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. Some of the links to PDFs change or disappear, so if something interests you download it quickly.

 Virginia Woolf with father, Sir. Leslie Stephen

Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out [PDF] published in 1915, though conventional in form, carries all her later themes.

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway: Invisible Presences [PDF] by Molly Hoff.

Italo Calvino’s short story The Adventure of a Photographer [PDF]. This is from Calvino’s Difficult Loves collection.

Italo Calvino’s Borgesian, enchanting collection of stories Cosmicomics [PDF].

Mary Ruefle’s essay On Fear captures perfectly the distinction between feeling and emotion.

Jonathan Culler’s Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction [PDF] is one of the best of the VSI series, and a rock-solid theory primer.

The highly recommended Companion to Philosophy and Film [PDF] embraces “both the philosophical study of cinema and the investigations of films’ philosophical dimensions, implications, and pedagogical value”. If nothing else read Kovác’s Andrei Tarkovsky (p. 581).

Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Antichrist [PDF], (the title might be better translated as The Anti-Christian), is Nietzche’s onslaught on the decadence of Western Christianity.

Anton Chekhov’s Letters to His Family and Friends (trans. Constance Garnett) [PDF]. These are beautiful.

Franco Moretti’s The Slaughterhouse of Literature [PDF].

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.

Sophie Calle: stalker, stripper, sleeper, spy - From following a stranger to Venice to burying her mother’s jewellery at the north pole, Sophie Calle is France’s foremost artist of the unexpected.

Sophie Calle: Detail from Take Care of Yourself (2007).

Violette Editions: Sophie Calle’s Double Game, which takes the form of a double jeu, a ‘double game’, between the work of Sophie Calle and the fiction of Paul Auster.

Sub Rosa post: The unconventional world of Mary Ruefle.

The Art of Memory post: Pictures of Gerhard Richter’s Atlas.

Stephen Mitchelmore essay: Looking and Looking Away – WG Sebald’s fiction and On the Natural History of Destruction.

In lieu of a field guide post: Vila-Matas’s lecture novel (A review of Never Any End to Paris).

Javier Marías essay: The Hero’s Dreadful Fate (The decline of Westerns).

Guardian review: Introduction to Antiphilosophy by Boris Groys - An electrifying set of essays on continental thinkers.

Logos essay (Stephen Eric Bronner): Modernism, Surrealism, and the Political Imaginary.

In lieu of a field guide post: Woman in the Dunes (directed by Teshigahara Hiroshi).

London Cross – A straight line walk across London: If you walk across a great city such as London in two straight lines, south to north and east to west – a cross-section – what do you find?

The Rose is Not Beauty

Quote

When you are walking down a city street and not paying much attention-perhaps you are downtrodden by some confusion-and come suddenly upon a rosebush blooming against a brick wall, you may be struck and awakened by the appearance of beauty. But the rose is not beautiful. You may think the rose is beautiful and so you may also think, with sadness, that it will die. But the rose is not beauty. What beauty is is your ability to apprehend it. The ability to apprehend beauty is the human spirit and it is what all such moments are about, which is why such moments occur in places and at times that may strike another as unlikely or inconceivable, and it does not seem far-fetched to say that the larger the human spirit, the more it will apprehend beauty in increasingly unlikely and inconceivable situations, which is why there is such a great variety of art objects on earth. And there is something else we should say about the apprehension of beauty: it causes discomfort; and by discomfort I mean that state of being riles, which is a state of reverberation.

Mary Ruefle
Madness, Rack, and Honey

Idées Fixes of the Week

Rineke Dijkstra: Matadors

Rineke Dijkstra, arguably the most essential contemporary portrait photographer.

A photograph works best when the formal aspects such as light, colour and composition, as well as the informal aspects like someone’s gaze or gesture come together. In my pictures I also look for a sense of stillness and serenity. I like it when everything is reduced to its essence. You try to get things to reach a climax. A moment of truth.

*****

Martin Hägglund

While Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov all sought to transform the art of the novel to convey the condition of time, their works have persistently been read in terms of a desire to transcend temporal finitude. In contrast, I pursue a notion of “chronolibido” that challenges this notion of desire. The fear of time (chronophobia) does not stem from a desire to transcend time, but rather from the investment in a life that will be lost. It is because one desires a temporal being (chronophilia) that one fears losing it (chronophobia). The implications of chronolibido that I pursue in the major works of Proust, Woolf, and Nabokov are not simply an extrinsic theory that I apply to the novels in question, but rather a set of insights that I derive from close readings of the texts themselves. Finally, I systematize the logic of chronolibido through an in depth engagement with psychoanalysis. Contesting Freud and Lacan’s notion of the death drive, I seek to demonstrate how the chronolibidinal notion of binding provides a better model for thinking the constitution of the libidinal economy and why the logic of survival is more expressive of the problems of attachment, trauma, and mourning that are at the center of psychoanalytic inquiry.

