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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '09 November 2006'

Thursday 09 November 2006

Melinda Gebbie

T'other week, I published Ismo Santala's fantastic interview with Alan Moore here on RSB. Today, I'm publishing Part II: an interview with Melinda Gebbie. Melinda is Alan's partner and the artist behind Moore's latest book (16-years in the making this) the Lost Girls.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 09 November 2006

TJ Clark interview

There is a good, chunky TJ Clark interview over at Brooklyn Rail (The Painting of Modern Life, Farewell to an Idea and most recently The Sight of Death; and, as part of the Retort team of writers and political activists, Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War):

“Yours is not a book in which darkness is winning” ... Well, I guess I agree with that judgment, taking The Sight of Death as a whole. Though obviously the book does look certain kinds of darkness more fully in the face than anything else I have written. It’s not called The Sight of Death for nothing! I think (or I hope) that you and other readers come away from it without a sense of terminal glumness because you’re carried along by the simple, central pleasure of looking that drives things forward—and the astonishment at what one or two pictures have to offer, if you give them half a chance. This pleasure and astonishment are unnegotiable. Nothing the world can do to them will make them go away. And yes, I agree: the world does plenty. Pleasure and astonishment seem to me qualities that the world around us, most of the time, is conspiring to get rid of. Or to travesty—to turn into little marketable motifs. It amounts to the same thing.

Apropos Afflicted Powers, he goes on to say:

Well, you’ll guess that there’s an aspect of this that drives me and the other Retorters mad! I wrote Afflicted Powers with an economic geographer, Michael Watts, a novelist who was once a defense lawyer fighting it out in the California prison system, Joseph Matthews, and an historian of past and present capitalist enclosures, Iain Boal. Not exactly a Situationist (or even palaeo-Situationist) line-up! Obviously our book takes advantage of certain Situationist concepts and hypotheses, and tries to apply them to current politics. And yes, we do think that the power of the image, and the control of appearances, are more and more part of the very structure of statecraft (and resistance to statecraft). We think the established Left suffers—suffers badly—from an inability to think about the new conditions of social control, and social struggle ...

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Thursday 09 November 2006

Chris Knight speech

RSB-interviewee Chris Knight, (University of East London anthropologist) spoke to scholars at the Cradle of Language conference underway in Stellenbosch, South Africa recently (via Babel's Dawn):

A hundred thousand years ago (± thirty thousand years) human primate society was replaced by a human speaking community, shifting priorities from Darwinian issues to those of a symbolic culture ... The human speaking community is radically different [from primate society], according to Knight. Members who are in need of assistance can expect it. Parents routinely feed and educate their children in the ways of the family and community. Infirm elderly typically receive some support from their children. Dominance is not won but granted by the community, typically based on what they contribute to the group. Often this contribution comes in the form of wisdom, verbal co-operation that benefits the community. The transition from primate gestures and vocalizations to speech was not driven by a new brain as it was by the evolution of new strategies for cooperation.

Posted by Mark Thwaite
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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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