French philosopher Jacques Rancière recently accused one of our editors of being a ‘Marxist’. It’s no doubt appropriate then that we introduce our Paris city feature under the rubric ‘Paris, Capital of the 21st Century’. Walter Benjamin believed the essential truths of the 19st century as an era could be understood through studying and analysing the thoughts, words and productions of the Parisians. With Brexit in the 21st century however, we may find that it will be truly in the shift of Capital from London markets to Paris that political reality is brought home. So what is happening in Paris now?
19th March 2020
The introduction to Benjamin’s Arcades Project, was written in 1938 but not published until long after his death. It is an attempt to categorically reveal how, through the apparent chaos and convulsions in 19th century Parisian culture and society, great explorations and exposés of the realities of the epoch and its ramifications for later generations, are afforded us by examination of the lives and works of its inhabitants.
21st March 2020
The tragic slowness of our reaction to the coronavirus and the putting of systematic safety measures in place has contrasted with the relatively swift and mature reaction of the French (and other nations) to this emergency. But is it a sign of a wider conservative and sclerotic inability to act that has taken hold of our society? How could we measure these things? Clarisse Godard Desmarest sets the ball rolling with a description of the terrible fires at both Notre Dame in Paris and Glasgow School of Art, and the reaction of the authorities in each case.
22nd March 2020
Written before Macron's lock-down, of course, Jeremy Allan Hawkins observed that Parisians were walking through their city again. But did he see the same type of dilly-dallying, louche, truth-seeking, urban hanger-on as Baudelaire's flaneur? Or the existential and psycho-geographical explorers of Guy Debord's Situationists? Not quite...
21st August 2020
Abolish restaurants, statues, bars, mirrors and painting -the lot? The bourgeois desire to be served is inescapable in our urban contexts which consolidated in the 19th century city - the ideological hothouse of capitalist modernity. Hussein Mitha reflects on the glut of materials crowding the urban consumer.
Amongst the last people to Christianise in Europe, the Lithuanians as a people have had a roller coaster ride through history. From a sizeable medieval empire to a union with Poland, oppression by the Nazis and incorporation in the Soviet Union –is any small nation always destined ultimately to be pushed from pillar to post by its bigger and more powerful neighbours? Until WWII the population of the city of Vilnius was majority Polish and Jewish, with Polish and Yiddish as the major languages, but since 1991 with the gradual collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been the capital of a thriving independent Lithuanian Republic of total population three and half million.
10th November 2019
Lithuanian poet and one time Soviet dissident Tomas Venclova visited Scotland as part of Lithuanian Days in Scotland in October and compared experiences of Union in his home country and Scotland. As we celebrate 30 years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall this week, we review his memoirs of life as a poet behind the Iron Curtain....
27th November 2019
When Marc Augé wrote in The Future that ‘Every protest is a form of research’ he could have been describing the artwork(s) / protest / civil disobedience / celebration / sit-in that was […]