TROCCHI – THE TRANSVERSALIST

A Life in Pieces: Reflections on Alexander Trocchi [Rebel inc.]
ed. Allan Campbell and Tim Niel

A follow through from the TV documentary of the same name, this volume collects together the various interviews that were gathered for research and presents them in their entirety together with fragments of Trocchi’s writing, odd letters, tape transcripts, essays and appreciations. The basic tenor of the questioning lies around Trocchi the writer and the reasons for his ‘silence’ after Cain’s Book; so like the TV programme there is much about wasted talent and drugs. As most of the interviewees have some kind of professional investment in writing it is hardly so surprising that they don’t too arduously pursue the reasons behind Trocchi’s criticisms of and dissatisfactions with writing. At the same time, though the interviewers˛ try to encourage people to talk about Project Sigma, the phrasing of their questions shows next-to-no identification with even the idealist component of Sigma. An image of rebellion as egotistical and radicalism as self-indulgent is what certain interviewees and contributors eagerly embrace and it is really only Bill Burroughs and Leonard Cohen who defend Trocchi’s communitarian hopes. It is Burroughs, who responding to the lead-in that Sigma was far-fetched, replies sympathetically: “I think that it is indeed far-fetched but he possibly had some idea there’s enough minds that would…. Different ideas would of course make a change in society and that’s not without foundation. It’s the way changes come about”. [Read more →]

Search & Destroy

wsb
I.the revised boy scout manual
I have in the first issue of datacide discussed a few views on the concept of random assassinations, by on the one hand suggesting that “accidental” killings by the police force actually follow a strategy of intimidation/terror, and pointing to the crimes of the Manson Family supporting the view that random assassinations are the ones that spread the most terror. I will here as a post script briefly review The Revised Boy Scout Manual by William S. Burroughs, and then go on to two cases of killings that were not random at all but fall into a category of surgical strikes against insurrectionists, political assassinations as performed by the state. [Read more →]

“I am an alien (wo)man . . . I beheld the Life and the Life beheld me.”

In his book, The Gnostic Religion, Hans Jonas unravels the enigmatic instability which lies at the heart of alienation:
“The alien is that which stems from elsewhere and does not belong here. To those who belong here it is thus the strange, the unfamiliar and incomprehensible; but their world on its part is just as incomprehensible to the alien that comes to dwell here, and like a foreign land where it is far from home. Then it suffers the lot of the stranger who is lonely, unprotected, uncomprehended, and uncomprehending in a situation full of danger. [Read more →]

WAS MARX A POSTMODERNIST?

Comedy After Postmodernism: rereading comedy from Edward Lear to Charles Willeford by Kirby Olson (Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock 2001).

Walter Benjamin: overpowering conformism by Esther Leslie (Pluto Press, London 2000).

Due to the differing perspectives of their authors, Leslie’s book on Benjamin which is written from an explicitly Marxist perspective, can be read very productively alongside and against Olson’s avowedly anti-Marxist text on comedy. Both writers combine political and aesthetic positions that would be viewed by many as incompatible. Olson is in many way an old-fashioned liberal with vague anarchist leanings who is attempting to retrench the ways in which the humanities have traditionally been taught by adapting the theories of the post-68 French left figures Deleuze and Lyotard to somewhat unlikely ends. Leslie is an activist in the British Socialist Workers Party who hopes to reclaim Benjamin not just for Marxism, but quite explicitly for Trotskyism too. While Leslie correctly identifies certain similarities between Benjamin’s and Trotsky’s aesthetic positions – a state of affairs that is not entirely surprising to anyone familiar with Trotsky’s writings on art and literature – she certainly faces an uphill struggle if she hopes to make Benjamin a respected figure among the SWP rank-and-file.

Leslie has to defend Benjamin on a number of fronts, both from those who would rewrite him into philosophy, postmodernism and/or cultural studies, and others who claim there are similarities between his thought and that of German revolutionary conservatives (i.e. the strand of German fascism that disdained the Nazi Party as being too plebeian for its aristocratic tastes). Likewise, Leslie sharply criticises the cult that has grown up around Benjamin including the inappropriate use of his image [Read more →]

Pencilbreak Book Review

Please note the the end of this review was accidentally deleted in the print edition. For the full article read below.

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pencilbreak

Pencilbreak: A Graphicore Compilation. Published by Belio Magazine. €25
Released in late July, 2008 Pencilbreak is the first art/design book specifically dedicated to the visual elements of breakcore. (The only other book on “breakcore” we are aware of is: Andrew Whelan, Breakcore: Identity and Interaction on Peer-to-Peer (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)). Pencilbreak’s 216 glossy pages are filled with high quality images of flyers, cd and vinyl record cover designs, and other artworks that the editors of Belio magazine associate in one way or another with the musical “style” of breakcore. Belio writes, “This book compiles fresh work from more than twenty international artists. All of them share a similar feeling and passion for distorted sounds and graphics. This book is meant to be a homage to Breakcore and other styles of hardcore music and corresponding attitudes.” This review does not dispute the self-evident fact that many individuals throughout the world are pleased to have to opportunity to purchase one of the first books dealing with breakcore as a visual and musical “genre,” and that the graphic artists featured and Belio magazine itself will certainly garner some amount of exposure and respect through this publication. [Read more →]

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