Traces remain


From brilliant Simon Critchley’s Memory Theatre, published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

I drove back to the university the next morning and thought about my dream of the Gothic cathedral as a vast memory theatre. The medieval love of the figurative, the dramatic and rage grotesque was not, then, evidence of either some tortured sexual repression, as we moderns arrogantly assumed but is simply a powerful and vivid aid to recollection. Before the Reformation and the rise of literacy, image rather than print was the privileged means of religious instruction. The seemingly wild imaginings of the Gothic cathedral were simply concrete ways of shaping the entirety of time, from creation to redemption, as an aid to recollection and reflection. In a cathedral, time became space, fixed in location, embodied in stone. It was a vast time capsule. Decline from Gutenberg onwards. Fuck the Reformation.

‘More in men to admire than to despise’


Geoff Dyer on his hero, Albert Camus.

I was drawn to Albert Camus because he looked so cool in his trenchcoat, because the Cure wrote a song inspired by one of his books (The Outsider), because he and his pug-ugly friend Sartre were existentialists (which seemed related, somehow, to the trenchcoat). Their falling-out could hardly have been more acrimonious but, as can happen, the rupture contained a measure of agreement: both accepted that Camus had never really been an existentialist. For him this was a matter less of intellect than of temperament, of the defining facts of his early life: being born (100 years ago this week) into a world of sunlight and poverty in Algiers.