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Stephen Barber

Twenty-four hours in state of unconsciousness

Now the dead will no longer be buried, now this spectral city will become the site for execrations and lamentations, now time itself will disintegrate and void itself, now human bodies will expectorate fury and envision their own transformation or negation, now infinite and untold catastrophes are imminently on their way —ready to cross the bridge over the river Aire and engulf us all — in this winter of discontent, just beginning at this dead-of-night ­instant before midnight, North-Sea ice-particles already crackling in the air and the last summer long-over, the final moment of my seventeenth birthday, so we have to go, the devil is at our heels… And now we’re running at full-tilt through the centre of the city, across the square beneath the Purbeck-marble edifice of the Queen’s ­Hotel, down towards the dark arches under the railway tracks, the illuminated sky shaking, the air fissured with beating cacophony,...

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Current Texts
From xenolinguistics to cephalo­pods

From xenolinguistics to cephalo­pods

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  • utopia
  • communication media
  • science fiction
  • semiotics and semiology
  • communication
  • linguistics
Camouflaged with a visual language
Camouflaged with a visual language

Malte Fabian Rauch

Where the Negative Holds Court

What Reena really wanted to know was why – in a night club, for example – do we chose, always and above all, that nothing happens?” Many ventured to explore this wasteland, our present, in recent years. But cartographing a void is delicate matter. It is a blank space; it demands new methods. Representation is not among them, having proved too imprecise an instrument. One group went further than most others: drawing lines, mapping grounds, testing waters. Their lines introduced...
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Arts

Eric Baudelaire

A for Anomie

A for Anomie

The idea that terrorism and other forms of political violence are directly related to strains caused by strongly held grievances has been one of the most common explanations to date and can be traced to a diverse set of theoretical concepts including relative deprivation, social disorganization, breakdown, tension, and anomie. Merton (1938) identifies anomie as a cultural condition of frustration, in which values regarding goals and how to achieve them conflict with limitations on the means of achievement.

Gary LaFree and Laura Dugan, “Research on Terrorism and Countering Terrorism”, Crime and Justice, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2009.

 

B for Block or Blocked

If terrorism in each of its expressions can be considered an indicator of the existence of a political block (of an impossibility of reacting if one wishes to react differently), this influences its real ability to modify the situation. Terrorism has been historically more successful when it was not...

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Let’s find the stage of human affairs
Let’s find the stage of human affairs

Marion Muller-Colard, Clémence Pollet

Hannah Arendt's Little Theater

While about to finish her last book, the philosopher Hannah Arendt is disturbed by her stubborn alter ego, 9-year-old Little Hannah. Reluctantly, the old woman lets herself drag out onto the streets of New York and into constant conversation by the inquisitive little girl. They enter a little theatre, and together they watch mankind, society, politics, power evolve – and they also experience the role of Evil (in the person of a wolf and of numerous wooden puppets) and its...
  • Evil
  • young readers
  • thinking
  • ethics
  • acting
Fiction

Diane Williams

How about some string?

I said “Would you like a rope? You know that haul you have is not secured properly.”
“No,” he said, “but I see you have string!”
“If this comes into motion—” I said, “you should use a rope.”
“Any poison ivy on that? ” he asked me, and I told him my rope had been in the barn peacefully for years.
He took a length of it to the bedside table. He had no concept for what wood could endure.
“Table must have broken when I lashed it onto the truck,” he said.
And, when he was moving the sewing machine, he let the cast iron wheels—bang, bang on the stair.
I had settled down to pack up the flamingo cookie jar, the cutlery, and the cookware, but stopped briefly, for how many times do you catch sudden sight of something heartfelt?
I saw our milk cows in their slow...

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Digital disrupture
Digital disrupture

Dieter Mersch

Digital Criticism

We really need an analysis of algorithmic conditions and their paradoxes and ambiguities that gives them an adequate framework and horizon. But instead we currently seem to be finding an algorithmic solution of the algorithmic, much as digital solutions are being offered for the problems of the digital public sphere, in the way that IT corporations, for example, use exclusively mathematical procedures to evaluate and delete “fake news,” inappropriate portrayals, or the violation of personal rights. This tends to result...
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Discourse

Stephen Barber

An immodest proposal

J.G. Ballard’s self-declared ‘Immodest Proposal’ for a global war-­alliance to exact the destruction of America demonstrates the provocatory zeal of his last fiction plans, as well as their enduring prescience. As Ballard emphasises several times in the World Versus America notebooks, he is utterly serious in his concerns and visions.
Although the Ballard ­estate declined permission for any images of pages from the World Versus America archival notebooks to accompany this essay, any member of the general public interested to do so can readily visit the British Library and view the notebooks in their entirety in the freely-­accessible manuscripts collection there.

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One plus one equals other
One plus one equals other

Dieter Mersch

Epistemologies of Aesthetics

We  identified ‘showing’—rather than ‘saying’—as the primary self-manifestation of the aesthetic. By ‘showing’ and ‘manifestation’ we do not mean expression, but exhibition and exposition. Wherever works work only with aisthēta and relevance is drawn from perceptions or things and their materiality—from every nuance of coloring, from the way in which objects are framed or combined, from the position of a detail, from the interval between two notes and their microtonal succession or arrhythmic placement, from any hesitation of physical feeling,...
  • artistic research
  • epistemology
  • aesthetics
  • Think Art
  • discourse analysis
Humanities

Maria Filomena Molder

So many egoists call themselves artists…

“So many egoists call themselves artists,” Rimbaud wrote to Paul Demeny on May 15, 1871. Even though that is not always obvious, ‘I’, the first person, is the most unknown person, a mystery that is constantly moving towards the other two, the second and third persons, a series of unfoldings and smatterings that eventually gelled as ‘Je est un autre’. That is why ‘apocryphal’ is a literarily irrelevant concept and ‘pseudo’ a symptom, the very proof that life, writing, is made up of echoes, which means that intrusions and thefts (Borges also discusses them) will always be the daily bread of those who write.

Words from others, words taken out of place and mutilated: here are the alms of time, that squanderer’s sole kindness. And so many others, mostly others who wrote, and many other pages, all of them apocryphal, all of them echoes, reflections. All this flows together into—two centuries...

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Humanities

Alexander García Düttmann

What does “emancipatory” mean today?

Pretending one more time that the world can still be saved and asking whether art contains an emancipatory potential can be a meaningful endeavour only if illegitimate attempts at appropriating this emancipatory potential are thwarted. Its usurpation, which amounts to its abolition, must be prevented. Critique that deserves its name must first and foremost struggle against false pretenders, not against those who do not even claim to be pretenders. The efficiency of critique’s propaedeutic character should be sought in this struggle against false pretenders. If one fears that its negativity may entail a dangerous impotence and if for this reason one wishes to supplement it with a justifying and constructive “affirmationism”, mindful of the fact that it was once meant to prepare the outline of a metaphysics purged of precritical dogmatism, then one risks forgetting that critique ceases to hurt and can no longer trigger an impulse the instant that...

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  • morals
  • critical theory
  • political aesthetics
  • contemporary art
  • aesthetics

 

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