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Showing posts from February, 2010

The Employer's Message to CUPE 3903 (2008-2009 Strike Comic 1)

The Transfiguration of Horror: Pascal Laugier's Martyrs and the Violence of the Real

"The West saw itself as a spiritual adventure. It is in the name of the spirit, in the name of the spirit of Europe, that Europe has made her encroachments, that she has justified her crimes and legitimized the slavery in which she holds four-fifths of humanity." - Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs [view the trailer here] represents one of the more complex and difficult horror films produced in the last decade. On the one hand it can be treated as another example of brutal “torture porn”––the grittier and most recent iteration of horror’s slasher sub-genre. On the other hand it is a film that transcends the genre, a meditation on horrific violence rather than simply a genre film. Indeed, I plan to argue that Martyrs is a horror film in the same way as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. That is, it is horror like all great works of horror fiction: the concerns traditional to the genre are given further significance because they connect to other f…

The Three-Headed Beast (Part 13): The Regionalization of Marxism - concrete vs. abstract marxism

Finally, we return to the interblog dialogue between myself and BF of Workers Dreadnought.  This dialogue began in the fall and the careful reader can read the first entry here.  The most recent contribution, BF’s Regionalization of Marxism, thankfully returns us to our overall outline of Maoist philosophy, perhaps proving that, despite the problems that arise from this form of writing, we aren’t as convoluted as some might think...

My last contribution to this shared essay concluded our discussion of what we called the analysis of class and nation in peripheral capitalist formations.  Although more can probably be said on this matter, BF decided that it was appropriate to shift gears and move unto our next topic, the regionalization of marxism.  My last entry ended with a suggestion that it might be appropriate to go further on the first topic, and perhaps connect it to the thought of the Frankfurt School, but in side discussions we both decided this was, at least for the moment, ina…

Whose Art and For Whom: examining art as social production and practice (Part 1)

This is a paper I presented at the A-Space Gallery Symposium a year and a half ago.  It was inspired by my partner's frustrations over the left's inability to properly engage with art, and the status quo world of art's suspicion and dismissal of "political art."  It also inspired a comic that I posted earlier, which probably explains the essay's overall thesis better than the essay itself... 

The examination of art and its connection with politics requires in engagement with, to use the words of Mao Zedong, “a two-line  struggle.”  On the one hand there are those who insist that art does not necessarily (and perhaps should not) have any connection with politics––a rehash of the nineteenth century “Art for Art’s sake” slogan coined by Gautier––while, on the other hand, there are those who respond that the only worthwile art must adequately and didactically demonstrate progressive politics.  And between these two interpretations of art, there is much confusion…

Fantasy Literature and Mystification (Part 2)

This is a continuation and completion of an essay I started a while back.  Hopefully the interested reader (if there are any) will read the earlier entry first.


III - Progressive and Reactionary Dynamics in Fantasy
Although there are traditions in fantasy literature that have never been connected to the “feudalism lite” that dominates high fantasy (the so-called “new weird” and its precedents, for example), what is often called “high fantasy” or “heroic fantasy”––that medieval kind of fantasy where there are sword fights and wizards––is definitely dominated by idyllic and reactionary tendencies.  From the conservative Terry Goodkinds (with his “mud people” and oriental despots) to the liberal Russell Kirkpatricks or Karen Millers, a mystified and imaginary feudalism dominates the genre.

But there is now an emergence of a high fantasy literature that attempts to overcome the tropes of problematized in the previous sections.  After George R.R. Martin there is Steven Erikson (the Malazan