Why should we have to “Keep Calm and Carry On”? In this brilliant polemical rampage, Owen Hatherley shows how our past is being resold in order to defend the indefensible. From the marketing of a “make do and mend” aesthetic to the growing nostalgia for a utopian past that never existed, a cultural distraction scam prevents people grasping the truth of their condition. The Ministry of Nostalgia explodes the creation of a false history: a rewriting of the austerity of the 1940s and 1950s, which saw the development of a welfare state while the nation crawled out of the devastations of war. This period has been recast to explain and offer consolation for the violence of neoliberalism, an ideology dedicated to the privatisation of our common wealth. In coruscating prose—with subjects ranging from Ken Loach’s documentaries, Turner Prize–shortlisted video art, London vernacular architecture, and Jamie Oliver’s cooking—Hatherley issues a passionate challenge to the injunction to keep calm and carry on. From the Hardcover edition.
Why should we have to "Keep Calm and Carry On"? In this brilliant polemical rampage, Owen Hatherley shows how our past is being resold in order to defend the indefensible. From the marketing of a "make do and mend" aesthetic to the growing nostalgia for a utopian past that never existed, a cultural distraction scam prevents people grasping the truth of their condition. The Ministry of Nostalgia explodes the creation of a false history: a rewriting of the austerity of the 1940s and 1950s, which saw the development of a welfare state while the nation crawled out of the devastations of war. This period has been recast to explain and offer consolation for the violence of neoliberalism, an ideology dedicated to the privatisation of our common wealth. In coruscating prose--with subjects ranging from Ken Loach's documentaries, Turner Prize-shortlisted video art, London vernacular architecture, and Jamie Oliver's cooking--Hatherley issues a passionate challenge to the injunction to keep calm and carry on. From the Hardcover edition.
Why should we have to Keep Calm and Carry On ? In this brilliant polemical rampage, Owen Hatherley shows how our past is being resold in order to defend the indefensible. From the marketing of a make do and mend aesthetic to the growing nostalgia for a utopian past that never existed, a cultural distraction scam prevents people grasping the truth of their condition. " The Ministry of Nostalgia" explodes the creation of a false history: a rewriting of the austerity of the 1940s and 1950s, which saw the development of a welfare state while the nation crawled out of the devastations of war. This period has been recast to explain and offer consolation for the violence of neoliberalism, an ideology dedicated to the privatisation of our common wealth. In coruscating prose with subjects ranging from Ken Loach s documentaries, Turner Prize shortlisted video art, London vernacular architecture, and Jamie Oliver s cooking Hatherley issues a passionate challenge to the injunction to keep calm and carry on."
Author: Owen Hatherley
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing
Militant Modernism is a defence against Modernism's many detractors. It looks at design, film and architecture - especially architecture — and pursues the notion of an evolved modernism that simply refuses to stop being necessary. Owen Hatherley gives us new ways to look at what we thought was familiar — Bertolt Brecht, Le Corbusier, even Vladimir Mayakovsky. Through Hatherley's eyes we see all of the quotidian modernists of the 20th century - lesser lights, too — perhaps understanding them for the first time. Whether we are looking at Britain's brutalist aesthetics, Russian Constructivism, or the Sexpol of Wilhelm Reich, the message is clear. There is no alternative to Modernism.
'In the craven world of architectural criticism Hatherley is that rarest of things: a brave, incisive, elegant and erudite writer, whose books dissect the contemporary built environment to reveal the political fantasies and social realities it embodies' Will Self During the course of the twentieth century, communism took power in Eastern Europe and remade the city in its own image. Ransacking the urban planning of the grand imperial past, it set out to transform everyday life, its sweeping boulevards, epic high-rise and vast housing estates an emphatic declaration of a non-capitalist idea. Now, the regimes that built them are dead and long gone, but from Warsaw to Berlin, Moscow to post-Revolution Kiev, the buildings, their most obvious legacy, remain, populated by people whose lives were scattered and jeopardized by the collapse of communism and the introduction of capitalism. Landscapes of Communism is an intimate history of twentieth-century communist Europe told through its buildings; it is, too, a book about power, and what power does in cities. In exploring what that power was, Hatherley shows how much we can understand from surfaces - especially states as obsessed with surface as the Soviets were. Walking through these landscapes today, Hatherley discovers how, in contrast to the common dismissal of 'monolithic' Soviet architecture, these cities reflect with disconcerting transparency the development of an idea over the decades, with its sharp, sudden zigzags of official style: from modernism to classicism and back; to the superstitious despotic rococo of high Stalinism, with its jingoistic memorials, palaces and secret policemen's castles; East Germany's obsession with prefabricated concrete panels; and the metro systems of Moscow and Prague, a spectacular vindication of public space that went further than any avant garde ever dared. But most of all, Landscapes of Communism is a revelatory journey of discovery, plunging us into the maelstrom of socialist architecture. As we submerge into the metros, walk the massive, multi-lane magistrale and pause at milk bars in the microrayons, who knows what we might find?
