• A boarder for two years following a national funeral, Mirabeau is removed from the Pantheon and transferred to the cemetery of Clamart when his pornographic novels are discovered • A photograph taken by Hessling on Christmas night, 1943, of a young woman nailed alive to the village gate of Novimgorod; Hessling asks his friend Wolfgang Borchert to develop the film, look at the photograph, and destroy it • The Beautiful Gardener, a picture by Max Ernst, burned by the Nazis
—from The Missing Pieces
The Missing Pieces is an incantatory text, a catalog of what has been lost over time and what in some cases never existed. Through a lengthy chain of brief, laconic citations, Henri Lefebvre evokes the history of what is no more and what never was: the artworks, films, screenplays, negatives, poems, symphonies, buildings, letters, concepts, and lives that cannot be seen, heard, read, inhabited, or known about. It is a literary vanitas of sorts, but one that confers an almost mythical quality on the enigmatic creations it recounts—rather than reminding us of the death that inhabits everything humans create.
Lefebvre’s list includes Marcel Duchamp’s (accdidentally destroyed) film of Man Ray shaving off the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s pubic hair; the page written by Balzac on his deathbed (lost); Spinoza's Treatise on the Rainbow (thrown into a fire); the final seven meters of Kerouac’s original typescript for On the Road (eaten by a dog); the chalk drawings of Francis Picabia (erased before an audience); and the one moment in André Malraux's life in which he exclaimed “I believe, for a minute, I was thinking nothing.” The Missing Pieces offers a treasure trove of cultural and artistic detail and will entertain even those readers not enamored of the void.
I believe that destiny is the hesitation between whorehouse writing and poetry, Evil and Good. In my body almost deadened to stupidity by its growing length, I am carrying that destiny.
—from In the Deep
A hypnotic account of three days and nights plucked from the summer of 1955, In the Deep maps the origins, development, and meaning of Pierre Guyotat’s creative vocation. To read it is to inhabit the life of an adolescent boy who is just discovering his calling to write, while also tormented by the questions left unanswered by his Catholic upbringing. Faced with his faith’s failure, he feels the need to invent another one—one much darker and conflicted—which he believes will be his destiny. In the Deep leads us through the foundations of Guyotat’s infamous “beat-sheet”: the masturbatory writing practice that caused a scandal in the 1970s when he first disclosed it, and which—although he has since disowned it—remains fundamental to any understanding of Guyotat’s oeuvre.
Unlike Guyotat’s other works, which deploy the sustained and taxing invention of an altogether other language—and another reality beyond any notion of morality-—In the Deep is written in an almost classical language, borrowing its timeless rhythmic prose from Latin syntax, and riddled with interrogatives that are part of a French tradition harking back to Rabelais. Nonetheless, as a contemporary De Rerum Natura, at once comic and profound, this narrative explores the same issues that run through all of Guyotat's writing: the always precarious grounding to sex, humanity, ethics, and God.
A specter is haunting philosophy—the specter of Hamlet. Why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
Entering from stage left: the philosopher’s Hamlet. The philosopher’s Hamlet is a conceptual character, played by philosophers rather than actors. He performs not in the theater but within the space of philosophical positions. In All for Nothing, Andrew Cutrofello critically examines the performance history of this unique role.
The philosopher’s Hamlet personifies negativity. In Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet’s speech and action are characteristically negative; he is the melancholy Dane. Most would agree that he has nothing to be cheerful about. Philosophers have taken Hamlet to embody specific forms of negativity that first came into view in modernity. What the figure of the Sophist represented for Plato, Hamlet has represented for modern philosophers. Cutrofello analyzes five aspects of Hamlet’s negativity: his melancholy, negative faith, nihilism, tarrying (which Cutrofello distinguishes from “delaying”), and nonexistence. Along the way, we meet Hamlet in the texts of Kant, Coleridge, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Benjamin, Arendt, Schmitt, Lacan, Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Badiou, Žižek, and other philosophers. Whirling across a kingdom of infinite space, the philosopher’s Hamlet is nothing if not thought-provoking.
Octavio Paz: "If you love art, do something, Fantomas!"
Fantomas: "I will, you can depend on it."
First published in Spanish in 1975 and previously untranslated, Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires is Julio Cortázar’s genre-jumping mash-up of his participation in the Second Russell Tribunal on human rights abuses in Latin America and his cameo appearance in issue number 201 of the Mexican comic book series Fantomas: The Elegant Menace. With his characteristic narrative inventiveness, Cortázar offers a quixotic meta-comic/novella that challenges not only the form of the novel but its political weight in contemporary cultural life.
