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Showing posts from October, 2019

Wrestling with the Devil by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

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This review was first published in the Fall 2018 issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books. (I have kept the page references in that are provided for the Rain Taxi copyeditors, but which are cut from the printed version.)

At the end of December 1977, police arrived at the home of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in Limuru, Kenya. He was sent to the Kamĩtĩ Maximum Security Prison under a detention order signed by the Minister for Home Affairs, Daniel arap Moi. He had no right to a lawyer, there was no trial, there was no sentence. For two weeks, no-one outside the government and police forces, including his family, knew where he was, or even if he was still alive. (Later, family visits were occasionally permitted, but they were rare and extremely short.) He could be detained for a day or for the rest of his life, his access to any news of the outside world severely restricted, his recourse to anything resembling due process limited to brief appearances before biannual review tribunals that might as well have…

Rob Zombie and the Cinema of Cruelty

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I have discovered that links to the video and text essays I created some years ago for Press Play and Indiewire no longer work, so I am going to begin archiving them here. Since it's October, I'll start with a couple of horror and Halloween-themed pieces. Since Rob Zombie has a new movie out this month, and Willow Catelyn Maclay has just published what seems to me a significant look at the attraction of Zombie's films (a better essay than my own work here), this seems like a good piece to start the archival process with...

CINEMAS OF CRUELTY!
Press Play, October 2013

The feature films that Rob Zombie has made between 2000 and 2013 create new styles of emotional and perceptual disturbance from the corpses of cultural products past. True to his name, Zombie reanimates dead tropes, turns, and troubles into powerful attacks on our expectations and desires.

By summoning the spirit of previous movies, particularly, Zombie encourages us to think we are watching a familiar pat…