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October 01, 2014

La Voce (The Voice)
1916
Emilio Pettoruti
b. October 1, 1892

_______________________


I is a foreigner
Erin Moure

Eu son unha forasteira, sempre unha forasteira. I am a foreigner, always foreign. Loito nunha escuridade funxk,bel con toda outra escuridade. I struggle in a fungible and obscure darkness alongside every other kind of obscurity. Son unha forasteira con historia, con historias multiples, historias que nunca vivk,n. I am a foreigner with a history, with multiple histories, histories I never lived. Historias xenéticas, de xenética. Genetic histories, of genetics. Sempre sei que idioma uso. I always know what language I speak in. Imaxino sen imaxes, senón con temperaturas e luz e vagaridades que me pican no pel. I imagine without images, but with temperatures and light and wanderings that prickle and disturb my skin. Indescriptk,beis. Indescriptible. Postures with furniture. And I age, I am aging. Limits of the body and mind.

And the text. It is here before me, in front of me, the text. É e esti;. It is in itself, and it is sited in time/space. And me, awake. With coffee. Without glasses. Light. The form of the letters in front of me.


“Funnily, the ones most likely to accept a notion of transparent transference between languages are those who are monolingual. And who thus must translate everything under very difficult circumstances: without any language of origin. To have a language of origin you need a language of arrival: without at least two languages, neither exists. There is just, ever, language. In such case, there is just, ever, one culture so absorbed in its structures that any one individual speaker cannot question and challenge many of its assumptions.”

  - Erin Moure
Poetries, languages and selves, the being of Erin Moure
Sina Queyras
(....)

Moure’s work dwells in the possible. In the changeable. It’s “being” in poetry. It’s also thinking in poetry. Even as I write this I can hear Erin Mouré interacting with my text: referring me to Deleuze, Char, Butler, joyfully expanding my thoughts on her work, correcting certain assumptions. In fact, every time I attempt to describe her work she shifts uncomfortably, albeit good naturedly, translating me into Galician, French even Mouré…the poem is never what you think it is, she says, “Human struggle is always sited in human bodies. Not in bodies as signifiers, but bodies as lived apparatuses”. The bodies of poems sit up and take notice. Each time they move they refresh themselves, “they recuperate but do not solve”

Erin Moure at EPC and House of Anansi
_______________________


bpNichol
b. September 30, 1944

_______________________


Poem Without Ends
Alastair Reid
(1926 - 2014)

One cannot take the beginning out of the air
saying 'It is the time: the hour is here'.
The process is continuous as wind,
the bird observed, not rising, but in flight,
unrealised, in motion of the mind.

The end of everything is similar, never
actually happening, but always over.
The agony, the bent head, only tell
that already in the heart the innocent evening
is thick with the ferment of farewell.
_______________________


Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
b. September 30, 1865

_______________________


Where Truth Lies

Alastair Reid
Maps, once made,
leave the impression of a place gone dead.

Words, once said,
anchor the fevers in the head.

Vows, once taken,
fade in the shadows of a place forsaken.

Oh, understand
how the mind's landscape forms from shifting sand,

how where we are
is partly solid ground, part head-in-air,

a twilit zone
where changing flesh and changeless ghost are one,

and what is true
lies between you and the idea of you -

a friction,
restless, between the fact and the fiction.
_______________________


Dannie Abse
1923–2014

_______________________


Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer

_______________________


Paul Crowther bites the hands of both analytic and continental philosophical approaches to aesthetics. Whilst chewing he thinks about how post-modernism is linked to market forces and Supermodernity, about how civilising is organised round self restraint, about how Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, Deleuze have created a distorting orthodoxy, about rejecting analytic philosophical approaches to art, about White Aesthetics, about post-analytic phenomenology, about phenomenological depth, about subject-object reciprocity, about meaning in abstract art, about Kant and German Idealism. Take this one neat and then go for a walk…
  - Richard Marshall
post-analytic phenomenology vs market serfdom
Paul Crowther interviewed by Richard Marshall.
(....)