*****

Mary Ruefle
I Remember, I Remember

I remember—I must have been eight or nine—wandering out to the ungrassed backyard of our newly constructed suburban house and seeing that the earth was dry and cracked in irregular squares and other shapes, and I felt I was looking at a map and I was completely overcome by this description, my first experience of making a metaphor, and I felt weird and shaky and went inside and wrote it down: the cracked earth is a map. Although it only takes a little time to tell it, and it is hardly interesting, it filled a big moment at the time, it was an enormous ever-expanding room of a moment, a chunk of time that has expanded ever since and that my whole life keeps fitting into.

*****

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.

Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature

We might as well say that minor no longer designates specific literatures but the revolutionary conditions for every literature within the heart of what is called great (or established) literature. Even he who has the misfortune of being born in the country of a great literature must write in its language, just as a Czech Jew writes in German, or an Ouzbekian writes in Russian. Writing like a dog digging a hole, a rat digging its burrow.

*****

Jon Rafman

9 Eyes of Google Street View (2009)

Idées Fixes of the Week

Josef Koudelka (b. January 10, 1938 in Boskovice, Czechoslovakia)
‘Hound’

*****

Repetition enables us to form habits and to accept the world as familiar
Czeslaw Milosz
Exiles

Rhythm is at the core of human life. It is, first of all, the rhythm of the organism, ruled by the heartbeat and circulation of blood. As we live in a pulsating, vibrating world, we respond to it and in turn are bound to its rhythm. Without giving much thought to our dependence on the systoles and distoles of flowing time we move through sunrises and sunsets, through the sequences of four seasons. Repetition enables us to form habits and to accept the world as familiar Perhaps the need of a routine is deeply rooted in the very structure of our bodies.

*****

The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of The Uncanny
Dylan Trigg
Side Effects blog

Throughout the book, a central theme-and one I shall return to-concerns how our bodily identity is shape through being touched by the past. What does this complex theme signify? The phrase “touched by the past” signifies more than being merely affected or in casual contact with the past. What does this complex theme signify? The phrase “touched by the past” brings us into a region of memory and temporality that elicits the moment personal identity is marked in either an affirmative or disruptive manner by the experience of memory itself. Coupled with this exposure to the formation of identity, the inclusion of “touch” reinforces the bind between temporality and materiality. Being “touched by the past,” sets in place the centrality of place itself, implying a kinaesthetic and sensual recollection of the past. The result of this bind between identity and materiality is a challenge to the idea that memory and identity are solely temporal phenomena.

*****

Artificer
Czeslaw Milosz

Burning, he walks in the stream of flickering letters, clarinets,
machines throbbing quicker than the heart, lopped-off heads, silk
canvases, and he stops under the sky

and raises toward it his joined clenched fists.

Believers fall on their bellies, they suppose it is a monstrance that
shines,

but those are knuckles, sharp knuckles shine that way, my friends.

He cuts the glowing, yellow buildings in two, breaks the walls into
motley halves;
pensive, he looks at the honey seeping from those huge honeycombs:
throbs of pianos, children’s cries, the thud of a head banging against
the floor.
This is the only landscape able to make him feel.

He wonders at his brother’s skull shaped like an egg,
every day he shoves back his black hair from his brow,
then one day he plants a big load of dynamite
and is surprised that afterward everything spouts up in the explosion.
Agape, he observes the clouds and what is hanging in them:
globes, penal codes, dead cats floating on their backs, locomotives.
They turn in the skeins of white clouds like trash in a puddle.
While below on the earth a banner, the color of a romantic rose,
flutters,
and a long row of military trains crawls on the weed-covered tracks.

*****

*****

Mary Ruefle
Perfect Reader

I spend all day in my office, reading a poem
by Stevens, pretending I wrote it myself,
which is what happens when someone is lonely
and decides to go shopping and meets another customer
and they buy the same thing. But I come to my senses,
and decide when Stevens wrote the poem he was thinking
of me, the way all my old lovers think of me
whenever they lift their kids or carry the trash,
and standing outside the store I think of them:
I throw my arms around a tree, I kiss the pink
and peeling bark, its dead skin, and the papery
feel of its fucked-up beauty arouses me, lends my life
a certain gait, like the stout man walking to work
who sees a peony in his neighbor’s yard and thinks ah,
there is a subject of white interpolation, and then
the petals fall apart for a long time, as long as it takes
summer to turn to snow, and I go home at the end and watch
the news about the homeless couple who met in the park,
and then the weather, to see how they will feel tomorrow.

*****

Art and the Aesthete

Ethel Spowers (1890-1947)
‘Wet Afternoon’ (1929)