et al. projects

anonymous asked:

You like les mis too? Yay! Do you have any favorite meta or fic or history books about it? I'm always looking for new things to read; I love it! And you always have good recommendations :)

i love les mis, anon, yes, very much!  i have to admit that i haven’t read a massive amount about it, but let’s see what i can pull together for you.

things to read about les miserables:

the most important thing ever written about les mis was written by hugo himself and it is at the beginning of the novel:

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless

  • les miserables and irony”, a defense of the 2012 film against the tirades it attracted from critics by stanley fish in the ny times, which i love for articulating the importance of exactly what most of us seek from the musical especially: affirmation
  • some thoughts on les miserables and capitalist patriarchy” by sarah jaffe, one of if not my very favourite reading of valjean’s development, and love as revolution/redemption in the face of, you guessed it, capitalist patriarchy
  • re-reading that post reminded me that tumblr user isabelthespy made some really wonderful posts about les mis as she read it a couple years ago
  • the temptation of the impossible: victor hugo and les miserables by mario vargas llosa is the only book about les mis i’ve read and quite a while ago at that, but i remember mostly enjoying it

and a few articles that are interesting to ponder, whether you’re wholly sold on them or not (i have access to these through my uni if anyone is very curious):

  • “jean valjean’s dream: rehabilitation and redemption in les miserables” by michael hoffheimer
  • “on rereading french history in hugo’s les miserables” by angel metzidakis
  • “history’s unconscious in victor hugo’s les miserables” by rosalina de la carrera
  • les miserables: salvation from below” by victor brombert
  • “homelessness, wastelands, and barricades: transforming dystopian spaces in les miserables” by kathryn grossman

les miserables fic recs:

  • everything by goshemily.  i mean it.  secret agent man is her current masterpiece, though i’ve no doubt she’ll top it given some time, but i have to admit to an especial fondness for running in the street, which might well be my favourite les mis fic of all time
  • waferkya’s come as you are contains my favourite painting created by grantaire in any fic i’ve read, and i reread it far too often.  their eat not the heart is also lovely
  • sadly, gnomon is no longer up at ao3, but the rest of luchia’s stupid terrorist boys series is (gnomon has been reworked into an original novel by luchia and is available for pre-order here; as of now, the fic version is still archived on her tumblr here)
  • barricadeur’s how the future’s done is of course a fandom staple but i can’t not put it on this list because it is sweet and funny and well-timed and believable, and even if it wasn’t all these things it still contains the phrase “randian capitalist hellscape”, so
  • world ain’t ready is another fic that probably doesn’t need to be rec’d, and which will probably go on to achieve cult-status a la the shoebox project et al, but it’s so good, so good, and one of those rare things: a high school au that actually feels like it’s set in high school
  • lovesickness is, honestly and genuinely, one of the funniest fics i’ve ever read in any fandom, and i was in the harry potter fandom for years
  • accidental lawyers, wherein something truly awful happens to bahorel, is silly but lovely
  • postcardmystery is brilliant and fierce and ferocious, and exactly the sort of person who should write about the golden revolutionary trio, which she does, and oh, how she does
  • the golden mean is a canon era reckoning with grantaire’s alcoholism, and with witnessing the illness comes understanding
  • you’ll notice that almost all of these are modern aus.  i think there’s two reasons for that: the first is that, seeing as all but two of these are focused on enjolras and grantaire, (modern) aus are what allow them to grow as people; a necessity for them to meet realistically in the middle the way they so beautifully can.  but they don’t have the chance for that in canon, which is a large part of the reason why they only reach understanding at the moment of their deaths.  the other likely reason is, like emily said the other day (yesterday? idek anymore), les amis’ revolutionary praxis can be situated in 19th C politics, or it can be a prism for other thinkers who came later;  i’m a big fan of a lot of those thinkers who came later.  

bonus! some books to read if you loved les miserables:

  • the count of monte cristo, by alexandre dumas offers, in my opinion, a fascinating sort of mirror to jean valjean’s story in particular
  • the master and margarita by mikhail bulgakov is big and full of heart and humour and is scathingly, dangerously, revolutionary
  • and i added this specifically so i could say: please read michael ondaatje (who is a self-professed and ardent les miserables fan himself).  read his novels and his poetry, just read him, but in particular, for this specific post, read anil’s ghost, about a forensic pathologist conducting a human rights investigation in the midst of the sri lankan civil war:

Anil needed to comfort herself with old friends, sentences from books, voices she could trust.  ‘This is the dead-room,’ said Enjolras.  Who was Enjolras?  Someone in Les Miserables.  A book so much a favourite, so thick with human nature she wished it to accompany her into the afterlife.  She was working with a man who was efficient in his privacy, who would never unknot himself for anyone.  A paranoid is someone with all the facts, the joke went.  Maybe this was the only truth here.  In this rest house near Bandarawela with four skeletons.  You’re six hours away from Colombo and you’re whispering - think about that.


Additional information will be provided later

April 6 – 29, 2012

MacArthur B Arthur, Oakland, CA

A solo exhibition of work by Anthony Discenza. 

In popular remodel shows such as “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the operation of a domestic interior is suspended, and re-envisioned as a production site for the creation of a new, “better” home.  The home is denied its identity, its home-ness, for the duration of an unoccupied remodeling. The engine of such shows is the spectacle of a certain “behind-the-scenes” voyeurism, where aggressive demolition is followed by Sturm und Drang consultations regarding fabric colors and bathroom finishes.  At the end, a satisfyingly cathartic release is provided for all via the big reveal: the bus is moved, the doors are opened and the home-turned-production site shifts radically, via the implied return of use value, back into a home, one more in keeping with the dictates of conventional tastes and the market.

It can be said that contemporary artistic praxes, in their current deployment, suffer from a similar logic.  The metaphor is a tenuous one, but there is some use in it.  The artist’s studio is a place where signs and matter are subjected to a process of being broken down, re-imagined and re-assembled, in order that they may be assigned a new status/identity, that of the artwork.  Then, magically, these materials, having undergone their makeover at the hands of the artist, are delivered to a venue and set up for display, in the big reveal of “The Exhibition.” 

But, as Godard declared, ‘Every edit is a lie.’ What is problematic here is the cut at the end of the show.  In EMHE, a large bus reveals the house to the family/us after the remodel is completed, and they/we scream, cry and emote as we proceed to tour the result of the miraculous transformation from old home to new house.  But there is always a mysterious break, a point of discontinuity, between the final stages of labor and production and the presentation of the finished result.  The remade house is now re-presented as a fait accompli, from which all traces of the intense upheaval we have just witnessed have been purged.  Similarly, under the paradigm of exhibition practice, we are typically denied the intense uncertainty of the artist as to the status, quality, and meaning of his/her own product.  In this way, the exhibition is a false edit in the flow of actual artistic practice, placing the artist and the work into sharply delineated narratives of production (labor) and presentation (marketing) that deny the often incomplete nature of artistic investigation.

In Additional information will be provided later, Anthony Discenza is presenting work that represents a number of different inquiries within his practice.  These works, which may or may not be “finished,” make no attempt to reconcile how they may fit together into a more cohesive narrative or artistic “brand.”  We (the curators and Discenza) would like to posit that the remodel of stuff into art is a murkier business than the standard division between [studio production] and [exhibition display] acknowledges.  Our intention is to complicate this model by providing multiple points of access for conversation, critique, expansion, and general uncertainty. We intend to leave open the question of what constitutes a finished work, both in words (via artist/curatorial statements) and in space, by situating both the context and presentation of the work as things most unsettled, forestalling completion of the auratic makeover into art.