The Irresponsible Magician
Sharp, acerbic, and often humorous, Rebekah Rutkoff’s writings about contemporary culture reflect the present in ways reminiscent of Renata Adler’s and Joan Didion’s writings about urban life in the late twentieth century. Moving freely between fact and fiction, utilizing imaginary interviews, accidental stories, and critical essays, The Irresponsible Magician approaches psychoanalysis and celebrity on a first-name basis. Writing about cultural figures as diverse as Oprah Winfrey, Michel Auder, the Kennedy women, William Eggleston, Gregory Markopulos, and Hilda Doolittle, Rutkoff interprets protagonists as if they were figures in a dream. Navigating a world of painting, cable television, video art, avant-garde film, memories, or Rutkoff’s own photographs, these texts read images like tea leaves, opening up a space in which shadows speak more eloquently than symbols or signs.
Phenomenology of the End
Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s newest book analyzes the contemporary changes taking place in our aesthetic and emotional sensibility—changes the author claims are the result of semio-capitalism’s capturing of the inner resources of the subjective process: our experience of time, our sensibility, the way we relate to each other, and our ability to imagine a future. Precarization and fractalization of labor have provoked a deep mutation in the psychosphere, and this can be seen in the rise of psychopathologies such as post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, panic, and attention deficit disorder. Sketching out an aesthetic genealogy of capitalist globalization, Berardi shows how we have arrived at a point of such complexity in the semiotic flows of capital that we can no longer process its excessive currents of information. A swarm effect now rules: it has become impossible to say “no.” Social behavior is trapped in inescapable patterns of interaction coded by techno-linguistic machines, smartphones, screens of every size, and all of these sensory and emotional devices end up destroying our organism’s sensibility by submitting it to the stress of competition and acceleration.
Cruising the Movies
Ronnie Reagan’s bizarre legs are sufficient reason to watch John Loves Mary (1949), a picture so ordinaire it needs this bizarre touch. When the faces in this historic still from the Museum of Modern Art are cropped, Reagan could pass for a butch lez from the Women’s Army Corps who is about to put the old make on a fluff (Patricia Neal).
—from Cruising the Movies
Cruising the Movies was Boyd McDonald’s “sexual guide” to televised cinema, originally published by the Gay Presses of New York in 1985. The capstone of McDonald’s prolific turn as a freelance film columnist for the magazine Christopher Street, Cruising the Movies collects the author’s movie reviews of 1983–1985. This new, expanded edition also includes previously uncollected articles and a new introduction by William E. Jones.
Campus Sex, Campus Security
By Jennifer Doyle
—from Campus Sex, Campus Security
The psychic life of the university campus is ugly. The idyllic green quad is framed by paranoid cops and an anxious risk-management team. A student is beaten, another is soaked with pepper spray. A professor is thrown to the ground and arrested, charged with felony assault. As the campus is fiscally strip-mined, the country is seized by a crisis of conscience: the student makes headlines now as rape victim and rapist. An administrator writes a report. The crisis is managed.
When the Sick Rule the World
A moving meld of essay, memoir, and story, When the Sick Rule the World collects Dodie Bellamy’s new and recent lyric prose. Taking on topics as eclectic as vomit, Kathy Acker’s wardrobe, and Occupy Oakland, Bellamy here examines illness, health, and the body—both the social body and the individual body—in essays that glitter with wit even at their darkest moments.
In a safe house in Marin County, strangers allergic to the poisons of the world gather for an evening’s solace. In Oakland, protesters dance an ecstatic bacchanal over the cancerous body of the city-state they love and hate. In the elegiac memoir, “Phone Home,” Bellamy meditates on her dying mother’s last days via the improbable cipher of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Finally, Bellamy offers a piercing critique of the displacement and blight that have accompanied Twitter’s move into her warehouse-district neighborhood, and the pitiless imperialism of tech consciousness.
I’m Very into You
After Kathy Acker met McKenzie Wark on a trip to Australia in 1995, they had a brief fling and immediately began a heated two-week email correspondence. Their emails shimmer with insight, gossip, sex, and cultural commentary. They write in a frenzy, several times a day; their emails cross somewhere over the International Date Line, and themselves become a site of analysis. What results is an index of how two brilliant and idiosyncratic writers might go about a courtship across 7,500 miles of airspace—by pulling in Alfred Hitchcock, stuffed animals, Georges Bataille, Elvis Presley, phenomenology, Marxism, The X-files, psychoanalysis, and the I Ching.
Torpor, new edition
Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus’s third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It’s summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana’s on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia. Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. At 35, she dreams of stuffed bears and wonders why their lives lack the tremulous sincerity that pervades thirtysomething, that season’s hot new TV show.
Psychoanalysis and Transversality
Texts and Interviews 1955–1971
By Félix Guattari
Translated by Rosemary Sheed and Ames Hodges
Originally published in French in 1972, Psychoanalysis and Transversality gathers all the articles that Félix Guattari wrote between 1955 and 1971. It provides a fascinating account of his intellectual and political itinerary before Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972), the ground-breaking book he wrote with Gilles Deleuze, propelled him to the forefront of contemporary French philosophy.
When the Word Becomes Flesh
Language and Human Nature
Originally published in Italian in 2002, When the Word Becomes Flesh provides a compelling contribution to the understanding of language and its relation to human nature and social relationships. Adopting Aristotle’s definition of the human being as a linguistic and political animal, Paolo Virno frames the act of speech as a foundational philosophical issue—an act that in its purely performative essence ultimately determines our ability to pass from the state of possibility to one of actuality: that is, from the power to act to action itself. As the ultimate public act, speech reveals itself to be an intrinsically political practice mediating between biological invariants and changing historical determinations. In his most complete reflection on the topic to date, Virno shows how language directly expresses the conditions of possibility for our experience, from both a transcendental and a biological point of view.
To Our Friends
From The Invisible Committee:
In 2007 we published The Coming Insurrection in France. It must be acknowledged that a number of assertions by the Invisible Committee have since been confirmed, starting with the first and most essential: the sensational return of the insurrectionary phenomenon. Who would have bet a kopeck, seven years ago, on the overthrow of Ben Ali or Mubarak through street action, on the revolt of young people in Quebec, on the political awakening of Brazil, on the fires set French-style in the English or Swedish banlieues, on the creation of an insurrectionary commune in the very heart of Istanbul, on a movement of plaza occupations in the United States, or on the rebellion that spread throughout Greece in December of 2008?