The challenge to the realm of values presented by Supermodernity is colossal. As embodied beings, we exist in a world – both natural and cultural – that is rich, diverse, complex, and full of different aspects. However, Supermodernity violates this complexity. It is permeated by the cult of management that seeks to promote ‘efficiency’ by reducing everything to models of social interaction and outcomes derived from cybernetics and the advertising industry. What it is to be human, and what it is to change oneself and be encultured in a deep sense is lost. Indeed, the very notion of freedom itself is reduced to consumer choices. Of course, there has always been a difficult relation between money and civilization, but in most eras there was always a strong sense that some things were more important than money-power. Values of a moral and aesthetic nature, and such things as self-development and bettering oneself and one’s community, were acknowledged as things that had to be protected from market forces. This critical distance has been lost. And the intellectual relativisms of Supermodernity are not the slightest help in reconfiguring it, because they are complicit in the new market serfdom.

_______________________


Emilio Pettoruti



September 29, 2014

White Magician
1979
Alan Davie
1920 - 2014

_______________________


The Straitening
Paul Celan
translation by Michael Hamburger

(....)

*

      Nowhere
            does anyone ask after you -

The place where they lay, it has
a name - it has
none. They did not lie there. Something
lay between them. They
did not see through it.

Did not see, no,
spoke of
words. None
awoke,
sleep
came over them.

(....)

*

      Go
            to the eye,
                  the moist one -

Gales.
Gales, from the beginning of time,
whirl of particles, the other,
you
know it, though, we
read it in the book, was
opinion.

Was, was
opinion. How
did we touch
each other - each other with
these
hands?

There was written too, that.
Where? We
put a silence over it,
stilled with poison, great,
a
green
silence, a sepal, an
idea of vegetation attached to it -
green, yes,
attached, yes,
under a crafty
sky.

Of, yes,
vegetation.

Yes.
Gales, whirl of part-
icles, there was
time left, time
to try it out with the stone - it
was hospitable, it
did not cut in. How
lucky we were:

Grainy,
grainy and stringy. Stalky,
dense:
grapy and radiant; kidneyish,
flattish and
lumpy; loose, tang-
led -; he, it
did not cut in, it
spoke,
willingly spoke to dry eyes, before closing them.

Spoke, spoke.
Was, was.

We
would not let go, stood
in the midst, a
porous edifice, and
it came.

Came at us, came
through us, patched
invisibly, patched
away at the last membrane
and
the world, a millicrystal,
shot up, shot up.

*

_______________________


Speaking House
Marja Pirilä

via Books from Finland

_______________________


Handke and Singularity
Karl Ove Knausgaard

(....)

The Straightening is a lament for that which was lost forever, but it is also the opposite: a beginning, since it in itself was created, not destroyed. And since it in itself communicates, it establishes a new ‘we’ which every new reader redeems. And although our own time is radically different, the abyss between language and the world is the same and the duplicity of language just as treacherous. It is still through language that the world is created and we are connected to it, yet language is also what distances us from it. Language is still coercion, a mass system of conformity and socialisation that erases the individual, yet it is only through language that we can express individuality, the separate, the unique. One of the best and most important books written in German in our time is – to my mind – Peter Handke’s A Sorrow Beyond Dreams [Wunschloses Unglück] from 1972. The problem of representation is also a key issue here, though it is presented in a very different way. The book is autobiographical in the sense that it is based on an actual event in Handke’s life: his mother’s suicide. The prose is sparse and subdued; in other words, not novelistic, which in turn means unbeautiful, perhaps because beauty instils hope, and this is a novel about despair. Beauty, that is, the literary filter through which the world is viewed, gives hope to despair, value to worthlessness, and sense to meaningless. It is inevitably so. Loneliness that is beautifully described lifts the soul to new heights, and then it is no longer true; for loneliness is not beautiful, despair is not beautiful, not even longing is beautiful. It is not true, but it is good. It is a comfort, it is a relief, and perhaps it is where some of literature’s justification lies? But in that case, it is literature as something else, as something special and autonomous, something valuable in itself – not as a representation of reality. That is something Peter Handke tries to evade in his novel.

