“Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction” in Wide Screen

September 5, 2016

I am pleased to announce that another essay on videogames, “Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction,” just appeared in Wide Screen. The essay is part of a special issue on videogame adaptation, edited by Kevin M. Flanagan, and includes articles by Jedd HakimiCameron KunzelmanKyle MeikleBobby Schweizer, and Kalervo Sinervo. It’s also open access, so anyone can read it.

Abstract: Most critics of contemporary literature have reached a consensus that what was once called “postmodernism” is over and that its signature modes—metafiction and irony—are on the wane. This is not the case, however, with videogames. In recent years, a number of self-reflexive games have appeared, exemplified by Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable(2013), an ironic game about games. When self-awareness migrates form print to screen, however, something happens. If metafiction can be characterized by how it draws attention to its materiality—the artificiality of language and the construction involved in acts of representation—The Stanley Parable draws attention to the digital, procedural materiality of videogames. Following the work of Alexander R. Galloway and Ian Bogost, I argue that the self-reflexivity of The Stanley Parable is best understood in terms of action and procedure, as metaproceduralism. This essay explores the legacies of United States metafiction in videogames, suggesting that though postmodernism might be over, its lessons are important to remember for confronting the complex digital realities of the twenty-first century. If irony may be ebbing in fiction, it has found a vital and necessary home in videogames and we underestimate its power to challenge the informatic, algorithmic logic of cultural production in the digital age to our detriment.


“2016.01,” “2016.19,” and “2016.23” in Masque & Spectacle

August 31, 2016

“2016.01,” “2016.19,” and “2016.23,” poems from my ongoing sonnet sequence, are in Masque & Spectacle.


“The Function of Videogame Criticism” in the b2 Review

August 3, 2016

I have just published a review of Ian Bogost’s How to Talk about Videogames (2015),“The Function of Videogame Criticism,” in The b2 ReviewThe review signals a slightly new direction in my work–toward game studies–and will be the first of three pieces of videogame criticism that will appear in 2016. I have been teaching games for the past few years, so I am excited to be writing about them now.


“2015.01” in TXTOBJX

July 28, 2016

“2015.01,” a poem from my ongoing sonnet sequence, was just published in TXTOBJX. The journal, edited by Andrew Kiraly, publishes what it calls “text objects,” which are “pieces of automatic fictoidal writing produced in one or two sessions.” A text object will be up on the site for a few days and then “the text object sinks into the shuffle and is accessible only randomly via the ‘nxtobjx’ link.” You can read more about the journal here.


Geologies of Finitude: The Deep Time of Twenty-First-Century Catastrophe in Don DeLillo’s Point Omega and Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia

July 15, 2016

Geologies of Finitude: The Deep Time of Twenty-First-Century Catastrophe in Don DeLillo’s Point Omega and Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia

I am pleased to report that my essay, “Geologies of Finitude: The Deep Time of Twenty-First-Century Catastrophe in Don DeLillo’s Point Omega and Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia,” was just published in the most recent issue of Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction. This essay has been in the works for some time, and I am happy to see it emerge into the light of day.

An abstract: The twenty-first century has seen a transformation of twentieth-century narrative and historical discourse. On the one hand, the cold war national fantasy of mutually assured destruction has multiplied, producing a diverse array of apocalyptic visions. On the other, there has been an increasing sobriety about human finitude, especially considered in the light of emerging discussions about deep time. This essay argues that Don DeLillo’s Point Omega (2010) and Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) make strong cases for the novel’s continuing ability to complicate and illuminate contemporaneity. Written in the midst of the long and disastrous United States incursions in the Middle East, DeLillo and Negarestani raise important political questions about the ecological realities of the War on Terror. Each novel acknowledges that though the catastrophic present cannot be divorced from the inevitable doom at the end of the world, we still desperately need to imagine something else.

 


Mid-Summer Links 2016

June 27, 2016

Nuclear and Environment

Naomi Klein, “Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World.”

Aamna Mohdin, “Fearing a Nuclear Terror Attack, Belgium Is Giving Iodine Pills to Its Entire Population.”

Annabell Shark, “MoMA, The Bomb and the Abstract Expressionists.”

Alex Wellerstein, “The Demon Core and the Strange Death of Louis Slotin.”

Lake Chad disappearing over the past fifty years.

Continent 5.2.

And RDS-37 Soviet hydrogen bomb test (1955).

 

US and International Politics

Glenn Greenwald, “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.

Slavoj Žižek, “Could Brexit Breathe New Life into Left-Wing Politics?”

John Oliver on Brexit.

Dan Sinykin, “Trump and the End Times.”

The editors of Salvage, “Lèse-Evilism: On the US Election Season.”

Peter E. Gordon, “The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump.”

8-Bit Philosophy, “Is Trump Really a Fascist?”

Thoughts and Prayers: The Game.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “The Cynical Sit-In.”

Lyman Stone, “Could eNationalism Be a Thing.”

Lynn Vavreck, “American Anger: It’s Not Politics. It’s the Other Party.”

