Reviews

Frankenstein, or the 8-Bit Prometheus – Micro-literature, hyper-mashup, Sonic Belligeranza records 17th anniversary by Riccardo Balli

The Reddit Controversy

Riccardo Balli, however obscure and enigmatic he might appear in his writing and featured on his picture discs, has shown that he can be highly lucid and brilliantly persuasive in expounding his ideas when he is provoked to defend himself by attacks, such as the one Toby Reynolds, the literary critic of Datacide, launched against him on Reddit in the summer of 2018.

In reviewing ‘Frankenstein, Or The 8-Bit Prometheus’, Reynolds warned his readers of the danger that Balli might become the messiah of the enemies of realism. “Here at last was a self-proclaimed advocate of anti-writing: explicitly anti-realist and by implication anti-reality as well. Here was a writer ready to declare that words were meaningless and that all communication between human beings was impossible. Reynolds conceded that Balli presented a valid personal vision, but “the peril arises when it is held up for general emulation as the gateway to writing or music of the future, that bleak new world from which the humanist heresies of faith in logic and belief in man will forever be banished.’ Balli was moving away from realism, with “characters and events [that] have traceable roots in life” – from the writing of Paul Virilio, Stewart Home, Bill Drummond, Mark Manning, Lester Bangs, Brecht and Sartre.1
Reynolds’ attack opened one of the most interesting discussions on this subject ever conducted in public. Balli replied that he certainly did not see himself as a messiah,

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No borders, no fatherland! France – What’s New for the Left? (book review)

Book review: No borders, no fatherland!
France – What’s New for the Left?

(Ni patrie ni frontières, Paris 2017, 454p., no ISBN)

I first came across the journal Ni patrie ni frontières (subtitled: Ni États, ni Eglises – Ni “races”, ni ethnies – Traductions et débats) around 2003/2004 when they published a collection of texts in English by the Dutch group De Fabel van de illegaal, titled Nationalism, Anti-Semitism and the Anti-globalisation Movement (1998-2003). At a time when things were going seriously wrong in the radical Left and especially the wider “anti-globalisation” movement, the brochure was a welcome signal that there were critical voices that were sensitive to the growing overlap of far right and far left anti-imperialist positions, often manifesting themselves as “anti-Zionist”.

I started picking up copies of Ni patrie ni frontières whenever I could find them. The French journal was started in 2002 by Yves Coleman and a fair number of issues appeared in quick succession. Initially published in the form of photocopied and staple-bound A4 editions, they switched to printed softcovers in 2007 with issue 21/22.

The journal presents a wide range of historical texts and contemporary analysis of the pressing questions of the “revolutionary” Left, with views from a spectrum of radical writers and groups ranging from Left Communism to anarchism and Third Camp Trotskyism. Among the writers are Loren Goldner (Insurgent Notes), and the groups the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty, (the German) Wildcat publication, Temps critiques, Movement Communiste, the Worker-Communist Parties of Iran and Iraq, as well as anarchist and left communist classics.

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A Fascist Tulpa in the White House? Right-wing ‘Meme Magic’ and the Rise of Trump

A review article of ‘Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump’ by Gary Lachman, 2018

Friday 13th July 2018 – The US President is on a visit to Britain and on the streets of London one of the biggest week day demonstrations in living memory is taking place, with as many as 250,000 people marching to Trafalgar Square to oppose Donald Trump. There is a wide range of banners, portable sound systems, marching bands (including ‘Trumpets Against Trump’) and home made placards weird and wonderful. It seems that every contemporary cultural reference point is being mobilised. A group of women in red are dressed as characters from the Handmaid’s Tale with a sign declaring ‘Gilead steals our babies too’ alluding to the caging of children of migrants caught crossing the Mexican border. Trump is satirised as a baby, as the devil (a placard pictures him with the caption ‘Not today Satan’) and as an evil dementor from the Harry Potter tales with the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ – the magic charm used by Potter to raise a spirit guardian to defend against the dark forces of Voldemort. )

But supposing occult forces really are at work in the Trump aeon? That is the thesis of Gary Lachman’s ‘Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump’ (2018), which sets out to explore the ‘new incursion of far-right occultism into the contemporary political landscape’ both in the USA and in Putin’s Russia.

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Cosey Fanni Tutti: Memoirs of a Woman of Extreme Pleasures (Interview and Book Review)

It was back in 2000 that I conducted the interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti published here, for a piece I was writing for datacide on women making extreme music. As a female pioneer of industrial music dating from her time as a member of Throbbing Gristle to her decades of transgressive performance art, Cosey was an obvious and important artist to include in the article. This interview came at a time when I personally was navigating the London noise scene as a young female artist; when it was mostly men on the stages and in the audiences, and women performers were regularly regarded as novelties, taken less seriously than their male peers and the focus of unsolicited sexual attention. Women were involved, but usually backstage in the organisation of events and labels, and when the female was actively presented – by men and some women – it was often as something sexualised, attention-grabbing, or mired in misogyny. As I researched the issue further, some of the attitudes I uncovered in addition to what I’d directly encountered left me so disheartened that I abandoned the piece, put my head down and focused on my own music.

Now, seventeen years later, with the publication of Cosey’s autobiographical book, Art Sex Music, it is timely that this interview is finally appearing in datacide. There has been progress in redressing the gender imbalance in noise and extreme music, but women remain a small and often undervalued component. In the years since conducting this interview, I have become increasingly convinced that the voices of women working in this area need to be heard above their music; loud and with any distortion most definitely self-applied. This is necessary to encourage more women to make music at the extreme fringe and enable those already involved to emerge from its margins where many still operate. Cosey’s body of work and reflections remain highly relevant and play an important role here, as shared both in this interview and in Art Sex Music, a brief review of which prefaces the transcript. [Read more →]

Alexander Reid Ross: Against the Fascist Creep (Book Review)

Alexander Reid Ross
Against the Fascist Creep
AK Press, Chico, Oakland, Edinburgh, Baltimore, 2017
ISBN 978-1-84935-244-4

In the introduction, Alexander Reid Ross, who is a lecturer in geography at Portland State, explains what he means by ‘fascist creep’: it ‘refers to the porous borders between fascism and the radical right, through which fascism is able to “creep” into mainstream discourse. However, the “fascist creep” is also a double-edged term, because it refers more specifically to the crossover space between right and left that engenders fascism in the first place’.

Summing up different theories about fascism, he concludes: ‘fascism is a syncretic form of ultranationalist ideology developed through patriarchal mythopoesis, which seeks the destruction of the modern world and the spiritual alingenesis (“rebirth”) of an organic community led by natural elites through the fusion of technological advancement and cultural tradition’.

In the 390-page book he sets out to document this ‘creep’ from its beginnings to its current manifestations, from classical fascism to third positionism, national bolshevism, and autonomous nationalism. He also makes meaningful distinctions between the ‘radical right’, fringe ‘conservatives’, and neo-fascists or neo-Nazis without obscuring their many overlaps.

One of the difficult things to grasp about fascism is its fundamentally contradictory nature if one is looking at it in terms of a coherent program, philosophy, or ideology. This is something that has not been denied but rather celebrated by different fascist spokesmen, from Benito Mussolini to Armin Mohler, who emphasised that fascism rather than being bothered about its discrepancies in theory was more concerned with ‘style’. [Read more →]

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