It was written a few weeks after the funeral, and in it Handke tries to see his mother and her life in as true a light as possible. Not true in the sense that it really happened – she was a real person in the world – but true in his insight and in the way he imparts this insight. He does not represent his mother in the text; that (I felt when reading it) would be a violation of her as a human being. She was her own person, lived her own life, and instead of depicting that life, Handke refers to it, like something that lies outside the text, never inside it. This means that he writes in general terms, about the contexts in which she figured, about the roles she assumed or did not assume, but these generalities can also present problems, he writes, because they can become independent of her and take on a life of their own in the text through his poetic formulations – which would also be a betrayal of her. He writes: “Consequently, I first took the facts as my starting point and looked for ways of formulating them. But I soon noticed that in looking for formulations I was moving away from the facts. I then adopted a new approach – starting not with the facts but with the already available formulations, the linguistic deposit of man’s social experience.” That is where he searches, as it were, for his mother’s life. He does this to protect her dignity and integrity, as far as I can understand, but then something else also happens in the text: when a person is portrayed through the eyes of her contemporary society, through its culture and self-understanding, through its roles and limits, her inner nature disappears, her individual and characteristic existence, what used to be referred to as the soul, and – I think – perhaps Handke’s book is also a story of precisely that: society’s oppression of the individual, the strangling of the soul.

via Mark Thwaite

_______________________


Stormy Day, Cornwall
1946
John Minton
(1917 – 1957)

_______________________


The Wind Sleepers
H. D.
1886 - 1961

Whiter
than the crust
left by the tide,
we are stung by the hurled sand
and the broken shells.

We no longer sleep
in the wind—
we awoke and fled
through the city gate.

Tear—
tear us an altar,
tug at the cliff-boulders,
pile them with the rough stones—
we no longer
sleep in the wind,
propitiate us.

Chant in a wail
that never halts,
pace a circle and pay tribute
with a song.

When the roar of a dropped wave
breaks into it,
pour meted words
of sea-hawks and gulls
and sea-birds that cry
discords.
_______________________


Speaking House
Marja Pirilä

_______________________


On the evenings of April 23–25, 2010, New York-based theater collective Group Theory probed the psychosonic landscapes of Herman Melville’s classic novella Bartleby, the Scrivener in an intimate chamber ritual that transforms the private act of reading into a communal encounter. A strange literary-theatrical hybrid, Bartleby. A Rereading is a palimpsest of readings, a hyper-lucid window onto a famously difficult text in all its haunting ambiguity and violent comedy. Each performance was followed by drinks and conversation with invited respondents, including Paul Chan, Edwin Frank, Lynne Tillman, Abha Dawesar, John Bryant, Vivian Gornick, Joseph McElroy, Alice Boone, Graham Parker, Molly Springfield, McKenzie Wark, and Greg Wayne. Below are condensed and edited excerpts from those three conversations, recently published in Invalid Format: An Anthology of Triple Canopy, Volume 3.
The Scrivener’s Business
by Triple Canopy VIVIAN GORNICK

This is the greatness of rereading when you’re many years older: You are a different person. And so I’m shocked and thrilled to read the Bartleby that I read this week. When I was a kid I couldn’t get past the mysteriousness. This time I thought, at first, Bartleby is the lawyer’s story; but in time I realized it’s about the dynamic between Bartleby and the lawyer. The lawyer is not deceiving himself, but he only knows partially what he does, and what he thinks, and how he thinks; Melville brilliantly shows you the degree to which the lawyer understands what he’s thinking about and the degree to which he doesn’t. The lawyer is the essence of the Upper West Side liberal. [Laughter.]

