Fredric Jameson: Itemised


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I will call Knausgaard’s kind of writing ‘itemisation’. We have, in postmodernity, given up on the attempt to ‘estrange’ our daily life and see it in new, poetic or nightmarish, ways; we have given up the analysis of it in terms of the commodity form, in a situation in which everything by now is a commodity; we have abandoned the quest for new languages to describe the stream of the self-same or new psychologies to diagnose its distressingly unoriginal reactions and psychic events. All that is left is to itemise them, to list the items that come by.

Swati Dhingra and Josh De Lyon: What would it be like?


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Regulation and laws: In the event of No Deal, MPs will have to pass between eight hundred and a thousand new statutory instruments through Parliament in a matter of days on urgent matters such as safety certificates for airlines and instruments that enable financial contracts to be enforced. Given the short timeframe, it is likely that many of these will be drafted directly from EU law.

Michael Wood: ‘The Third Man & Other Stories’


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I don’t think the story offers any serious competition to the wonders of the film. But it no longer serves as a draft or a blueprint, and it holds its own very well among Greene’s or anyone else’s short stories. It’s waiting for us, asking us to read it, and reread it, even if it was initially supposed to disappear into the machinery of movie-making, like Harry Lime slipping off into the sewers of Vienna.

Robert Drury: A Kazakh Scam


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The next day I go to see Sergei and give him my interim findings. At one point he interrupts. ‘Why didn’t they come and speak to me?’ he asks. We both know why. And then without my having to raise it, he talks about the escape clause in the contract they could have used. ‘It wouldn’t have worked, mind you,’ he says with a twinkle. ‘But they could have tried.’ Finally we work our way through to Aleksei. I explain to Sergei that he had nothing to do with the fraud and was not aware of it. Sergei holds up an index finger: ‘Ah, but he should have been.’ Our conversation is over.

Malcolm Gaskill: Death of an Airman


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Van Dyke Fernald liked flying – ‘skylarking’, as he called it, was ‘glorious’, the ‘star stunt’ of the war. There were breathtaking views of the Alps and of the Adriatic and Dalmatian coastlines; the gloom he’d felt on the Western Front seemed magically to lift. A pilot from his squadron described Venice ‘glittering like a pink opal in the warm early sunlight’. A classical education led these young men to frame their experiences metaphysically; leaving the earth felt like separating body and soul. ‘We moved like spirits in an airy loom,’ Cecil Lewis recalled.

Nico Muhly: How I Write Music


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The primary task, I feel, is to create a piece of art that is better than the same amount of silence; I would prefer to sit silently thinking for ten minutes than to listen to certain pieces of music, and therefore feel that it is my duty as a composer to occupy the time of the listener and the musicians with something challenging, engaging and emotionally alluring. I don’t want to play them a movie with a clear exposition, obvious climax and poignant conclusion, nor do I want to drop them blind into a bat cave of aggressively perplexing musical jabs. I try to create an environment that suggests motion but that doesn’t insist on certain things being felt at certain times. Mapping the piece’s route helps me avoid the temptation of the romantic journey or the provocateur’s dungeon.

Christopher Tayler: The Psychologicals


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On the one hand, it’s clearly part of Anna Burns’s project in Milkman to redescribe the Troubles without using such terms as ‘the Troubles’, ‘Britain’ and ‘Ireland’, ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’, ‘RUC’ and ‘IRA’. On the other, the narrator’s mad, first-principles language, with its abundance of phrases in inverted commas and sudden changes of register, is also used to describe the inner world of a young woman with no idea whom to tell, and no templates for what she might say, when she’s stalked and groomed by a powerful older man. The public-political and the personal-political aren’t easily disentangled, and there’s no reason that they should be. But the plot complicates the reader’s – and the narrator’s – sense of the way they interact.

Meehan Crist: Am I My Mother-in-Law?


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Before I got pregnant, I thought I understood how DNA works: parents pass on some combination of their DNA, which codes for various heritable traits, to their children, who pass on some combination to their children, and so on down the neat branching lines of the genealogical tree. What I didn’t know was that women can also receive DNA from their children.

Eliot Weinberger: Ten (More) Days in America


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On Brett Kavanaugh’s first day as justice, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to a ruling written by Kavanaugh himself in 2017 when he was an appellate court judge. Kavanaugh had determined that the EPA lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce an Obama administration rule regulating hydrofluorocarbons, industrial chemicals that deplete the ozone. (And so it begins.)