These are not fresh links. These are links that have been warming under a heat-lamp for many hours. They are worth reading nonetheless, but it makes me wonder what the shelf life is for the average link. Is five years the upper end, before the original address crumbles in on itself? Some of these are positively ancient then, untouched by comments for many a season, wrinkling away in a recessed corner like the cigar-brown toe of a saint or the aged-cheddar, greenish-yellow fingernails of Christ in some reliquary. Bring some votive candles then, it’s a bit dim around here.
I’ve only read “Ark of Bones” from Sheree R. Thomas’ Dark Matter anthology (which I highly recommend) but look forward to reading his collected short fiction. A writer and poet from the Black Arts or Black Aesthetic Movement, one of those “writer’s writers” who was more influential than famous. He produced fictions which were strange, inexplicable, and politically engaged, and I can’t wait to see how he merged these creative impulses and ethical forces. He was, of course, in a convergence of the tragic and the tragically banal – so typical of police violence against black men in America – shot to death by a Transit Authority policeman while waiting for a train in a Harlem subway station.
The great dividing line in Dumas’s work may be between those fictions that admit the supernatural and those that do not. Dumas considered himself one of Sun Ra’s coreligionists, and the supernatural side of his work can be seen as the literary equivalent of Sun Ra’s music, motivated as it is by the desire to re-enchant the world by offering up an alternative cosmology…Likewise, in Dumas’s tales of the supernatural, the magic is meant to be believed; we get little of the narrative undecidability of the modernist ghost story, in which the reader is torn between rational and supernatural explanations for the trembling of the floorboards and the whistling of the wind. In fact, we are led to believe that we doubt this magic at our own risk. In “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” three white fans of the jazz saxophonist Probe think they can withstand the higher vibrations of his enchanted saxophone but find themselves lulled into the sleep of death when he lets loose with his music. And in “Echo Tree” a boy who refuses to believe that his dead brother Leo still has a spirit life is threatened with being turned into a “bino”—a fate so horrible that it can only be named, not described.
I have some significant qualms with this manifesto, but it is thought provoking and even exciting in its way. Some left thinkers are taking Nick Land’s notion of accelerationism and turning it on its head; what before had been a nihilistic riding of capital’s exctinction-machine to its final conclusion now becomes hijacking the machine to accelerate in a different direction. As another blogger said, the writers of this manifesto believe that Land mistook mere speed for acceleration, and that capitalism at this point is retarding technological acceleration rather than pushing it forward. The manifesto begins with a list of potential crises looming, and then gives its basic thesis:
In contrast to these ever-accelerating catastrophes, today’s politics is beset by an inability to generate the new ideas and modes of organisation necessary to transform our societies to confront and resolve the coming annihilations. While crisis gathers force and speed, politics withers and retreats. In this paralysis of the political imaginary, the future has been cancelled.
Old news here, but 50Watts scanned quite a few illustrations from early 20th century German fantasy magazine Der Orchideengarten. If you haven’t seen it, you should.
Jacob Mikanowski writes a truly beautiful overview and analysis of the fictional works of Bruno Schulz.
But perhaps the most important way in which Schulz’s cosmos differs from our own is that dead things are never simply dead. Matter is never inert. Beneath its inertia and clumsiness, matter trembles with a life of its own. It pulsates and shivers, grows, ferments and germinates. Its curious respiration can be felt passing over moldering, water-stained walls and in the pullulating jungles of wallpaper. In certain environments — in forgotten rooms overgrown with bricks and above rubbish heaps, abounding in the hummus of memories, nostalgia, and sterile boredom — matter sprouts and flowers in a parody of vegetable life. Trapped in wax figures and tailors’ dummies or crucified in chests and tables, it rebels against the cruel prison of its form.
Jeanette Winterson’s essay on Djuna Barnes and her novel Nightwood is still tremendous. A seedy, febrile, cramped and Gothic work, short but dense as a Neutron star, Nightwood is a must-read. It is essentially a realistic novel, but the language that permeates its pages is fantastic, marvelous, and macabre. Barnes has a gift for the darkly glowing aphorism, and she litters them throughout the novel. One of my favorites:
‘The way of a man in a fog!’ he said. He hung his umbrella on the bar ledge. ‘To think is to be sick,’ he said to the barman. The barman nodded.