Tom McCarthy

  • DECLARATION ON DIGITAL CAPITALISM

    1. WE BEGIN OUR DECLARATION with an act of global positioning, a location capture of the place in and from which it will first have been delivered. Düsseldorf has been home to many heroes of the INS: to wartime radio operator and base materialist Joseph Beuys; to “Negativland” authors NEU!, whose blank, motoric drum patterns transform the fake, hippy emancipation of rock music into an empty baroque Trauerspiel; and, perhaps most significantly, to Kraftwerk, epochal plotters of the signal-transmission structure that, for us, is the secret grid of all literature and all art.

    2. YET WE MUST ALSO,

  • Tom McCarthy

    TOM MCCARTHY

    THAT STRANGE ELEPHANT. I must have first seen the short in 1999, at the Beaconsfield gallery retrospective that introduced me, like so many other Londoners, to Marker’s work. The four-minute video from 1993 was running on a loop inside a small, decrepit classroom (the building was a former Ragged School), and the accompanying vinyl wall text seemingly contained a typo. Slon Tango? Slow, surely. Then I remembered that slon means “elephant” in various Slavic languages. And bang on cue, this big Slovenian elephant came lumbering his way across the screen.

    There were no cuts, no edits,

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF 2008

    15 SCHOLARS, CRITICS, WRITERS, AND ARTISTS CHOOSE THE YEAR’S OUTSTANDING TITLES.

    MICHAEL HARDT

    The financial crisis of fall 2008 is one symptom of a transition in the nature and form of global order. The most important question this transition raises is what new possibilities it is opening up; but before asking that, one has to understand also what the transition is closing down. Two of the best books I have read in the past year, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso) and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador),

  • TOM McCARTHY

    THE OBITUARIES Alain Robbe-Grillet received in the British press depicted him as a significant but ultimately eccentric novelist, whose work forswore any attempt to be “believable” or to engage with the real world in a “realistic” way. In taking this line, the obituarists displayed an intellectual shortcoming typical of Anglo-American empiricism, and displayed it on two fronts: first, in their failure to understand that literary “realism” is itself a construct as laden with artifice as any other; and second, in missing the glaring fact that Robbe-Grillet’s novels are actually ultrarealist, shot

  • A TRIBUTE TO ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET (1922–2008)

    WITH THE PASSING of French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet this winter, the world of postmodern literature lost one of its first (and last) great innovators—one whose influence extended irrevocably into the realms of theory, film, and art (and particularly its Conceptualist and Minimalist strands). Yet if the author was lauded at the very outset of his career by preeminent critics such as Roland Barthes, his near-programmatic commitment to both experimentation and provocation was such that his final legacy in life remains, perhaps, as enigmatic as the kaleidoscopic narratives he constructed