Elizabeth Drew, “Trump: The Haunting Question.”

Andrew Sullivan, “Democracies End when They Are  Too Democratic.”

Jodi Dean, Crowds and Party.

Derek Thompson, “Donald Trump and the Twilight of White America.”

Jennifer Sabin, “The Newly Emboldened American Racist.”

Cory Doctorow, Second Life‘s Trump Army Lays Siege to Bernie Sanders’s Virtual HQ with Swastika Cannons.”

Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad, “White People Have No Place in Black Liberation.”

Amanda Gross, “A Resurrection Vision.”

Maltz Bovy, “Checking Privilege Checking.”

Gennetta M. Adams, “Prince Wrote a Slow Jam about Donald Trump and It Is Glorious.”

Larry Wilmore’s Remarks at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

The Dandy Goat, New York Times Sure This the Biting Editorial to Sink Trump for Good.”

And ?.

 

National Security State

Jenna McLaughlin, “Spy Chief Complains That Edward Snowden Sped Up Spread of Encryption by 7 Years.”

Sadie Levy Gayle, “CIA ‘Mistakenly’ Destroys Copy of 6,700-page US Torture Report.”

CIA Undercover, “This Former CIA Officer’s Secret Life Taught Her One Lesson: Listen to Your Enemy.”

 

Hyperarchival

Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, David Golumbia, “Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities.”

Adam Crymble, “Digital Hubris, Digital Humility.”

Matthew Kirschenbaum, “Am I a Digital Humanist? Confessions of a Neoliberal Tool.”

Jonathan Basile, Library of Babel and “Putting Borges’s Infinite Library on the Internet.”

All of Pynchon Notes has been archived and is available online.

Martin John Callanan, Alberto Toscano, Sarah Brouillette, and Tom Eyers, “Paranoid Subjectivity and the Challenges of Cognitive Mapping – How is Capitalism to be Represented?”

David Weinberger, “Rethinking Knowledge in the Internet Age.”

Amanda Petrusich, “Why Record Stores Mattered.”

Alan Liu, drafts for Against the Cultural Singularity.

Tim Peters, “Emojis, Comics, and the Novel of the Future.”

Paul Miller, “What Is LitRPG and Why Does It Exist?”

Houman Barekat, “The Internet-y Novel.”

Brian Ang, Theory Arsenal.

Annalee Newitz, “Movie Written by Algorithm Turns Out to Be Hilarious and Intense.”

Aja Romano, “A Guy Trained a Machine to ‘Watch’ Blade Runner.”

Jeff Guo, “I Have Found a New Way to Watch TV, and It Changes Everything.”

Parody of TED Talks.

And watch an artificial intelligence learn how to play Super Mario World live.

 

Literature and Culture

Alain Badiou, “Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art.”

Carrie Battan, “Beyoncé’s Lemonade Is a Revelation of Spirit.”

Kitty Empire, “Beyoncé: Lemonade Review – Furious Glory of a Woman Scorned.”

Molly Fischer, “Think Gender Is a Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank for That.”

Mark Sussman, “Butler, Speech, and the Campus.”

Ben Lerner, from The Hatred of Poetry.

Marjorie Perloff, “Old Possum’s Nest: A Second Look at the Poetry of T. S. Eliot.”

Carolyn Kellogg, “A Rare Interview with Don DeLillo, One of the Titans of American Fiction” and “Don DeLillo’s Deep Freeze: Zero K Takes on Death, Futurists and Cryonics.”

Crystal Alberts, ed., “Don DeLillo,” special issueOrbit.

Nick Ripatrazone, “On Don DeLillo’s Deep Italian-American Roots.”

Reza Negarestani, “What Is Philosophy? Part One: Axioms and Programs” and “What Is Philosophy? Part Two: Programs and Realizabilities.”

Eileen Joy, “The Boy Who Couldn’t Change the World: An Open Letter to Verso Books and The New Press.”

Carl Straumsheim, “All Rights Reserved.”

Steve Berliner, “What’s Wrong with the Aaron Swartz Book.”

Joe Fassler, The Lorax and Literature’s Moral Obligation,” interview with Lydia Millet.

Emily Harnett, “How the Best Commencement Speech of All Time Was Bad for Literature.”

Sam Levine, “David Foster Wallace’s Famous Commencement Speech Almost Didn’t Happen.”

Daniel Dixon, review of The Unspeakable Failure of David Foster Wallace, by Clare Hayes-Brady.

Mark Wollaeger, rejected review of The Limits of Critique, by Rita Felski.

Ning Ken, “Modern China Is So Crazy It Needs a New Literary Genre.”

Joshua Rigsby, “Internet User Cory Doctorow,” interview with Cory Doctorow.

Liesl Schillinger, “Multilingual Wordsmiths, Part 1: Lydia Davis and Translationese.”

boundary 2, “Announcing b20: An Online Journal.”

Katie Fitzpatrick, “Beyond Cool,” review of Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction, by Lee Konstantinou.

