Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Clickbait corner

Usually i have five or six printouts on the go in my work bag, printouts of web articles long enough to not want to be dead-eye scrolling down the piece online for 10 minutes, interesting enough that I'll want to return to them on a regular basis outside the bookmarking format on a browser.

What the list below is a recreation of the contents of that scuzzy workbag - a kind of standalone Delicious page of some of the most impressive writing that has stayed with me over the past year. Usual subjects covered: music, football, British culture, Islamism and terror etc. Read and enjoy.

Alain Badiou - The Red Flag and the Tricolore (via Verso)

French main man's expert reading of - and the reaction to - the attacks on the ruck-making Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Jewish supermarket in Paris in February. Hebdo had been hitherto excused its worst racist excesses because it was seen as a core part of French cultural life (such "intellectual conformism" all part of France's grand "Republican pact"). "Does freedom in general, today consist of us all helping the police hunt down a few dozen fascist brigands; universalised grassing on dodgy types with their beards and veils; and constantly casting a suspicious gaze toward the banlieues, heirs to the faubourgs where the Communards were slaughtered." Keeping my eyes out for a similar analysis of the latest Paris attacks.

Agata Pyzik - In Praise of Vulgar Feminism

Poor But Sexy author Agata Pyzik assesses Courtney Love and Kim Gordon (the former often disparaged in the latter's recent memoir) and offers a well judged takedown of prescriptive forms of 'acceptable' (indeed, bourgeois) feminist modes (Gordon's) in favour of Love's exhibitionistic but vulnerable dualism: "Problematic, unstable, what she did for her disenfranchised fans to help them accept themselves, matters more." That shouldnt have led us to Lana del Ray's cartoonish projections but the times are what they are.

Joe Kennedy - 'Romantic and Earnest, Laced with Irony' (via A Drawing Sympathy)

In our current culture of disavowal (well that is one thread), where no one claims to be a hipster but actually might tick many of the signifiers, Joe gets closer than most to nailing what our modern hipster is - and isn't - and the maddening portrayal of said archtype in the 'cultural arms of neoliberalism' such as Time Out: "The trick is to give these visual signifiers some behavioural characteristics which don't really match, to overlay them with Nathan Barley-style flippancy and 'postmodern irony' and all of that stuff, which only exists in the vaguest of ways." The UK's prized entrepreneurial culture has certainly got better at selling cool. The 'hipster' entered play when things that did not use to be regarded as to die for - food, coffee (all the fucking coffee), the provenance of the hops in your beer, vintarge clothing, 'urban' living - came to seem more important than nailing your colours to the mast of the latest to-die youth culture. To be up with all these things (no matter how ambivalently you present your attitude to it) is enough to make you a 'hipster'. A useful primer when your mates are deriding your visit to Champion Hill to see the Hamlet.

Hatful of History - the Battle of Lewisham

Shortish analysis of the infamous anti-fascist/NF/police contretemps from the point of view of leftwing political organisation, where the CPGB was seen to demur from taking on fascism and racism even as the NF was taking to the streets, leaving the SWP - as well as Asian youth movements - to lead operations in the late 70s and early 80s.

Carl Neville - English Fields via Up Close and Personal

Carl gets to grips with Ben Wheatley's Kill List, the 'first great film of Austerity Britain' showing us that the English have taken a 'blood oath' to 'uncertain forces' (capitalism), and the 'long struggle for {personal} liberation" in A Field in England. After a process of 'comradisation', the true treasure is a masterless personal freedom. But then how will that intersect with the land and property?

Annie Goh/Alexander G Weheliye - 'White Brothers with No Soul' via CTM Festival

AN important look at the racial politics of Berlin techno and how in the aftermath of reunification the black cultures that fed into the genre (some physically such as discos for GIs in the 80s, some sonically such as the way the funkier Underground Resistance records were ditched for the stompers) were progressively whited out. All this took place in an environment where racial attacks were on the rise but swept under the carpet of the reunification narrative. Prof Weheliye says this process was so effectively carried out that many of his white American students are surprised to learn that techno originated in Detroit.

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