:: Essays

Talking Lucy Ives’ The Hermit published 24/02/2020

OK. Back to what we were imagining. Imagine that you, the professor, decides to say something that isn’t about The Hermit by Lucy Ives, just to see if student X will continue to write in her notebook. For instance, what if you, the professor, decides to describe to the class student X taking notes as if it was part of the lecture.

So,

you look at student X, making notes, and you say, “She draws a line.” Perhaps, then, you describe her appearance: “She wears pale pink. She’s sickening in her youth, mouth an overripe strawberry and big, plain teeth.”

By Adam Golaski.

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The city alight published 12/02/2020

In Paris, many praise the architectural ingenuity of Georges-Eugène Haussmann for providing the city with its iconic beauty in the 1800’s. We are encouraged to marvel at the uniformity, the rows of windows and sandstone fronts. It is a source of pride for the Parisian and something we are expected to be thankful for.

The history behind the transformation of Paris, however, is a violent one. Haussmann, working with Napoleon III, ran grand boulevards through shanty towns, evicting the residents outside of the city he envisaged—beyond the outer circle. Haussmann was selective about who he unified and at best careless about those who suffered as a result. Working class areas were divided to make it easier for the military to quell uprisings. ‘Clean water and fresh air’, was the project sold to the people; though not without thousands of them being displaced.

By Joshua Kepreotis.

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Mayo-Optimism: Thinking Blackness and the Philosophy of Food published 03/02/2020

There is no easy emancipatory trick in mayonnaise. It is not that its resistance to spatiotemporal solid/liquid binaries immediately allows a means of thinking outside the violence of American aesthetics and production modes. But its ability to suggest otherwise, without the framework of American culinary logic, is the possibility of a conceptual refuge. As Fred Moten says about something else, ‘It cannot be denied that [mayonnaise] is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that [mayonnaise] is a place of enlightenment.’

By Elliot C. Mason.

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Stiegler’s Memory: Tertiary Retention and Temporal Objects published 23/01/2020

The fact that we can experience one temporal object a multitude of times implies that the temporal object is not merely remembered through primary retention; in fact, the very idea of perceiving the exact same temporal object numerous times implies some kind of technical reproduction e.g. a recording device (either analogue or digital). Thus, Stiegler’s main line of argument suggests that as we can experience a melody multiple times, and our experience of that melody changes depending on the multitude of times we experience it, we must therefore have a form of technical retention, or ‘tertiary retention’ in which the repeatability of a temporal object becomes possible. Our primary retention is also therefore dependant on both the secondary and tertiary forms of retention.

By Matt Bluemink.

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Time Crises published 15/01/2020

One doesn’t scroll through a book, eyes in fixed in roughly the same place, but instead scans across, down, and across, turning the page when appropriate. Unlike a feed, the content isn’t infinitely regenerated, but has a discrete (if large) quantity: you’re heading towards an ending. At issue is two experiences of time, one associated with codex and one with the refreshing web page. The first involves racing forward into the future, awareness of a coming end pulling you forward and a visible, easily accessible past behind you in the form of surrounding text and turned pages. The second involves a continuous present, the narrow aperture of the screen, the past erased with a single algorithmically-generated refresh. Less the experience of moving into the future than the future cascading into the static now.

By Andrew Eckholm.

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Curriculum Vitae published 14/01/2020

After all, my resume, albeit plain, isn’t a total debacle. I have four degrees along with experience in higher education (teaching assistant, three years), experience working with people (project coordinator, not-for-profit agency, two years), solid grades, a smattering of obligatory extracurriculars. Still, when the counselor asked me to summarize my work ethic, my work style, in three words, I drew a blank, a blank that ballooned into two minutes of silence, a silence I finally broke with a long rambling account of every job I’ve ever worked (stock boy, sandwich smith, mover, backpack fitter, ski salesman, English tutor, building manager, ESL teacher, grant writer) that said more about my mental stability than my work ethic—and it was not in my favor. But the counselor was smooth, calm, a true professional. We finished the session. Two cordial, capable adults. And ten minutes later she was rid of me.

By Kent Kosak.

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Alexander Frater 1937 – 2020 published 06/01/2020

You cannot live a fuller life and come out kinder and wiser than my friend, Alexander Frater, who died just upon the new year, after a time of illness. With his passing we witness the departure of a true luminary in a grand generation of British travel writers, who reinvented, or invented, what we now take to be travel writing. From Norman Lewis, Freya Stark, Bruce Chatwin and Eric Newby, to Jan Morris, Colin Thubron and Patrick Leigh Fermor – Alexander Frater was a light amongst them, and a key figure in this remarkable era, commissioning, inspiring and instigating many of his peers while editor at the Observer magazine in the 70s and 80s.

Steven J Fowler remembers the great British travel writer Alexander Frater.

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Kafka and Dickens: A Case Study published 20/12/2019

Yet it is difficult to believe that Dickens — whose imagination was so prodigious it could hardly have been turned off like a spigot by a few glasses of sherry and some bloody roast beef — ever stopped composing fiction, even in his sleep. It was very likely then, as he rolled about in bed beside Catherine Hogarth or Ellen Ternan, that he dreamed the stories later given shape by Kafka. During the night, characters and images that had come to him that morning or afternoon were transformed by Dickens’s unconscious brain and, by some as yet inexplicable trick of oneiric time and space, conveyed to the insomniac writing in spidery German beneath the lamp light of his room in Prague or Zürau, Spindlermühle or Berlin.

By Alex Andriesse.

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It’s Not What They Call You published 19/12/2019

In Audre Lorde’s memoir Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, Lorde writes that her name was originally spelled Audrey. When she was a child and she wrote her name on the page, she hated how the y would hang below the line. She had a hard time writing in a straight line anyway. She liked the evenness of “AUDRELORDE.”

But her mother made her spell it Audrey because, in Lorde’s words, “that was the way it had to be because that was the way it was. No deviations were allowed from her interpretation of correct.”

By Tyler Mendelsohn.

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Sky Market: The Ideal Neoliberal Non-Nation published 12/12/2019

There is a whole nation in the sky that is not subject to the codes of space we know. It is not part of any culture that we can define. It is a country without borders and without citizen allegiance. Its citizens, in fact, change constantly. It is a non-nation, bound somehow within the logic of nationality, but functioning as its antithesis.

There are around 10,000 planes in the sky at any one time, carrying something like 1,300,000 people. Add to that the number of people in airports waiting for flights at any time, and that is a sizeable non-nation. What makes us do it, and what does it mean for human life?

By Ellliot C. Mason

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