What is Bartleby? He’s not real, none of them are real—they’re postures, they’re attitudes, ways of being in the world. All the lawyer wants is for Bartleby to be reasonable. This is the essence of what Bartleby cannot be. Bartleby is that which is not reasonable. Now, I say to you, if the lawyer was a radical, not a liberal, he would have gone the extra mile. He would have kept Bartleby no matter what. He would have known that Bartleby is the essence of rebellion, of the refusenik, of “I won’t live on your terms,” of “in fact I’m not even sure if I want to live on any terms.”

_______________________


Cornish Church
1969
Sir Matthew Smith
1879 -1959

_______________________


Cry Isis
Maniza Naqvi

Offspring of wanton wants, they arrive, together, these gods of war and weather, to the beating drums, and sound of thunder, crying out crisis, each September. This century's, Septembers, all arrive back to school, as it were, refreshed from resorts and beaches, in need of replenishing, their depleted coffers, of personal savings, and future job offers.This century's, September, as if afraid of endings, arrives as though, its own immortal endless season, of unceasing sameness, an eerie stillness of repeated scripts and finite possibility: War as weather and weather as war. Each September, reminds us, of an, unchanging, unreformed industry, of needs, that guarantees, more spectacular bombs and thunderous storms. Bombs and storms. Lovingly named for eradicated tribes, victims of genocide, and of course women. Apache Helicopters, and Tomahawk missiles, Rita, Katrina, and Ophelia. Do you even remember, come September, as we lurch from one year to the next, all the threats and crisis, these Septembers past have presented as pretexts?
_______________________


Speaking House
Marja Pirilä

_______________________


A Voice Full of Cities: The Collected Essays of Robert Kelly
edited by Pierre Joris & Peter Cockelbergh (Contra Mundum Press, 2014)

... As Guy Davenport wrote: “A Kelly poem is a Kelly poem. It dances in his way, sings in his intonations, insisting on its style. No American poet except perhaps Wallace Stevens has his sense of balance in a line. [...] Kelly has nothing to hide: the untiltable balance is there to begin with.”

Less visible than the poetry, but certainly no less important, incisive, worth preserving & circulating anew, are the trove of essayistic materials disseminated throughout numerous small & not so small magazines of the second-half of the 20th C and beyond. The out-of-print 1971 In Time was Kelly’s sole published book of essays properly speaking, even though he has been writing on his (& others’) poetry & poetics since the early 60s.

Long over-due, the present volume, A Voice Full of Cities, collects for the first time Kelly’s essays, statements, & other writings on poetry & poetics, making available a vast array of difficult to obtain works. The editors’ aim was to insure that — in Robert Kelly’s own words — “the fifty years of thinking around the fifty years of making won’t get lost, and making and thinking will be seen as one thing.”
     Pierre Joris
_______________________


Celebrating ten years of This Space
Thanks and congratulations Stephen

Stephen Mitchelmore interviewed by Mark Thwaite

_______________________


Philosopher’s Stone
Alan Davie
1957



September 26, 2014

Reading man in park
1914
August Macke
d. September 26, 1914

_______________________


Olson / Williams
John Latta

Intent of the offertory: a benign osculatory (or oscillatory) mayhem, knowledge made up out of a effervescence of gatherings (“haunte floures by cause of gadrynge of hony”). A gestural sup.

(....)

Olson, out of Call Me Ishmael (1947):

I take SPACE to be the central fact to man born in America, from Folsom cave to now. I spell it large because it comes large here. Large, and without mercy.

      It is geography at bottom, a hell of wide land from the beginning. . . .

