Lagarde said that, for lack of studies, the IMF had estimated the fiscal multiplier at 1 or below when in reality it proved to be about 1.7

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Hauntology is, (in)famously, a term that appears in Jacques Derrida’s Spectres of Marx (1993) as a cultural extension of his work on the trace. As has been extensively glossed elsewhere the word is a play on ‘ontology’ that exploits its homophonic overlap in French with hanter (haunt). Derrida uses it to critique ‘metaphysical’ notions that associate ‘being’ to self-presence. ‘Being’, insofar as it can be defined – when not erased or cancelled as an unthinkable aporia – is a state of spectrality: there is no ‘archive’ or starting point but a proliferation of echoes and shades. As Brian Baker has described over at (SF) 365, in around 2006 writers like Simon Reynolds used the idea to describe the sensibility of Ghost Box and similar artists who collectively appeared to express a “nostalgia for the future”: a nostalgia for the future as conceived by post-war community projects and the optimism of public information films. Such a future is seen as subject to nostalgia because it represents a forward trajectory posited in the post-1945 period that was ultimately “foreclosed by late capitalism”.

Although this use of the term is not without problems, I’m inclined to adjectivally apply it to A Field in England and offer the film as an example of hauntological cinema rather than neo-psychedelic cinema. This is because the latter term threatens to obfuscate the specificity of the film’s events. Despite the obvious resonance of the mushrooms and the temptation to compare the film with Roger Corman’s The Trip – an acknowledged influence on Wheatley – to term it neo-psychedelic veers towards pastiche. That’s to say, it’s easy but unproductive to shorthand the film as a recapitulation of classic drug movies that adds nothing to the form. Similarly, a persistent strain of English psychedelia (early Pink Floyd, Tolkien revivalism, John Michell) valorised the rural as a space of alterity away from the kind of brutalist projects so lamented by John Barr in Derelict Britain (1969).

It’s precisely the decline and virtual disappearance of these projects: new towns, garden cities, comprehensives and polytechnics that’s investigated and valorised in the hauntology of Ghost Box et al. Coupled with a fascination with the mediating productivity of redundant recording technology the idea is that such spaces, equipment and architecture exude a powerful psychogeographic resonance.

I think it’s very much this kind of territory that Wheatley’s film fits into. Despite its atavism, it offers a perspective on the occultural landscape that’s different to that which we might expect to find in broadly comparable 1960s texts. In the film the filed itself is narratologically foregrounded. It is not, as in Witchfinder General, a backdrop across which acts of violence take place or a screen which, as in the cityscapes of The Trip is seen differently under synthetic stimulation. Instead the field is presented as a deeply affective space.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Mika Kuusela

I saw the best minds of my generation / Accept jobs on the fringes of the entertainment industry

July 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Count Drago’s uncanny simulacra remind us of the kinship between taxidermy and photography, which arrests the flight of time, fixing the moment forever. The movie’s bargain-basement special effects literalize this metaphoric connection: when a cat laps up some brandy spiked with the count’s elixir of death, it freeze-frames blurrily, a time fossil trapped in the amber of a filmed instant. Oliver Wendell Holmes took note of this connection in the art’s infancy: in his 1859 essay, “The Stereoscope and the Stereograph,” Holmes announces the coming of the Matrix reality we now inhabit, where reproductions and originals are increasingly indistinguishable.

Form is henceforth divorced from matter. In fact, matter as a visible object is of no great use any longer, except as the mold on which form is shaped. Give us a few negatives of a thing worth seeing, taken from different points of view, and that is all we want of it. … Matter in large masses must always be fixed and dear; form is cheap and transportable. We have got the fruit of creation now, and need not trouble ourselves with the core. … Men will hunt all curious, beautiful, grand objects, as they hunt the cattle in South America, for their skins, and leave the carcasses as of little worth.

The count’s problem is that it’s sometime around 1815, photography hasn’t been invented yet, and he’s trying to create the “instant suspension of life” that photography will soon make possible—taxidermy with the snap of a shutter, skinning the image to preserve it for eternity.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Kaitlin Rebesco

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