:: Essays

Muhammad Ali Came to Tea (A Discordia Concors) published 19/10/2016

It was such an exciting moment, an honour to have this man, ‘The Greatest’, in our living room, with a bunch of excited kids outside our apartment door, in a ball, pressed up, listening, waiting to see this great man. Perhaps that is part of the power that this photograph has over me. It was a moment of shared joy and excitement for our family, an extraordinary moment, which was a rare thing, glowing for a short while before being snatched away by the act of the cut. A reminder of what our family life was like in reality.

This photograph is both that moment and that moment being taken away. It is at once sweet and painful, whole and fragmented. It is a photograph of three events spanning time. The day Muhammad Ali came to tea; the day my father cut the photograph; and the day my mother glued it back together, shortly after my father’s death. This photograph shows us all together, yet split by a fault-line. Together and not together. Both/And, not Either/Or.

Salma Ahmad Caller explores the complexity of identity through her photograph of a photograph with Muhammad Ali.

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The Impossibility of Return published 15/10/2016

No one returns to a woman, as much as a woman cannot return to herself, without being confronted by what has changed – be it Odysseus to Penelope or Woolf to herself, via her double, Isabella. A person, like a place, no longer remains the same because time does not guarantee any recovery. The mirror and the glass are always in fear of being – ready to be – shattered. That shattering is also the shattering of a myth, the myth of Penelope and of everyone after her.

An essay by poet Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee.

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The Marxian Slip published 02/10/2016

A wage hike ultimately means a hike in the profit margins of companies, even if it also means some profit for those in the margins, whose labor and time the companies would continue to exploit. How this phenomenon increases the power of proletarians is beyond explanation, as increasing the power of capitalist enterprise axiomatically means decreasing the power of workers in the Marxist schema. Increase proletarian buying power to infinity, and the interests which buy their labor and time will multiply infinity, and thereafter trademark it.

Jeremy Brunger on Bernie Sanders and the Marxian Slip.

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Tom Wolfe’s Reflections on Language published 01/10/2016

I simply cannot fathom how Wolfe can claim this idea for himself without slitting his wrists in a fit of self-loathing. How else could he write entire book criticizing Chomsky’s method and his mathyness, and his shtetl Jewishness, and his faux-manly shirts (cf the picture above) and his politics and his spic and span air conditioned office and then, at the end of it all announce that he, Wolfe, has this brilliant insight – an insight that heretofore no licensed savant has ever had — and it turns out to be… a Chomsky Internet meme. And oh yeah, I almost forgot: He does this just a few chapters after accusing Darwin of not properly crediting someone else for their ideas.

E.J. Spode takes down Wolfe on Chomsky – hard!

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Of MacArthur Grants, Regimes of Visibility and Meritocratic Orders published

If one examines the list of those to whom the MacArthur Foundation awards its ‘Genius’ Grants of $625,000 each year one quickly discovers two very evident things. In the first instance, those receiving awards in the humanities and in the sciences are almost without exception professors at leading research universities. In other words, they are already in positions where the work that they do, “the genius” that they enact, are supported in the best ways possible… In this sense, those who consistently receive MacArthur Grants in the humanities and even more in the sciences do not need MacArthur Grants.

Steve Light reflects on who needs support grants and reading the poet Wanda Coleman.

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Derrida’s Seminars: Writing Before Writing Before the Letter published 12/09/2016

After beginning with the end, we have ended up at the beginning. The newest of Jacques Derrida’s seminars is the oldest yet published. Encountering deconstruction in the context of this newest older publication can help to shake our conviction that we know what was meant by it.

Jonathan Basile on Jacques Derrida‘s newly published seminar.

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It Doesn’t Matter the Country: Learning the Meaning of Borders on Raton Pass published 06/09/2016

Borders: blocking bodies and allowing capital. A border can be innocuous to me because white Americans are capital embodied. The invisibility of the Colorado-New Mexico border disguises a colonial power relation by making it look natural. The US-Mexico border is visible, but we believe it to be natural too. Prehistoric. Foregone.

By Caroline Tracey.

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Utopia At 500 published 01/09/2016


For Catholics it is a moral allegory by one its most famous patron saints; for Communists, the first major proposal for the abolition of private property; for Neo-Liberals, a farce on the absurdity of this proposal. Like the greatest works of political fiction, it has bucked the rhetoric of ideology and managed to resist being coopted.

Jared Marcel Pollen on the 500th anniversary of Thomas More‘s Utopia.

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Network Externalities and the Disaster of Brexit published 29/08/2016


A welfare state can be used as a form of social investment that boosts employment and the economy, whilst funding good education, family and labour market policies. Providing accessible childcare enables more women to enter employment. Employment creates more employment, a virtuous circle increasing the tax base. All these achievements are real. They are not wishful thinking. Yet the neoliberal orthodoxy hides their accomplishments, and the entrenched interests of corporate elites have such influence on politicians that instead of moving towards such models, governments have been moving towards neoliberalism – even in the more socially democratic countries themselves.

Andrew Brower Latz reads Colin Crouch vs Neoliberalism.

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An Introduction to Schizoanalysis published 27/08/2016

Drawing from the work of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, schizoanalysis is a revolutionary political process that seeks to expand upon Reich’s materialist-psychiatric critique of psychoanalysis so as to include the full scope of multiplicitious social and historical factors in its explanations of cognition and behaviour in order to map and thus undermine the causal groundings of fascism.

A.T. Kingsmith on Schizoanalysis.

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