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.

Gravelly voiced William Burroughs reads from Naked Lunch: The Rube (22 minutes).

Critical Thinkers guide to Maurice Blanchot [PDF]. Blanchot’s own texts should come first, but can be a little opaque. Ullrich Haase and William Large’s introductory book is the finest secondary initiation to Blanchot. The Further Reading section is particularly superb.

Critical Thinkers Guide to Gilles Deleuze [PDF]. Clare Colebrooke is the definitive Deleuzean scholar, with at least six books devoted to Deleuze. This introductory book is the ideal introduction to Deleuzean vocabulary and concepts. As always with these little guides the Further Reading section is invaluable.

Alma Mahler

Alma Mahler

Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters [PDF] by Alma Mahler, who wrote two books. The second And the Bridge Is Love about the later years in her life is also worth seeking out. Neither are known for their accuracy, and Basil Creighton’s translation is notably idiosyncratic. They nevertheless are fascinating, but read as fiction.

Hal Foster’s (Foster edited the seminal The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture) review of Correspondence: The Foundation of the Situationist International (June 1957-60) by Guy Debord.

Margaret Atwood’s The Female Body confronts how women and men perceive the female body [PDF].

Studying the work of controversial Derrida disciple, Paul de Man, is another way to think about deconstruction and critical misreading. Literary theorist Martin McQuillan’s Critical Thinkers guide to Paul de Man [PDF] is lucid and honest. McQuillan’s Paul de Man Notebooks, an anthology from the de Man archive is due out early next year.

Plato and Aristotle, a fragment from Raphael's The School of Athens

Plato and Aristotle, a fragment from Raphael’s The School of Athens

These days I consider myself more Aristotelian than Platonist, but I’ve read Plato’s dialogues with huge interest for years, and it still stuns me how close we are to the ancients. Socrates was in many ways truly the first modern man. Trying to get hold of all Plato’s dialogues online is tedious, so this collection of all Plato’s works in a single volume [PDF] is immensely convenient.

Psychoanalytic Filiations, an essay by Austrian psychologist Ernst Falzeder reviews the psychoanalytic family tree, and traces back the leading concepts to the Hungarian Sándor Ferenczi and the Viennese Otto Rosenfeld (Rank).

Towards the end of this piece of film, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller are together on screen, a rare occasion:

‘How to Read Literature.’

J. Hillis Miller was part of the ‘Yale School,’ along with Paul de Man and Harold Bloom. Initially associated with Derrida, their strategy of deconstruction was little more than a way of prolonging the intellectual snobbery of American New Criticism, incisively critiqued in later years by Geoffrey Bennington and others.

From the J. Hillis Miller Reader comes this essay How To Read Literature, which I quite enjoyed for capturing the aporia or unresolvable contradiction between the urge to “read rapidly, allegro, in a dance of the eyes across the page,” and a wish to pause “over every key word or phrase [..] anxious not to let the text put anything over” you.

I am less convinced by the essay’s conclusion that, outside the academy at least, critical reading robs readers of the necessary mystification to maintain a love affair with literature. What do you think?