Miscellaneous


1968 and the emotional meaning of 2020

1968 and the emotional meaning of 2020

2020 is as distant from 1968 as the Apollo 11 moon-landing was from the end of World War One. For some of us Americans 2020 has rubbed the hard and weathered scar of 1968 raw enough that we can feel its poison again, 52 years later. But those of us who are old enough to still feel 1968 can treat 2020 as a moment of redemption, or even atonement, one that somehow cancels out a small part of the lingering regret and almost certainly foolish mistakes we made back in that terrible year between the Tet offensive and the election of Richard Nixon. Alex Rosenberg reflects on 2020

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Hans Falla and Janine Paulette discuss Vampyr by Louis Armand

Hans Falla and Janine Paulette discuss Vampyr by Louis Armand

Let us be grateful to Armand who makes us happy: a charming monster who make our souls blossom. The real writers of discovery consist not in seeking new landscapes, nor in having new eyes but rather in the mere effort to patch the writing above and against a life. Predictions of things to come are necessarily the memorising of things as they are. Armand, as he writes, is actually the reader of a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he sees in himself without the book. The writer's recognition in himself in what the book says is the proof of the book's worth. Hans Falla and Janine Paulette discuss Louis Armand's Vampyr

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Hans Falla and Janine Paulette in conversation about Steve Finbow’s ‘The Mindshaft’

Hans Falla and Janine Paulette in conversation about Steve Finbow’s ‘The Mindshaft’

The 70s has only one face: that of a violent contradiction. It went astray, was destroyed, was extremely private, distant, passionate, turbulent and filthy. Nothing is more necessary or stronger in us than this time. It was the beginning of a kind of cannibalism. It was a time that didn't want your love unless you knew it was repulsive, and love would neverbe what would survive it. It was in harmony with its annihilation. It never seemed decent because its indecent people had moral eyes and feared lewdness. They wanted to be frightened by the crowing of a rooster or when strolling under a starry heaven and savored the "pleasures of the flesh" only on condition that it wasn’t insipid. Steve Finbow's new novel The Mindshaft discussed.

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Denizen of the Dead

Denizen of the Dead

This anthology of horror stories set in and around 43 Golden Lane in central London is a continuation of a series of protests against a luxury apartment development. Taylor Wimpey’s new building at this address replaces 110 social housing units for key workers with 99 much bigger investment flats. The new apartment block is considerably larger than the one that was demolished to make way for it and now overshadows local social housing, a park and schools. Some council flats have lost 70% of the light in their living rooms and afternoon sunshine is blocked from the heavily used Fortune Street Park. While impoverished local councils often roll over for developers, the City of London which is home to this luxury development is the richest and most undemocratic council in the UK, and one which very proactively represents and lobbies for corporate interests. Stewart Home introduces a vital anthology of horror stories.

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Can the Experience Machine Save the Planet?

Can the Experience Machine Save the Planet?

About fifty years ago the very creative Harvard philosopher, Robert Nozick, invented the thought-experiment known as the “experience machine.” His aim was to show that people value other things beside pleasant sensations, and so hedonistic theories of value, like John Stuart Mill’s--“pleasure is the good”--are mistaken. One version of his thought-experiment goes like this: suppose you were offered the choice between living your future life as it will actually happen, or being wired up to a machine that produces in your brain exactly the same sequence of experiences as you will have in your real life from now on. Alex Rosenberg on How We Might Survive the Future

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Brief Asides on She’s My Witch by Stewart Home

Brief Asides on She’s My Witch by Stewart Home

This is a love story following a pretty conventional trajectory, told with feeling and warmth. Who’d have thought? Mind you, if I tried to summarise what was going on then it’d sound a lot like a typical Home affair: lots of wild sex, drugs, weird esotericism, Metro Euro-London rad lefty underground culture, music references with time travel, witches and reincarnations thrown in to keep the pot boiling. It’s playful and subversive of course, but what I found new was the tone of the performance which seemed to be less astringent, less belligerent and more tuned to the hallowed than the sensational. It rattled along at a fair old pace and there’s lots of it which gives Home the space to game large and wide.

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Brief Asides on Licorice by Bridget Penney

Brief Asides on Licorice by Bridget Penney

‘Chalk, gorse, old coppice, redundant dew ponds, a crossroads formed by the intersection of a B road and an ancient fisherman’s track. It’s August. The rain shows no sign of stopping. Licorice, a reclusive middle-aged filmmaker, has only a brief window of opportunity to realise her long-cherished film project about the story of Nan Kemp. A grisly story of infanticide, cannibalism and rough justice remembered on the map: local kids have dared and scared each other to run round ‘the witch’s grave’ since way back when. The rebuilt windmill provides a hypothetical link between the time from which Nan’s ‘story’ springs and the present.

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Brief asides on No-Signal Area by Robert Perišić

Brief asides on No-Signal Area by Robert Perišić

I like this new book by Robert Perišić which is set in somewhere like Croatia. Probably is Croatia given that that’s the place he writes about. He’s got what it takes to carry a complicated story through to the end whilst giving you the politics and zeitgeist of the place. And he’s got a great eye for detail, especially the humane stuff between people. So when I read it I felt I knew his characters well enough to argue with them and sometimes I wondered if they’d really do what they did. I felt I could ask that because he does such a good job letting you know what the character is thinking and what she or he did before so you can say: hmm, I don’t believe you. Or, hmm, you wouldn’t do that. Or else. If you’re doing that then what you were saying, doing, thinking before wasn’t quite the truth.

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Brief Asides on SJ Fowler's I Will Show You the Life of the Mind (on prescription drugs)

Brief Asides on SJ Fowler's I Will Show You the Life of the Mind (on prescription drugs)

The private garden of a dying mind, loaded and loading prescription drugs towards a dying end in ‘a state of extremely slow emergency’, is laid out as compassion and seed initiates. Substituting feeling and emotion with slo-mo information mosaics the life resembles one rapidly discarded stage set after another, folding over and over, with permanent effect, a sense of meaning ruled by shifting identities, transient delusions and fickle estrangements.

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