:: Essays

Four Fragments from the Prince’s Tomb published 06/05/2019

As he approached the end of his task, he found himself filled with doubt, not just about the way in which he had made use of Prince Kim’s notes, but about his own life and his chosen path altogether. He was increasingly aware of the vast divide between the deep intentions which animated the texts, and his personal preoccupations. His meditation practice had almost disappeared in daily activities. He reviewed what had become a little book and doubted that anyone would find it readable, much less comprehensible. And, even though he was strangely confident in the way he had assembled and edited the text, he was not sure that he comprehended it himself.  Completing the last section intensified all his uncertainties.

By Douglas Penick.

» Read more...

Round: an excerpt from Blank Sign Book published 30/04/2019

A circular composition comprises Janet Cardiff’s sound installation The Forty Part Motet. Here, human space acuminates into an uncanny assertion of spiritual high beauty. Inside an expansive and cavernous gallery space with polished concrete floors and warehouse windows (sailboats knocking together beyond them), the complex sixteenth-century choral composition Spem in Alium emanated from forty small, rectangular, ear-high speakers. Thought to be the pinnacle of early English music, this song braids the voices of eight five-member choirs. In a complex round, they toss Latin phrasings back and forth. Art made by this many voices is a high feat of humanism, and is easily understood as having aesthetic (if historical) value. In the early twenty-first century, this felt like a vestigial kind of pleasure to be taking in an art space.

By Anne Lesley Selcer.

» Read more...

Dear Angelus Novus published 25/04/2019

You closed your eyes, and tuned into the warm impermanence of things organic. You were suddenly snatched away and propelled elsewhere. In this elsewhere, you felt as if you were orbiting around me in a space capsule and you distinctly heard my strange and eerie wail. You were bewildered to see millions of fragments from dumped satellites and rockets, orbiting the earth, promising collisions with new ones, spelling out trouble ahead. Amongst the space junk, you recognised orbiting past a flying aeroplane door, an astronaut’s glove, an ejector seat.

Susana Medina‘s contribution to Letters to the Earth, read at the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

» Read more...

Knots and Not Seeing published 18/04/2019

At which point does a knot become knotted? Can some knots appear unknotted?    Computers can make everything seem calculated and worked out, all is well ordered to the algorithmic eye that constantly seeks out the path of least resistance: but to a human it is complete chaos. There is a certain potential in the path of most resistance, where strands come close and rub against each other and the friction creates comforting warmth as you struggle to unfurl it. I wonder what this liminal ‘special Space’ between being simultaneously knotted and unknotted looks like.

By Matthew Turner.

» Read more...

We Are The World: Jordan Peele’s Us published 08/04/2019

The prismatic character of our times is such that all works of art might have something to say about it, some sliver of reflection caught in the shattered mirror, even if unwittingly or unintentional. When the overarching theme of this of not-so-fun house-of-mirrors is the perception of perception, then everything is a clue—every chance encounter, every uttered phrase, every fragment is an artifact, a symbol of a symbol of a symbol in the infinite regress of what is really going on. What dark forces are determining this? In what corrupt reality are we in fact living? Corrupt like a file. The copy of the file. The copy of the copy of the copy. Corrupted perhaps by the degenerating consequences of the replication itself – otherwise we must assign blame, mustn’t we? And where does that get us these days?

By Jeff Wood.

» Read more...

Thoughts on a Queer Gaze published 03/04/2019

If “male gaze” as defined in Laura Mulvey’s seminal essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, objectifies women as stereotypes for heterosexual male viewers, and the “female gaze” responds to this by subverting the object and positioning women as viewers, then both stem from social power buried with the act of looking—who sees and who is seen. In theory, a queer gaze would deconstruct such gender-based power dynamics, changing not only the object but also the intent of the male and female gaze. Ideally, a queer gaze would create a world completely free from binary notions of desire and storytelling, creating space for plural identities and possibilities.

By Molly Moss.

» Read more...

Emily Dickinson Weeping Under the Stairwell published 28/03/2019

I guess I’m writing this for anyone who might relate, whether or not they attend AWP or are enrolled in an MFA or are simply sitting in their room slowly and methodically typing away at their first novel in a silence broken only by the click of the keys. Maybe even Ada Limón or Esme Wang still feel much more like that hypothetical Emily Dickinson, anxious to tuck themselves away beneath a staircase. But maybe I missed out on something special — 12,000 people who still give a shit about books, who still think they are worth travelling across the country to talk about.At the heart of it, I suppose what I’m most afraid of is that I will show up at AWP and find out that perhaps it is not a world that I belong to. It’s the fear of the potential realization that the dream is just an illusion, that you will always be outside the party, somewhere at the bottom of an endless waiting list.

By Stewart Sinclair.

» Read more...

Against Bipartisanship published 14/03/2019

The first thing to recognize is that our polarization problem cannot find its solution within efforts to craft venues for better politics. This is because the dysfunctions we face lie with the fact that politics has colonized the entirety of our social lives. To explain, the social spaces we inhabit –our workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, markets, places of worship, and parks — are increasingly sorted according to our political affiliations. This means that our ordinary social interactions tend to put us in contact only with those who are politically much like ourselves. What’s more, we as individuals have come to organize more and more of our everyday lives around our political loyalties. Not only do our rivals assign political significance to our daily routine; we do too.

Robert B. Talisse on our increasingly bipartisan lives.

» Read more...

Walker published 23/02/2019

Sunday, 11:00 AM. Saw friends last night, felt strange. Went to the wrong house first and it was filled with people I might’ve known. I went to the next house and felt a bit more at ease because I knew it was the place I’d intended to go, but not much. Can’t have conversations with people like I used to. Can’t open up or think out loud anymore. Still. There’s this voice in my head having a conversation I’m never able to really articulate. It’s in there, now, tearing down this moment and turning it into something to fear.

By Grant Maierhofer.

» Read more...

Remembering Dan Fante published 16/02/2019

When he died, I took all those other quotes off the cover of Jerkoff and placed his right in the center atop the blonde bombshell in the pink negligee. I added a picture of him inside the book as well with an inscription thanking him for all he’d done for me in the brief time that I’d known him. Today, Fante is still with me. There’s a framed picture of him hanging on my wall, right above my workstation. He’s glaring down upon me from under that white Fedora he got in Italy, somehow still reminding me that I don’t know Jack F. Shit about writing. Thanks for the reminder Fante.

Douglas Mallon remembers Dan Fante.

» Read more...