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

The Artist Pioneer: East London and the ‘Stripped-Pine Pioneers’ published 25/10/2014

Since the 1960s a picture has emerged. A collective language of urban development, which paints artists – to use a generic conglomeration of fine artists, writers, architects, photographers and filmmakers – as urban pioneers. It would seem this has become the portrait of urban renewal. Artists as what Jonathan Raban so cuttingly called the ‘stripped-pine pioneers’. First-wave foot soldiers of gentrification. Boldly marching beyond the frontiers of well-trod quartiers, in search of new, cheap, interesting spaces to live and work.

Bea Moyes on the development of the East End.

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The JeffCO School Board and the Pentagon’s “Vietnam” published 18/10/2014

“You can’t separate this effort to justify the terrible wars of 50 years ago from the terrible wars of today,” said Phyllis Bennis, a Middle East expert who has known Mr. Hayden since the early 1970s. “When I saw this (the Pentagon’s version of Vietnam, what the JeffCO School Board dreams of), I thought immediately, ‘We’ve got to stop this.’ ”

Alan Gilbert on the Pentagon’s Vietnam.

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The Circular Church (or Books, Guns and the Report on the Blind) published 13/10/2014

I recognise street names that I’ve gleaned from a recent reading of a biography of Borges. I first read Borges when I was eighteen: The Aleph and Other Stories. Those fictions introduced other dimensions – outside of time and in parallel spaces – not only to my conception of Buenos Aires and South America but also to London, Cardiff, New York. According to the Penguin History of Latin America by Edwin Williamson, indigenista intellectuals like Victor Raul Haya de la Torre claim that Indo-American historical space-time is not, and will never be, the same as Europe’s. But the writers of the Far South of the Americas are a lot less fanciful than those on the shores of the Caribbean where Gabriel García Marquez set his work and where Isabel Allende began writing hers. Not that I disparage an openness to chance. I’d begun a voracious consumption of Latin American literature four months before setting out on this journey and chance had already played a significant part in the books that had fallen into my hands

Des Barry’s Argentinian dérive inspires a renewed interest in Latin literature.

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Francis Plug’s Top Backstage Tips For Authors published 03/10/2014

Alcohol is absolutely essential to the public author. You cannot cope without it. No way. Once you’re in your event you’ll be able to drink white spirits, but you need to get the brown stuff in early, because it doesn’t look like still water.

Exclusive to 3:AM, by Francis Plug.

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Cadaqués published 19/09/2014

The city we do not know confronts us as impenetrably as a geometric volume, I think, though I know it isn’t true; as soon as the exterior assaults us we withdraw to the safety of classifications: at the very least, we know the meaning of the shifting streetlights, the purpose of the sidewalks, the words bar and café are the same the world over. After a certain age, perceptions seem to serve no purpose at all but to divest the exterior of autonomy with relation to its self-definition.

By Adrian West.

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Paul Krugman’s Philosophy of Economics, and What It Should Be published 14/09/2014

Reflexivity is everywhere: the entire monetary economy is based on reflexive expectations: think about everyone’s willingness to accept pieces of paper in exchange for goods and services. I accept your paper money because I expect everyone else will accept it, and every one else will because they believe everyone else will. The reality of money is the product of reflexive expectations. Fortunately the paper money bubble bursts only in times of hyperinflation. How much inflation is needed for the breakdown to occur? That is a matter of uncertainty. It depends on, among other things history, and people’s knowledge of that history. But it can also break down for reasons no one ever expected (consider the scenario of The Walking Dead).

Alex Rosenberg continues his thinking about Paul Krugman.

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Ignorance of philosophy, identity politics, and the cosmopolitan ideal published 13/09/2014

I hope we can remember that the neoliberal view of education is pernicious, even when it’s enlisted on behalf of the consumer demands of minorities. More importantly, the cosmopolitan impulse, which was central to the Enlightenment (and present in attenuated forms even in antiquity, especially the Stoics, as I’ve learned from my colleague Martha Nussbaum), should not be given up lightly, especially not by philosophers. Marxists, who mounted the first systematic critique of the purportedly neutral “standpoint” which prior philosophy claimed to occupy, did not abandon this impulse–their critique was in its service.

Brian Leiter goes all Dark Knight on some Jokers in Philosophy’s Arkham Asylum.

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Mapping Space in Fiction: Joseph Frank and the Idea of Spatial Form published 11/09/2014

The reader goes round and round in a labyrinth which, however, is built with a delicate symmetry. As if one was moving in a hall of mirrors, disparate themes are remembered and forgotten, objects and motifs arise and fade into the text at precise intervals that hint at a narrative design barely grasped yet deeply felt.

By Aashish Kaul.

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Synaptic (R)Evolutions: Explorations In Sound And Consciousness published 02/09/2014

Growing up me and my circle of friends were very influenced by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. The first and most obvious way was in a literary sense, but also very largely for their theories and ideas. At a very young age we were obsessed with the notion of breaking down as much societal conditioning as possible and pursued these ends mostly via art, drugs, and meditation. Fast forward years later and I would finally construct my very own dreamachine, and also thanks to technology I would have even easier access to online computer generated dreamachines.

Wayne Mason documents his own practices of entering ‘inner space’ via the use of dreamachines and binaural audio programs.

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Shop and Awe published 27/08/2014

I wasn’t the one smashing windows. I just watched as others did. With the other cameraphone spectators I stood beneath a windswept dystopia of sky-high brand names and chain stores while kids in hoods and balaclavas roamed around raiding and looting and stealing. Noisy spectrum interference in the urban fabric, outliers lost among the CCTV and advertising semaphore. Prisoners of our new panopticons. This was the consumer culture raised to the level of violent orgy. This was the twenty-first-century city. This was Britain, 2011.

Dale Lately on shopping, city riots and Manchester.

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