Nearly thirty years after the fall of the USSR, the word "Soviet" should be as meaningless by now as "Hapsburg" or "Hohenzollern". Strangely, though, it endures, as places both inside and outside the former Soviet Union define themselves for or against what happened when it existed. But does that experience mean anything today, or is it just an enormous cul-de-sac? This book tries to find out, through an itinerary that goes from the Baltic to Belarus, from Ukraine to the Urals, from the Caucasus to Central Asia, and in cities that range from nuclear new towns of the Fifties to gleaming new capitals of the 21st century. In this Eurasian post-Soviet space, we try to find the continuities with Communism - if there are any - and the remnants of revolutions both distant and recent. Instead of a wistful journey through ruins, this intends to be an engaged travelogue, a subjective, personal Marxist Humanist guidebook to somewhere that actually exists, but which is constantly haunted by what it didn't become, whether a real Communist utopia or a successful or fair capitalism. In the course of this transcontinental account of what used to be the Soviet Union and is now a patchwork of EU democracies, neoliberal dictatorships and Soviet nostalgic enclaves (often found in the same countries) we might just find the outlines of a way of building cities that is a powerful alternative, both in the past and present.
Author: Owen Hatherley
Publisher: Penguin UK
Over the past twenty years European cities have become the envy of the world: a Kraftwerk Utopia of historic centres, supermodernist concert halls, imaginative public spaces and futuristic egalitarian housing estates which, interconnected by high-speed trains traversing open borders, have a combination of order and pleasure which is exceptionally unusual elsewhere. In Trans-Europe Express, Owen Hatherley sets out to explore the European city across the entire continent, to see what exactly makes it so different to the Anglo-Saxon norm - the unplanned, car-centred, developer-oriented spaces common to the US, Ireland, UK and Australia. Attempting to define the European city, Hatherley finds a continent divided both within the EU and outside it.
With U.S.–Iran relations at a thirty-year low, Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd dared to take his young family on a year-long sojourn in Tehran. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay traces their domestic adventures and closely tracks the political drama of a terrible year for Iran's government. It was an annus horribilis for Iran's Supreme Leader. The Green Movement had been crushed, but the regime was on edge, anxious lest democratic protests resurge. International sanctions were dragging down the economy while talk of war with the West grew. Hooman Majd was there for all of it. A new father at age fifty, he decided to take his blonde, blue-eyed Midwestern yoga instructor wife Karri and his adorable, only-eats-organic infant son Khash from their hip Brooklyn neighborhood to spend a year in the land of his birth. It was to be a year of discovery for Majd, too, who had only lived in Iran as a child. The book opens ominously as Majd is stopped at the airport by intelligence officers who show him a four-inch thick security file about his books and journalism and warn him not to write about Iran during his stay. Majd brushes it off—but doesn't tell Karri—and the family soon settles in to the rituals of middle class life in Tehran: finding an apartment (which requires many thousands of dollars, all of which, bafflingly, is returned to you when you leave), a secure internet connection (one that persuades the local censors you are in New York) and a bootlegger (self-explanatory). Karri masters the head scarf, but not before being stopped for mal-veiling, twice. They endure fasting at Ramadan and keep up with Khash in a country weirdly obsessed with children. All the while, Majd fields calls from security officers and he and Karri eye the headlines—the arrest of an American "spy," the British embassy riots, the Arab Spring—and wonder if they are pushing their luck. The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay is a sparkling account of life under a quixotic authoritarian regime that offers rare and intimate insight into a country and its people, as well as a personal story of exile and a search for the meaning of home.
New York Times Best Seller Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Amazon, Kirkus, The Washington Post, Newsday, and the Hudson Group A dazzling, richly moving new novel by the internationally celebrated author of The God of Small Things The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent—from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love—and by hope. The tale begins with Anjum—who used to be Aftab—unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her—including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo’s landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi. As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
Author: John Boughton
Publisher: Verso Books
A narrative history of council housing—from slums to the Grenfell Tower Urgent, timely and compelling, Municipal Dreams brilliantly brings the national story of housing to life. In this landmark reappraisal of council housing, historian John Boughton presents an alternative history of Britain. Rooted in the ambition to end slum living, and the ideals of those who would build a new society, Municipal Dreams looks at how the state’s duty to house its people decently became central to our politics. The book makes it clear why that legacy and its promise should be defended. Traversing the nation in this comprehensive social, political and architectural history of council housing, Boughton offers a tour of some of the best and most remarkable of our housing estates—some happily ordinary, some judged notorious. He asks us to understand their complex story and to rethink our prejudices. His accounts include extraordinary planners and architects who wished to elevate working men and women through design; the competing ideologies that have promoted state housing and condemned it; the economic factors that have always constrained our housing ideals; the crisis wrought by Right to Buy; and the evolving controversies around regeneration. Boughton shows how losing the dream of good housing has weakened our community and hurt its most vulnerable—as was seen most catastrophically in the fire at Grenfell Tower.
