Handy hints on cracking up

F.Scott-Fitzgerald’s ‘crack-up’ as a model for going on with when needs must and all around have been ripping each other to shreds in a mass fraternal suicide:

‘I must continue to be a writer because that was my only way of life, but I would cease any attempts to be a person—to be kind, just or genierous. There were plenty of counterfeit coins around that would pass instead of these and I knew where I could get them at a nickel on the dollar. In thirty.nine years an observant eye has learned to detect where the milk is watered and the sugar is sanded, the rhinestone passed for diamond and the stucco for stone. There was to be no more giving of myself—all giving was to be outlawed henceforth under a new name, and that name was Waste.

The decision made me rather exuberant, like anything that is both real and new. As a sort of beginning there was a whole shaft of letters to be tipped into the waste basket when I went home, letters that wanted something for nothing—to read this man’s manuscript, market this man’s poem, speak free on the radio, indite notes of introduction, give this interview, help with the plot of this play, with this domestic situation, perform this act of thoughtfulness or charity. The conjuror’s hat was empty. To draw things out of it had long been a sort of sleight of hand, and now, to change the metaphor, I was off the dispensing end of the relief roll forever’ from The Crack-Up (posthumous FSF, edited by Edmund Wilson 1945)

– Gets better as it goes on:

But enough.It is not a matter of levity. If you are young and you should write asking to see me and leam how to be a sombre literary man writing pieces upon the state of emotional exhaustion that often overtakes writers in their prime —if you should be so young and so fatuous as to do this, I would not do so much as acknowledge your letter, unless you were related to someone very rich and important indeed. And if you were dying of starvation outside my window, I would go out quickly and give you the smile and the voice (if no longer the hand) and stick around till somebody raised a nickel to phone for the ambulance, that is if I thought there would be any copy in it for me.


Buy Books Not Bombs

Buy books at your local bookshop (UK)
Ask for Pantomime Terror by John Hutnyk. Zero Books, 2014 ISBN-10: 1782792090
Ask for The Rumour of Calcutta by John Hutnyk. Zed books/Uni Chicago Press, 1996 ISBN: 9781856494083
Ask for Bad Marxism by John Hutnyk. Pluto Press/Uni Chicago Press 2004 ISBN: 9780745322667
Ask for Critique of Exotica by John Hutnyk. Pluto Press 2000 ISBN: 0745315496
Ask for Global South Asia on Screen by John Hutnyk. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. ISBN  9781501324963
Ebook retailers 
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Rosa on Lenin p298 Mimi’s Critique

lenin catLaugh out loud passage in Rosa Luxemburg’s letter of April 2 2011 to Kostya Zetkin (Clara’s son) about Lenin’s visits and the sharp dialectical criticism of Lenin by Mimi the cat.

While there are many who would criticise Lenin without reading or meeting him, the critical support that Rosa provides – the contestation, disagreement and solidarity, are exemplary, as is the cat.

And it confirms all I wanted to say about the politics of cats  – The Politics of Cats – first version, later published in Stimulus Respond in an article of which I am still quite pleased – available as part of Handpicked, by Pavement books.

Yesterday Lenin came, and up to today he has been here four times already. I enjoy talking with him, he’s clever and well educated, and has such an ugly mug, the kind I like to look at … Mimi [Rosa’s cat] … impressed Lenin tremendously, he said that only in Siberia had he seen such a magnificent creature, that she was a barskii kot—a. majestic cat. She also flirted with him, rolled on her back and behaved enticingly toward him, but when he tried to approach her she whacked him with a paw and snarled like a tiger.

from p 289 of ‘The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg’ eds Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annalies Laschitza. verso

Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps

ClaireClaire Reddleman’s new book ‘Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps’ is out now from Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies!

Claire Says:

“It’s all about different forms of cartographic viewing – including the ‘cartographic view from nowhere’, drone viewing, the Apollonian view (in which the earth is ‘seen’ from space), remote cartographic viewing (with particular reference to the antipodes) and an ‘immersive’ form of viewing cartographically from within an art installation. These ways of seeing with maps are explored with close reference to a series of contemporary artworks, by Joyce Kozloff, James Bridle, Trevor Paglen, Layla Curtis and Bill Fontana. The book is a development of my phd thesis, and so is most likely to be of interest for postgraduate students and researchers – but I think the material about the artworks will also be of interest for art students, artists and art-world professionals, and the theoretical ideas about cartographic abstraction will be of interest for people who work on real abstraction and Marxian-informed ways of thinking about art and visual culture”.

Here is the official blurb:

In this book, Claire Reddleman introduces her theoretical innovation ‘cartographic abstraction’ – a material modality of thought and experience that is produced through cartographic techniques of depiction. Reddleman closely engages with selected artworks (by contemporary artists such as Joyce Kozloff, Layla Curtis, and Bill Fontana) and theories in each chapter. Reconfiguring the Foucauldian underpinning of critical cartography towards a materialist theory of abstraction, cartographic viewpoints are theorised as concrete abstractions. This research is positioned at the intersection of art theory, critical cartography and materialist philosophy.

