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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 * On Félix Guattari‘s unpublished SF film script.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.

Reviews » 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.

Reviews » ‘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.

Reviews » 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.

Interviews » Psychogeographic soul sister (published 27/08/2012)

I did buy an introduction to psychogeography which again barely mentioned any women writers – quite a feat, when Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘Street Haunting’ is absolutely central. Is it that people are interested in making psychogeographic musing as a male thing? Streetwalkers do a lot of looking: why aren’t we open to their musings? Plenty of women write fabulously about place. Part of the problem may be in the concept of Muse – if you’re male, it’s easier to appear to have a hotline to inspiration in the form of a Muse because a Muse is traditionally feminine. It’s a whole lot harder for women who write to have a Muse like that, or a gendered muse at all.

Richard Marshall interviews Clare Brant.

Buzzwords » The Missing Links (published 26/08/2012)

The films of Norman Mailer are like a punch in the face. * “If there’s any theme of my process, it’s generally to go towards what’s uncomfortable.” Miranda July. * “A story is an engagement although it can be protracted. A novel is a campaign.” James Salter. * One morning, after a night of reading […]

Buzzwords » The Missing Links (published 10/08/2012)

James Salter on Jacques Bonnet’s Phantom on the Bookshelves. * Reading books in situ. * 15 of the greatest lists in literature. * A series of Beckett recordings from 1966, supervised by Beckett & accompanied by his nephews playing music. * Alex Ross on James Joyce & music. * “A dandy prone to pratfalls who […]

Essays » Impossible Cities (published 09/07/2012)

Never one to let mere impossibility get in the way of a good story, Italo Calvino retold Marco Polo’s tales even more extravagantly in Invisible Cities. Crucially, Calvino switched the perspective with Polo recounting his discoveries to a sceptical but entranced Kublai Khan. The premise was essentially a jumping-off point for the writer to create his own metropolises of the imagination: Tamara where everything is symbolic, Chloe the chaste city where everyone is a stranger, Adelma populated by doppelgängers of the dead, Thekla a skeleton city of scaffolding, the expanding microscopic Olinda and so on. It is a beguiling, paradoxical, poetic work and like much of Calvino’s writing fully embraces the inventive possibilities of fiction. If art is the telling of beautiful lies, he seems to be saying, then let our lies be boundless, let them alter the world around us or, failing that, the way we see the world and speak of it. It is a book to mesmerise architects as much as poets.

Darran Anderson explores the fictional metropolis and its history.