Richard Seymour is a writer, broadcaster and socialist, raised in Northern Ireland and currently based in London. He is the author of The Liberal Defence of Murder (2008), Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens (2012), and Against Austerity (2014). A contributing editor of Salvage, he also writes for The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and many other publications. He currently presents a programme, ‘Media Review’, for TeleSur, and has previously appeared on BBC, Al Jazeera and C-Span. He is finishing a PhD at the London School of Economics, where he also teaches.
by Richard Seymour
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
– George Orwell
In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.
– Oscar Wilde
Okay, I write overblown, purple, self-indulgent prose. So fucking what?
– Angela Carter
‘All Scripture,’ claims the Book of Timothy, ‘is God-breathed’.
This is not the first myth of divine inspiration of writing. The Sumerian god, Enki, was supposed to have gifted writing to humanity alongside metalwork and woodwork – a telling juxtaposition, that suggests that writing is one of the crafts. The word ‘hieroglyph’ literally translates as ‘writing of the gods’, a reference to the idea that the god Thoth invented script. What these myths suggest is that writing is an obtainment, not an attainment. That writing is sacred, and that there is something in it that goes beyond human purposes – an obverse, a nocturnal side, of the supposed and supposedly ordinary goal of conveying articulate speech in graphic form.
by Richard Seymour
Women, children, and revolutionaries hate irony.
I. Gramsci is supposed to have claimed, in one of his recondite quips, that Marxism is ‘organised sarcasm’.
There is something terribly appealing about the idea of sarcasm, red in tooth and claw, being marshalled into the proletarian side of battle. It is ludic and yet hugely suggestive. And Gramsci certainly withered his opponents nicely when duty demanded it. What would the claim be like if it were true?