you have succumbed to the repetition of the fall of the hammer, the weight of comfort and homogeneity and hypocrisy. You bow before the judge-penitent but you hear the laughter behind you. That laughter is the key. The mocking laugh of the punk is the only way to puncture the deadening beat of the bastards grinding you down. Laughter is sacred, laughter is loud. Laughter pokes through lies. Only the Fool can confront the Monarch. Only laughter breaks down the thick walls of dead hypocrisy and ruin. When Clemance hears the laughter on the Pont des Arts it tears him down and takes him back to the night when he ignored the woman who leapt from the bridge. Her fall becomes his fall. We all fall.

By K.A. Laity.

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Liberating the Canon: Intersectionality and Innovation in Literature published 16/01/2018

Liberating the Canon is an edited anthology capturing the contemporary emergence of nonconforming and radically innovative literatures in the UK and beyond. Historically, sociopolitical marginalisation and avant-garde aesthetics have not come together in UK literature, counterintuitively divorcing outsider experience and formal innovation. Bringing together intersectionality and literary innovation, it is designed as an intervention against the normativity of literary publishing contexts and the institution of ‘Innovative Literature’ as such.

Read Isabel Waidner‘s introduction to her new Liberating the Canon anthology.

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The Bowie Neurotransmitter published 10/01/2018

You are transformed. You are re-enchanted. The spell has been cast. In ‘Life on Mars’ the soft voice paints a picture of domestic and social chaos, but as the tracks proceed, you recognise the recurrence of something delicate that is crushed by the real. And you recognise too the trauma of living in a world riddled with dystopian forces. Trauma, that’s what you’re tuning into: stories that deal with human suffering and chaos with the universe as backdrop. Backbone, spunk and adrenaline: that’s what the range of voice transmits to your nervous system.

Susana Medina commemorates the anniversary of David Bowie‘s death on 10 January 2016.

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All That’s Solid Melts Into Airports published 02/01/2018

If the ultimate airport is a rich, luscious place brimming with entrainment and energy, a true magnet for local citizens—and if every airport can become such a site—of what use are the airplanes, of what use the term “destination” as we know it? John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay have called these future nodes aerotropoli, but we might as well ground all the pesky planes and call such a place utopia, instead.

By Christopher Schaberg.

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Midwestern Masculinity: Larry Clark in Tulsa published 27/12/2017

Clark salts a wound. He arrests that painful, contested space between childhood and adulthood in which power and identity begin to crystallize. In the area of adolescence we witness the growing pains of socially alienated young men, thrashing in violent protest as their bodies become politically co-opted and embedded within the American patriarchy.

By Hailey Maxwell.

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In Conversation With Friends published 15/12/2017

In her most recent essay Books Do Furnish a Room (2017), the author Penelope Lively concludes that not only do books furnish a room, ‘even more do they furnish the mind’, as well as telling us about their owner’s past and influences. I’ve read quite a few books, 364 according to Goodreads. But if you were to scrutinise my current collection, you’d be appalled. Maybe not at first. But if I asked you to check how many female authors are represented, you’d notice a significant skew towards male authors.

By Victoria Wang.

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