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

Georges Perec’s Je me souviens: a participatory text published 02/07/2014

Perec’s sense of disappearing human experience is wrapped up both in the socio-cultural sum, and the fleeting, individual, personal human interactions that punctuate the quotidian drift. Shared jokes, schoolyard games, a meal prepared by an aunt. His texts predicate on, he writes, the “overlooked commonplace” that is always in the process of evaporating; the very things that reassure us we are living.

Andrew Hodgson opens Georges Perec’s Je me souviens.

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What’s Wrong with Paul Krugman’s Philosophy of Economics? published 26/06/2014

The trouble is that Krugman’s recipe for how economics at its best is done undermines his substantive economic arguments. It’s just what is needed by those who reject his economic analysis and the policies based on it. Chicago school “extremists,” freshwater ideologues, and other free-market fundamentalists can help themselves to Krugman’s methodology to defend the very views he rejects. This raises the question of whether Krugman should worry more about the right way to do economics?

Alex Rosenberg on why Paul Krugman needs to be more philosophical.

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Vincent Harding Remembered published 24/06/2014

But even Vincent, far along the road into the mountains of the spirit compared to many of us (to me anyway), had some deep struggles. Vincent had long thought that the state assassinated King (he was no enthusiast for LBJ…) a year to the day after that speech was given (the King family also does not believe that James Earl Ray was the killer…). And he had a long ordeal over the fact that King had spoken words, many of which Vincent had written, which had led to his death. Vincent wrestled with this spiritual connection and though he made peace with it, though it had quieted in his heart and spirit, though he was a man without bitterness or self-wounding, it seemed to me still to remain there as a presence later on.

Alan Gilbert on Vincent Harding.

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Pissing in Duchamp’s Fountain published 23/06/2014

On 24 August, Pierre Pinocelli struck the sculpture with a hammer, and deposited some liquid in it, either urine as he claimed, or tea according to the director of the museum. Pinocelli was an underground artist influenced by the situationists, whose previous performances had included extorting ten francs from a bank with a sawn-off shotgun, and smashing toys outside a department store while dressed as Santa Claus.

Paul Ingram traces the historical aestheticism of micturition in Duchamp’s many Fountain[s].

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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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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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