Bukowski: Poetry for the damned

If we turn to the post-Beat scene of writing from the American West Coast we find many noteworthy literary creatures. The poetry of Charles Bukowski stands in contrast to Houellebecq’s nihilism. Bukowski’s dirty realism pulsates with the same themes as Houellebecq albeit with much more in the way of exuberance. He doesn’t so much languish in complacent affluence as live and breathe the filthier side of life. Bukowski remains an essentially American writer in his unabashed individualism, which serves to complement the reservoir of squalor and misanthropy in his prose. He has no coherent social message to convey only defiant … Continue reading

Ballard: Our need for catastrophes

The cultural revolution of the 1960s had an undeniably profound impact on the people who lived amidst its birth pangs. In 1986 a film crew came to make a short documentary about the writer JG Ballard. In the interview, Ballard pointed out that the world which we inhabit requires a certain amount of oil to make the cogs go around and keep the wheels turning. For Ballard it was sex which played such a role in the 1960s, but now sex is no longer a new frontier and increasingly violence has become the oil which keeps the wheels turning. The … Continue reading

Fighting for freedom in Swaziland

“Victim” is the name that Mphandlana Shongwe – a founding member of Swaziland’s democratic movement, PUDEMO – is commonly known by in the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland. He was given his nickname, after reflecting on his life in Matsapha Central Prison, while awaiting trial for treason in 1990. It was here he started counting the many setbacks he had experienced. He has been expelled from college, been denied a living by the government because of his activism, been arrested on many occasions for trivial “offences” such as shouting “viva PUDEMO” and wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt, and been held in … Continue reading