Books Read in 2016

Favourites (in no particular order):

Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution by Rebecca Comay
Counternarratives by John Keene
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Streetwalking on a Ruined Map: Cultural Theory and the City Films of Elvira Notari by Giuliana Bruno
The Great Camouflage: Writings of Dissent (1941-1945) by Suzanne Cesaire
An Autobiography by Angela Y. Davis
Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich
An Anthology by Simone Weil
Discerning Spirits: Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages by Nancy Mandeville Caciola
Down Below by Leonora Carrington
Laid Waste by Julia Gfrörer
An Orderly Man by Dirk Bogarde
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries by Carlo Ginzburg
Flesh Cinema: The Corporeal Turn in American Avant-Garde Film by Ara Osterweil
Selected Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva
La Femme de Gilles by Madeleine Bourdouxhe

& the rest Continue reading

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Books read in 2015


Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk
The Devil Finds Work by James Baldwin
State of Grace by Joy Williams
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
In the Pines by Alice Notley
The Other Side: A Memoir by Lacy M. Johnson
With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst
The Sad Passions by Veronica Gonzalez Peña
The Mineral Palace by Heidi Julavits
Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip
Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa by Antjie Krog
Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin
Love Hotel by Jane Unrue
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky by David Connerley Nahm
The Place of Scraps by Jordan Abel
The Sacred Night by Tahar Ben Jelloun
For Anatole’s Tomb by Stéphane Mallarmé
The Incorruptible Flesh: Bodily Mutation and Mortification in Religion and Folklore by Piero Camporesi
But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women’s Studies by Akasha Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, Barbara Smith (Editors)
Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson
Corregidora by Gayl Jones
Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900 by Ida B Wells

& the rest

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Films Seen in 2015

I’ve been a terrible blogger, so here’s a list.


Marquis de Sade’s The Propensities of Vice (Akio Jissoji, 1988)
The Terrorizers (Edward Yang, 1986)
The Butter Lamp (Hu Wei and Julien Féret, 2014)
Starry Eyes (Dennis Widmyer & Kevin Kolsch, 2014)
Duelle (Jacques Rivette, 1976)
Invocations (Amy Halpern, 1982)
By The Law (Lev Kuleshov, 1926)
Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945)
Oramunde (Emlen Etting, 1933)
Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy (Tracey Moffatt, 1990)
Diary of a Lost Girl (G.W. Pabst, 1929)
Leila (Dariush Mehrjui, 1997)
Surname Viet Given Name Nam (Trinh T. Minh-ha, 1989)
Engram of Returning (Daïchi Saïto, 2015)
Sector IX B (Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, 2015)
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)
Evolution (Lucile Hadžihalilovic, 2015)
Thresholds (Marie Louise Alemann, 1980)
Mutiny (Abigail Child, 1982)
Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1946)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014)
Lake Mungo (Joel Anderson, 2008)

& the rest

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2015: Missing Texts

“The German Censors —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— idiots —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——”

— Heinrich Heine, Ideen: Das Buch Le Grand.

Missing Footage from The White Review.

“We haven’t seen the 20th century’s most important films: German films of the extermination camps (even if their shooting was officially forbidden); Soviet films of the gulag (Solzhenitsyn thought they were never made); Chinese films about the camps, which Wang Bing is finally beginning to shoot; scientific films about the splitting of the atom; films about those workers who, at the very end of the 19th century, never left the factory but were instead chopped up inside Chicago’s abattoirs. – Nicole Brenez

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I’ve been thinking a lot about plastic surgery. Not for myself, well, not actively for myself, but the idea that at one point in your life you can change your appearance so much that you can permanently look like another person. This is probably a hangover from my adolescent love of Seconds, The Face of Another and thinking about Julavits’ The Vanishers. All involve plastic surgery as a means of creating a new life for oneself.

I came across some photos of Kim Novac on tumblr, and remembered all the criticism about her face. She’s had a lot of surgery, and now no longer looks “like her.” The idea of looking “like you” is already a fallacy. We change so much throughout our lives, who we end up looking like is arbitrary. Why is a certain quote more “you” than anything else? How it going under a knife any different than the many ways we change and sculpt our appearance through other means?

The people who are against plastic surgery because it isn’t “real” or “natural” generally have no idea how ideology, or the world works. How we end up looking as we age is mostly about how much we conform to certain norms. I remove hair from my body, I use certain products to maintain a kind of skin and hair, I eat a certain amount and a certain kind of food in order to maintain a certain body shape. This is what you do when you’re part of the world, and I see no difference in it than I do with someone radically changing their appearance.  And who am I to judge what others do to their own bodies. We’re all conforming, until we’re not.

The Face of Another has one of my favourite lines, which I think fits in here. The protagonist, who through an accident has had his face destroyed, creates a mask so perfect that he can, and does, become another person. The book is a series of diary entries, or maybe letters? I don’t have it on hand, to his wife, who he abandons and seduces with his alternating faces. He writes, in parentheses, “(Under any circumstances, I simply did not want to lose you. To lose you would be symbolic of losing the world.)”

How much is our appearance our world? How the world treats us hinges on our appearance, and by changing our appearance, we can change our world. But change comes with loss, and to change oneself you risk losing your world. The above mentioned texts all warn against attempting this. All the characters lose, and suffer, for their world is gone. But rather than use our old face to look backwards, we have the possibility of using our new face to look forwards, and create new worlds around us. I am my body, and my body is my world. Why not use our bodies to change our world? Why not decide at a certain point to be done with what you’ve had, and create something new? We have a strange sacredness around our bodies, but maybe we should work towards losing that all together.

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Books Read in 2014

Favourites, in no particular order:

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

The Bacchae and Other Plays by Euripides

Nightwood by Djuana Barnes

The Hostage by Paul Claudel

Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire

Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah

A Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (only reread this year)

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Films Seen in 2014

Favourites, in no particular order:

Phase IV (Saul Bass, 1974)

The Snowtown Murders (Justin Kurzel, 2011)

Murderers Among Us (Wolfgang Staudte, 1946)

Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Jeff Barnaby, 2013)

Lyle (Stewart Thorndike, 2014)

Detour de Force (Rebecca Baron, 2014)

Girlhood (Celine Sciamma, 2014)

War Witch (Kim Nguyen, 2012)

Angst (Gerald Kargl, 1983)

Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)

Possibly in Michigan (Cecelia Condit, 1983)

The Wormwood Star (Curtis Harrington, 1956)

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