:: Essays

Real or Fake? Autofiction and The Hills published 05/05/2020

I started talking about The Hills, firstly, because, as I mentioned, the theme tune comes to mind when I’m asked about autofiction, which I recently was, yet again (“Staring at the blank page before you / Open up the dirty window / Let the sun illuminate…”), but also to demonstrate how it so casually and unapologetically did something the world of contemporary literature is struggling to get its head around, even now. In an age when the artists, the leading intellectuals, the people who are supposed to be at the forefront of avant-garde thought and experimentalism, whatever the hell that might be these days (sitting in a large room and holding eye-contact with people? Not using full stops? Taking drugs?), are clamouring about definitions between fiction, autofiction, and fact, The Hills managed to blur the lines entirely between fact and fiction, and to do so in a way that proved genuinely exciting, without having to have endless debates over what it actually was.

Lucy Sweeney Byrne reflects on the intersection between The Hills and autofiction.

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A Complete Family / hstry published 04/05/2020

For several months after my uterus was removed, I continued to bleed from my vagina. The stitches were dissolving; they said goodbye in crimson streams. The cruel irony taste of this stubborn blood was not lost on me. Still, I was thankful, having heard my whole life that this procedure was unthinkable for a healthy young adult—unthinkable to make my future child not my child, impossible to embody today an already-empty future. In this present-future I am already useless. I am, as Lee Edelman writes, irredeemable.

By Sarah Cavar.

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Fear and Flee the Vampire? Reading Dracula in Lockdown London published 27/04/2020

… as the metaphor of a virus is turning back to reality, I can’t help but sense yet another, more subtle and more chilling aspect of reading the vampire as a trope for infection beginning to emanate from our discussion; beneath all its quaint quirkiness this virus exposes not just the fears haunting the narrower minds of the nineteenth century. The moral prowess of those most eager to contain the vampire virus in the plotlines of a holy battle is put into question anew, with disturbing implications.  Soberingly, our twenty-first century reality does not appear as such a secure vantage point after all: for the amphibian antics, child-eating gore and erotic fantasies of the vampire are all channelled through a perspective that is antisemitic, xenophobic or homophobic in turns. As Bram Stoker was only too aware, we’re most afraid of the darkness inside ourselves.

By Katharina Donn.

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Technological Slavery 2.0: Ghosts of Hypernormalization and the Role of Art in a Pandemic published 13/04/2020

In the middle of a global pandemic, with countries on lockdowns, systems scrambling to operate, forced closures of businesses, factories and warehouses, mass lay-offs and unemployment, things seem strangely ‘normal.’ Many people seem to be either ignoring the event, or are suspicious of the media’s portrayal of it, and do not take the necessary steps to protect themselves. The irony of this is that despite the apparent blasé nature of this reaction, shelves continue to be emptied of the essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, sanitizers, bleach and cleaning products, cans of soup, meat and dairy. Panic buying has taken on a face of nonchalance and dejected familiarity. Panic is, in this sense, entirely hypernormal.

By Tom Pazderka.

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Happy Birthday 3:AM! published 01/04/2020

Launched in April 2000, 3:AM Magazine turns 20 this month!

To celebrate, here’s a brief extract from Will Wiles‘s wonderful novel Plume, which has just come out in paperback:

“But since the appearance of Murder Boards, Pierce had acquired a small but eager following, myself included. His post-riots essay for 3:AM Magazine, ‘Beneath the Paving Stones, the Fire’, had circulated on Twitter and Tumblr for more than a month, and was republished by the New York Times“.

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On Sentimentality published 30/03/2020

At the Mildura Writer’s Festival in 2019, on a panel with Craig Sherborne and Moreno Giovannoni, Helen Garner spoke about Raymond Carver’s unedited stories. She hated them for all of their sentimental scenes—ones that would be removed by Carver’s editor Gordon Lish for What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Lish took a knife to the cushy scenes and Carver became a master of the spare and cutting.

By Robert Albazi.

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The Negative Dialectics of Social Distancing published 26/03/2020

Today, in the middle of the global pandemic of COVID-19, we find another opportunity for negative dialectical thinking in the phrase “social distancing.” Offered as a recommendation for how best to hinder the spread of the virus, social distancing is, on the surface, a simple synonym of avoidance, isolation, or quarantining. If we, as individuals, limit our exposure to other bodies, then the chances of spreading the virus will decrease. Seems simple enough. But, as with so many phrases, this one has a lot lurking beneath the surface. Negative dialectical thinking plumbs the depths.

By Will Daddario.

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Limited Resources: A Recycling Story published 23/03/2020

Like most health-conscious alternatives, it’s not all couscous and post-sky current colors. It seems like they’re making it increasingly difficult to recycle. It takes a lot of time and burns a lot of energy. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it, especially when everyone says it’s ridiculous, and since half of what we wastrel warriors painstakingly manage to recycle supposedly winds up in Holocaust-like ashtrays anyways.

A lot of people have given up their human right to recycle fight, but our back slinging silver scrapping guerilla army’s numbers remain strong.

By Charles J. March III.

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The Replicant Real, Part II published 17/03/2020

In a culture on the brink of absolute psychosis, the voodoo-magic of a weaponized peace is cantilevered over the abyss of nowhere is safe. It’s a devastating exchange of intolerable sadness and despair, for the mask of hysteria is normalized at the very limits of what it is to be human, or human as we’ve known it.

Part II of “The Replicant Real,” an essay by Jeff Wood.

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The Replicant Real published 03/03/2020

“I think I swallowed a bug,” Brando announces. He had. And I had. There was no difference, in those looping late-night moments, between what was happening on the screen behind my eyelids or in front of them. Apocalypse Now had crossed the blood brain barrier of the symbolic and fictional real, just as The Day After had done, and Blade Runner would eventually do in the looping future of itself that has lasted until precisely now.

In the first installment of a two-part essay, Jeff Wood considers how we arrived at our hall-of-mirrors world through an exploration of film and television.

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