:: Essays

Winter, 2017 published 17/09/2019

An essay is a type of construction in which an author enters the world and gathers its facts, its ideas of itself, from which he or she builds. It should have a guiding structure that leads to discovery, to illumination, to a point towards which everything aligns in revelation.

Architecture gives actual construction, with thought behind. Making a model of a building offers a way to experience its physical presence close hand, over time, to examine its structure, the relationship of its parts, to think about one’s possible place in it and its place in the world, about its meanings, as well as engage in the practice and ritual of construction. A model also provides a platform to contemplate structures and relationships in general, what might be suggested analogically, what might be applied elsewhere.

By Gary Garvin.

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Real Life in the Capital published 12/09/2019

My cousin was similarly victimized. One night, while looking for something to eat, he bought a roast duck at a night market. At home, he cut the “duck” open to discover that someone had taken the skeleton from an already-eaten duck, stuffed it with filth, pasted it over with paper painted to look like roasted skin, and then smeared the whole thing in oil. Only the orange feet and neck were real.

By Ji Yun. Translated by Yi Izzy Yu and John Yu Branscum.

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The Judgment of Paris* published 04/09/2019

My film-going existence did not slacken in my first years of graduate school.  I did become an aficionado—of sorts—of a number of various national cinemas.  Is there a better film maker than Ozu?  I could say Naruse but why create a needless hierarchy?  But then I stopped going to the movies or at least I only ventured on rare occasions.  I wanted above all to publish a book as soon as possible and, then, too a heap of novels (which always carry their own emphatic and cinematic pleasures) remained to be read and, above all, I had to attend to my basketball career.  Apart from the time taken by these various reveries, wanderings, joys, and exultations—as well as by philosophical and literary expenditures—the rest of my time could not be wasted in the observance of images fashioned by others.  After all, it is so much the better to create in actuality one’s own adventures and enduring encounters and episodes.  Did I miss the cinema? Perhaps I did, but its song was not that of the sirens.

By Steve Light.

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Marías and Hitchcock published 28/08/2019

A Heart so White explores this strange and disturbing notion when Marías writes: “it’s odd how the features of those who no longer see us and whom we can no longer see become blurred, out of anger or absence or attrition, or how they become usurped by their photographs fixed for ever on a particular day”. The isolated object of a single photograph is “odd” and dominant, ruling out or usurping the plurality of human experience. Thus, the constructed image in a Hitchcock film or a Marías novel has a distinct and dangerous strangeness simply due to its singularity: it is outlandishly and horrifically non-human.

By Joseph Bullock.

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Border Imaginary: Borderland Narratives and the Identity of Landscape published 15/08/2019

When U.S. immigration policy forced migrants away from cities and out into the inhospitable environments of remote areas along the border, the landscape became an enforcer of hostility. In literature, place often operates as character, and rarely is this more evident than in that which is set within the borderlands. For migrants anywhere, traversing vast swaths of land or sea is a quest of epic proportions. Immigration and migration is one of the defining aspects of contemporary identity. The stories of those who have experienced that quest firsthand deserve to be elevated. In the US we have somehow gone from the Statue of Liberty to the border Wall. Understanding this shift is one of the critical projects of the current era.

By Gabriel Boudali.

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‘You [Still] Can’t Win’ published 14/08/2019

Today, Black’s reputation is chiefly floated by William S. Burroughs’ old habit of naming You Can’t Win his favourite book. Prefacing the AK Press edition of 1988, Burroughs explained the book’s attractions. It introduced him to a ‘code of conduct’ which ‘made more sense’ than the ‘arbitrary, hypocritical rules … taken for granted as being “right”’: crime might not pay, but the ‘straight’ life, for Burroughs, was itself so crooked, and its odds stacked so heavily against the vast majority of its players, that even on the ‘right’ side of the law you could never really win. Hence, Black’s book also stirred in Burroughs ‘a deep nostalgia for a way of life that is gone forever’.

By Oscar Mardell.

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mother and child doing fine published 13/08/2019

The whole of Berlin seemed pregnant that mild autumn. I averted my eyes and my ears to baby chatter, but unless you’ve been through infertility, you don’t know when it’s time to be quiet. We’ll get through this, I thought, even as my husband and I argued on the stairwell one winter morning. It came to pushing and shoving, and I stormed out to the car; he followed me, shouting, onto the street, because he couldn’t bear me walking away from a fight. Only when I drove off did I realise that he was standing in the snow in nothing but his boxer shorts, shouting after me with tears in his eyes.

By Lucy Jones.

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dora maar published 08/08/2019

Though sidestepping the laddish puns of her male peers, her photomontages are suitably placed in the veiled-erotic, Freudian hinterland of the surrealist imagination. She provokes the thought of a finger pressing into the libidinous wetness of a mollusc curled inside its shell in Untitled (hand and shell) (1934), while in Forbidden Games (1935) a curious child peers from under a desk as a melancholy figure grips a man between her thighs and rides him around the parlour.

Hailey Maxwell reviews Dora Maar.

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Orange published 07/08/2019

Eating an orange is like eating a sun. It is hard to do it right and there is no adequate technique or system you can rely on. You have to trust your instincts and be guided by your craving to eat it, to be at one with it. At first, you select your longest nail. Usually the nail of your left thumb. You use it as a delicate scalpel to cut through the thick orange skin near the top of the fruit. The idea is to cut through the skin and not reach the pulp but too often, especially if the orange is perfectly ripe, it fails. Juice gushes out and you feel it run on the palms of your hands, down your wrists. For a while you do nothing because you love the wet sticky touch on your skin and the strong fresh scent of orange in the blue winter air.

By Lucie Bonvalet.

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Three Unbooks: DuPlessis, Scutenaire, Scappettone published 01/08/2019

If every book is a performance or reiteration of prior books, Mallarmé is not immune to the ideology of prismism — the idea that his blank contains all, and this is perhaps the fatal flaw that DuPlessis addresses. DuPlessis’ untranslation, then, takes into account the idea that the page itself might be the obstacle to the realization of Mallarmé’s never-attained absolute book. DuPlessis may not be asking us to aestheticize or idealize the blank, but rather to unpage it. What would it mean to unpage rather than aestheticize the blank?

By Joe Milutis.

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