Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter.

The term ‘mansplaining’ is genius and deserves to be listed in the OED. This is where I first came across the term.

Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror, Essay on Abjection.

Martha Nussbaum – How to write about poverty.

The Myth of Matriarchy: Why Men Rule in Primitive Society by Joan Bamberger.

Politics and the English Language an essay by George Orwell.

Charles Bukowski’s so you want to be a writer.

The David Lynch mixtape.

Franz Kafka: The Meaning of Life is that it Stops.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the surprising physical reality of this world as he sees it.

The ideal way to read Marx’s Kapital is with David Harvey.

One of my favourite Desert Island Discs with writer Al Alvarez (friend of Plath and Hughes).

On Fear – a wonderful essay by Mary Ruefle (the distinction between emotion and feeling is perfect)

Julia Kristeva’s essay – A Freudian Approach: The Pre-religious Need To Believe.

Adam Kirsch on The New World of William Carlos Williams.

Italo Calvino’s 14 Definitions of What Makes a Classic.

Links of the Week

Many of these links have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter.

The HTMLGiant Beginner’s Guide to Deleuze.

The TLS try to classify the ‘unclassifiable’ Clarice Lispector.

English translations of all 12 journals of the Situationists.

Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror, Essay on Abjection.

Martha Nussbaum: How to write about poverty.

Joan Bamberger: “The myth of matriarchy is but the tool used to keep woman bound to her place.”

George Orwell: Politics and the English Language.

Tarkovsky’s Stalker and the surprising physical reality of this world as he sees it.

The ideal way to read Marx’s Kapital is with David Harvey.

One of my favourite Desert Island Discs with writer Al Alvarez (friend of Plath and Hughes).

Julia Kristeva’s essay – A Freudian Approach: The Pre-religious Need To Believe.

The first ten Penguin books – Treasures of the Bodleian.

Links of the Week

Welcome to a new regular post featuring links to subjects I find interesting. Many of these have been tweeted in the past, but here I can tag and categorise them for future reference. I hope you find some of them interesting too. Please feel free to discuss in comments or on Twitter.

Issue 4 of The White Review introduced me to the work of Brian Dillon. After reading about his books I bought Sanctuary from Sternberg PressI’ve picked it up a couple of times but its dense, small text has so far deterred me from reading further.

Brian Dillon’s compelling review of Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet, another book I’ve bought but have yet to read beyond an initial once over.

What looks like the whole of Witold Gombrowicz’s A Guide to Philosophy in Six Hours and Fifteen Minutes. These seem to be notes for a lecture, written in shorthand, and only of scanning interest unless you’ve a deep grounding in philosophy.

What is realism? A riff on a theme referring to one of my favourite writers, JM Coetzee, and some recurring idées fixes.

Strangely beautiful, and poetic: the first thousand numbers classified in alphabetical order. [PDF]

Interview with Belgian-born Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

Katie Paterson’s sound recordings from three glaciers in Iceland.

literalab post: Two restored masterpieces of Wojciech Has, including an adaptation of Bruno Schulz’s Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass.

Lapham’s Quarterly post about thesauri or, if that is an archaism, thesauruses.

The Mookse and the Gripes interview with Margaret B. Carson, translator of Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds.

The Believer interview with Richard Powers, an oddly underrated writer. I’ve read all but his latest novel and enjoy his work immensely.

biblioklept post: Tolstoy’s dismissal of Shakespeare and Orwell’s rebuttal to Tolstoy.

Sacred Cows, Tinctures, Zombies and Chomsky

From reading a compelling review in TLS’s In Brief to tucking into Mark Dery’s I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts was an interval of three days. I’m one foreword, an introduction and a single essay in, and I’ve got that familiar, but rare, tingle. I know IMNTBT and me are going to pleasurably commingle.

Bruce Sterling’s foreword intrigues but Dery’s introduction promises thrills ahead.

The ethos of Thinking Bad Thoughts isn’t synonymous with the wilful perversity of Christopher Hitchens’s contrarianism, or with H. L. Mencken’s lifelong devotion to spit-roasting the sacred cows of the booboisie, or with the nothing-is-true, everything-is-permitted libertinism of William S. Burroughs, or with the liberators cynicism of punk rockers like X, or with Orwell’s ability to confront hard truths without flinching. Yet it contains a tincture of each.

Dery’s introduction is a manifesto for this intellectual onslaught on the ‘friendly fascisms of right and left’ and an outright refusal to ‘recognise intellectual no-fly zones’, inspires.

His first essay Dead Man Walking contrasts the reanimating of the zombie myth in contemporary literature and film to its previous incarnation in the 70s and 80s.

In the postwar decades, as suburban sprawl and mall culture metastasized across America, Hollywood cast the zombie as the decaying face of popular ambivalence toward amok consumerism. Implacable consumption machines, the mall-crawling dead of Georg Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) liberalised the infantile psychology of consumer culture, with its oral fixation, insistence on instant gratification, and I-shop-therfore-I-am sense of self-worth, indexed to how pricey your status totems are-the sheer bodaciousness of your insatiable orality implied by market capitalism’s redefinition of citizens as consumers-”wallets with mouths”, in the cynical parlance of Madison Avenue is instructive.

Now that the econopocalypse has thrown millions out of work,triggered an upspike in homelessness, and eaten the braaains of consumer confidence, the zombie has undergone a role reversal, incarnating American fears that the republic is a shambling shadow of its former glory, Left 4 Dead by the near meltdown of the financial system. Zombies are the Resident Evil of an economy whose moribund state confronts us everywhere we look in a landscape littered with dead males, “ghost boxes” (dark, shuttered big-box outlets), and “zombie stores”-retailers forced by dismal sales to reduce their inventory to its bare bones, with the ironic consequence that their emaciated stock and empty floor space scare consumers away, accelerating their death spiral.

Is that enough to tempt you to dive in and read along? I could just have quoted Dery’s listing of “Noam Chomsky’s Top 10 List of Things You Can’t Say on Nightline: “The biggest international terror operations that are known are the ones that are run out of Washington; if the Nuremberg laws were applied then every postwar American president would have been hanged; the Bible is one of the most genocidal books in the total canon; education is a system of imposed ignorance…” but that would be too easy, and I assume you’ve all seen Manufacturing Consent.

Influential Books

List time: books that influenced me. Influence is defined as either life-changing or transformative in reading patterns (which equates to the same thing). These are roughly in time order. Later I may explain what changed as a consequence. Here’s the list:

  • Wyss’s Swiss Family Robinson
  • Dicken’s Great Expectations
  • Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice
  • Kem Nunn’s Tapping the Source
  • Winston Graham’s Angell, Pearl and Little God
  • Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London
  • Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment
  • Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums
  • J. P. Donleavy’s The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman
  • Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land
  • Bruce Sterling’s Artificial Kid
  • Sartre’s Nausea and Being and Nothingness
  • Kierkegaard’s Either/Or
  • Proust’s Rememberance of Things Past
  • Roger Deakin’s Wildwood
  • Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night
  • Mann’s The Magic Mountain
  • Woolf’s The Lighthouse
  • Joyce’s Ulysses
  • Josipovici’s Whatever Happened to Modernism?