This chapter examines the interface between desire and money infrastructures in the new crypto economy. Focusing on NFTs, utility tokens, and interoperability technologies, it argues that economic investment in monetary technologies is tantamount to a libidinal investment in technological designs and the forms of capitalisation they enable.
When global stock markets plunged during the onset of the 2020 pandemic, young South Koreans took out loans to fund risky personal investments. This chapter relates the lure of speculation at work here to a fantasy of escaping the hopeless realities produced through financial capitalism, in South Korea and elsewhere.
This chapter examines the hostile dynamics of online communication, linking these to a fragmentation of social reality set in motion by the rise of capitalism. As this is taken to new extremes by developments in digital technology, affective inclinations towards paranoia and conflict come to the fore – hence the mindless antagonism of our moment.
Interiority, claustrophobia and decadence in cosmopolitan London cinema of the 1960s and 1970s
Kevin M. Flanagan
This chapter identifies and surveys a counterintuitive strand of London films made by non-native filmmakers whose thematic and spatial focus is not on the breadth, freedom and possibility of the public city but rather on its private spaces. These ‘inner space’ films dwell on issues arising from the obsessive over-identification with interior spaces (apartments, flats, studios, workplaces), often to the extent that the central characters forsake the city streets in favour of private worlds of their own making. The chapter traces a cosmopolitan strand of inner space cinema that gels with issues explored by key British writers of the moment, but that very deliberately defines the city from the position of the outsider looking inward. American director Joseph Losey and Hungarian writer George Tabori’s film Secret Ceremony (1968, adapted from a novella by Argentine writer Marco Denevi) explores an obsessive, codependent relationship between mother and surrogate daughter that largely plays out inside Debenham House in Holland Park. The other film explored in depth is Tabori and Losey’s Leo the Last (1970), about the coming-to-political-consciousness of a deposed European aristocrat (Marcello Mastroianni) who is exiled to a West London home and who undergoes a personal transformation based on his gradual engagement with the outside world. Taken together, the films explored in this chapter advance an unconventional notion: the inner spaces of London, as represented and explored by those who look at the city from without, are key sites for dramatising and defining a full understanding of the metropolis. With their attention to issues typically outside the remit of urban experience (small-scale observation, confinement), they provide new windows on a frequently studied moment.
This chapter examines the psychic life of global inequality through the phenomenon of ‘compassionate consumerism’. Drawing on the psychoanalytic critique of ideology, it shows how explicit ethical appeals to assist those less fortunate than ourselves are underwritten by invitations to participate in a disavowed enjoyment of relations of inequality.
This concluding chapter focuses on Zed Nelson’s 2019 film The Street, filmed in the East London borough of Hackney. The film has a simple project: to track the transformations in inner-city Hoxton Street over the four years of filming. Through this undertaking, Nelson tells a more complicated story than the familiar narrative of the changing built environment of the cinematic city. His achievement is to record a micro-history of the changing street as long-established businesses like Anderson’s the bakers and Lawrence’s the carpet shop close, to be replaced with bars and galleries, in a broader context of the continuing spread of the City of London into adjacent previously working-class areas. Framing the changes in the street within the 2010 coalition government’s austerity project and the 2016 Brexit referendum, Nelson explores, using only the careful editing of his informants’ words, the way in which voting to leave Europe could be understood as a response to the loss of a familiar way of life, a familiar street, to the hipsters and incomers of gentrification. This chapter asserts that the detail of the film’s documentation with the careful contextualisation of so many of its characters is what makes the film vivid and compelling. Individual voices linger on, with their rich registers of emotion and attitude long after the images – and their homes and businesses – have faded. It would be a foolish mistake, however, to understand it as a film which is just about Hoxton Street.
Combining Freud’s ideas on sex with Marshall McLuhan’s understanding of technology, this chapter addresses the interpenetration of eroticism and finance today. In so doing, it clarifies how a detachment from the real traverses the technological, erotic, and economic transformation involved with online dating apps.
This chapter interprets the GameStop saga of 2021 as the surface expression of an underlying libidinal economy of leverage. Building on post-Keynesian accounts of money and finance, it argues that the current financial system operates on the basis of a ‘rolling apocalypse’, turning the destructive nihilism of petty investors into fuel for the levered-up trading strategies of professional money managers.
This review essay compares the research methodologies and narrative strategies of
Baldwin biographies as well as their main claims. Analyzing these books in their
chronological order, it seeks to chart a history of book-length knowledge
production about the dynamics between Baldwin’s ideas, art, personal
life, and public roles. The conclusion of this review essay heralds the future
of biographical research in Baldwin Studies. It also proposes two new narratives
about Baldwin: a chronicle of his responses to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation’s surveillance of him and a broader chronicle of his
responses to Cold War conservatism.
This chapter provides a consideration of London's role in the global film industry and its status as a production centre for Hollywood tentpole blockbusters. It addresses a series of questions: beyond being an impressive piece of genre spectacle, what does this scene have to tell us about the intersecting industrial, political-economic and cultural factors that shape the production of high-budget franchise films in the UK? What are the qualities and affordances of such spatially dynamic set pieces, and how do they relate to questions of industry, genre, aesthetics and politics? And how might we place this brief but impactful action sequence into the histories of London on screen that have been mapped out by scholars such as Charlotte Brunsdon? Paying attention to production histories, marketing, critical reception and textual analysis, the chapter argues that London’s attraction for the Hollywood studios is a complex mix of financial incentives, institutional arrangements and cultural/aesthetic considerations. London offers filmmakers both difference and familiarity, and a layered, versatile mix of spaces that range from generic global city architecture to highly resonant landmarks. The creative topography of the city in the action sequence is mobilised to create what we might term a kind of ersatz cosmopolitanism: a relatively superficial embodiment of global diversity that engages with ‘foreign’ locations primarily as backdrops for action rather than as rich local cultures. As opposed to focusing on an individual visiting filmmaker, this chapter examines the systemic relationship between Hollywood and the UK and considers the cinematic experience of London that arises from the industrial and cultural dynamics of that relationship.