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The Perfect Mango

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ISBN: 9781950192137 9781950192144 Year: Pages: 156 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0245.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History
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In 1994, at the age of twenty-five, when the “terrible brokenness that comes with sexual assault” was folded deep within her body and thoughts of suicide were always close by, Erin Manning wrote The Perfect Mango at an almost feverish pitch: nineteen chapters in nineteen days, a sort of self-rescue operation, where writing became a form of making (and feeling) life otherwise. Throughout those nineteen days, and although not able to fully articulate it to herself at the time, Manning wrote her way into a “composition that asks how else life might be lived.” And in the rhythms of that composition, which was also a living, Manning was, and is, able to refuse the category and norm and stillness of “victim” (while still understanding the inheritances of violence) in order to follow instead the more-than-I as well as the joy of the “more-than of experience in the making.” Twenty-five years later, Manning allows these earlier writings to find their way back into the world, which is also a way of giving “voice to those moments of messy survival” while also asking us, who share in (and help to bear) those moments as readers, to consider “other ways of listening to the urgency that is living.” To (re)publish the book now is to give it a place in the world in a way that honors its force as something that is always beyond anyone’s claim to it, even Manning’s. In this sense, The Perfect Mango invites us, with Manning, to be in excess of ourselves, and also to consider, in Manning’s words, “how to create conditions for living beyond humanism’s fierce belief that we, the privileged, the neurotypicals, the as-yet-unscathed, the able-bodied, hold the key to all perspectives in the theatre of living.” Ultimately, The Perfect Mango and Manning’s reflections on its composition ask us to consider living “in the fierce celebration of a world invented by those modes of life which tear at the colonial, white, neurotypical fabric of life as we know it.”

Noise Thinks the Anthropocene: An Experiment in Noise Poetics

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ISBN: 9781950192052 9781950192069 Year: Pages: 162 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0244.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Music
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In an increasingly technologized and connected world, it seems as if noise must be increasing. Noise, however, is a complicated term with a complicated history. Noise can be traced through structures of power, theories of knowledge, communication, and scientific practice, as well as through questions of art, sound, and music. Thus, rather than assume that it must be increasing, this work has focused on better understanding the various ways that noise is defined, what that noise can do, and how we can use noise as a strategically political tactic. Noise Thinks the Anthropocene is a textual experiment in noise poetics that uses the growing body of research into noise as source material. It is an experiment in that it results from indeterminate means, alternative grammar, and experimental thinking. The outcome was not predetermined. It uses noise to explain, elucidate, and evoke (akin to other poetic forms) within the textual milieu in a manner that seeks to be less determinate and more improvisational than conventional writing. Noise Thinks the Anthropocene argues that noise poetics is a necessary form for addressing political inequality, coexistence with the (nonhuman) other, the ecological crisis, and sustainability because it approaches these issues as a system of interconnected fragments and excesses and thus has the potential to reach or envision solutions in novel ways.

Finding Room in Beirut: Places of the Everyday

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ISBN: 9781947447615 9781947447622 Year: Pages: 142 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0243.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Political Science
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Finding Room in Beirut: Places of the Everyday demonstrates why it is worth our while to explore the value and contemporary meaning of urban areas about to undergo complete renewal. Branching off from discourses surrounding the terrain vague, the book argues that large populated urban areas meet the criteria of the vague and constitute a particular perspective from which to build a critical stance in regards to the contemporary city. But unlike a terrain vague, a vague urbain — inhabited areas where property ownership is usually obscure and informal behaviours a daily affair — possesses real communities and offers an alternative understanding on how a city can be practiced and how lessons should be learned before its complete transformation. Stemming from a photographic and architectural documentation of Bachoura, a central area of Beirut, Lebanon, the book shows how the vague urbain allows for different ways of inhabiting, ways that are as — or perhaps even more — real and anchored in the imagination of the city as those proposed by standardising developments. Building on the intricacies of found situations, improvised uses and local narratives, it is an exploration as to how the meeting of a marvellous realism with l’intrigue, the vague urbain, and temporary architecture can provide opportunities for the emergence of hidden narratives.

Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura

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ISBN: 9781947477776 9781947477783 Year: Pages: 230 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0241.1.00 Language: English|Japanese
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Arts in general
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Beta Exercise: The Theory and Practice of Osamu Kanemura is the first bilingual (Japanese-English) book to provide an overview of the theoretical work of Japanese photographer and video artist Osamu Kanemura, a unique voice in the world of contemporary photography. The opening essay “Life Is a Gift” comments on the transformation of human life into an exchangeable commodity and the abstraction it entails. “Essay 01” develops Kanemura’s idea of photographic “technique” in an era when such techniques have become accessible to all, radically undermining the importance of human subjectivity in the process of capturing the photographic image: “We can say that modern technology constitutes photographic technique.” Instead, Kanemura argues, extra-technical elements such as concept and vision will have to compensate for the expression of individuality that technique is no longer able to convey. Taking cues from Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Karlheinz Stockhausen, the essay “Dead-Stick Landing” develops Kanemura’s theory of the moving image as mechanical system, solely governed by an “on-off switch.” “Essay 02” develops these ideas into a consideration of cinematic time and the experience of boredom in cinema as the result of a truthful “loyalty” expressed to machines, and not to stories. The essays are accompanied by an extensive two-part interview with Italian photographer Marco Mazzi, touching upon topics ranging from the technical aspects of his equipment, the concept of non-editing, and the destruction of the frame to the similarity between Mao’s dialectics and the camera, the presence of the human figure as trace, and the politics of photographing Tokyo.

Vital Reenchantments: Biophilia, Gaia, Cosmos, and the Affectively Ecological

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ISBN: 9781950192076 9781950192083 Year: Pages: 276 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0240.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Science (General)
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Not all charms fly at the touch of cold philosophy. Vital Reenchantments examines so-called cold philosophy, or science, that does precisely the opposite — rather than mercilessly emptying out and unweaving, it operates as a philosophy that animates. More specifically, Greyson closely examines how a specific group of “poet-in-scientists” of the late 1970s and 1980s directed attention to the “wondrous” unfolding of life, at a time when the counter-culture in particular had made the institution of science synonymous with technologies of alienation and destruction. In this vein, Vital Reenchantments takes up E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), James Lovelock’s Gaia (1979), and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), in order to show how each work fleshes out scientific concepts with a unique attention to “affective wonder,” understood as the experience of and attunement to novel effects. What is so unique about these works is that they reenchant the scientific world without pandering to what Richard Dawkins will later term “cosmic sentimentality.” Carl Sagan may have said “We are made of starstuff,” but he would never insist, as Joni Mitchell did in 1969, that “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Instead, they insist on a third way that does not rely on the idea of an ecological Eden — a vigorously vital materialism in which the affective trumps the sentimental. Further, the historical emergence of these works, all published within 5 years of each other, was no accident: each book responded to an ever deepening sense of environmental crisis, certainly, but along with it they responded to, perhaps more than marginally related, narratives of the large-scale disenchantment brought on by modernity or science, and more often than not a mixture of the two. Greyson argues that the persistence of these works and their affectively-charged scientific concepts in contemporary popular culture and ecological thought is no accident. As such, these works deserve recognition as far more than “popular science” and can be seen as essential contributions to more contemporary vital materialist thought and ecological theory. No doubt this talk of enchantment and wonder, so tied to immediate experience, can seem trivial in the face of any number of environmental crises (global warming first among these) that do not just appear ominously on the horizon, but loom as never before. The first task of this book thus to pose the same question that Jane Bennett does at the end of her own work on enchantment: “How can someone write a book about enchantment in such a world?” Does this approach really provide, as Latour phrases it, “a way to bridge the distance between the scale of the phenomena we hear about and the tiny Umwelt inside which we witness, as if it were a fish inside its bowl, an ocean of catastrophes that are supposed to unfold”? Ultimately, Vital Reenchantments argues that affective ecologies, properly attended to, point toward an open present, one that broadens the horizons of the “fish bowl” and allows us to imagine engendering futures that are neither naively hopeful nor hopelessly apocalyptic.

