ReadySteadyBlog

Eden Eden Eden

First published in France in 1970, immediately greeted by both furore and acclaim, today Eden, Eden, Eden is recognised as one of the major works of the last century.

This beautiful new edition is a much-revised translation of the out of print English version originally published in 1995. It also includes new translations of the original prefaces by Michel Leiris, Roland Barthes and Philippe Sollers, plus a postface by Paul Buck.

The Rise of Realism

Currently reading Manuel DeLanda and Graham Harman's excellent The Rise of Realism:

Until quite recently, almost no philosophers trained in the continental tradition saw anything of value in realism. The situation in analytic philosophy was always different, but in continental philosophy realism was usually treated as a pseudo-problem. That is no longer the case.

In this provocative new book, two leading philosophers examine the remarkable rise of realism in the continental tradition. While exploring the similarities and differences in their own positions, they also consider the work of others and assess rival trends in contemporary philosophy. They begin by discussing the relation between realism and materialism, which DeLanda links closely but which Harman tries to separate. Part Two covers the many different meanings of realism, with the two authors working together to develop an expanded definition of the term. Part Three features a spirited exchange on the respective virtues and drawbacks of DeLanda's realism of attractors and singularities and Harman's object-oriented theory. Part Four shifts to the question of the knowability of the real, as the authors discuss whether scientific knowledge does full justice to reality. In Part Five, they shift the focus to space, time, and science more generally, and here Harman offers a defence of actor-network theory despite its obvious anti-realist elements.

Lively, accessible and engaging, this book is the best attempt so far to clarify the different paths for realism in continental philosophy. It will be of great value to students and scholars of continental philosophy and to anyone interested in the cutting-edge debates in philosophy and critical theory today.

An uncompromising apophatic criticism would look like the writing of Steve Mitchelmore. He does something like what Lerner does with poetry, but he does it with literature in general, and he doesn’t, well, compromise on the validity of his method.

Robert Minto's excellent blog responding, via Ben Lerner, to the writing of Steve Mitchelmore.

CCRU Writings 1997-2003

From before the beginning (which was also, according to them, already the end), the adepts of the Architectonic Order of the Eschaton have worked tirelessly to secure the past, present, and future against the incursions of Neolemurian time-sorcery, eliminating all polytemporal activity, stitching up the future, sealing every breach and covering every track. According to the AOE, the Ccru ‘does not, has not, and will never exist’. And yet...

The texts collected here document the Ccru’s perilous efforts to catalogue the traces of Lemurian occulture, bringing together the scattered accounts of those who had stumbled upon lagooned relics of nonhuman intelligence—a project that led ultimately to the recovery of the Numogram and the reconstruction of the principles of Lemurian time-sorcery—before disintegrating into collective schizophrenia and two decades of absolute obscurity.

Meshing together fiction, number theory, voodoo, philosophy, anthropology, palate tectonics, information science, semiotics, geotraumatics, occultism, and other nameless knowledges, in these pages the incomplete evidence gathered by explorers including Burroughs, Blavatsky, Lovecraft, Jung, Barker, J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Octavia Butler, but also the testimony of more obscure luminaries such as Echidna Stillwell, Oskar Sarkon, and Madame Centauri, are clarified and subjected to systematic investigation, comparison, and assessment so as to gauge the real stakes of the Time-War still raging behind the collapsing façade of reality.

One of the most compelling and unnerving collective research enterprises to have surfaced in the twentieth century, the real pertinence of the Ccru’s work is only now beginning to reveal itself to an unbelieving world. To plunge into the tangled mesh of these conspiracies, weird tales, numerical plagues, and suggestive coincidences is to test your sense of reality beyond the limits of reasonable tolerance—to enter the sphere of unbelief, where demonic currents prowl, where fictions make themselves real. Hyperstition.

CCRU Writings 1997–2003 is OUT NOW.

The King in the Golden Mask

Hearing a lot about The King in the Golden Mask from the always interesting Wakefield Press...

