Category Archives: Ideas

Bodies and Affections in Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Colour”

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Over the past week I have been somewhat haunted by Shane Carruth’s latest offering, “Upstream Colour”, to such an extent that I feel compelled to reflect upon its visceral beauty. The task of finding a way in, of getting a purchase on Carruth’s film, is, however, by no means straightforward. Whilst the film certainly has a plot, Carruth makes little use or no use of the traditional signposts that we might expect to find in the cinematic experience. In a style that both reflects and refines that of his debut, the time-travel thriller “Primer”, Carruth uses the cinematic experience to challenge temporal conventions of linear causality, such that the whole idea of a plot as such has to be re-thought. The sheer complexity of the film’s encounters and happenings suggest an understanding of plot based instead upon the mutual entanglement of beings, whether human or otherwise. Whilst the film is pervaded…

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Contagious Architecture, Immanent Thought …

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Luciana Parisi’s Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013) forms the latest installment of the ‘Technologies of Lived Abstraction’ series – a growing body of book-length publications, co-edited by Brian Massumi and Erin Manning for the MIT Press. There is an awful lot going on in the book, which sees Parisi jump between various empirical encounters and highly abstract conceptual arguments at an exhilarating speed. Contagious Architecture is a highly theoretical adventure addressing a somewhat intimidating range of conceptual debates, from William James’ notion of radical empiricism to the recent turn towards Object-Oriented Ontology à la Graham Harman. It is clear from the outset, however, that Parisi’s main theoretical drive comes from a meticulous and original engagement with Alfred North Whitehead.  

Whilst a full review of Parisi’s thesis is beyond me at present, it strikes me that there is an important theme rumbling close to the surface throughout the book’s…

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“… the most vital of all thinkers”

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Last weekend I stumbled upon Stefan Zweig’s Nietzsche, translated by Will Stone for Hesperus Press (2013). Coming in at under one hundred pages, the book provides a journey of quite profound intensity through Nietzsche’s life, and the tumultuous life of his thought. In a performative relaying of Nietzsche’s own style of thought, Zweig presents his account “not as biography, but as a dramatic act, a work of art and a tragedy of the spirit” (2013, page 58).

One of the most striking aspects of the book was its poetic insistence upon the physicality of Nietzsche’s thought, perhaps as way of reclaiming his writings from those who would wish to denounce them as the subjective ramblings of a madman. Through Zweig’s stunning prose, we are instead painted a picture of a thought-process that is visceral, gastric, fibrous, electric and atmospheric. Nietzsche’s vital thought quivers in its perpetual exposure to what William…

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