This March online issue features a forgotten essay by Roger Caillois, a French intellectual whose idiosyncratic work brought together literary criticism, sociology, and philosophy by focusing on diverse subjects such as games, play and the sacred. ‘All humanity wears or has worn a mask,’ writes Caillois in ‘The Mask’, newly translated and illustrated by the artist Jeffrey Stuker. Drawing on the story of the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, the early writings of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Jorge Luis Borges, Caillois highlights the family resemblance between human and insects, and argues that humankind has relinquished its claims on the mask.
The Danish novelist Helle Helle’s short fiction ‘Wedding Watcher’ might suggest otherwise, as we follow the story of Regitze, a young Danish woman attending a wedding at which she knows no one. Also in this issue, a powerful and eerie story of neglect and ruin lust, by the young American writer Amelia Gray. We also have some poems by poet and literary critic Elizabeth Willis.
Elswehere, Tom Overton reports on Plastic Words, a six-week series of thirteen events at Raven Row, in which writers, artists and theorists such as Helen DeWitt, Tom McCarthy, Peter Osborne and Janice Kerbel discussed ‘the contested space between art and literature’. One of the participants, McKenzie Wark, has a new book out next month (Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene, Verso). We published an excerpt from this in our eleventh print issue, which is now published online in full. We’re also pleased to publish a slideshow of images by the German artist Lothar Hempel, whose show Tropenkoller (Tropical Madness) is currently on at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.
Finally, this issue features an interview with writer and film-maker Jonathan Meades, whose new spoken-word vinyl LP Pedigree Mongrel (Test Centre, April 2015) is composed of specially-recorded readings from his books Pompey (1993), Museum Without Walls (2012) and An Encyclopaedia of Myself (2014), combined with the distinctive soundscapes of Mordant Music. Pedigree Mongrel brings together the varied preoccupations of Meades’ work – his interest in history and biography, architecture and topography, the brutal and the grotesque.