Àgnes Lehóczky, Parasite of Town

Ágnes Lehóczky‘s Parasite of Town is a sequence of prose poems written on the city of Sheffield. The poems take a psychogeographical approach in order to explore the urban landscape written from the perspective of a wanderer, an anonymous drifter who strolls in and out of the streets of the city with an uncertain desire and intention to explore the visible and invisible history, the palpable and impalpable architecture, the past and present psyche of the place. These poems intend to drift between the real and the fictitious, the tangible and the imagined.

Ágnes Lehóczky is a Hungarian-born poet and translator who lives in Sheffield. She completed her Masters in English and Hungarian Literature at Pazmany Peter University of Hungary in 2001 and an MA with distinction in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2006. She holds a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from the UEA. She has two short poetry collections in Hungarian, Station X (2000) and Medallion (2002). Her first full collection, Budapest to Babel, was published in 2008. She was the 2009 recipient of the Arthur Welton Poetry Award and the winner of the Daniil Pashkoff Prize 2010 in poetry. She won the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry 2011 of Girton College, Cambridge. Her second collection of poems is to be published in 2011. Her collection of essays on the poetry of Agnes Nemes Nagy Poetry, the Geometry of Living Substance was published in 2011. She wrote a libretto commissioned by Writers’ Centre Norwich for The Voice Project at Norwich Cathedral as part of Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2011. Currently she teaches creative writing at the University of Sheffield.

Source: http://www.city-books.eu/en/artists/p/detail/agnes-lehoczky 

You can read Parasite of Town in English here and in French here.

Parasite Town was written as part of the citybooks project – city portraits in words and images by European writers and artists.

The Sheffield citybooks project is hosted by Dr Henriëtte Louwerse, Senior Lecturer in Dutch at the University of Sheffield.

For the ninth time, the ALCS (Association for Low Countries Studies) is organizing its biennial conference. From Tuesday 3rd until Thursday 5th of April 2012, more than forty academics will present their reflections on the theme ‘Low Countries, Big Cities’.

The theme arises from the participation of The University of Sheffield in the citybooksproject, together with authors Joost Zwagerman, Rebecca Lenaerts, Helen Mort, Ágnes Lehóczky and Abdelkader Benali, photographer David Bocking and cinematographer Dominic Green.

The citybooks will be specially presented on Wednesday 4th of April. Willem Bongers-Dek introduces the project, poets Helen Mort and Ágnes Lehóczky will read their citybooks, followed by readings by four Sheffield students: Charles Macdonald-Jones, Louise Snape, Christine Barningham and Victoria Beardwood. The photos of David Bocking will be exhibited and Dominic Greene, the maker of the city-one-minutes will also be present.

Keynote addresses during the conference will be by Herman Pleij (UvA), Wim Vandenbussche (VUB) and Geert Buelens (UU). For more information visit: http://alcs.group.shef.ac.uk

Organised by: Association for Low Countries Studies (ALCS) and The University of Sheffield with support from the Nederlandse Taalunie (Dutch Language Union) and the Vlaamse Vertegenwoordiging (Flemish Representation in Holland).

Against Value – 23.2.2012

University of Sheffield

Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern
Professor Tim Etchells
Emile Bojesen
and more… followed by discussion

Thursday 23rd February, 2012
7.15 pm
St George’s Church
Free Entry
All are welcome


The current crisis in higher education has required a spirited defence
of the value of the arts and humanities. Likely this defence has not
been sufficient to the task.

Last year, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of
Sheffield staged an event that aimed to articulate, discuss and defend
“The Value of the Arts and Humanities”. We heard about many ways of
valuing and reasons to value an arts and humanities education from a
newspaper columnist, a politician, a businessman, a Higher Education
administrator, and an academic critic of Higher Education policy.

