Category Archives: A Shoe Story

The Seventh Function of Language

Laurent Binet, author of the remarkable novel (in French), The Seventh Function of Language, seems succinctly to describe his technique on p.333 of the English edition: ‘one fanatics gently’. But is that English? Is the original, ‘on forcène doucement’, French? … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, French intellectuals, French literature, Literature in Translation, novels, Philosophy and Philosophers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Adorno, the Frankfurt School and the Soul of Europe

No one who has read Theodore Adorno would have been surprised by last summer’s Charlie Hebdo cartoon when Amatrice, an Italian town otherwise known for its pasta sauce, suffered a fatal earthquake. The French magazine with its satirical pasta shapes … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Britain Today, Europe, Frankfurt School, German Literature, Philosophy and Philosophers, Things German | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Derrida: A very short defence

The critic Terry Eagleton recently published a review in The Times Literary Supplement (9 June 2016) in which he noted the passing of poststructuralism as an event without mourners. This was my response with regard to his observations on Jacques … Continue reading

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Victor Klemperer, the German-Jewish academic who chronicled everyday life in Hitler’s Germany

Victor Klemperer was a German-Jewish academic whose survival of the Hitler years made possible his unique and irreplaceable testimony. Through 1931-1945 he kept detailed diaries of daily life in Dresden. There were sketches of a few friends who became Nazi … Continue reading

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The Natural History of Destruction

The title, and the concept, belong to W.G. (“Max”) Sebald, who died so tragically young. I suggested in my book A Shoe Story that a literal translation of Luftkrieg und Literatur [‘Airwar and Literature’] would have been more helpful and drawn more … Continue reading

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Siegfried Kracauer’s idea of ‘Mass Ornament’

Mass society as its own ornament was how the German social critic Siegfried Kracauer understood the street life of the dying years of the Weimar Republic. You can find this clever idea which brings us right to the present day … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Art History, Britain Today, Current Affairs, Things German, Who are you?, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charlie Hebdo and the Enlightenment

Looking though a copy of Charlie Hebdo, after the appalling murders of its editor and contributors in January 2015, I was struck, as many commentators have been, by how French it was with regard to one salient Western ‘value’ : … Continue reading

Posted in A Shoe Story, Current Affairs, Europe, Philosophy and Philosophers | Tagged , | 1 Comment