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Nonfiction » Like a Grunge Keiller (published 10/09/2013)

Saint Etienne’s album So Tough was recorded the same year that Patrick Keiller shot his seminal film London – 1992. The album and the film forever linked in my mind via navigating those painful final years of Tory misrule from a Hackney squat, So Tough spinning on the turntable. The album provided a sweet pop soundtrack to the Fletcher-esque world of rainy caffs on a ‘Kentish Town, Tuesday’ in Black Wednesday era London. The songs were interrupted with snatches of dialogue from post-war kitchen sink dramas set in a punch-drunk pre-swinging city. The coming together of a Saint Etienne soundtrack with Paul Kelly and Kieran Evans’ Keiller-inspired essay film was the perfect marriage, more of personal topography of London entered via a dawn train from Croydon than the ‘state of the city’ film essay that Keiller achieved. The film and music in Finisterre construct a palimpsest of the capital in 2003 much as Keiller’s film captured ’92.

John Rogers on the influences behind his new book This Other London – Adventures in the Overlooked City.

Buzzwords » London Films Me (published 21/07/2013)

From September 13 to October 1, the Barbican special season ‘Urban Wandering – Film and the London Landscape’ will explore London on film, with a particular focus on the Barbican’s neighbouring boroughs in the East End. As well as showings of A Clockwork Orange, Bronco Bullfrog and Mike Leigh’s Naked, curated highlights include: – Iain [...]

Buzzwords » The Missing Links (published 17/07/2013)

The Feelies in The Paris Review. * Nicholas Rombes on Shirley Jackson‘s Hangsaman. * Bobbi Lurie interviews Don Draper. * Donald Barthelme‘s Snow White. * Celebrating The Raincoats. * László Krasznahorkai doesn’t need anything from here. * Adorno: lectures, interviews, and music (audio). * In the Ocean, a film about the classical music avant garde. [...]

Buzzwords » The Missing Links (published 19/05/2013)

Chris Petit‘s The Museum of Loneliness. * A brief history of appropriative writing. * If streets are sentences. * Celebrating the A303. * An interview with Glenn Branca. * The Japanese have a name for it: tsundoku. * What next for Joshua Cohen?: “It’s the book Nabokov would’ve written had he liked Joyce”. * Robert [...]

Interviews » Performance redux (published 01/04/2013)

The film has two elements that are strong: sex and violence. But neither can be neatly parcelled in conventional terms, or neatly presented and tied with a bow, particularly the violence. It’s too easy to tag it to the East End, Bow Bells and neat ribbons. It was the era of the Krays. But it was also the era of the Richardsons, south of the river. And there were others, like Jimmy Evans, who didn’t fit into the gang structure as shown in the film. So the reality is jagged anyway.

Richard Marshall interviews Paul Buck.

Buzzwords » The Missing Links (published 10/03/2013)

Kit Caless reviews Lee Rourke‘s excellent Varroa Destructor, forthcoming from 3:AM Press: “There is a twinkling humour that runs through the book: a kind of funny nihilism through which Rourke brings a dark beauty to the mundane”. * On Félix Guattari‘s unpublished SF film script. * An excerpt from Iain Sinclair‘s forthcoming American Smoke. * [...]

Interviews » The End Times » Landscaping Heidegger (published 26/02/2013)

I find myself increasingly frustrated by the whole analytic-continental opposition, it seems less and less relevant to my actual philosophical work, and whereas once I thought there was the possibility of opening up genuine dialogue between the two traditions, I now think that is a vain hope. Moreover, even though, as I say, I tend to identify politically with the non-analytic, I don’t find myself altogether at home in either the analytic or continental camp. In this respect, I probably occupy a rather anomalous position in the contemporary landscape of academic philosophy (maybe ‘hermeneutics’ and ‘philosophical topography’ are necessarily anomalous) – in fact, officially, I am no longer even in a philosophy department – and in lots of ways that anomalous position actually suits me quite well. What I do as a philosopher doesn’t fit readily into any of the usual categories, and I am more and more engaged outside of the discipline anyway – although there other sets of political distinction and division often become operative as well.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jeff Malpas.

Criticism » Exquisite corpses (published 30/01/2013)

The whole book seems to work in terms of what De Keyser and Decortis in the 1980s described as an attempt to structure events, processes, actions and products in terms of a ‘continual process operator’. There are several processes that have been brought to light as important to this sort of project. A key one is anticipation. Anticipation permits readers and all those involved to get ahead of any event with deftness and precision. Anticipation can be probabilistic where we scan parameters before everything goes out of order, selecting internalised statistical structures for this purpose, as if someone had prior knowledge of the probability of things breaking down. Reading and scanning every other page at speed and relying on previous times, previous documents, gives you enough to go on to anticipate how long, how far, how deep we’re going, according to this model. Illuminated by, say, one’s recollection of Carl Einstein and Georges Batailles and their Documents project, as well as the Wallace Berman Semina project, for example, we get a sense of this book’s purpose.

Richard Marshall reviews Book WorksBring The Dead Back To Life: Again A Time Machine: From Distribution to Archive.

Criticism » ‘Pataphysics’ useless guffaw (published 21/11/2012)

We are biased towards usefulness. ‘Pataphysics resists this bias. It bombards us with samples of the inutilious. Rennes schoolboys invented the world ‘pataphysics’ in 1888. Alfred Jarry was the leader of that particular gang. Absurdism, Dada, Futurism, Surrealism, Situationism et al find roots in its soil. Hugill notes that the name works like the self defeater lying at the heart of Groucho Marx’s joke that he wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would accept him. We seek out solutions to problems. ‘Pataphysicians seek out solutions to non-problems.

Richard Marshall reviews Andrew Hugill’s ‘Pataphysics: A Useless Guide.

Criticism » Millennium man (published 06/11/2012)

That Crash came to dominate Ballard’s work to the degree it did isn’t a surprise. It’s the novel where all his ambitions – Surrealism, medicine, technology and personal anguish – collide with maximum impact. Given he spent so long trying to deflect moral objections to the book it was ironic that Playboy later declared it ‘the fifth sexiest novel of all time’, and that hindsight has confirmed it now ranks as one of Ballard’s most prophetic moments, anticipating the 21st Century’s fetish for both violent videogames and the rising body count of Hollywood movies. Indeed, when it comes to the future, Extreme Metaphors functions as a greatest hits package of Ballard’s predictions. It’s why Will Self notes, ‘other writers describe. Ballard anticipates’; in this area, Ballard was always a trailblazer. Twitter, YouTube, celebrity, Ronald Regan, the fictions of advertising, Second Life, the dead end of space travel – Ballard predicts them all well in advance of their realisation.

Richard Kovitch reviews Extreme Metaphors: Interviews with J.G Ballard 1967–2008.