First published in French in 1892 and never before translated fully into English, The King in the Golden Mask gathers together twenty-one of Marcel Schwob’s cruelest and most erudite tales. Melding the fantastic with historical fiction, these stories swarm around moments of unexplained violence both historical and imaginary, often blending the two through Schwob’s collaging of primary source documents into fiction. Brimming with murder, suicide, royal leprosy, and medieval witchcraft, this collection describes for us historically attested clergymen furtively attending medieval sabbaths, Protestant galley slaves laboring under the persecution of Louis XIV, a ten-year-old French viscountess seeking vengeance for her unwilled espousal to a money-grubbing French lord, and dice-tumbling sons of Florentine noblemen wandering Europe at the height of the 1374 plague. These writings are of such hallucinatory detail and linguistic specificity that the reader is left wondering whether they aren’t newly unearthed historical documents. To read Schwob is to encounter human history in its most scintillating and ebullient form as it comes into contact with his unparalleled imagination.

Marcel Schwob (1867–1905) was a scholar of startling breadth and an incomparable storyteller. A secret influence on generations of writers, from Guillaume Apollinaire and Jorge Luis Borges to Roberto Bolaño, Schwob was as versed in the street slang of medieval thieves as he was in the poetry of Walt Whitman. His allegiances were to Rabelais and François Villon, Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Allan Poe. Paul Valéry and Alfred Jarry both dedicated their first books to him, and in doing so paid tribute to the author who could evoke both the intellect of Leonardo da Vinci and the anarchy of Ubu Roi. He was also the uncle of Lucy Schwob, better remembered today as the Surrealist photographer Claude Cahun.

I first came across Stephen Mitchelmore's blog This Space on one of those long, anxious evenings, when the only thing that was going to settle me was to read something new about one of my favourite writers. This was also around the time when I had become tired of being the only one I knew who liked the books that I liked. As soon as I tried to explain to my good friends that a particular book didn't interest me at all, no matter that it was 'profoundly moving' or 'fascinating', it would always seem, in contrast to what they had just said, that I was also admitting to my own pathetic diminution as a person, and I started to think that the little corner of my room where I stacked my favourite books (which were mostly written by dead people -- even I could see that) was a kind of morbid, crusted-over lair...

It's become clear to me that any very patient, generous and creatively intelligent attempt to write about any of this, in the way that Stephen Mitchelmore has done in his blog and now in his recently published book This Space of Writing, enlivens the world that we live in so much more brilliantly and immediately than many of these apparently 'moving' or 'hard-hitting' or 'fascinating' novels. But how can that be? Perhaps it's the work of the writing that does it: the very process and experience of writing that demands that we stay attentive -- not only to the words themselves (which are so often at the point of escaping us) but, as with so many inexplicable aspects of our existence (our dreams, impressions, fleeting thoughts), also to exactly how the writing has affected us.

Read more of this lovely review piece over at Jen Craig's beinginlieu blog.

Wolfgang Hilbig's The Sleep of the Righteous

Right, time to get down to some proper reading, and Wolfgang Hilbig's The Sleep of the Righteous (out from Scott Esposito's Two Lines Press) sits atop the TBR-pile. (His novel "I", described as the "perfect book for paranoid times", out from Seagull Books, is waiting in the wings too.)

László Krasznahorkai tells us "Hilbig is an artist of immense stature" and LARB suggests he writes as "Edgar Allan Poe could have written if he had been born in Communist East Germany."

Enough to intrigue, for sure...

Well, I've waited around a long time for this, and I couldn't be more thrilled... Zero Books have announced the forthcoming publication of my wonderfully talented friend Stephen Mitchelmore's This Space of Writing:

What does 'literature' mean in our time? While names like Proust, Kafka and Woolf still stand for something, what that something actually is has become obscured by the claims of commerce and journalism. Perhaps a new form of attention is required. Stephen Mitchelmore began writing online in 1996 and became Britain's first book blogger soon after, developing the form so that it can respond in kind to the singular space opened by writing. Across 44 essays, he discusses among many others the novels of Richard Ford, Jeanette Winterson and Karl Ove Knausgaard, the significance for modern writers of cave paintings and the moai of Easter Island, and the enduring fallacy of 'Reality Hunger', all the while maintaining a focus on the strange nature of literary space. By listening to the echoes and resonances of writing, this book enables a unique encounter with literature that many critics habitually ignore. With an introduction by the acclaimed novelist Lars Iyer, This Space of Writing offers a renewed appreciation of the mystery and promise of writing.