Author: Gary Cross
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. For many of us, modern memory is shaped less by a longing for the social customs and practices of the past or for family heirlooms handed down over generations and more by childhood encounters with ephemeral commercial goods and fleeting media moments in our age of fast capitalism. This phenomenon has given rise to communities of nostalgia whose members remain loyal to the toys, television, and music of their youth. They return to the theme parks and pastimes of their upbringing, hoping to reclaim that feeling of childhood wonder or teenage freedom. Consumed nostalgia took definite shape in the 1970s, spurred by an increase in the turnover of consumer goods, the commercialization of childhood, and the skillful marketing of nostalgia. Gary Cross immerses readers in this fascinating and often delightful history, unpacking the cultural dynamics that turn pop tunes into oldies and childhood toys into valuable commodities. He compares the limited appeal of heritage sites such as Colonial Williamsburg to the perpetually attractive power of a Disney theme park and reveals how consumed nostalgia shapes how we cope with accelerating change. Today nostalgia can be owned, collected, and easily accessed, making it less elusive and often more fun than in the past, but its commercialization has sometimes limited memory and complicated the positive goals of recollection. By unmasking the fascinating, idiosyncratic character of modern nostalgia, Cross helps us better understand the rituals of recall in an age of fast capitalism.
I'm Not with the Band
Author: Sylvia Patterson
This is a three-decade survivor's tale ... a scenic search for elusive human happiness through music, magazines, silly jokes, stupid shoes, useless blokes, hopeless homes, booze, drugs, love, loss, A&E, death, disillusion and hope - while trying to make Prince laugh, startle Beyoncé, cheer Eminem up, annoy Madonna, drink with Shaun Ryder and finish off Westlife forever (with varying degrees of success). In 1986, Sylvia Patterson boarded a train to London armed with a tea-chest full of vinyl records, a peroxide quiff and a dream: to write about music, for ever. She got her wish. Escaping a troubled home, Sylvia embarks on a lifelong quest to discover The Meaning of It All. The problem is she's mostly hanging out with flaky pop stars, rock 'n' roll heroes and unreliable hip-hop legends. As she encounters music's biggest names, she is confronted by glamour and tragedy; wisdom and lunacy; drink, drugs and disaster. And Bros. Here is Madonna in her Earth Mother phase, flinging her hands up in horror at one of Sylv's Very Stupid Questions. Prince compliments her shoes while Eminem threatens to kill her. She shares fruit with Johnny Cash, make-up with Amy Winehouse and several pints with the Manics' lost soul-man Richey Edwards. She finds the Beckhams fragrant in LA, a Gallagher madferrit in her living room and Shaun Ryder and Bez as you'd expect, in Jamaica. From the 80s to the present day, I'm Not with the Band is a funny, barmy, utterly gripping chronicle of the last thirty years in music and beyond. It is also the story of one woman's wayward search for love, peace and a wonderful life. And whether, or not, she found them.
Author: Susan Bennett
In this trenchant work, Susan Bennett examines the authority of the past in modern cultural experience and the parameters for the reproduction of the plays. She addresses these issues from both the viewpoints of literary theory and theatre studies, shifting Shakespeare out of straightforward performance studies in order to address questions about his plays and to consider them in the context of current theoretical debates on historiography, post-colonialism and canonicity.
An anatomy of failed-state Britain, by the author of A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain. In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley skewered New Labour’s architectural legacy in all its witless swagger. Now, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he sets out to describe what the Coalition’s altogether different approach to economic mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the places where the British live. In a journey that begins and ends in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, by way of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. Everywhere outside the unreal Southeast, the building has stopped in towns and cities, which languish as they wait for the next bout of self-defeating austerity. Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression about the disarray of modern Britain, and yet this remains a book about possibilities remembered, about unlikely successes in the midst of seemingly inexorable failure. For as well as trash, ancient and modern, Hatherley finds signs of the hopeful country Britain once was and hints of what it might become.
Author: James Meek
Publisher: Verso Books
“The essential public good that Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and now Cameron sell is not power stations, or trains, or hospitals. It’s the public itself. it’s us.” In a little over a generation the bones and sinews of the British economy – rail, energy, water, postal services, municipal housing – have been sold to remote, unaccountable private owners, often from overseas. In a series of brilliant portraits the award-winning novelist and journalist James Meek shows how Britain’s common wealth became private, and the impact it has had on us all: from the growing shortage of housing to spiralling energy bills. Meek explores the human stories behind the incremental privatization of the nation over the last three decades. He shows how, as our national assets are sold, ordinary citizens are handed over to private tax-gatherers, and the greatest burden of taxes shifts to the poorest. In the end, it is not only public enterprises that have become private property, but we ourselves. Urgent, powerfully written and deeply moving, this is a passionate anatomy of the state of the nation: of what we have lost and what losing it cost us – the rent we must pay to exist on this private island.