And you're welcome to eavesdrop!
I've got a few scattered links that have deposited irritants around which my consciousness salivates, in aid of digestion or -- who knows? -- producing a pearl of great price. Or at least an object of personal fascination.
As has become the norm lately, Warren Ellis is the chief provocateur. His latest newsletter (hey, why aren't we all doing this?) sees him enthuse about a new book. Take it away, Mr. Ellis:
THE WORST IS YET TO COME by Peter Fleming does what it says on the tin. It's a set of thoughts and survival tips on... well, it all starts when Fleming goes, as many people do, to view a cupboard that someone's offering for rent as an apartment in London:
That awful apartment told me something. Neoliberal capitalism had probably run its course, spawning progeny it could no longer protect itself from. The constellation of possibilities that once flourished in cities like London had vanished. There were no antibodies left. Capitalism was undoing itself at nearly every turn. A kind of neo-Feudalism was on the march. Perhaps we were witnessing the birth of post-capitalism after all, not a clean and better alternative to the system, but (rather paradoxically) a much worse version of it, one that will make the “Trump Years” look like a tiptoe through the tulips.
My theory is this. Most advanced industrial societies have actually outlived the principles of capitalism and are busy transitioning into something else. It is still too early to say what that “something else” might be. But we do know the break won’t be clean. So the post-capitalist future we should prepare for will be no classless utopia. The worst features of capitalism will be amplified and applied reductio ad absurdum, coalescing around the return of preindustrial norms of authority and an incredible polarisation of wealth.
Ooo -- Sebald! Yes, this is worth a closer look.Donald Trump, Brexit, the impending environmental eco-blitz (or what NASA calls a “Type-L” collapse given the role played by elites) and the prospect of another Radiohead album give the appearance that things couldn’t possibly get worse. And yet, I disagree. They probably will.It's cheerful, yes. It's also great fun to read, free of jargon, and very clear about where it's coming from and where it's going. It is, in some ways, a collation and re-statement of a lot of themes that have emerged over the last while, but it has new ideas too. I am very grateful for a book of this kind that does not also do one all over itself about the genius of Karl Marx. Also, goddamn, any work of political economics that talks about WG Sebald has my immediate vote.
Ellis also advocates for the resurrection of the RSS reader -- so if you haven't yet subscribed to his newsletter, give it a go and see what you think.
- Chris Fleming's (any relation?) amusing and provocative thoughts about Theoretical Cool are worth the long-ish read. I'm a little peeved I didn't post this earlier, as I stumbled across it a few days before ALD linked. But that's what happens when you occasionally allow your analog consciousness sway over its digital alter-ego.
- Sven Birkerts' My Sky Blue Trades has sat beside the bed for some years now. As of this writing, its melancholic undertow is in sync with my own, allowing me to slip past its faults -- I hope to finish it today. Birkerts' The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate Of Reading In An Electronic Age is the stronger work -- it turns 25 this year.
- Tomi Ungerer died earlier this month. The Hat -- in which a dissolute veteran's life is transformed triumphantly by the sudden appearance of the titular hero -- is was one of my favourite childhood books (also here). But Ungerer's work was not merely aimed at children -- oh, no no no. The man's ouevre was, shall we say, quite robust. I got quite a kick out of him. The gate to his homesite is SFW, but proceed any further and you are on your own. Say -- The Hat's objet d'affection bears a passing resemblance to Mr. Ellis, does he not?