A poem of mine, “One Summer Near Niagara,” was just published in the summer issue of The 2River View. This is an older poem and I’m delighted to finally see it in print. There is also an audio file on the page of me reading the poem, which will play automatically if you are using Chrome, has a button to play if you are using Internet Explorer, and won’t play at all if you’re using Firefox.
Paul Krugman, “Points of No Return.”
Gerry Canavan on “Dystopia, Anti-Utopia, and the End of the World.”
Peter Frase, “Adjusting to the Apocalypse.”
A very interesting piece at Jacobin reflecting on an analogy between abolitionists and environmentalists: Matt Karp, “A Second Civil War.”
Roger Peet, “A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis.”
Martin Lukacs, “New, Privatized African City Heralds Climate Apartheid.”
Julie Beck on John Oliver’s “Statistically Representative Climate Change Debate.”
Brad Plumer, “Five Horrifying Maps of America’s Massive Drought.”
And “Picture This: U.S. Cities Under 12 Feet of Sea Level Rise.” An example:
And Michelle Nijhuis, “How to Laugh at Climate Change.”
NSA and National Security State
Michael Paterniti on Glen Greenwald, “The Man Who Knows Too Much.”
Jason N. Breslow, “How Edward Snowden Leaked ‘Thousands’ of NSA Documents.”
Willie Osterweil, “Hollywood’s Love Affair with Surveillance.”
Ioan Grillo, “How Russia Arms America’s Southern Neighbors.”
US Culture and Literature
Bhaskar Sunkara, “Let’s Embrace the End of Food.”
Anthony Lane reviews Godzilla (2014) in “Big Guy” for The New Yorker.
Matt Seidel, “The Worst Book Review Ever.”
And more from Salon‘s deluge on irony: Laura Miller, “What Hannah Arendt Understood About Irony that David Foster Wallace Didn’t.” (This is an interesting piece, but I continue to not understand why DFW is being yoked into these discussions, esp. in the title [unless it is to generate hits . . .]. Even a brief traipsing through DFW’s work will reveal his deep understanding of laughter and the need for irony–and indeed, from most people I’ve talked to, Infinite Jest and his short fiction and essays produce that rare gift: laughing out loud from reading. At the end of the day this is really an interesting interview with Marie Louise Knott on Arendt, but again the interviewee understands irony better than the people yoking DFW into their conversation: “Media irony is the result of a society, where people are thought of as consumers, while Arendt’s irony is the contrary. She wants to get closer to reality by overcoming her own impediments of thinking.” Wallace’s own use of irony [not what he says about television and media] seems to accomplish something similar. . . .)
And more! A pretty interesting piece on “normcore.” R. Jay Magill, Jr., “Irony, Sincerity, and Normcore: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Foster Wallace, and the End of Rebellion”: “the specialness of individual rebelliousness is over. The cultural power granted to symbols and accouterments of dissent — signs once referring to the bourgeois person’s cheeky, recalcitrant individuality, his or her deep infusion with modernism — only work when they remain in the margins, when they mean something over and against what everyone else is doing.” (There’s something the Frankfurt School said about this . . . and holy moly I miss the 19990s! Oh Wait.)
Andrew Leonard, “Why the ’90s are Literally Disappearing from History.” Well, there goes my youth.
Sarah Charley on Mark Kuse and N. Katherine Hayle’s team-taught class at Duke: “Science Fiction or Science Fact?”
Humanities and Higher Ed
Thomas Frank, “Congratulations Class of 2014: You’re Totally Screwed.”
Colleen Flaherty on the lightning fast dismissal of faculty at Quinnipiac University, “Jobless in Two Days.”
Michael S. Roth, “Young Minds in Critical Condition.”
Jonathan Gatehouse, “American Dumbs Down.”
Tom Nichols, “The Death of Expertise.”
To end on a note of laughter: A history of Europe through student writing. Anders Henrikkson, “A History of the Past: Life Reeked with Joy.”
Michael Robbins has a great piece in this months Harper’s, “Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives: A Poet’s Guide to Metal,” which, in the space of six pages, is able to reference John Milton, Rainer Maria Rilke, Black Sabbath, and Converge. I did not know that could be done. (Even R., who tends to abhor whenever anything loud and screamy even gets near our home’s turntable, enjoyed this piece.) Highlights of the short essay include: quoting a number of lines from William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” and commenting, “sounds pretty metal to me”; describing a Converge show where they “took over that space like a bellowing wooly rhino crashing into a Pleistocene clearing. . . . It’s war music” (a pretty accurate description); and some reflections on metal and capital: “Sometimes I wonder what metal would sound like after capitalism, or whether we would even need metal then. I wonder the same about poetry.”
More DFW stuff. Peter Finocchiaro, “What David Foster Wallace Got Wrong About Irony: Our Culture Doesn’t Have Nearly Enough of It,” which, strangely enough, is actually an interview with Jonathan Lear about irony (rather than an article specifically about DFW’s sense of irony). In my revised version of an essay that will appear in David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing” (forthcoming July 2014), I make some similar points about the need for irony at the present time. That said, Lear seems to have a better handle on Wallace’s specific take on irony from the television essay than Finocchiaro, emphasizing that DFW was both a gifted ironist himself and that, in “E Unibus Pluram,” he is critiquing institutionalized irony, which I think all us post-ironists or new sincerity people would do well to heed, along with Lear’s acknowledgment that irony can actually be a from of earnestness: “There’s a very famous quote from Kierkegaard — or, I don’t know how famous it is, but it’s one of my favorites — where he said, it’s ‘only assistant professors’ who think irony can’t be a form of earnestness. Basically his claim is that irony when properly understood is a very high form of sincerity and earnestness, not its opposite. As he put it, it’s a real misunderstanding of what irony is to think it’s the opposite of earnestness toward commitment.” I feel the earnestness or “sincerity” of irony as it plays out in DFW’s work and thinking has been something that has been overlooked to the detriment of both our understanding of DFW and irony more generally.
Alex C. Madrigal and Adrienne LaFrance, “Net Neutrality: A Guide to (and History of) a Contested Idea.”
Dexter Filkins writes a letter from Iraq in The New Yorker, “What We Left Behind.”
And from the University of Pittsburgh’s great graduate student film blog, Kevin Flanagan on “Introduction to Applied Airport Studies.”
Since this event is being sponsored by the Sprout Fund, I actually just heard a plug for it on Pittsburgh’s local NPR. So I thought it only appropriate to advertise here as well.
I am quite pleased to announce that, for the first time in quite a while, I will be reading some of my poems at Assemble in Pittsburgh, PA on Thursday, 27 March 2014. The reading has been put on by the Hour After Happy Hour Writing Workshop & Journal. Weenta Girmay, Tyson Himes, Jessica McNally, Jason Peck, and one of my former students, Amy Hayes, will also be reading. I am quite looking forward to sharing some of my recent writing with an audience. It has been far too long.