Echoes of No Thing: Thinking between Heidegger and Dōgen

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ISBN: 9781950192014 97819501920201 Year: Pages: 210 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0239.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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Echoes of No Thing seeks to understand the space between thinking which Martin Heidegger and the 13th-century Zen patriarch Eihei Dōgen explore in their writing and teachings. Heidegger most clearly attempts this in Contributions to Philosophy (of the Event) and Dōgen in his Shōbōgenzō, a collection of fascicles which he compiled in his lifetime. Both thinkers draw us towards thinking, instead of merely defining systems of thought. Both Heidegger and Dōgen imagine possibilities not apparent in the world we currently inhabit, but notably, find possible, through a refashioning of thinking as a soteriological reimagining that clears space for the presencing of an authentic experience in the space which emerges between certainties. Jenkins elucidates this soteriological reimagining through a close reading of both authors’ conceptions of time and space, and by developing a practice of listening that is attuned to the echoes that resonate between the two thinkers. While Heidegger often wrote about new beginnings (as well as about gathering oneself, preparing the site, clearings, and practicing) in preparation for the evental un-concealing of truth, nowhere is this as present as in the enigmatic, difficult, and in fact beautiful, Contributions. To call a text beautiful, especially a work of philosophy, risks committing an act of disingenuity, and yet Contributions, like Jacques Derrida’s Glas or Walter Benjamin’s unfinished Arcades Project, rises to this acclaim through its very resistance to a system, its refusal to be easily digested, or even understood. Contributions is unfinished, partial, even at times muttered; it is the beginning of a thinking which takes place on a path and as such cannot imagine—or refuse—its final destination. It invites us to take up towards, but not to insist on, its thinking; it is a “turn” away from the reason and logic of a technologized world and returns philosophy—as a thinking—to a place of wonder and awe. Dōgen’s Shōbogenzō, from another culture and time entirely, is also a beautiful text, for similar reasons. The Shōbogenzō, gathered first as a series of talks given by Eihei Dōgen (and later composed as written texts) details the process of understanding which leads, for Dōgen, to a position of pure seeing, or satori, and yet these talks are not simply rules for monks, nor merely imprecations and demands for a laity; rather, they open a being’s thinking to the possibility of something purely other and work as a transition across worlds that also opens us to an other world. What both thinkers illustrate, as do the other thinkers drawn on in this project—most notably, those philosophers associated with the Kyoto School, who were both intimately aware of Dōgen’s work, and studied, or studied with, Heidegger—is that world is not a fixed, stable entity; rather it is a fugal composition of possibility, of as yet untraversed—and at times un-traversable—spaces. Echoes of No Thing seeks to examine, within the lacunal eddies of be-coming’s arrival, that space between which both thinkers point towards as possible sites of new beginnings.

Sappho: Fragments

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ISBN: 9781947447974 9781947447981 Year: Pages: 168 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0238.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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In Sappho, Jonathan Goldberg takes as his model the fragmentary state in which this sublime poet’s writing survives, a set of compositional and theoretical resources for living and thinking in more fully erotic ways in the present and the future. This book thus offers fragmentary commentary on disparate (Sapphic) works, such as the comics of Alison Bechdel, the paintings and cartoons of Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Reid-Pharr’s “Living as a Lesbian,” Madeleine de Scudéry’s Histoire de Sapho, John Donne’s “Sapho to Philaenis,” Todd Haynes and Patricia Highsmith’s Carol, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, writings by Willa Cather, and the paintings and writings of Simeon Solomon, among other works. Goldberg challenges readers to imagine and experience what Sarah Orne Jewett named the “country of our friendship,” a love both exceedingly strange and compellingly familiar. Just as Sappho’s coinage “bitter-sweet” describes eros as inextricably contradictory — two things at once, one thing after another, each interrupting, complicating, each other — the juxtapositions in this book mean to continually call into question categories of identity and identification in the wake of a quintessential woman writer from Lesbos. Over and over again, Goldberg’s Sappho: ]fragments inquires into how race, sexuality, and gender cross each other. The theoretical genius of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick presides over this set of meditations and mediations on likeness and desire. Rather than homogenizing its many subjects, it invites the reader to explore and inhabit new transits within and through what Audre Lorde called “the very house of difference.”