This event does not offer a defence. It has not been curated to answer
the denigration of the value of the arts and humanities with a
palatable restatement of their virtues. This event offers a counter
proposition: that the task of the arts and humanities, both in their
creative and educative aspects, is to contest, to challenge, to
question, to undermine, to satirise, to offend, to violate, to
deconstruct, to degenerate, to critique, to undo, or to suspend
dominant and dominating assumptions of value. The purpose of the arts
and humanities, the purpose of the university, is to think against

Inspired by the exploits of Dada artists refusing the discourse of
reason during the First World War, by the critique of audit cultures,
and of the damaging instrumentalisation of education, this event has
been curated to ask, if not answer, the following: Who owns value? For
whom does value speak? Does value arrest thinking?

The event will hopefully prove the start of a different conversation
about strategies of resistance that channel the resentment and anger of
students and scholars and inspire some of the following: patience and
slow thinking, happiness, negativity, indeterminacy, doubt, punk,
ambivalence, failure, dissonant thinking, dissident imaginations.

Please address any questions to Dr Sam Ladkin at
s.ladkin@sheffield.ac.uk and/or Dr Bob Mckay at R.McKay@sheffield.ac.uk.


Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern

Tim Etchells


What follows is a brief response to the event, The Value of the Arts
and Humanities, as sent to the participants, followed by brief

“As far as I know, nobody has ever founded a university against reason”
– Jacques Derrida, on the “unconditional freedom” of the university.

“Thus Euro-Americans frequently present knowledge to themselves as
though a condition were its reflexivity: one knows things because one
can reflect on why and how one knows.”
– Marilyn Strathern

The name of that is of course money,
and the absurd trust in value is the pattern of
bond and contract and interest – just where
the names are exactly equivalent to the trust
given to them.
Here then is the purity of
pragmatic function:
we give the name of
our selves to our needs.
We want what we are.
– J.H. Prynne, “Sketch for a Financial Theory of the Self”

“Competition generally raises quality”
–       Lord Browne, BP


Justification for education, in particular post-secondary education,
and more specifically justification for post-secondary education in the
arts and humanities, relies on two primary measures: economic benefits
to costs; and value as determined by the discourse of the humanities.
This holds true for the ways in which the arts are justified
politically in the UK. What justification do the arts and humanities
require? Are the arts and humanities, or should the arts and
humanities, be fundamentally opposed to value?

Three responses:

The authority of value: Who has the right to determine value, and for
whom do such values speak? The ever-increasing desire to re-affirm
already magnified hierarchies is at odds with principles of knowledge.
Knowledge works laterally, passed person to person, as much belonging
to the receiver as the giver. It is fundamentally, therefore, generous,
a generosity that is being too easily conscripted into economic models
of accumulation.

The teleology of education: The end-point of education (knowledge)
cannot (must not?) be determined in advance. In part this is a response
to the psychology of commodification and rule by audit. The first is
the expectation that knowledge, too, might prostrate itself for
consumption. Instead should knowledge be understood as in some sense
intractable, finally unknowable. The world provides infinite resistance
to the presumption of a totalizing comprehensibility. The second is
that knowledge should be set against the ever more prevalent logic of
audit cultures.

The teleology of values of audit cultures – closing the loop between
policy (aims) and audit (outcomes) – operates as a feedback loop
against what Marilyn Strathern describes as an “open-ended and
ambiguous enquiry in the most serious sense”. The audit presumes
self-knowledge as the determinant of knowledge. The critique of audit
cultures is the knowledge that a defence of values academics generally
hold dear, trust, “responsibility, opennness about outcomes and
widening of access” (3), might best be achieved by working precisely
against the auditing of those values.

Dada: Dada includes a hugely various set of affiliations amongst
artists and writers working in the first half of the twentieth century.
It was forged in the crisis of the Great War, and was international in
scope. It can be described as an expatriation of people, ideas, and
even the premises of art and language from nationalist and “civilized”
values. Dada’s protest was not only against a system of value, but was
also a refusal to participate within the methodology, the rationality,
that underpinned that system. How might art making today, and forms of
argument, similarly have to refuse to participate on the ground
belonging to a system of values as well as to the values themselves?