Maggie Doherty, “After Irony,” review of Cool Characters and Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism, by Rachel Greenwald-Smith.

Lee Konstantinou, Fartcopter Has the Answer.”

Gregory Jones-Katz, “How Should We Study Deconstruction?”

McKenzie Wark, “Make Kith not Kin!”

“John Ashbery with Jarrett Earnest.”

Aaron Bady, Daredevil and the Problem of Not Bad.”

Timothy Aubry, review of Workshops of Empire, by Eric Bennett.

Elizabeth Helsinger, review of Theory of Lyric, by Jonathan Culler.

Tom Eyers, Speculative Formalism: Literature, Theory, and the Critical Present.

Verso Podcast, “Walter Benjamin: The Storyteller.”

Jose Cardoso, The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer Is an Insightful Look at the Work of a Key Voice in Gaming,” review of The Game World of Jason Rohrer, by Patrick Jagoda and Michael Maizels.

G. D. Dess, “What Happened to Purity?: Jonathan Franzen and the Aspirations and Disappointments of a Contract Writer.”

Boris Kachka, “‘I Just Don’t Find American Literature Interesting’: Lit-Blog Pioneer Jessa Crispin Closes Bookslut, Does Not Bite Tongue.”

Leora Fridman, “Unregulated Glamor,” review of The Pulp vs. the Throne, by Carrie Lorig.

Theodore Gioia, “Changing the Game: Game of Thrones Rewrites the Rules of Modern TV.”

Rowan Keiser, “In Conclusion, Game of Thrones Is a Franchise of Contrasts.”

Vinson Cunningham, “Budweiser and the Selling of America.”

Lester Spence, “The Other Game Seven.”

Dan O’Sullivan, “Breaking Cleveland’s Curse.”

Schuyler Chapman, “Will This Kill That?: Henry James, the Representational Arts, and New Media (Part 1).”

Amanda Reed, “Black Art Matters: Pitt Founds Center on Black Poetry.”

Alexander Provan, “Getting Closer to the Source” and “A Note on Standard Evaluation Materials.”

Matthew Kelly, “I Can’t Take This: Dark Souls, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Networks.”

MLYNXQUALEY, “It’s Pub Day: 5 Reasons to Read Basma Abdel Aziz’s Terrifying, Hopeful, Dystopic Fantasy The Queue.”

Warren Ellis, Normal.

Charles Yu, “Fable.”

Nina Sabak,  “Language Arts for the Gifted Child.”

Chuck Kinder, The Silver Ghost.

Jonathan Moody, “Against Blinders.”

And Ken Burns, “2016 Stanford Commencement Address.”

 

Humanities and Higher Education

Alan Burdziak, “University of Missouri Expected to No Longer Allow Protest on Campus.”

Barbara J. King, “Resisting The Corporate University: What It Means To Be A ‘Slow Professor.'”

Emma Vossen, “Publish or Perish: What If We Perished?”

Hamilton Nolan, “The Horrifying Reality of the Academic Job Market.”

Stephen Milder, “The Elephant in the Seminar Room: Should the PhD Be Saved?”

David Perlmutter, “Academic Job Hunts from Hell.”

Chad Wellmon, “Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in an Age of Disenchantment.”

Irina Popescu, “The Educational Power of Discomfort.”

Kim Brooks, “Death to High School English.”

Meghan Duffy, “You Do Not Need to Work 80 Hours a Week to Succeed in Academia.”

Curt Rice, “Why Women Leave Academia and Why Universities Should Be Worried.”

Chris Lehmann, “Blame It on Higher Ed.”

Colleen Flaherty, “Refusing to Be Measured.”

Being Human, podcast of the University of Pittsburgh’s Year of the Humanities.

Carl Straumsheim, “Leave It in the Bag.”

Robin Lee Moser, “I Would Rather Do Anything Else than Grade Your Papers.”

John Minichillo, “What Your Professor’s Remarks on Your College English Paper Really Mean.”

And Existential Comics, “Epictetus Was a Hardass Professor.”

 

Pittsburgh and Tucson

Ed Simon, “Hell with the Lid Taken Off: A Pittsburgh Reading List.”

Tucson named only US World City of Gastronomy.

And Bartholomew Q. Kryzinski, “Pittsburgh, In Theory: The Transportation Imaginary.”


Critical Game Studies Syllabus

June 10, 2016

With the aid of a Course Development Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Studies, this past year I had the chance to develop a new course at the University of Pittsburgh, ENGLIT 1002 Critical Game Studies. As I may not likely get to teach this course anytime soon, I thought I would share the syllabus.

The course’s reading includes Tom Bissel’s Extra Lives (2010), Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming (2006), Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure (2013), McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory (2007), and many interesting critical essays on play, narratology v. ludology, gender, empire, countergaming, and other related concerns. The majority of games on the syllabus are quite recent, and indie games in particular dominate, including (but not limited to): Between (2008), Braid (2008), Depression Quest (2013), Goat Simulator (2014), Papers, Please (2014), Sunset (2015), and The Stanley Parable (2013).