Needing something to read on the train from Brussels (where he had attended the ineffectual tribunal meeting), our hero (Julio Cortázar) picks up the latest issue of the Fantomas comic. He grows increasingly absorbed by the comic book’s tale of bibliocide (a sinister bibliophobic plot to obliterate every book from the archives of humanity), especially when he sees the character Fantomas embark upon a series of telephone conversations with literary figures, starting with “The Great Argentine Writer” himself, Julio Cortázar (and also including Octavio Paz and a tough-talking Susan Sontag). Soon, Cortázar begins to erase the thin line between real-life atrocities and fictional mayhem in an attempt to bring attention to the human rights violations taking place with impunity in the country from which he was exiled.
It was the lies he told that reminded me of that past of mine that I hadn't encountered in a while. He was telling me the kinds of lies where the teller implies that things that have only happened to him once are long-running habits. Things about too much whiskey, Céline and De Sade, eating alone in expensive Japanese restaurants, knowing nobody (this last fact he would continue to repeat in later meetings, it seeming more barbarously unreal each time).
—from Nicola, Milan
Vaguely employed as a brand strategist in a B-version of the Italian Glamour export economy, the twenty-five-year-old unnamed narrator of Nicola, Milan is an international loner, watch checker, tip leaver, shit-talker, drifting from bar to airport lounge, taxi to hotel foyer, drunk and caffeinated at the same time, trying to explain to you the finer points of how to pitch an idea of Italy to Americans.
But when he meets the slightly older, richer, and worldlier Nicola, he becomes fascinated with him, seeing Nicola as a transcendental exemplar of the international-creative class culture he both envies and loathes. As the narrator stalks Nicola through the streets of Milan and its outskirts, what began as a casual friendship develops into an obsessive attachment, a crisis of identity connecting two hustlers, and a struggle against the quiet oblivion usually hidden by the web of tics and affectations that constitute a personality.
Combining a Houellebecq-like sense of the psychic malaise beneath the surface of contemporary cultural life with the dispassionate voice of a police report, Nicola, Milan tells a story of perverse, asexual frenzy emptying out into the void.
Editors of academic journals are often the top scholars in their fields. They are charged with managing the flow of hundreds of manuscripts each year—from submission to review to rejection or acceptance—all while continuing their own scholarly pursuits. Tenure decisions often turn on who has published what in which journals, but editors can accept only a fraction of the papers submitted. In this book, past and present editors of economics journals discuss navigating the world of academic journals. Their contributions offer essential reading for anyone who has ever submitted a paper, served as a referee or associate editor, edited a journal—or read an article and wondered why it was published.
The editors describe their experiences at journals that range from the American Economic Review to the Journal of Sports Economics. The issues they examine include late referee reports, slow resubmission of manuscripts, and plagiarism—as well as the difficulties of “herding cats” and the benefits of husband-wife editorial partnerships. They consider the role of the editor, as gatekeeper or developer of content; and they advise authors to write more carefully and clearly, to include citations that locate their articles in the context of the existing literature, and to update their work after it has been submitted and rejected elsewhere. The chapters also offer a timely, insider’s perspective on the general effectiveness of the system of academic journals in economics.
Richard V. Adkisson, Richard G. Anderson, William A. Barnett, Suzanne R. Becker, William R. Becker, Daniel W. Bromley, William G. Dewald, Antony W. Dnes, Zvi Eckstein, Richard Friberg, Esther Gal-Or, Craufurd Goodwin, Thorvaldur Gylfason, Campbell R. Harvey, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Leo H. Kahane, R. Preston McAfee, John Pencavel, Gerald Pfann, Steven Pressman, Lall B. Ramrattan, J. Barkley Rosser Jr., Paul H. Rubin, William F. Shughart II, Robert M. Solow, Daniel F. Spulber, Michael Szenberg, Timothy Taylor, Abu N.M. Wahid, Michael Watts, Lawrence J. White, Jürgen von Hagen, Fabrizio Zilibotti
Emil du Bois-Reymond is the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century. In his own time (1818–1896) du Bois-Reymond grew famous in his native Germany and beyond for his groundbreaking research in neuroscience and his provocative addresses on politics and culture. This biography by Gabriel Finkelstein draws on personal papers, published writings, and contemporary responses to tell the story of a major scientific figure. Du Bois-Reymond's discovery of the electrical transmission of nerve signals, his innovations in laboratory instrumentation, and his reductionist methodology all helped lay the foundations of modern neuroscience.
