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The Odd Woman and the City

Sophie Calle

 

“Calle is a character in her own story, a false witness, an unreliable narrator. Feigning a hysterical kind of love coded female, with an analytical bent. With a sly humour, power relations are flipped and flipped again. Who is in control, who is the butt of the work? In the case of The Address Book, the victim, in response to having his friends’ opinion of his private life splashed across the pages of Libération, attempted to get his revenge on Calle by having the newspaper publish nude photos of her. Of that work, she said: ‘The sense of excitement was much stronger than the guilt’.

In Double Game, Calle allows novelist Paul Auster to fictionalize her life in a novel, before republishing his account with her own red corrections scrawled on top. Taking it one step further, she then requests that the author give her tasks to do, as though she is a character in one of his novels, and the interaction culminates in a project entitled Gotham Handbook.

Other works play out this repeated doubling-back, such as The Detective, where she asked her mother to hire a private detective to follow her, while she had someone follow the detective, engaging in a game of triangulation and elusiveness, the trick of being the woman who evades, always disappearing round a corner. An object that first receives the world before finding pattern in the day, letting things circle back around, playing out the real work of looking. This mode requires a certain shiftlessness, one not traditionally accorded to women, who rarely know what it feels like to be anonymous, to pass through space unnoticed.”

Read Madeileine Stack’s full piece here.

Photography by Sophie Calle.

Fluidity – not fixed, firm, or stable.

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Fluid – b. fig. and of non-physical things: Flowing or moving readily; not solid or rigid; not fixed, firm, or stable.

Beauty is an abstract concept. Century after century, philosophers have sought to define it and place it within the perimeters of language and meaning, yet still today beauty continues to evade such categorization. It knows no boundaries, for it is visceral and experienced emotionally within the present. Beauty is, by its nature, fluid.

Ever since antiquity, humans have endeavored to capture the immediate emotional impact of beauty, and solidify it into form. Take the child struggling in vain to net the butterfly in order to confine its beauty within the perimeter of a glass jar, or the husband, layering slab after slab of stone to transform the unpredictable beauty of his wife into the solidity of a statue. Each reflects an intrinsic human desire to capture beauty and make it one’s own by validating it through the process of art. Statues have long functioned as a way of cementing the fleeting, fluid and transient nature of human beauty and transforming it into an aesthetic that is easily accessible to the human gaze. Consequently, this desire serves to perpetuate vanity; by reflecting the beauty of another, statues allow for reflection of the beauty and idolatry of oneself. This desire to create form out of an ephemeral concept has lead to beauty becoming defined as a concept that is fixed, static and ocular. It has become a notion built upon social constructs, defined by its ability to be consumed and consequently validated by the human gaze.

Text by Alice Hall. Image by Beso Uznadze.

Read the full article here.

On Pride and Vanity

Tuchi - Gallo

Tuchi – Gallo

 

“Pride goes before destruction,” we read in proverbs, “and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

“Vanity involves esteeming oneself for goods that are only estimable in opinion – that is, only because people agree to esteem them.”

Jeff J.S. Black teaches at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He is the author of Rousseau’s Critique of Science: A Commentary on the Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts. He is working on a book on human nature and human enhancement in modern political thought. He frequently suffers from double vision.

Read his full essay “It’s all about me” in LYRA’s second issue here.

Philippa Snow talks to artist Lauren Cohen

We have invited LYRA’s issue 1 contributors to interview, write or do just about anything for our blog. Philippa Snow chose to have a conversation with the artist Lauren Cohen. Philippa wrote about Showgirls for issue 1.

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Sappho

Jessica Worden on Sappho

We were casting around for a classic (a Linda Snell-esque word) poet to use in our first issue. It’s always difficult, though – the past. After deliberation, we chose Sappho: the foremost erotic poet of antiquity (imagine how Ovid’d shudder if her work was more than fragment!) We asked Jessica Worden to write about her for us, and she delivered more than the scholarly summing up we’d half-expected and not, really, wanted. Her essay begins

I think of Sappho by the sea. She sings against the noise of the wind and waves crashing, standing on the sand of Lesbos. She knew many forms of love.

And ends

She acknowledges the bitterness of absence in this fragment but pairs it with the perpetuation of desire through the corporeal traces within memory. I think of Sappho by the sea. She sings against the noise of the wind and waves crashing, standing on the sand of Lesbos. She knew many forms of love.

Jessica’s is a beautiful piece, gently lyrical, humble even. She does not force the poet into this or that corner, does not decide what Sappho meant, but shows her to the reader in the palm on her hand: a flower, a weed, a gorgeous blade of grass. By the sea.

– Jago Rackham

Read Jessica’s full article in issue 1: subscribe and support our Kickstarter here.

Detail from Bosch’s Seven Deadly Sins, depicting ‘luxira’ or lust.

Federico Campagna, on lust too

In his essay on the subject, the radical atheist philosopher Federico Campagna descries the fact that though lust is given ample attention in many fields “the quantity of such attention has rarely been matched by quality.”

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Pieter Bruegel the Elder The Seven Deadly Sins or the Seven Vices Lechery

Simon Blackburn on lust

Simon Blackburn will be defending our first issue’s central theme: lust.

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