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Buzzwords » Top Reads of 2016: Richard Marshall (published 23/12/2016)

12 of what I’ve read this year: The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880. Frederick Beiser. Beiser is an essential read and this is a great and readable book about an important sub-field of continental philosophy. It includes, for the Beckett fans amongst us, a chapter on Windelband, one of whose books Beckett read and from which […]

Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Buzzwords » The Summer of Hate 9: Bertie Marshall (published 11/07/2007)

Bertie Marshall was a member of the legendary Bromley Contingent. He is the author of a novel, Psychoboys, and a memoir, Berlin Bromley (see our interview with Bertie here): Summer 1977: I was a fifteen-year-old androgyne living ”in four sordid rooms in Chelsea” (lyrics by Kander and Ebb) at 92 Oakley Street — three doors […]

Essays » When Negativity Don’t Pull You Through: Asides 3 (published 25/01/2019)

So the ascetic blames herself for her pain; the resulting self-loathing acts as a narcotic to relieve the pain. In this way the ascetic resists suicide. But the cost is to exacerbate suffering. This is why Nietzsche reviles the ascetic religious narcotic. ‘[I]t makes the sick sicker.’ Art is a different narcotic that achieves the same end but without the accompanying side effects. Art restores the affective attachment to life. Art’s role is to prevent suicide for those immune to asceticism.

Richard Marshall‘s final aside about anti-pessimism.

Essays » When Negativity Don’t Pull You Through: Asides 2 (published 14/12/2018)

Schopenhauer’s pessimism stands as a challenge to attempts to justify the value of life. As indicated above, the pessimist case was articulated by Schopenhauer in the nineteenth century and it was for a couple of decades as controversial an issue as Darwinism. A few quotes give the detonating flavour of his thesis:
‘We will not have to seek hell below the earth because we already are living it here and now.’ ‘The world is hell, and we humans are its tormented souls and its devils.’ ‘The essential meaning of the world famous monologue in Hamlet is this: that our life is so miserable that complete non-existence would be preferable to it.’   ‘The purpose of our existence is indeed to declare nothing more than the knowledge that it is better we never existed.’

Richard Marshall on Schopenhauer’s Pessimism and the Controversy that Followed.

Essays » When Negativity Don’t Pull You Through: Asides on The Pessimismus Controversy 1 (published 05/12/2018)

In Bostridge’s obsession we’re drawn to a frozen non-identity creeping about, a Byronic lover going beyond whatever is now absent, beyond anything existing, finding the weight, beauty and indissoluble actuality of negation. Dylan’s ‘Clothesline Saga’ from the official Basemeant Tapes works the same inconsequential ramble, freighted with the refusal of deep memories and the certainty that nothing can happen. When nothing happens we remember the date and the name of the bridge from where its mystery is thrown off. We remember the weather which is just another sinister shaggy dog story. Another nothing.

Richard Marshall`s aside on negation’s creative hand.

Essays » Workers’ Tales Against the Ghost of Linen Decency (published 03/11/2018)

In this terrific book Rosen stands in a popular tradition of art that begins and ends in the complaint and rebellion of the common people against the powers that lord it over them. It’s a proletarian tradition looking to images of the just society and one that links up with revolutionary sermons, nursery rhymes, ballads, popular songs and broadsheets from the past with energies detectable in the likes of Yeats and Kipling. Rosen knows his Levellers, like John Lilburne writing  in ‘Vox Plebis’  from the revolutionary times of the 1640’s: ‘ For as God created every man free in Adam: so by nature are all alike freemen born.’

Richard Marshall reviews Workers Tales edited by Michael Rosen.

Essays » HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, London 2018 (published 14/10/2018)

I’m hoping that the organizers will continue to screen out the philosophical bull shitters and poseurs and be a bit more confident in screening out crowd-pulling best-seller acts who have neither a talent nor interest in philosophy. We need to fight for the integrity of the wissenschaftlich seriousness of philosophy and ensure that when we bring the academy out to the public we quality control it and make it simple enough without being simplistic.

Richard Marshall reflects on the HowTheLightGetsIn London festival.

3:AM Asia » Reviews » Stewart Home’s Bruceploitation Groove (published 13/10/2018)

If you look carefully there’s something about all of Home’s work that remains consistent. He’s interested in forms of cultural work that is marginal but marginal for a reason. It’s often a sleazy, porny, low-brow sentimentalism he develops and pivots off, one that appeals to clear-cut psychological gratifications rather than sly rational evidence for whatever. He doesn’t waste time on normative theory for consumption by bourgeoise academics and vanguardists of both left and right. He is trying to work out and understand the mechanisms by which Marxist psychology and epistemology works which entails in part understanding better the Marxist theory of ideology.

Richard Marshall reviews Stewart Home‘s new book on Bruceploitation.

Reviews » Is Time Travel Possible? Are We Close to Doomsday? And Other Big Deals… (published 04/08/2018)

The Doomsday Argument applies anthropic thinking to our place in history.  It says (roughly), we should favour the prospect of imminent human extinction on the grounds that our location, qua randomly selected humans, is more probable if a large fraction of all humans there will ever be have already lived.  In other words, the argument runs, if we apply anthropic reasoning to our location in history, we should increase our probability for history being close to its end.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alasdair Richmond.