:: Essays

Pandemic Literature published 28/03/2021

We speak about the nightmarish imagery: lilacs out of the dead land, a heap of broken images, fear in a handful of dust. About World War One, the Industrial Revolution, modernism. Before long it is time to end the class, a lump in my throat, to thank everyone who’s joined in for their cooperation in using the new technology, for all our discussions in class up until now. It’s only when I’ve logged off that I wonder about a context for the poem that we didn’t discuss: the Spanish flu. The virus and the poem, three years apart. I’d never thought of the connection. Idly, I scroll through JSTOR, find a chapter on The Waste Land in a book by Elizabeth Outka called Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature. The miasmic residue of the pandemic experience, it argues, infuses every part of the poem, in ways we have been missing all along. Outka’s autopsy revealing the virus spread through the bronchioles of the poem. Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit. A poem burning with fever. Burning burning burning burning burning / O Lord thou pluckest me out. This fresh new pandemic sending us back towards a residue analysis. The cruellest month looming.

Tara McEvoy on The Road, The Waste Land and the pandemic.

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In Praise of Boring Books published 22/03/2021

Anyone reading The Radetsky March must also confront the issue of repetition. Like the military manoeuvres that it so tirelessly describes, the novel goes round and round the same situations again and again. This would never happen in a contemporary novel. As the novel progresses, the great Austrian Empire starts to collapse. These military men are losing the whole purpose of their existence, but they carry on just the same.

By Alice Jolly.

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Computer Blues and Mars Reds published 12/03/2021

In the mornings, I leave the red house to find my blue car covered in a hard sheet of glossy ice not yet ready to melt. I close my eyes and turn my face away and throw my weight behind the sharp end of the ice scraper as my red-hued lover sleeps upstairs. Something like photosynthesis, like breath or music or grace. Sure, there’s life all over. Life’s all over. Life’s over.

An essay by Emmalea Russo.

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Dear Elizabeth published 08/03/2021

Holy fuck! Are you still fucking here? Why haven’t you fucked off already? And fucking hell, aren’t you fucking ashamed of the way your fucking “Firm” treated that poor girl Meghan? Fuck off with asking what skin colour her child would be. What the fuck is that? What the fuck is wrong with you all? Actually, no fucking need to answer that. We fucking know. We even saw you shielding Prince fucking Andrew for fucking noncing. So we know exactly how fucking low you can go and it’s the fucking bottom of everything you abusive bunch of absolute fucks.

Sam Jordison celebrates the British Royal Family.

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Metal Face Dada published 26/02/2021

We can then see MF DOOM not only as a fiction, but the universe of that fiction, and how the tenets of that fiction reflect/refract the problematic fascinations of our reality. DOOM is then, within that definition, a pastiche, a costume, an ethos, a topos, and in that, a literature.

An essay by Eric Tyler Benick on MF DOOM.

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The Frame of Lagado published 18/01/2021

For Swift, Knowledge (with a capital K) does not exist. It does not exist in the sense that it is not out there waiting to be found, that its constituent parts are not readymades prepared to be rearranged. The more the search is performed, the more the fragmentary quality of knowledge, of meaning, is revealed. My silence comes as no surprise. It seems I short-circuited that part of my internal belief and was left wordless.

An essay by Joshua Calladine-Jones on Jonathan Swift’s Guillver’s Travels.

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Go On, Cry published 12/01/2021

I want us to cry like girls. I want the phrase “cry like a girl” to become something inspiring, something which people take to heart. I want this phrase to eventually fade out of use because there are completely different categories. Because we’ve smudged the old categories with our tears. Cry for me, Angela!

An essay by Lisa Krusche.

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Guruphobia: Satori Salesmen and their Seductions published 22/12/2020

Of all the prides, the most pernicious is spiritual pride—a holier-than-thou, more-learned-than-thou, or more-advanced-than-thou superiority, overt or (more often) under wraps. The most enslaved of the spiritually proud are the self-deifiers of whom there have been more than a few in every faith and cult.

By David B. Comfort.

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The Squeak Strikes Down the Story published 14/12/2020

A man on a marimba plays a discordant “Flight of the Bumblebee” while a violinist imitates a mouse.  When people call me Josef K., I nod my head painfully.  When they shout, “Gregor,” and offer to toss me peanuts, I open my mouth obediently.  But now—in these precarious times of cat-like shadows creeping in the corners—might I not vault onto the painted pail of the ringmaster and assert my Josefineness all the same?  I am Diva, in a sequined red jacket and black top hat, snapping a bullwhip as I whine about my utter lack of vocabulary when it comes to music writing.  I have entered into a conversation for which I have no words.  And yet, I will sing.

By Nathan Dixon.

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Architectural Possibilities of Renee Gladman’s Prose Architectures published 10/12/2020

Gladman’s work registers that “space as such,” whatever it is, is probably not the affectless cypher to structure but a structure already structured, “geometric or morphological.” Yet its implications are rangier than what might be summarized by a curator as those pertaining to “genre-bending.” Architectures makes to unravel the religious and industrial facing that is empty space. As such, the often pathetically ambivalent “post-ironic” spatially-charged genre of the installation is not just the spelling-out of a-s-s-e-m-b-l-a-g-e or c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l p-a-s-t-i-c-h-e across a gallery room.

Albe Harlow on Prose Architectures by Renee Gladman.

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