:: Essays

Fat and Out of Control published 16/09/2020

In mid-2020, as Americans around us die in staggering numbers, it’s hard not to look at the way we treat the people who have contracted COVID-19, some who lived, some who died, and some still battling for their lives. We lament the tragedy of the selfless and hardworking healthcare professionals sickened in the line of duty. We sneer at the young and assholeish who partied in Cancun for spring break and now are on ventilators. We sigh at another elderly person whose aging body couldn’t fend off this pernicious virus. And we judge the overweight and obese for letting their bodies become this vulnerable to it. The stigma of this illness, for some queer people, even echoes their lived experiences of HIV and AIDS, and the impact it had on the lives of their family and friends.

By Fletcher Cullinane.

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‘And now we are no longer slaves’: notes on Eden Eden Eden at fifty published 09/09/2020

This collision of forms, figures and organisms coalesce to enact a universe affirming itself. Sex becomes the equaliser of an onslaught of savage and sonorous frequencies. Figures fall into animality, adrenaline, majesty, warfare, abyss itself. A radical attack on literary systems, the ‘Saharan fiction’ of Eden Eden Eden brings forth a new writing, and therefore, a new reading. Unbound, the text becomes aural in its cadence, commanding to be read aloud, recited, chanted; sending the prose backwards, forwards—the flesh of war constantly recomposed.

Scott McCulloch on Eden, Eden, Eden by Pierre Guyotat on its 50th anniversary.

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Rebel, Rebel published 31/08/2020

… Moby-Dick is about lordship over nature … And now the time has come to transcend this type of lordship … Epigraph stolen from Roc’s dodgy memory-banks … W.H. Auden, the poet, said something like ‘The trouble with fighting evil is it generates evil. And there’s no time to create beauty.’ In most of its actions, Extinction Rebellion creates beauty. It creates fun. XR has a very strong sense of the importance of art in climate activism. In most actions, there are collective performances, and intellectually stimulating talks. Last week, it was the Summer Uprising. We parked the Polly Higgings ACT NOW baby-blue boat outside The Royal Court of Justice. A flag which read MAKE ECOCIDE LAW was raised half-mast by a dancer, while a violinist played music. It was beautiful. Many other beautiful performances and talks followed.

Another extract from Susana Medina and Roc Sandford‘s We Are the Asteroid, We Are the Dinosaurs.

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On Algolonialism: From Independent Media to Monetized Friendships published 27/08/2020

Then there is the power of the human voice. I’ve noticed that on repeated listening to various podcasts I’ve got very used to the way voices carry through the air and the earphones. I avoid certain types of voices because my ears do not receive them well. It is often not what is being said, but how—the pitch and timbre, the cadence and the general attitude of the speaking voice. I tend to listen to voices that are mildly soothing but also abrasive, and to podcasts that are generally adversarial, that seem to have a lot at stake in challenging the injustices of ‘the system’ whatever that nebulous term means. The podcaster ‘friend’ voice is a thing onto itself. It is soft, deliberate, warm, without any pretense toward sarcasm or authority. It is in fact the very opposite of authority, the kind of voice we associate with the ‘father’ tone of old world news anchors and interviewers Edward R. Murrow, Dan Rather or Charlie Rose.

By Tom Pazderka.

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Spoken in Jest: On the Lasting Importance of Georges Perec published 23/08/2020

Reading Perec’s collection of essays Species of Space broke me out of the impasse I had found myself in. I packed up my haunted river book, accepted it as lost and melodramatically threw it off a pier into the sea, and I began again; this time writing an entirely new book about the past where terrible, wondrous and everyday stories would be told via the conduit of objects, thus bypassing the perils of direct disclosure. Written in a month-long bloodshot frenzy, after three or four years of involuntary suspended animation, Inventory was guided by restrictions as well as the friendly ghost of Perec. The idea was to treat it not as a book but instead a collection that I was merely assembling from the hoards of junk in the attic of memory.

Darran Anderson on how Georges Perec inspired his new book, Inventory.

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Letter to Pessoa and Vishvarupa: The Other as Self, The Self as Other published 13/08/2020

It is a joy to learn of Cahill’s work, thinking that the verses are embedded in the Vedas, which in itself was ‘without authorship’, and in the past was strictly ‘inaccessible by women’ (Hudson, 1980). It is my humble opinion, that women should be entitled to write (let alone access) such verses, for it is their minds and bodies which are the closest to the God(s), with their ability to fulfil humanity’s highest aspiration to harbour the seed to create consciousness: Selves, Others.

Harold Legaspi on Michelle Cahill.

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Bernard Stiegler: In Memoriam published 11/08/2020

Stiegler’s central thesis was focused on the idea that we cannot separate man from technics. Insofar as we can consider ourselves human beings, we must understand that we are defined by our inherent technicity which arises simultaneously with our becoming human through a process of exteriorisation which he calls epiphylogenesis. Epiphylogenesis can essentially be understood as the exteriorisation of consciousness into tools, art, and other forms of technics.

Matt Bluemink remembers Bernard Stiegler.

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Metropolis published 03/08/2020

Goebbels thought Metropolis a masterpiece, and it seems Hitler shared his admiration. Recognising its power, Goebbels even sought to bring Fritz on as head of the German film studio UFA, overlooking the fact he was a Jew. “We decide who is Jewish,” the bloodsoaked old cynic is said to have mused. The Nazis’ appreciation has an even more fundamental link. Metropolis was a collaborative work between Fritz Lang and his then wife, Thea von Harbou. Lang was the director and visual master, but von Harbou wrote the script, and the story was adapted from a novel she wrote. While Lang was repelled by the Hitler regime, von Harbou became increasingly sympathetic to the Nazis, later joining the party; one of many reasons for their later divorce. No wonder that one key aspect of the message of Metropolis was appropriated by the Nazis, when one of its creators was a proto-Nazi herself.

Ben Granger on Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis.

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Excerpts from a flight of objects that seemed real published 22/07/2020

There are so many ways to touch a body, but none so beautiful as the quiet liberty that is outside of promise and expectation, compelled only by that which compels. This exactly is withheld. It is in this way that my body returns to itself in shock, with the adrenaline of deprivation, to share in my own silence. So many years shaken off. I keep this bee-sting secret, tucked under a sleeve to provoke my uprising.

By Lital Khaikin.

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Not Far From the Junction (Excerpt) published 18/07/2020

On Tuesday May 21st 2019, I travelled from Redbridge in East London up the M11, then the A1(M) past Newark, across to the M1 just below Sheffield, before heading South and eventually abandoning hope of a lift at Donnington Park services, having been moved off junction 24 by the police. At the time of writing, this is also the last of my hitching expeditions. I can’t explain why, just that it’s an ending of sorts. In presenting this text I’ve changed the names of all contributors, and everyone they mentioned, and disguised place names. Although everyone gave me permission to use their words, these were decisions taken in a moment, while a stranger sat in their vehicle, and I don’t want to get anyone into trouble. Transcripts are edited, truncated and, to some extent, manipulated. The text below represents a partial selection of the people I met and the subjects we covered.

Read our extracts from Will Ashon‘s Not Far From the Junction.

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