In addition to describing the pioneering experiments that earned du Bois-Reymond a seat in the Prussian Academy of Sciences and a professorship at the University of Berlin, Finkelstein recounts du Bois-Reymond's family origins, private life, public service, and lasting influence. Du Bois-Reymond's public lectures made him a celebrity. In talks that touched on science, philosophy, history, and literature, he introduced Darwin to German students (triggering two days of debate in the Prussian parliament); asked, on the eve of the Franco-Prussian War, whether France had forfeited its right to exist; and proclaimed the mystery of consciousness, heralding the age of doubt. The first modern biography of du Bois-Reymond in any language, this book recovers an important chapter in the history of science, the history of ideas, and the history of Germany.
In Scripting Reading Motions, Manuel Portela explores the expressive use of book forms and programmable media in experimental works of both print and electronic literature and finds a self-conscious play with the dynamics of reading and writing. Portela examines a series of print and digital works by Johanna Drucker, Mark Z. Danielewski, Rui Torres, Jim Andrews, and others, for the insights they yield about the semiotic and interpretive actions through which readers produce meaning when interacting with codes. Analyzing these works as embodiments and simulations of the motions of reading, Portela pays particular attention to the ways in which awareness of eye movements and haptic interactions in both print and electronic media feeds back onto the material and semantic layers of the works. These feedbacks, he argues, sustain self-reflexive loops that link the body of the reader to the embodied work. Readers’ haptic actions and eye movements coinstantiate the object that they are reading.
Portela discusses typographic and graphic marks as choreographic notations for reading movements; examines digital recreations of experimental print literary artifacts; considers reading motions in kinetic and generated texts; analyzes the relationship of bibliographic, linguistic, and narrative coding in Danielewski’s novel-poem, Only Revolutions; and describes emergent meanings in interactive textual instruments. The expressive use of print and programmable media, Portela shows, offers a powerful model of the semiotic, interpretive, and affective operations embodied in reading processes.
On thinking the matter through, it doesn’t seem exaggerated to assert that my coming out of the sexual closet, my desire to assume and assert my homosexuality, coincided within my personal trajectory with my shutting myself up inside what I might call a class closet.
—from Returning to Reims
After his father dies, Didier Eribon returns to his hometown of Reims and rediscovers the working-class world he had left behind thirty years earlier. For years, Eribon had thought of his father largely in terms of the latter’s intolerable homophobia. Yet his father’s death provokes new reflection on Eribon’s part about how multiple processes of domination intersect in a given life and in a given culture. Eribon sets out to investigate his past, the history of his family, and the trajectory of his own life. His story weaves together a set of remarkable reflections on the class system in France, on the role of the educational system in class identity, on the way both class and sexual identities are formed, and on the recent history of French politics, including the shifting voting patterns of the working classes—reflected by Eribon’s own family, which changed its allegiance from the Communist Party to the National Front.
Returning to Reims is a remarkable book of sociological inquiry and critical theory, of interest to anyone concerned with the direction of leftist politics in the contemporary world, and to anyone who has ever experienced how sexual identity can clash with other parts of one’s identity. A huge success in France since its initial publication in 2009, Returning to Reims received enthusiastic reviews in Le Monde, Libération, L’Express, Les Inrockuptibles, and elsewhere.
My friends are merely effigies I keep to remind me of the animal inside my mind.
—from The Suiciders
During the first decade of the second millennium, a group of seven friends—Zach, Lukas, Adam, Matthew, Peter, Arnold, and Taylor—occupy an indeterminate house in an unidentified American suburb and replay a continuous loop of eternal exile and youth. Permanently in their late teens, the seven young men are as fluid and mutable ciphers, although endowed with highly reflexive, and wholly generic, internal lives. “Once you learn how to love, you will also learn how to mutilate it . . . I want to feel so free you can’t even imagine . . . Let’s get out there and eat some popsicles. There is work to be done.” Eventually, the group decides to remove themselves from the safe confines of the house and to embark upon a road trip to the end of the world with their friend, the Whore, and their pet parrot, Jesus H. Christ. The Suiciders is their legacy.
Chronicling the last days of a religious cult in rural America, Jeppesen’s debut novel Victims was praised by the Village Voice for its “artfully fractured vision of memory and escape,” and by Punk Planet for its masterful balance of “the laconic speech of teenagers with philosophical density.” In The Suiciders, Jeppesen ventures beyond any notion of fixed identity. The result is a dazzling, perversely accurate portrait of American life in the new century, conveyed as a post-punk nouveau roman.