Diane di Prima was born on August 6, 1934 in Brooklyn and passed on in San Francisco on October 25, 2020. Di Prima was a true national treasure, having chronicled throughout her astonishing career a momentous period of American history. Although for over six decades an indomitable force in ourcultural life, Di Prima remains unfamiliar to many readers. Because she was the major female identified with the Beat movement and author of the hip-language-inflected book This Bird Flies Backward (1958) who lounged in slacks sitting atop a piano—as a famous photograph from the fifties depicted her during a poetry reading— and due to the appearance a decade later of Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), she has been misperceived as a “Beat chick.”
Where Ovid entertained Romans with stories of metamorphoses, we now revel in stories of leaving our meat bodies and entering the internet as disembodied intelligences. Ovid’s stories may seem frivolous and even decadent to us, but we are entranced by our own version of such mythic transformations. Myths from different cultures resonate and merge; that particular transformation to web existence is also known as The Rapture for Nerds.
book, Literature and Film from East Europe’s Forgotten “Second World,” was inspired by my years of teaching literature and film from East Europe of the socialist “Second World” era at the University of Washington in Seattle. Over time, I noticed an interesting paradox: the more this period—which ended with the 1989 fall of communism and the subsequent dissolution of countries like the USSR, Czechoslovakia and, of course, Yugoslavia—receded into a historical never-land, the more its stories, novels and films seemed to resonate with and delight my students.
We all know that the world we live in (in all our intersectional diversity) is beset by a cluster of interrelated crises that are cascading toward even greater destruction, threatening the life of the planet itself. In these dark times, radical action is needed more than ever so that we can face these crises and build a better world for all humans, all nonhumans, and nature itself.
The below is an interview with the author of The Phoenix of Philosophy, Mikhail Epstein. How would you describe your book in one sentence? This book is about the intellectual movements in the late Soviet Union that helped to destroy the totalitarian system built on the Marxist philosophical foundation. What drew you to writing about this subject? All existing histories of Russian and Soviet philosophy end their coverage in the mid-twentieth century, which happens… Read More »
Guest post by Mikhail Epstein My book, The Phoenix of Philosophy, is about philosophy at one of its most dramatic historical moments, at the boundary of two epochs: the formation of the ideocratic Soviet state—and its destruction. What is philosophy? There is no simple and universal definition, and many thinkers consider it impossible to formulate one. According to A. N. Whitehead, “the safest… Read More »
Guest post by Mark Steven Karl Marx was born in Prussia 203 years ago today and his writing and thinking are as crucial now, during the year of a global pandemic, as ever before. In a frequently quoted sentence written in the spring of 1845, Marx issued what reads as a statement of intent. “The philosophers,” he claimed, “have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is… Read More »
Guest post by Hadas Elber-Aviram For over a century and a half, London has remained the foremost city of urban fantasy. No city in the history of Anglophone fantasy literature has approached its ubiquity. As John Clute points out, even New York is ‘a fairly distant second’. This unrivalled predominance of London begs the question… Read More »
Guest post by Mikko Tuhkanen A dual orientation in Leo Bersani’s thought never fails to make me tremble, for in it I think I recognize something indisputably true. On the one hand, Bersani repeatedly attends to the unavoidability of aggression in our encounters with the world: we are inhabited, he suggests,by an “intractable,” because constitutive, hatred of otherness. On the other, all such murderous impulses are supplemented by the logic of what Bersani, echoing Charles Baudelaire, calls “correspondence of… Read More »