The Essay and the Internet

by Orit Gat

As our relationship with the internet and the enormous amounts of information we read on it changes, so do our publishing strategies. There is a lot at stake in conversations about economies of attention online. The future of the online essay — maybe the future of the essay — depends on the publishing platforms we come up with. It would be too easy, too optimistic, too complacent to say that the internet liberates us from the mundane considerations of print, especially when thinking about the increasingly corporate structure of the web. [read full essay]

'Do you reckon he's a scout?'

Michael Calvin, The Nowhere Men: The Unknown Story of Football’s True Talent Spotters

reviewed by Joe Kennedy

When I was much younger, my brother and I would occasionally find ourselves kicking a ball around together on a beach, in a park, or down by the river. From time to time, we’d spot someone in the distance who had paused to watch our improvised game. Inevitably, the question was asked: ‘Do you reckon he’s a scout?’ Soon, the figure would turn and walk on, leaving us to our speculations. The scout had legendary status amongst young football players until relatively recently. He was a... [read more]

Notes On Avoiding Fate

Alain Badiou, Cinema

reviewed by Stuart Walton

When Alain Badiou asks, in a previously unpublished text of 2002, collected in this chronologically arranged compilation of his writings on film, 'May I be permitted to say, simply, lamely, that cinema combines stories, performances, places, sounds, and colours?', one hopes the question is rhetorical. If not, the temptation is to respond by saying, simply, bluntly, 'No, you'll have to do better than that'. Badiou's late thought has been characterised by its retreat towards an increasingly... [read more]
 

The Enemy Within

Alison MacLeod, Unexploded

reviewed by David Anderson

It took until the end of the ‘Phoney War’ for the British to really act on the fear that German, Austrian and Italian migrants might rise up to augment a potential invasion, forming an insidious ‘fifth column’ of hostile forces. Up until 1940, only 486 ‘aliens’ had been interned, but as the prospect of German advance loomed ever greater, pressure from the right-wing press coalesced with growing nationalist sentiment, and was enriched by the voices of figures like Nevile Bland (who... [read more]

‘Together, We’ll Make Magic’

Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being

reviewed by Alexis Forss

What are the true edges, the outer limits, of a book? Of this particular book, with its ‘fully interactive paperback jacket’ (‘download the free Blippar app...’), ‘also available in a beautiful limited-edition hardback, an e-book or audio-digital download’? Where does it start, where does it begin? This is the kind of question to send us scurrying for the succour of literalism, but that will not do for this book, which is about how these questions are more mysterious to us now than... [read more]
 

Our Inevitable Selves

Stephen Mulhall, The Self and its Shadows: A Book of Essays on Individuality as Negation in Philosophy and the Arts

reviewed by Josh Dickson

Stephen Mulhall’s The Self and its Shadows continues the intellectual project that formed in Mulhall’s previous monograph, The Wounded Animal: JM Coetzee and the Difficulty of Reality (Princeton University Press, 2008). In that study, Mulhall is primarily concerned with elucidating JM Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello (Secker and Warburg, 2003) and discussing its eponymous protagonist, a fictional novelist who spends the entirety of the text giving lectures on issues of moral and... [read more]

Preaching to the Choir

Curtis White, The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers

reviewed by Joel White

In a recent article written in the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s death, Slavoj Žižek lists some of the key characteristics that determined both the success and the danger of Thatcher’s political stance. The most prominent of these characteristics can be summarised by a rather entertaining response that Thatcher once gave when posed the question: ‘What was your greatest political achievement?’ After pausing to think, she simply replied: ‘New Labour.’ The politico-philosophical... [read more]
 

A Return to Politics

Simon Hardy, Destruction of Meaning

reviewed by JD Taylor

'Propaganda that looks like propaganda is third rate propaganda': so said Lord Northcliffe, Director for Propaganda for the British Ministry of Information in 1918. Northcliffe possessed a unique monopoly on news production in the early 20th century, owning both the Daily Mail and The Times, and his work in producing effective anti-German material during the first World War has been credited as the first modern instance of effective mass propaganda. Whilst today we have our Rupert Murdochs and... [read more]

The Way of the World

Franco Moretti, The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature

reviewed by Luke Davies

The bourgeois ... Not so long ago, this notion seemed indispensable to social analysis; these days, one might go years without hearing it mentioned. Capitalism is more powerful than ever, but its human embodiment seems to have vanished. Franco Moretti suggests that the vanished bourgeois has been replaced by a middle class distanced from the conditions of subjugation that define capitalism, and so with diminished responsibilities: 'once placed "in the middle", the bourgeoisie could appear... [read more]
 

The Scum of the Earth

Imogen Tyler, Revolting Subjects: Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain

reviewed by Jemma Crew

A group of friends threw a chav party when I was in my final year at university, the idea being to don tracksuits and fake baby bumps, garish makeup and gold jewellery. An attitude problem was essential – the more abusive the better – as was the inevitable accessorial bottle of booze. The dress-code for the party wasn’t chosen out of malice: chav was just one of many fancy dress themes considered fair game, alongside ‘school uniform’ and ‘animal onesies’. (For the record, rah... [read more]

Long-Distance Relationships

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

reviewed by David Anderson

Early on in Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby a discussion of Alzeimer's disease, which runs through the book, is introduced. As I sat reading this in the back garden of a café on Walworth road, my attention was frequently arrested by the faltering exchanges of three women sitting across from me, and a curious overlap took place. I couldn’t help but notice that these other customers must be related — they were neatly divided into generations. As Solnit’s description of her mother’s... [read more]