Author Sophie Seita discusses her new book Provisional Avant-Gardes: Little Magazine Communities from Dada to Digital, Stanford University Press, 2019 For a long time now I’ve been fascinated by ‘little magazines’; that is, magazines that generally have a small budget, a small print-run, a short-ish life span, and a small audience due to their publication […]
Mischa Twitchin’s essay films engage with philosophical ideas through a carefully calibrated and playful combination of sound, pace, image, duration and text.
This essay-film performs the paradoxical simultaneities it addresses. As film-philosophy, its meaning depends on being watched several times. Or as Twitchin puts it, ‘we have to practice Brechtian watching of the other watchers’.
As any student of semiotics knows, speaking in code is what we do — when we communicate. It’s normal. To speak directly is the exception rather than the rule. In the kind of work I’m involved in getting others to do what you think you want them to do is primarily an exercise in subtle influence, persuasion and suggestion, perhaps delivered as a “nudge” rather than an order. It’s the same in advertising. Only crude advertisers direct you to buy Weetabix — obviously, overtly, as a command.
This analysis of ‘socialist bromance’ humour can’t take us far enough to argue that it contributes to the liberalisation of public discourse in China. But we can say that socialist terminology no longer belongs exclusively in its original official field. For what we see here is that the very iteration of ideology imposed by political authorities through language is starting to cause its own demise, bringing inevitable changes to its politically persuasive power.
Asked by an academic friend to name one book I would save if the world were to collapse in an apocalyptic climate change scenario, I thought: ‘it’s too hard’, but then started going though my mental library. ‘You wouldn’t want to save an academic book, would you,’ said my friend, ‘surely a novel, an artist’s book…’. But in those few seconds I had already settled in my head for Salvatore Settis’ The Future of the ‘Classical’ (Polity, 2006, translated by Allan Cameron). Why?