This is not a new book and many readers may find it pathetically old-fashioned. Yet this collection of writings on art with a capital A by an author often discarded as typically WASP is doing what so much modern art criticism seems no longer “capable and willing” of doing, as we are asked by the air hostess when boarding the plane and being offered an exit seat:
I first read about the work of the Observatório de Favelas in the great book Radical Cities by Justin McGuirk (Verso, 2014). This organization in the vast and sprawling favela Complexo da Maré in Rio De Janeiro was founded by the social geographer Jailson de Souza e Silva. Besides being a place for research about life in the favelas, the organization also houses the Escola Popular de Comunicação Crítica (ESPOCC).
Recently Charlie Johns edited an extremely interesting book that works through the argument that neurosis is the dominant condition of our society today.
Food is a key theme in cultural studies, but often the approach focuses on the negative or problematic aspects of it: anorexia and other eating disorders, obesity and fat studies, outdoor eating rituals and social distinction, the critique of deeply rooted national preferences as a form of modern “mythology” (in the sense of Roland Barthes), the commercialization of snootiness, and the relationship between alimentary habits and climate change.
Anthropocene, posthumanism, biopolitics… Terms such as these have not only become very popular in academic circles, but they are also increasingly used in public debates, catalogues of exhibitions and policy documents. Sometimes a term suddenly becomes a fashionable buzzword, only to go out of fashion as quickly as it gained attention, but there are also terms that people keep on using because they help us to understand something important about contemporary society.
An archaic theme plays out in the interior world of a wealthy nuclear family. The superficiality and formality with which the members of the family relate to one another, in speech and interaction, creates a sense of unreality, planting a seed of doubt in the viewer’s mind as to the plane on which the drama unfolds.
James I. Porter’s “Disfigurations: Erich Auerbach’s Theory of Figura” (Critical Inquiry, vol. 44-1, 2017, pp., 80-113) is one of the best essays I’ve read in recent months.