Granta has issued "the first illustrated edition" of Ben Marcus's quietly seminal The Age of Wire and String. It's a very, very 'andsome production, a lovely object I'm sure to press into the mitts of many friends, but the illustrations, by drawing out meanings previously interred in the text, somehow detract from the pleasure of Marcus's perfectly pitched prose poetry. It's a curious occasion when images are more blatant than words, but this is what we have here: a book that has always finally escaped from the reader now burdened by the mechanism used to help explicate it.
I'm hearing good things about Johnny Rich's novel The Human Script ("One of the most intelligent books about science I have ever read," says Tom McCarthy), published ebook only by Red Button Publishing:
The Human Script tells the story of Chris Putnam, a rather introverted young research scientist who is working on the human working on the Human Genome project. Chris lives in London with his flat-mate Elsi, a perpetually stoned philosophy enthusiast who indulges, and engages with Chris’s existential dilemmas offering sympathy, tea, advice and an endless stream of joints. Emerging from mourning a lost relationship with his boyfriend Gill, Chris is just beginning to enjoy life again when he receives news of his estranged father’s death. Chris’s estrangement from his father stems from their disparate world views. Chris being gay, and more significantly an atheist inevitably disappointed his Calvinist father (more...)
For me, right up there as the best book of the year so far is Craig Dworkin's amusing, highly detailed and exceptionally nuanced No Medium.
In No Medium, Craig Dworkin looks at works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent, writing critically and substantively about works for which there would seem to be not only nothing to see but nothing to say. Examined closely, these ostensibly contentless works of art, literature, and music point to a new understanding of media and the limits of the artistic object.
Its been noted elsewhere, I'm glad to say – a long review (which I need to read carefully) from Richard Marshall over on 3:AM and a nice mention over on THE magazine too ("What ... makes No Medium invaluable is that the author’s immersion in the field permits him to highlight the qualities distinguishing the works with a connoisseur’s appreciation."). And you can see Craig talking about, and reading from, his book in a lecture on vimeo...
I'll respond to the book – and to Marshall's review - anon (I hope!) In the meantime, take my word for it: it's a goody!
Next Wednesday, 12 June 2013 (18:00 - 19:30) at Goldsmiths Gabriel Josipovici in conversation with Josh Cohen:
Gabriel will read from his work and reflect on the art of fiction with Josh Cohen, Professor of Modern Literary Theory, Department of English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths.
I would like to make clear right away that my thesis has been exaggerated by journalists and therefore misrepresented. Its title, ‘The Latin empire should start a counter-attack’, was supplied by the editors of Libération and was taken up by the German media. It’s not something I ever said. How could I counterpose Latin culture to German, when any intelligent European knows that Italian culture of the Renaissance or the culture of classical Greece is today completely part of German culture, which reconceived it and appropriated it! (More...)
If philosophy begins in wonder, then where does it end? What is its end? Aristotle said that while it begins in wondrous questioning, it ends with “the better state” of attaining answers, like an itch we get rid of with a good scratch or a childhood disease that, once gotten over, never returns. How depressing! Why can’t a good question continue being questionable or, in a more literal translation of the German, “question-worthy?” As Heidegger puts it, “philosophical questions are in principle never settled as if some day one could set them aside.” Couldn’t we learn from questions without trying to settle them, resolve ourselves to not resolving them? Couldn’t wisdom be found in reconciling ourselves to its perpetual love, and never its possession? Wittgenstein once wrote that “a philosophical problem has the form: ‘I don’t know my way about,’” which was the symptom of the deep confusion that constituted philosophy for him. But Heidegger loved wandering aimlessly in the woods, following Holzwege or paths that lead nowhere, stumbling onto dead-ends which could also be clearings.
--Lee Braver, On Not Settling the Issue of Realism
Amongst a list of great looking titles coming out from Princeton University Press this season, particularly noteworthy are Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985 (selected and with an introduction by Michael Wood; translated by Martin McLaughlin); Kafka: The Years of Insight and Kafka: The Decisive Years both by Reiner Stach (both translated by Shelley Frisch); and Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica by T.J. Clark.
I missed Kierkegaard's birthday (May 5th), but 2013 represents his 200th anniversary, so I've got the rest of the year to make up for being so remiss...
What may help me feel closer to the Danish master is A Short Life of Kierkegaard (new in paperback, much shorter than his 600 page Oxford University Press tome of the late 40s, and much shorter too than the recent massive Garff biography) by Walter Lowrie (which includes Lowrie's essay How Kierkegaard Got into English – Lowrie was SK's first English translator and he was very keen to establish SK as a thoroughly Christian theologian not simply an anti-Hegelian philosopher). Book comes with a new introduction by Alastair Hannay...
Lots of new stuff on the indispensable backdoorbroadcasting.net:
... starting with the 2013 Hayes Robinson lecture – which is an annual lecture from the department of History at Royal Holloway:
and the annual Hellenic Institute (also at Royal Holloway) chipped in with an interesting lecture on the Greek Diaspora:
And one more offering from the History department at Royal Holloway:
Lots more links the BBC news section.