~

And there’s William Carlos Williams, out of In the American Grain (1925), the chapter titled “Descent” with its terrifying (and defiant) talk of “sinking” and “ground” (in the figure of Sam Houston who, in sumptuous recoil against loss, “took the descent once more, to the ground”). Turning to American writers:

. . . Poe can be understood only in a knowledge of his deep roots. The quality of the flower will then be seen to be normal, in all its tortured spirituosity and paleness, a desert flower with roots under the sand of his day.
      Whitman had to come from under. All have to come from under and through a dead layer.
      But this primitive ordeal, created by a peculiar condition of destiny (the implantation of an already partly cultured race on a wild continent) has a plant in its purpose, in its lusts’ eye, as gorgeous as Montezuma’s gardens of birds, wild beasts and albino natives in wooden cages.
      But he who will grow from that basis must sink first.
      If he goes to France, it is not to learn a do re mi fa sol. He goes to see a strange New World.
      If not definitely a culture new in every part, at least a satisfaction. He wants to have the feet of his understanding on the ground, his ground, the ground, the only ground that he knows, that which is under his feet. I speak of aesthetic satisfaction. This want, in America, can only be filled by knowledge, a poetic knowledge, of that ground. Since this is difficult, due to the hardships which beset the emergence of a poet: A poet is one related to a basis of aesthetic, spiritual, hypothetical, abnormal—satisfaction, . . . since this is so, the want goes for the most part unsatisfied in America or is satisfied by a fillgap. The predominant picture of America is a land aesthetically satisfied by temporary fillgaps . . .
Wonderful to find John Latta posting again at Isola Di Rifiuti

_______________________


The composition of squares
1960
Aleksander Kobzdej
d. September 25, 1973

_______________________


Night Sky Drones
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker


When the Sky Grew a Warlike Eye


More than ever, real power in the twenty-first century is space-bound--globalized, atmospheric, instantaneous. It is not that time has disappeared, but that the medium of time itself has been everywhere reduced, reconfigured, and subordinated to the language of spatialization. That is the meaning of "real-time" as part of the contemporary language of power--time itself as an otherwise empty, locative coordinate in the spatial networks of communication surrounding us. But if that is the case, if, indeed, power has taken to the air, literally taken flight with the technological capacity provided by drones to turn the sky into a warlike eye, that would also indicate that the grasp of power on the time of duration, the lived time of territorial and bodily inscription, has perhaps been terminally weakened. When the sky has been transformed into a liquid eye of power--monitoring, watching, archiving visual data for storage in distant archives--with target acquisition and weaponized drone strikes as its military tools of choice, the greater complexity and intricate materialism of time escapes its grasp.

Think perhaps of a distant future when empires, following the usual cycle of rise and decay, crumble to dusty memories, when a collapsed social economy produces an angry mass of dispossessed citizens in the otherwise empty streets, when even borders are abandoned in the global rush for scarce resources, and when all that is likely to be left may be those airborne fleets of now fully automated drones, long forgotten by their ground command, but still, for all that, circling the sky on the hunt for humans. At that point, some historian of the technological past may well begin to reflect on what exactly was released in the domestic atmosphere when the drones came home: a technologically augmented surveillance system under strict political supervision, or something different. That is, the giving of sky life to a new species of being--being drone--with a score to settle against its human inventors and, over time, the capabilities to do something about it. In this time, above all times, a time in which we can finally appreciate what is to be gained and lost--what is utopian and what dystopian--concerning the technological devices we have engineered into existence, it may be well to remember that the story of technology has never really lost its entanglement with questions of religion, mythology, and politics.

Signs of the practical entwinement of technology and mythology are everywhere now as early warnings of what is yet to come--namely, that while the contemporary language of technology might have excluded its origins in myths of nemesis and hubris, what drone technology may actually deliver in the future as its most terminal payload will be the return of mythic destiny as the hauntology of the sublime order of technology. Consider, for example, the following stories about the world of drone warfare: "Drone Kamikazes in the California Sun" and "Hydra Awakened."

_______________________


JirÍ Kolár
b. September 24, 1914

_______________________


quotes from
The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame

David J. Blacker

(....)

