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Of what can I be truly certain?
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Current Texts

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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Essays on Photography by Siegfried Kracauer
Essays on Photography by Siegfried Kracauer

Siegfried Kracauer, Philippe Despoix (ed.), ...

The Past's Threshold

There can be no doubt, however, that in Kracauer’s texts published at the turn of the 1920s and the 1930s from his position as an editor of the cultural pages at the daily newspaper Frankfurter ­Zeitung, then in the 1950s during his American period, he sketches out a theorisation of photography that can be described as groundbreaking. But it is also true that most of his works overlap, in more than one way, with this medium of reproduction or that...
  • photography
  • media theory
  • History of photography
  • film
  • Siegfried Kracauer
Arts
About ‘how we treat the others’

Artur Żmijewski

About ‘how we treat the others’

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  • contemporary art
  • gift
  • propaganda
  • National Socialism
  • Poland
  • migration
  • political aesthetics
  • concentration camp
  • ethics
  • documenta
When life’s hard, time’s a motherfucker going slow
When life’s hard, time’s a motherfucker going slow

Soham Gupta

Angst

Through the grayness of this concrete city, streams of tin-box vehicles flow ahead languidly – and like at a river’s delta, distributaries of little hatchbacks and dented yellow taxis branch off from the main road, spreading in varied directions. From your roof, you can see the whole city, you can feel it’s pulse – yet, there is such a strange silence around you, it’s as if the noise below is far, far away, so far that you are actually longing...
Fiction

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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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
From xenolinguistics to cephalo­pods

From xenolinguistics to cephalo­pods

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  • utopia
  • linguistics
  • communication
  • communication media
  • science fiction
  • semiotics and semiology
Discourse

Ute Holl

Dream, Clouds, Off, Exile

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  • Karl Marx
  • exile
  • monotheism
  • communism
  • film
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...
  • ethics
  • young readers
  • Evil
  • thinking
  • acting
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

Zoran Terzić

Everything new is a pose in the alcoves of capital

In the late nineteenth century Alfred Jarry created a prototype of the modern wannabe in his pot-bellied Père Ubu, a figure that raises entitlement to a high art. Ubu doesn’t want to be king; others urge him to it. But he is also the others. And when he does become king, CEO, or US president, he doesn’t know what it means, or if it means anything at all. He just states his claim. And so he shimmies from statement to power. And having obtained power, Ubu decerebrates the world, exposing the grounds for groundlessness, to paraphrase Ortega y Gasset. Ubu is a tautomaniac, that is, he can be explained in his own terms and is thus always in the right (being in the right is all he is). He needs no proof, but on the contrary wants “to turn the absurd into the highest power of thought” (Deleuze & Guattari)....

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