:: Essays

New Ways of Composing a Novel: On Dumitru Tsepeneag published 15/02/2016


Romanian novelist Dumitru Tsepeneag would seem to be among those post-communist East European writers whose fiction, as if in leaving the legacy of socialist realism as far behind as possible embraces its perceived opposite, could be described as “postmodern”… The case of Tsepeneag specifically is a little more complicated, however, as his career began before postmodernism could be called a transnational phenomenon (when, in fact, it was almost exclusively a phenomenon of American fiction), and he was part of an anti-realist group, the Onirists, which was essentially an extension of late modernism.

Daniel Green on Dumitru Tsepeneag.

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Naoko Haruta and the Arboreal Imagination published 14/02/2016


It is a unique and bold venture, this series of Ms. Haruta, one which immanently employs and enjoins East and West and which surely places Ms. Haruta at the center of those brave contemporary spirits who refuse the self‐ deluded provisos to which art contemporaneity in practice and discourse gives itself in an epoch‐‐already unfolding sixty years ago‐‐of the total inundation of all forms and discourse in the modes of aesthetic modernityʹs conflicting and polyvalent projects of transgression, negation, disassemblage, zero degree reduction, purification, displacement, and preformed and postulated reversal, an epoch increasingly inimical to substantialist adventure and affection and for which substantialism, thereby, art contemporaneity has substituted the automatism of received and enacted gambits, gimmicks, prefabrications, and signals in a constant mens momentanea of indifferentiation and the arbitrary, i.e. Ryman, Richter, Reed, Guyton, Wools, Oehlen, Koether, etc. etc.

Steve Light on the Trees series of paintings by Naoko Haruta.

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‘Marooned at a tangent to the everyday’: Katrina Palmer’s The Necropolitan Line published 13/02/2016


An uncomfortable emotional charge is experienced by the would-be passenger alongside the realisation that sitting there, waiting for something that will never arrive, you are actually on the Necropolitan Line, journeying passively towards the time of your own death. In this frame of mind, the Platform Announcer’s murmur about proceeding towards the white light – the clear signal, as opposed to the danger signal – seems to suggest ‘near death’ narratives with their images of heading towards a bright light.

Bridget Penney on the installation by Katrina Palmer.

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Asaph Hall and Two Moons I Would Not Go Anywhere Near published 28/01/2016


The reader is placed by the disadvantage of translation in a situation of being misled. The reader can’t escape the scenes of brutal violence in the Iliad, and once in those scenes, the fact of reading in translation becomes, in itself, a kind of violence, severing an essential connection. The reader of a translation into English encounters either “panic” or “fear” or “terror” or “dread,” not recognizing that the original word in Greek has been—and I think this is a fair term—denatured. The original word, the word that the reader doesn’t see, is phobos or deos. The reader sees a word which appears to be a word and not a name. But the word is in fact also a name. The name is the name of one of the moons of Mars—real, not hypothetical.

Fortunato Salazar on our curious obliviousness to the violent naming of natural satellites.

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Cleopatra published 26/01/2016

Cleopatra by Philippe Sollers

As soon as I read Antony and Cleopatra, very young, I looked for Cleopatra everywhere. She appeared in the gardens in Bordeaux, I followed her to Spain and Italy, I pursued her in the streets of Paris, she always escaped me, like Egypt itself, its Isis mysteries.

By Philippe Sollers, translated by Armine Kotin Mortimer.

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in the trap published 25/01/2016

One speculative etymology of the word ‘terror’ (and, by association, ‘terrorism’) connects it to words like terrain and territory. If to be a victim of terror is to tremble with fear, as the earth trembles with seismic activity, then perhaps the projection of enmity onto landscape is not a uniquely twentieth-century phenomenon. Maybe it is a form of psychological atavism, a vestige from the days we wandered amongst sabre-toothed cats, inexplicable earthquakes, and ambush-prone wolves.

By Hunter Dukes.

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Camilo José Cela’s The Hive Revisited published 22/01/2016


For Cela, The Hive is “a history book, not a novel”, that is, a chronicle of life, not of the characters in The Hive, who are ultimately nothing other than life’s vehicle. For Cela “[e]verybody’s life is a novel by itself”, but The Hive chronicles the lives of more than 200 characters and therefore is more than a novel, it is more than 200 novels, it is life itself, not in its entirety, of course, but a portion of it.

Montague Kobbe revisits Camilo José Cela‘s The Hive.

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The Cold Civil War published 09/01/2016


For America to bridge its ideological divides and end the Cold Civil War, it needs to reform the 2nd Amendment to tighten the availability of guns, while also promoting an American identity that transcends being white or black, Christian or Muslim, woman or man. Promote unity to bridge the divide and disarm the warring militias: otherwise, gun violence in American civil society may never end.

Patrick Vitalone on gun violence in the USA.

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Masturbating in Public; or Misreading Kafka published 15/12/2015

Misreading Kafka

Despite the extraordinary difficulties faced by critics who try to unlock the mysteries of Kafka’s fiction, there has been no shortage of speculation about Josef K.’s guilt or innocence and the ‘meaning’ of his trial. In the spirit of these doomed interpretations, I offer my own theory about the ‘secret’ that underlines Kafka’s dreamlike nightmare of inexplicable punishment – the clandestine event that feeds into K.’s ambiguous status, hovering as he does between one kind of guilt and another kind of innocence.

By Shannon Burns.

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The Exploitation of the Technical published 08/12/2015

The most influential changes then, from the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, to the ‘hyper-industrial capitalism’ of twentieth century, were the new types of mnemotechnologies (memory-technologies) that were being developed and implemented on a large scale, mnemotechnologies that had the ability to affect our culture, through manipulation of desire, as well our economy and society in general.

Matt Bluemink draws on Bernard Stiegler’s work in order to make an analysis of memory as a technical process in contemporary capitalism.

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