The Code Edition

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There is a physicality to the way we record things – a place for memory – that appears in code; we call this language. It is learnt through sight, touch, sound, and is arguably site specific. “The narratives respond directly to the land, as the land responds directly to the… stories”, writes David Abram in his seminal book on language and nature, The Spell of the Sensuous. This edition posits four place-specific narratives that speak to us in code. What language can we summon from them? In ‘Scroll: a photo essay’, Allan Harkness steers us along a journey in a terrain familiar to him – China -, of a series of signs and symbols caught in the lens, that suggest an obtuse, possibly unfamiliar dialogue. Harkness’ meticulous essay resonates with a sparse, elegant luminosity, and merits from close observation. Trinidadian poet Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné’s code is more animalistic, more savage. NLP was struck by the visceral female voice she presented us with in her poetry; a code of blood, flesh, the moon, bones, mouths, touch and found feelings. In her first short collection for NLP, ‘The Wild Thing Is Always Near’, nature is possessed; sex is a shapeshifter; “sometimes, there is blood/ in your throat when you wake”. Katy Karpfinger confronts the social codes broken by the protagonist of Steve McQueen’s new film Shame, with Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. In her review ‘Real Sex in the City’, Karpfinger views a character restricted and driven into danger by his own addictions. She finds, amongst the barriers of codes and controls, a very human story, and enjoys the objectivity of McQueen’s camera. NLP regular Andrew McCallum Crawford regales us in his distinct voice with the short story ‘One Absorbent Parasite Per Song’, in which his crossword-loving protagonist aches to be lost in code; away from his fearsome ex-pat acquaintances, in a bar on the seafront where people have the “same problems, same bullshit, but they spoke Greek so fast he couldn’t understand a word”.

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