Here are the chapter headings:

Intro – From Critical Cartography to Cartographic Abstraction: Rethinking the Production of Cartographic Viewing Through Contemporary Artworks

1. Reconfiguring the View From Nowhere: Collage and Complicity in ‘Targets’ by Joyce Kozloff

2. The Drone’s Eye View: Networked Vision and Visibility in Works by James Bridle and Trevor Paglen

3. Remote Viewing, Cartographic Abstraction and the Antipodes: Three Works by Layla Curtis

4. Signification in the Soundscape: Bill Fontana’s ‘River Sounding’

5. Cartographic Abstraction: A Material Modality of Thought and Experience


‘Cartographic Abstraction in Contemporary Art: Seeing with maps’ is available for library recommendation at under £90 from Routledge: https://www.routledge.com/Cartographic-abstraction-in-contemporary-art-seeing-with-maps/Reddleman/p/book/9781138712577. The kindle edition is about £26. ISBN 10: 1138712574 / ISBN 13: 9781138712577. Paperback in 2019 if you are not made of money.

Notebooks (Artaud’s for example)

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 22.09.17Rereading Jay Murphy’s book Artaud’s Metamorphosis and thinking about the 30,000 pages of notes Marx is said to have written in the last ten years of his life – and which are only slowly being released through the MEGA. Then find Jay has the following on page 207:

Artaud’s last works are above all, an action, a setting of forces into motion. In examining how he accomplishes this, largely from the springboard of the copious 406 lined school notebooks of which there are some more than 30,000 pages, at times there is the temptation to mimic his method by fracturing the field, separating out the elements that come into conflict, such as sound image text, or even their constituent bodily sources, and it is by such recourse that I isolate the treatment of the face and the voice at the end of this chapter; to see better how they interact, meld, hover, disintegrate or invade other elements…

I won’t reproduce his analysis because the whole book needs to be bought, and the notes still need to be written, but along with Walter Benjamin’s obsession with certain notebooks, whatever was in that case, add also anthropology’s note-writing fix exemplified in Mick Taussig’s drawings for I swear I saw This, and the entire complex of more or less uncanny parallels that revolve around the lined page, schoolbook or not, I’m hankering to generate some sort of method for handling the detritus of the (allegedly) declining years. Plus starting a new journal for my eldest now.

Artaud’s Metamorphosis is available in Berlin at Buchhafen. Or by post from Pavement.


Gary Hall’s essay on Academia.edu

Gary Hall interesting as always. In this article on Academis.edu, here: Should this be the last…

My own take is less well thought out, but I felt Hall’s essay was almost like an airplane safety steward performance – offering us a plastic airbag of comfort adn some nylon socks to distract as we plummet to horrific death, oh, and here are the exit lights to provide a final weird glow as you do. Except Hall’s critique is better than that, and funnier/well written/more important.

When I was invited to be one of these academia.edu editors here was my perhaps a little idealistic response (did not know of the critique by Hall then – but am still using the platform since it’s really just Facebook for dummies, no?).

Dear Academia.Edu
1) The recommend button has ‘fields’ built, I guess, into its algorithm. What mechanisms are in place, if any, to counter the inherent conservative character of this recommendation system? What I mean is, like any search algorithm, the system works on likes and similarity, when what we probably need is a way to discover not so much what we already know and like, or variations thereof, but truly things that will stretch our ideas, habits of though, disciplinary boundaries. Not just some cod-interdisciplinarity either. is it possible to build an algorithm based on something that acknowledges quality – as this recommendation system is designed to do – but does not congeal disciplines with a tendential affirmation of the centre. This, of course is also the problem with Research Assessment Programmes of Govt and funding bodies, indeed, all discipline based peer review.

2) what is the companies position on attention theory of value? For example, the 40 mins of my time I just spent, the increments of time so many users ofacademia.edu spend etc. The benefit of using the site is not exactly a wage. Like peer review for mainstream publishing houses, academia.edu seems to benefit massively from unpaid labour. What mechanisms are in place to recompense user-workers for this astonishing gift of free labour. A share scheme for example. Otherwise what differentiates academia.edu from value extraction of the most virulent kind – unpaid exploitation of willing dupes, thriving on people’s egoistic desire to check their H-index or some such? Is there a discussion within the company of public ownership, distributed ownership, or at least transparency of accounts? Uber, airbnb etc have been starting to get some bad press of late, it might be good to head that off with a share distribution scheme so that academics can make a buck out of their obviously welcome labour.

Read Gary Hall’s essay – click below:

With over 36 million visitors each month, the massive popularity of Academia.edu is uncontested. But posting on Academia.edu is far from being ethically and politically…