Attention Span 2011 | Joshua Clover
Bruno Bosteels | The Actuality of Communism | Verso | 2011
A fantastically useful orientation guide for the recent boom in political theory: Ranciere, Moreiras, Badiou, Zizek, various others. I can’t say I share the basic supposition, regarding the virtue of formalizations of concepts which attend the non-abstract problem of state form. But I was grateful to understand a bunch of stuff much better after reading.
Silvia Federici | Caliban and the Witch | Autonomedia | 2004
We read this book in reading group in the summer; I was interested to discover that many others’ experiences of it were quite different from mine. Someone took it as a defense of witchiness, rather than a history of how the conjured threat of feminine dark magic served as pretext to dispossess and discipline women. Well okay. But I have been pretty obsessed with revisiting the Italian Marxist feminists; while it seems to me more and more that their male comrades (Negri, Virno, Marazzi) got really crucial things wrong, they themselves were making some of the great breakthroughs of the era, ones that are with us more than ever, I think.
Jean-Marie Gleize | Tarnac, un acte préparatoire | Seuil | 2011
What poetry should be doing, if one is willing to submit to the ambiguous discipline of the word “should.”
David Harvey | Enigma of Capital | Oxford | 2010
Basically a primer version of the longer and more ambitious Limits to Capital, attempting to recast it along the lines of his Brief Introduction to Neoliberalism. And indeed it is lucid, clear, systematic, and persuasive: a nice reminder that spending decades thinking about a problem set can lead to refinement and immediacy of ideas rather than the opposite. In that sense it’s like a refutation of the idea of “Late Style.” But actually I miss the grander version: in the condensation and reader-friendliness of this account, certain explanations of causality within the dynamic of capital become too clear, too one-directional, less dialectical, and even sometimes mistaken. Of little matter. The best recent guide to the most complex man-made object in the word, endlessly useful, and with luck it will lead readers to the fuller and more frustratingly suspended—and finally more adept—versions.
Uyen Hua | a / s / l (age / sex / location) | ingirumimusnocteetsonsumimurigni | 2011
Tao Lin with a soul, albeit a fascinating and strange one, provisionally new.
Ke$ha | Animal | RCA | 2010
Christopher Nealon | The Matter of Capital | Harvard | 2011
It is a delight to watch this book become influential, not because it deserves it—it does—but because it is clearly advancing the conversation.
Pasolini | In Danger: A Pasolini Anthology | City Lights | 2010
Pasolini! who had to leave the communist party to be a better communist! Reading this I was reminded of “On A Generation That Squandered Its Poets,” and how we tend to think of that essay as concerning how communism ruined, wasted, and killed its blindingly beautiful writers—until we revisit the essay, and rediscover that the story it tells of Mayakovsky unfolds his misery arising from the failure of the revolution to be communist enough, the ways that it stopped short, blunted itself, made concessions, quit the promise of its total radicality. Also, a couple of the Pasolini poems are translated by Jonathan Richman, which is just the oddest thing in the world. Trying to parse the subterranean connection between the atmospheres of Friulia and the summer air of Route 128 when it’s late an night is a real mindfuck.
Arthur Rimbaud trans. John Ashbery | Illuminations | Farrar | 2011
I haven’t read this yet but I’m sure it’s great.
McKenzie Wark | The Beach Beneath the Street | Verso | 2011
There is some sense now that histories of the Situationist International are like Harry Potter fanfic; the main impulse is to sustain the imagined experience of life in that bohemian Hogwarts of the group’s milieu in a neighborhood or two in mid-century Paris. The vital difference is that there is a self-reflexive claim here about what the imagination might be for, other than self-sustaining profitability.
Ellen Willis | Out of the Vinyl Deeps | Minnesota | 2010
“Willis’s music writing was clear and direct, without gamesmanship, but never one-dimensional. No one had previously captured the nuanced double motion in which rock could generate untold pleasures, presentiments of freedom and equality and unfettered sexuality—but could never escape the gravity of the exclusions and inequities and unacknowledged labor on which it depended. This dialectical conception of the world and its workings can be as every bit as revolutionary as rock, the last great invention of the postwar boom.”
Joshua Clover is a Professor of English Literature at University of California Davis. He is currently at work on a book tentatively entitled The Epic of Capital, bringing together the study of poetry with contemporary political economy, and finishing a poetry collection called Tranche/Syntagma.