Saturday, November 28, 2009

 

Mel Nichols, Elisabeth Workman & Nada Gordon
conducted by Drew Gardner

last weekend at the Zinc Bar, NYC
(best viewed full screen)

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

 

I have become accustomed to pausing to say thank you whenever this blog reaches a new milestone. Today, eleven months & one week after having passed the two million visit mark, we – you & I together – pass the 2.5 million threshold. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That it should happen today is one of the great little ironies of life.

2,500,000 feels quite amazing to me. To be honest, the 50,000 mark felt stunning when I reached it in August 2003, not quite a full year into this project. If you told me then what the numbers would be now, I would not have believed you.

Which brings up a good point someone on the comments stream, I think it may have been Johannes Göransson, made the other day ( not, I should note, Monday) – that my binary opposition of the two literary traditions, quietism and the post-avant, has become ludicrous. I’m of mixed minds about that criticism. When I look back, as I did Monday, at 28 straight years of quietist Pulitzers, a string still unbroken, I think the empirical evidence is flat out overwhelming. And when I think of Johannes' impluse (see Monday's comments stream) to read literature ahistorically, my instinct is to be distrustful. But when I look at my own blog, and at that list in the left column of more than 1,200 other blogs, 98% of which are likewise discussing poetry, day in & day out, I think Johannes is quite right. The old model of doing business has been irrevocably broken. Something completely new is afoot. If anything, the old binary could make it harder to see clearly just what that is.

How can both of these be true at the same time?

Partly I think the answer is generational. If you came into poetry in the mid-1960s as I did, when poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, John Ashbery & Larry Eigner were still in their thirties, as were Donald Hall, Bill Merwin & Robert Bly, when the Allen anthology was still a new book, Howl less than ten years old & the newly published Naked Lunch something that could be found in relatively few bookstores, the cleavage between the Raw & the Cooked – as Robert Lowell once characterized the two traditions – was a gulf. To anyone who is in their sixties now, or who (like The New York Times) primarily gets their information about poetry from people that age or older, that’s still pretty much the map on which all the pins must be placed. American hybrid? Hybrid of what, pray tell, if in fact that old binary isn’t operating just beneath the surface?

But I’ve made that mistake before, so maybe I shouldn’t make it twice. In the late 1980s, I proposed a model of poetry that suggested that the post-avant tradition was disproportionately white through the social function of narrative within different communities. Never having held the subject position, I suggested, people of color might find a need to explore that while others, having held it for centuries, might well be more interested in exploring its fissures & contradictions.

I caught hell for that, initially from Leslie Scalapino, but ultimately from a much wider range of poets, most of them people of color. What they were noticing that I had not was that the composition of younger poets had already changed not only on American campuses, but in the key metro areas that serve as incubators for so much that is new. You might in turn explain this by noting that the middle class itself had already expanded beyond the white enclave one sees, say, today in Mad Men’s recreation of the Sixties. The 1980s were not the 1960s & I was wrong for not noticing.

Still, my outdated vision might have led one to expect that one day we would find a list of finalists for a major prize, such as the National Book Award, divided neatly between white post-avants & black conservatives – exactly the circumstance this year. (And, I might suggest, not the last time we’ll see that particular configuration.) Yet already Nate Mackey has won a National Book Award, so the historical narrative of all this comes as it does in real life, jumbled. The reality is that we live in a transitional period in which all of these phenomena can occur pretty much in any sequence at any time. There is not a right or wrong position here, tho there might well be a “less interesting” or “more interesting” one, which will vary depending on the position of the reader.

But it’s more important to recognize that while 1980s were not the 1960s, the teens of the current century – which get under way in less than 40 days – will not even remotely resemble the 1980s, and may even be more different from the first decade of the new millennium than this old fart is ready to concede. To be a young poet today is to come into a scene where there are already more than 1,000 blogs talking about poetry. I can’t imagine that world, even as I see it right here on my own web page.

