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Category Archives: Books

His Gigantic Shadow Thrown on a Cloud

The ring was lifted from below and jerked off the hook. Barbarossa’s ring lay at their feet. “Long live Italy!” shouted Andrea. throwing his hat into the air. Nobody said a word. Andrea picked up the ring, handed it to the magistrate and said: “Keep this ring in memory of me and this day, on […]

In a Strange, Distorted Relation to the World

The witty woman, Madame, chooses for her carnival costume one which ingeniously reveals something in her spirit or heart which the conventions of her everyday life conceal; and when she puts on the hideous long-nosed Venetian mask, she tells us, not only that she has a classic nose behind it, but that she has much […]

As Many Desires in the Will as Atoms in an Hour

Memory or thinking of any creature that ever God made, or of any of their deeds either, it is a manner of ghostly light: for the eye of thy soul is opened on it and even fixed thereupon, as the eye of a shooter is upon the prick that he shooteth to. —Anonymous, The Cloud […]

Material Opposition between Functionality and Uselessness

The flatness of today’s standard construction is strengthened by a weakened sense of materiality. Natural materials – stone, brick and wood – allow our vision to penetrate their surfaces and enable us to become convinced of the veracity of matter. Natural materials express their age, as well as the story of their origins and their […]

Drink Full

“Why is the flower garden in the dog’s eyes?” Mother had asked. “Dogs are the recorders of history,” Dad had replied. —Can Xue, Frontier

Sight-dominance ∴ Literacy ∴ Abstraction

But man has not always been dominated by vision. In fact, a primordial dominance of hearing has only gradually been replaced by that of vision. Anthropological literature describes numerous cultures in which our private senses of smell, taste and touch continue to have collective importance in behaviour and communication. The roles of the senses in […]

Mechanics of an Ended Empire

And the secrets of the people in these low cottages, under the dark-gray shingle roofs, behind the small square windowpanes and the wooden doors, oozed through chinks and rafters into the miry streets and even into the large, eternally remote barracks yard. One man had been cuckolded, another had sold his daughter to the Russian […]

Compulsive Diarist

It was a failure of my imagination that made me keep leaving people. All I could see in the world were beginnings and endings: moments to survive, record, and, once recorded, safely forget. I knew I was getting somewhere when I began losing interest in the beginnings and the ends of things. Short tragic love […]

Wastegoals

The essay on the Bildungsroman is actually a fragment from one of Bakhtin’s several lost books. In this case, nonpublication cannot be blamed on insensitive censors. Its nonappearance resulted, rather, from effects that grew out of the Second World War, one of the three great historical moments Bakhtin lived through (the other two being the […]

Those Secret Words We Hear in Darkness

And I owe my career, my artisan’s satisfaction and any morality I might lay claim to as a person to art, to writing, to—for example—a single scene in a drama that haunted me in my childhood and has ever since. In the drama a man who was not a torturer, but who was weak, stood […]