It should now be clear to everyone that neoliberal education policy is not about reforming public schools. It is about obliterating any remaining vestiges of the public square via a market discipline that is officially supposed to apply to everyone but in reality is selectively applied only to those lacking sufficient wealth to commandeer state policy; ironically the sacred market applies to public schools not to megabanks. It is in essence the strategy of the gated community, where those at the top 'have theirs' and withdraw from the educational commons and into their state-backed corporatist enclaves. Our elite capitains are abandoning the public educational ship in whose hold lie nearly 90% of US school children. [...]

The newer kind of non-recognition involves not merely reducing people to means but simply wishing them away and ignoring them altogether; in this way at the level of the concern for the Other, we are transforming from abuse to neglect. An increasing proportion of humanity - in the global South but also here at home - grows non-exploitable economically. Their labour is incapable of importing enough value to render them serviceable for traditional capitalist production and so they are economically 'out of the loop'[...] They have become 'extra people' and superfluous. At best their realtion to the formal economy is occasional and precarious as evidence by the stunning growth of those living most of their lives in what anthropologist Keith Hart desceribes as 'the informal economy', living, for example, under subsistence conditions of 'forced entrepreneurship' such as prostitution or the selling of odds and ends. They are the disposable ones[...] Their main productive function now is to serve as part of a disciplinary warning to precarious remaining workers that 'but for the grace of the (job)Creator, there go I'. [...]

_______________________


dusk
Aleksander Kobzdej
1956



September 23, 2014

Les Ombres
Paul Delvaux
b. September 23, 1897

_______________________


Radical Linguistics in an Age of Extinction
Ross Perlin

. . . words are a way of fending in the world: whole languages, like species, can disappear without dropping a gram of earth weight, and symbolic systems to a fare you well can be added without filling a ditch or thimble. . . .
      —A.R. Ammons
(....)

Equality, diversity, respect for orality, descriptivism (not prescriptivism), and “going to the people”: these remain fundamental tenets for any program of radical linguistics, and for anyone who cares about human language. But today there are sobering realities. The concept of linguistic equality has done little to change popular perceptions. Nor have two centuries of revolutionary political and social movements, though certain large-enough languages have been elevated to official status in the course of national liberation struggles. Nearly everywhere, a persistent stigma clings to minority languages, provincial dialects, “non-standard” accents, and working-class “sociolects,” not to mention the linguistic registers used by women, young people, and LGBTQ speakers. The vitriol routinely trained on Black English in America is representative, although politically committed linguists like William Labov and John Rickford have devoted their careers to documenting and defending its integrity. Debates about language are rarely just about language—they’re always about the speakers.

(....)

In the early 1990s, a small subset of linguists began raising the alarm, trying to reorient a discipline whose well-meaning focus on elusive and trivial “universals” had led it to ignore actually existing linguistic diversity—an unfortunate legacy left by Noam Chomsky, who was a radical and a linguist but not a radical linguist.

(....)

Leftists, liberals, and progressives have a bigger stake in the future of language than they know. We hardly realize how deeply embedded capitalist mentalities now are in our very language—the ways we talk about time, space, relationships. Liberals intensely aware of privilege based on gender, race, class, or sexuality seldom consider linguistic privilege—English (or Spanish or Chinese or Hausa) is just the air we breathe. The politics of language, when we practice it at all, has been about framing, about keywords, about sloganeering in the major languages. Meanwhile, the ground is shifting under us.

_______________________


Piano Keys Lake
1905
Frantisek Kupka
b. September 23, 1871

_______________________


We’ve All Always Been Lichens: Donna Haraway, the Cthulhucene, and the Capitalocene
Leif Haven

(....)

The Cthulhucene. Haraway approaches a definition of the cthonic epoch by talking about the impossibility of existing as an individual – existing is far stranger than a bunch of monads wandering around and interacting. No, this epoch is defined by the frightening weirdness of being impossibly bound up with other organisms. She says, “complexity is impossible without infection.” This recalls Tim Morton’s concept of the “strange stranger.” Even the self is infinitely strange. The identity of an individual is amorphous, porous, and liminal. There’s never a clear point at which a being begins or ends, and that’s why we are all lichens: a being made up of multiple separate symbiotic organisms.

