The poet Stéphane Mallarmé famously wrote, 'everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book’. He never managed to achieve Le Livre as the multi-volume tome, or the performance that would usher in a new age for which he left numerous notes, but in the process, he transformed the understanding and practice of writing and became a source of radical aesthetic practice for thinkers including Julia Kristeva, Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou.
We return to Mallarmé at a time when the book as codex and repository is challenged by the dispersal of the digital internet, and when ‘book performance’ has become a characteristic mode of art practice with invited guests:
Tom McCarthy (novelist, essayist, artist) who read from his novel Satin Island and discuss Mallarmé’s text ‘Conflict’.
Josh Cohen who read Mallarmé’s prose texts.
Michael Newman who discussed the film by Daniel Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Toute revolution est un coup de dés (1977).
Sophie Sleigh-Johnson who gave a performance and discuss crypt-radio and the radio play ‘Igitur Flotsam’ by Reinier van Houdt (2017).
The audience participated throughout in readings of Mallarmé’s poems and prose texts.
The Maladies of the Book series is organised and run by Josh Cohen and Professor Michael Newman as a joint initiative between the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought and the Art Research Programme at Goldsmiths. Sessions were held at the ICA.