So Johannes is unquestionably right. The old binary is just that: old & binary. It’s entirely inadequate to describe the scene of today, even as the inertia of that binary continues to drive some of the phenomena & some of the behavior. The old model will prove even less adequate tomorrow. The real question is, or should be, what models better characterize what is going on now, and what will be going on tomorrow?

Thus my own goal, going forward, will be to get my head out of the 1980s, the 1970s (the focal point, after all, of The Grand Piano project) & the 1960s, at least into the 21st century. Not that I won’t note the inertia of the past as it plays out in the present when that seems appropriate. But because I think the readers here deserve a response, however tentative & groping it may be, to the more interesting question: What’s next?

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

 

(Photo used by permission, all rights reserved, © Fiona Templeton)

Annette Barbasch & Steve Buscemi in Fiona Templeton’s Against Agreement, 1982

Fiona Templeton & Poets Theater

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Hail, poetry!

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Tan Lin Chalk Playground & LitTwitChalk

A review by Thom Donovan

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Arkadii Dragomoshchenko on Alexei Parshchikov

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Talking with Rosmarie Waldrop

Waldrop, reading

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Bruce Boone & Gail Scott
at Small Press Traffic

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Mel Nichols’
Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon

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Sunday, Nov. 29
@ the Bowery Poetry Club, NYC:
a monster celebration of
Gerrit Lansing’s
Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth

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Mina Loy is not Myrna Loy

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Jim McCrary:
poet, anti-poet

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What Kerouac’s scroll
tells us about his art

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Allen Ginsberg’s
“Mind Writing Slogans”

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Charles Bernstein
talking at 80 Langston Street, 1983,
on characterization

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Margaret Atwood at 70

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75 years
of the
Academy of American Poets

“A Future for Poetry”
Marie Bullock
on the Academy of American Poets
in 1937

A portrait of the founder

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Maggie Nelson: on color
(reg. req.)

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The US has SPD,
but Australia’s
got SPUNC

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SPD staff picks for 2009

Aren’t the best book lists
coming earlier this year?

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Clayton Eshleman does 2
broadcasts with the
Joe Milford Poetry Show
here & here

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Over 140 episodes
of the Joe Milford Poetry Show
can be accessed here

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PoemTalk,
the close-reading poetry show
from PennSound & the Poetry Foundation,
now has a Dutch cousin

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Dublin in December
means
the Wurmfest

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Neglectorinos of Ireland

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Susan Schultz
on the poets of Australia

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A short history of flarf

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K. Silem Mohammad’s
Squirting Ringworm Taco

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Eigner proof corrections

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Where do the dogs go
in Baudelaire?

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If only I could read Afrikaans

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She writes
about
SheWrites.com

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What is it to imagine a public?

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What would Jane Austen do?

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Spell-checking Hugh MacDiarmid

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Chris Tysh
translating Beckett’s novel Molloy
into verse

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Proust on Twitter

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Philip K. Dick,
deconstructing madness

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Hankering for a better map

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Shakespeare & Co’s new mural

Portraiture of the artists

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Noir tweets?
Pulp Fiction writer
is twittering from jail

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The book of omens

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Anna Mendelssohn (Grace Lake)
has died

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Playing politics
with the bones of Camus

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The people in Stanley Kunitz’ house

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Auster’s Invisible

Lost in the funhouse

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Lorrie Moore:
“How to Talk to Your Mother”

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The forms of Sébastien Smirou

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Oulipo reading list
(reg. req.)

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The plagiarism of academic co-authorship

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Bring back the olde style book shoppe

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Oxfam seeks peace
with used bookdealers

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The demise of Borders UK

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The Nook sells out
its Christmas stock

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Black Friday is for suckers
(& so are e-readers, it says here)

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McClatchy papers
launch editions for the Kindle

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Stephen King on Raymond Carver

An “astonishingly complete” biography

Carver didn’t fight Lish as vigorously as he should have”

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Saving Leopold Bloom’s soap shop

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Reading Kay Ryan

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Orhan Pamuk’s LA

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Code X
transforms your PC
into a sound-poem machine

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Jon Cotner & Andy Fitch’s
Conversations over Stolen Food