The Wind ~ An Unruly Living

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ISBN: 9781947447950 9781947447967 Year: Pages: 176 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0237.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History
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A process begun in Pisa, Italy in April of 2016 during a workshop on political theory in the Anthropocene, The Wind ~ An Unruly Living is a philosophical exercise (askêsis, translated, following Ignatius of Loyola, as “spiritual exercise”). In his exercise, Bendik-Keymer throws to the void: the ideology of self-ownership from a society of possession. By using the Stoic kanôn, the rule of living by phûsis, he follows an element. Unhappily for the Stoic and happily for us, the wind is unruly. A swerve of currents through a social fabric, it’s full of holes, all holely. Stretch and stitch as you want, it might settle more shapely tattered into light, but it will never become whole. The wind’s only holesome.

There's No Such Thing as "The Economy": Essays on Capitalist Value

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ISBN: 9781947447899 9781947447905 Year: Pages: 166 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0236.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Economics
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Every Economics textbook today teaches that questions of values and morality lie outside of, are in fact excluded from, the field of Economics and its proper domain of study, “the economy.” Yet the dominant cultural and media narrative in response to major economic crisis is almost always one of moral outrage. How do we reconcile this tension or explain this paradox by which Economics seems to have both everything and nothing to do with values? The discipline of modern economics hypostatizes and continually reifies a domain it calls “the economy”; only this epistemic practice makes it possible to falsely separate the question of value from the broader inquiry into the economic. And only if we have first eliminated value from the domain of economics can we then transform stories of financial crisis or massive corporate corruption into simple tales of ethics. But if economic forces establish, transform, and maintain relations of value then it proves impossible to separate economics from questions of value, because value relations only come to be in the world by way of economic logics. This means that the “positive economics” spoken of so fondly in the textbooks is nothing more than a contradiction in terms, and as this book demonstrates, there’s no such thing as “the economy.” To grasp the basic logic of capital is to bring into view the unbreakable link between economics and value.

Queer Ancient Ways: A Decolonial Exploration

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ISBN: 9781947447936 9781947447943 Year: Pages: 266 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0235.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Social Sciences
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Queer Ancient Ways advocates a profound unlearning of colonial/modern categories as a pathway to the discovery of new forms and theories of queerness in the most ancient of sources. In this radically unconventional work, Zairong Xiang investigates scholarly receptions of mythological figures in Babylonian and Nahua creation myths, exposing the ways they have consistently been gendered as feminine in a manner that is not supported, and in some cases actively discouraged, by the texts themselves. An exercise in decolonial learning-to-learn from non-Western and non-modern cosmologies, Xiang’s work uncovers a rich queer imaginary that had been all-but-lost to modern thought, in the process critically revealing the operations of modern/colonial systems of gender/sexuality and knowledge-formation that have functioned, from the Conquista de America in the sixteenth century to the present, to keep these systems in obscurity. At the heart of Xiang’s argument is an account of the way the unfounded feminization of figures such as the Babylonian (co)creatrix Tiamat, and the Nahua creator-figures Tlaltecuhtli and Coatlicue, is complicit with their monstrification. This complicity tells us less about the mythologies themselves than about the dualistic system of gender and sexuality within which they have been studied, underpinned by a consistent tendency in modern/colonial thought to insist on unbridgeable categorical differences. By contextualizing these deities in their respective mythological, linguistic, and cultural environments, through a unique combination of methodologies and critical traditions in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Nahuatl, Xiang departs from the over-reliance of much contemporary queer theory on European (post)modern thought. Much more than a queering of the non-Western and non-modern, Queer Ancient Ways thus constitutes a decolonial and transdisciplinary engagement with ancient cosmologies and ways of thought which are in the process themselves revealed as theoretical sources of and for the queer imagination.

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