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The Week In Context: OCTOBER 15TH, 2016

MUST READS OF THE WEEK

WU-TANG'S RZA ON THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF SHOALING: STATEN ISLAND

A wonderful extract from a new book by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Shapiro that aims to explore New York City through a collection of essays by cartographers, linguists, urbanists and cultural icons. This contribution is an interview with RZA sees him open up about his relationship with Staten Island and hip hop’s rise in New York.

BRUTALISM'S AESTHETIC LEGACY

Darran Anderson
White Noise
I’m happy to see Darran Anderson has taken the topic of Brutalism’s aesthetic legacy, a subject I’ve previously explored in my own writing. He takes stock of a pigeon-holed architectural style, which is often only brought together as a style or a movement thanks to its material. Despite its mostly negative associations can its inherent practicality give it a second life?

 

LEONARD COHEN MAKES IT DARKER

An extended profile of the now 82-year-old Leonard Cohen ahead of the release of his latest album. Some of the press that’s reacted to this interview have suggested that this is an album which is foreseeing his own death but in truth he’s been singing about death since he was in his early twenties.

 

THE POETRY OF DIGITAL LIFE

Discover – Something by a publisher new to Cureditor this week
Michael Hessel-Mial
Real Life

“Meme culture, as a key window into how we create poetic meaning as communities, is also a critical means by which we think through our political challenges.” From this exciting publication about our digital lives is this fascinating article on image macros and memes. New Inquiry editors are involved with this magazine so expect thoughtful stuff.

HOT TOPIC

FEAR

Do we have an anxiety epidemic? In a recent Office of National Statistics survey of wellbeing in the UK, it found that 20% of the population suffer from anxiety which means almost 13 million people in the UK struggle with their emotions in this way. It also permeates our politics, no doubt nationalism and the Donald Trumps of this world manipulate this rise in anxiety, and this is particularly spelled out in Neil Strauss' excellent essay for Rolling Stone this week. The other three selections this week riff on this theme, and in particular the podcast on mutually-assured destruction is a gem.

WHY WE'RE LIVING IN THE AGE OF FEAR

It is fear that leads the narratives of many of the current debates in the Western world: of terrorism, nationalism, the popularity of Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the EU. In an excellent feature for Rolling Stone, Neil Strauss looks at how humans are historically and psychologically transformed by it. Politically, it’s “neurological warfare”.

LISTEN: THE MISSILEERS

The concept of mutually-assured destruction, driven by fear, is an analogy for the weakest form of humanity; a representation of vulnerability, intolerance and pettiness. This superb podcast meets those who work in the bunkers, those who may have to push the buttons to effectively destroy civilisation.

THE SOUND OF FEAR: THE HISTORY OF NOISE AS A WEAPON

“The formula for music as a form of terror is equal parts volume, aesthetics and repetition.” Originally published at The Conversation last week, this tremendous essay by Lawrence English, director of the Australian music label Room40, looks at the fury of sound via its use in torture and war and its role in inducing fatigue.

WATCH: WHY THE WORLD FEARS REFUGEES

An astute observation made by the polish sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman that the settlements of refugees in Europe is a symbolism for the fear that we have about our own place in the world. It’s been beautifully animated by Al Jazeera where he describes the European ‘precariat’ filled with anxiety as those who “walk on moving sands”.

MOST POPULAR

A few of the most popular recommendations on Cureditor this week.

RIP ANDRZEJ WAJDA, HUMANIST AUTEUR WHO INSPIRED POLANSKI, SCORSESE, AND COPPOLA

“Apathy and collaboration are frequently the same thing in Wajda’s world—doing nothing enables your oppressor.” Scout Tafoya provides a fitting tribute to one of the most politically-engaged filmmakers of our time, Andrzej Wajda, who died at the weekend. A perfect place to start to revisit or get to know Wajda’s catalogue.


 

DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS: AUSTERITY AND LONDON NIGHTLIFE

In the debates surrounding London’s ailing nightlife, it has been Resident Advisor’s contributions in particular that have been thoughtfully and emotionally engaged with the subject. This article highlights phone theft as a surprising contributor to the dynamic between nightclubs and authorities as well a discussion of the police operation that ran concurrently to the closure of Fabric.


 

THE LITERAL HELL OF MCMANSIONS

The mass-produced, architecturally insensitive “McMansions” built in America’s suburbs have been a focus of many American periodicals in recent times. It’s even sparked a site of its own that mocks and discredits them. Here, Colin Dickey surveys that site and popular culture for examples of their offbeat asymmetric aesthetic in relation to the paranormal.

WU-TANG'S RZA ON THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND OF SHOALING: STATEN ISLAND

A wonderful extract from a new book by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Shapiro that aims to explore New York City through a collection of essays by cartographers, linguists, urbanists and cultural icons. This contribution is an interview with RZA sees him open up about his relationship with Staten Island and hip hop’s rise in New York.

 

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