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Crowns & Oranges:
Works by Young Philippine Poets

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Compulsively seeking quietist verse

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Alice Jones
won the first annual
Narrative poetry contest

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Remembering Don Carpenter

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Talking with Wayne Miller

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Joyce Kilmer talks with
Edwin Arlington Robinson

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More on
The Acorn Book of Contemporary Haiku

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Wilco’s haiku contest

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A little Bashō reading list

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50 years of Beatitude

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Talking with Paul Chowder

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Poetry & combat

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2 poets for the birds –
Simon Armitage
Billy Collins

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Literary primes – AARP Division

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Louis Zukofsky & the objectified poem

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Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future

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DIY Harlequin

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Talking with Illinois laureate Kevin Stein

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Book reviews as “payback

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Alice Munro “keeps getting better”

Too Much Happiness

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Highway 74 revisited

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The Metrocard as art

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US poets in Mexico

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Tools for writers

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Getting a response to your poetry

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The Governor General’s Awards for 2009

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60 years of National Book Award
fiction winners

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The NBA’s Keith Waldrop page

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A conflict of interest
in the National Book Awards

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The “National Best Book Awards

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Su Tong wins Man Asia

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There goes the Man Booker

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“We’re legit,”
ReaderSpoils protests

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Zadie Smith:
the essay has as much art as fiction

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Syllabus for a class on
literary editing

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Stalin, Putin & the poets

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John Gallaher’s
“Watermelon in the Afternoon”

Gallaher on Unterecker on Ashbery

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Douglas Skrief, stone poet

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Michael Longley in Calcutta

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Can Nick Cave
beat the modern Bulwer-Lytton
for the “bad sex” award?

(It’s not just the sex that’s bad
in The Humbling)

The bad sex “shortlist

So where is the good sex?

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Can you name the last 3
National Book Award novels?

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A poetry tour of Washington, DC

& of Chicago

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The Poet’s Cookbook

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Academe & the decline of news media

Needed: a philosophy of journalism

Can university-based reporting
keep journalism alive?

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The San Francisco Panorama:
a new newspaper
that costs $16
& plans to print
just one issue

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Microsoft offers to
rescue Murdoch’s group
from Google Search

Can Murdoch pull this off?

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NaNoWriMo ends soon

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In praise of scattershot reading

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Judith Robinson’s Dinner Date

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Nabokov, “reduced to notes

flashes of brilliance

A debate over its publication

Laura manuscript is up for sale

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Vonnegut’s leftovers

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Michelle Huneven’s Blame

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Auden & the “rent boy”

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When experts educate,
what do their metaphors say?

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Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Keats

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“It might as well have cooties

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Deleuze & Guattari:
Aesthetics & Politics

(reg. req.)

Deleuzean literary machines
of Woolf, Lawrence & Joyce
(reg. req.)

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Reading GirlDrive in St. Louis

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Eric Gans’ “generative anthropology”

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These are the sounds of silence

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Michael Löwy’s Morningstar:
Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism,
Situationism, Utopia
(reg. req.)

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6 practical reasons
for arts education

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The handmade books
of Alice Austin

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Mark Scroggins
on modernist prints

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The modernist difference
can been seen in the sex

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MoCA at 30

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Van Gogh’s letters

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Real vs. seeming

Augmenting the real

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Epilepsy as an art form?

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UC museum
cancels its new building

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Andy Warhol:
October Files
(reg. req.)

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The dark side of Francis Bacon

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When in Marfa

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Satchmo

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Talking with Fanfarlo’s
Simon Balthazar

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Talking with Timothy O’Dwyer
about The Braxton Project

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Bob Dylan:
Must Be Santa

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Patricia MacCormack:
Cinesexuality
(reg. req.)

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The linguist behind the language
of Avatar

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Conversations with Žižek
(reg. req.)

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Arendt, Heidegger, Hitler

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Heidegger déjà vu

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Claude Lévi-Strauss:
an introduction
(reg. req.)

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The war within the Left

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Faculty members mediate
between protestors & the cops

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A Zombie Manifesto
(reg. req.)

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