Haraway says, “The activation of the chthonic powers that is within our grasp to collect up the trash of the anthropocene, and the exterminism of the capitalocene, to something that might possibly have a chance of ongoing.”

What might this mean or be?

"Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble"
Donna Haraway
Sympoiesis, not autopoiesis, threads the string figure game played by Terran critters. Always many-stranded, SF is spun from science fact, speculative fabulation, science fiction, and, in French, soin de ficelles (care of/for the threads). The sciences of the mid-20th-century "new evolutionary synthesis" shaped approaches to human-induced mass extinctions and reworldings later named the Anthropocene. Rooted in units and relations, especially competitive relations, these sciences have a hard time with three key biological domains: embryology and development, symbiosis and collaborative entanglements, and the vast worlds of microbes. Approaches tuned to "multi-species becoming with" better sustain us in staying with the trouble on Terra. An emerging "new new synthesis" in trans-disciplinary biologies and arts proposes string figures tying together human and nonhuman ecologies, evolution, development, history, technology, and more. Corals, microbes, robotic and fleshly geese, artists, and scientists are the dramatis personae in this talk's SF game.
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Anarchism
larval subjects

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My thesis is that anarchism is the form of political organization that haunts all politics. However, this formula is liable to misinterpretation. “Haunting” generally has negative connotations. Someone might therefore take this statement to denote the idea that anarchism is a danger that threatens all forms of political organization. Under this characterization, anarchy would be something to be defended against.

This is not what I mean when I say anarchy haunts all forms of social and political organization. Rather, I mean something closer to Marx’s claim that communism is a specter that haunts Europe. To my thinking, anarchism haunts all political thought and all actually existing political institutions in two ways: First, there is the positive way. Anarchism is the political ideal– recognized as such or not –that all emancipatory politics aspires to. All truly just political organization strives to be egalitarian and without hierarchy, whether hierarchy be organized around a privileged leader, economic class, privileged institutions (such as corporations or parties), a privileged gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. When we think the concept of emancipation to its logical conclusion, anarchism stares back at us. Anarchism is what emancipatory and egalitarian politics strives to be without being it. It is the regulative ideal that both functions as the aim this politics strives towards and the standard it falls short of.

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Solitude
Paul Delvaux
1956

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The Anxious Middle: Wittgenstein Jr Reviewed
Will Rees

Some books ask that you take them seriously, erasing everything comic, positioning themselves above the world. Others seek to make you laugh, erasing everything serious, positioning themselves beneath the world. There is a third category, much rarer. These books operate in a space where such distinctions are no longer possible: from an anxious—not a golden—middle. Where the laughable and the serious remain, mutually protecting one another; where they do not merge and yet are impossible to distinguish. We laugh, but that laughter remains caught in our throat. Such books are deadly serious.

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An aesthetic is emerging from Iyer’s work over the last few years, one that’s surprisingly consistent: rigorously anti-beautifying, anti-kitsch and yet, for all its cynicism, quietly optimistic.

Readers of his trilogy will find that Iyer’s style remains largely unchanged. For the most part this is welcome, though I wonder if a less fragmented approach might have worked better when treating the character of Wittgenstein. If Bernhard’s magic works by a sheer accumulation of terms—opacity exuding from an excessive paroxystic communicativeness; words piling up until the unspoken rears its head—Iyer’s disrupting of Wittgenstein’s monologues at key moments sometimes has a deflationary effect, can give them the finality of a well told joke.

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Wittgenstein Jr walks a line between cynicism and optimism, between the laughable and the serious; it’s a line too fine to be easily called. Whether it fall down on one side, or remains in the anxious middle, will depend on how much the book makes you laugh, and what kind of laughter that is. I, for my part, found it hilarious.

Wittgenstein Jr
Lars Iyer