“Toward a Theory of the Megatext” Forthcoming in Scale in Literature and Culture

“Toward a Theory of the Megatext: Speculative Criticism and Richard Grossman’s ‘Breeze Avenue Working Paper,'” the first essay of from a new project on what I have been calling megatexts, will appear in Scale in Literature and Culture, edited by Michael Tavel Clarke and David Wittenberg. The collection of essays will be published by Palgrave Macmillan and will hopefully come out later this year. More information to come.

Beginning of the Semester Links, Spring 2017

Nuclear and Environment

Stephen Hawking, “This Is the Most Dangerous Time for Our Planet.”

Andrew Bast, “Unpredictable,” review of Nuclear Politics: The Strategic Causes of Nuclear Proliferation, by By Nuno P. Monteiro and Alexandre Debs.

Joe Romm, “Priebus Confirms That Climate Denial Will Be the Official Policy of Trump’s Administration.”

Natasha Geiling, “Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Deletes Accurate Climate Science from Agency Webpage.”

Madeline Conway, “Trump Threatens to Upend US Nuclear Weapons Policy.”

Sam Stein, “Trump Releases Letter From Putin Amid Talk Of Nuclear Arms Race.”

Robinson Meyer, “Human Extinction Isn’t That Unlikely.”

John F. Harris and Brian Bender, “Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?”

And Pieter Lemmens and Yuk Hui, “Apocalypse, Now! Peter Sloterdijk and Bernard Stiegler on the Anthropocene.”

 

Obama

Ta-NehisiCoates, “My President Was Black.”

Barack Obama, “Last Letter to the American People.”

Cornel West, “Pity the Sad Legacy of Barack Obama.”

And Michiko Kakutani, “Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books.”

 

Trump

Zadie Smith, “On Optimism and Despair.”

Literary Hub, “A 90-Year-Old John Berger Is Not Surprised by President Trump.”

The Editorial Board of The New York Times, “No Experience, No Problem.”

Masha Gessen, “Russia, Trump, and Flawed Intelligence.”

Democracy Now! “Cornel West on Donald Trump: This is What Neo-Fascism Looks Like.”

“Aftermath: Sixteen Writers on Trump’s America,” including Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz, and others.

Jonathan Lethem, “Diary.”

George Monbiot, “Frightened by Donald Trump? You Don’t Know the Half of It.”

Colleen Flaherty, “Values for the Trump Era.”

Slavoj Žižek, “Donald Trump’s Topsy-Turvy World.”

Alex Ross, “The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming.”

Lorraine Berry, “Umberto Eco on Donald Trump: 14 Ways of Looking at a Fascist.”

Jedediah Purdy, “What I Had Lost Was a Country.”

Mark Sussman, “Trump’s False Choice” and À la recherche du Trump perdu: Political Grief and Looking to the Past.”

Paul Krugman, “Seduced and Betrayed by Donald Trump.”

Dan Sinykin, “Hannukkah and the Apocalypse.”

Yves Smith, “Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and ‘Social Science.'”

Robert Zaretsky, “Lost in Trumpslation: An Interview with Bérengère Viennot.”

Michael Grunwald, “The Victory of ‘No.'”

Anonymous on Trump.

Ilana Novick, “Intelligence Analyst Eviscerates Trump, Russian Influence in His Election and the Media in Epic Tweetstorm.”

Andrew Reynolds, “North Carolina Is No Longer Classified as a Democracy.”

Emad Mirmotahari, “A Letter to Muslims and Jews.”

The New Inquiry annotates a letter to The New York Times staff.

Amy Siskind’s list of subtle changes.

Pussy Riot, “Make America Great Again.”

And River Clegg, “Rant.”

 

National Security State

Anthony Lowenstein, “Hijack: The CIA and Literary Culture.”

 

Economics

Henry Wismayer, “The Crisis of Liberalism, Part I” and “The Crisis of Liberalism, Part II: All Policy, No Power.”

Rob Horning, “The End Is Always Near,” review of Four Futures: Life after Capitalism, by Peter Frase.

Pat Hudson and Keith Tribe, eds., The Contradictions of Capital in the Twenty-First Century: The Piketty Opportunity.

And Larry Elliott,  “World’s Eight Richest People Have Same Wealth as Poorest 50%.”

 

Social Justice

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Now Is the Time to Talk about What We Are Actually Talking About.”

Matt Lees, “What Gamergate Should Have Taught Us about the ‘Alt-Right.'”

Ideas with Paul Kennedy, “The Dangerous Game: Gamergate and the ‘Alt-Right.'”

UpFront, “Slavoj Žižek on ‘Clash of Civilizations.'” (A quite incisive takedown of Žižek on the refugee crisis.)

And Sam Levin, “Arizona Republicans Move to Ban Social Justice Courses and Events at Schools.

 

Hyperarchival

David Foster Wallace Research Group, “Bibliography of Secondary Literature.” (I’m in there twice! though I also have a short review essay that isn’t included.) Also, there is now a David Foster Wallace Society.

Anne Boyer, “Clickbait Thanatos: On the Poetics of Post-Privacy.”

Richard Montgomery, “On UCSC’s Outrageous Mass Destruction of Books.”

Leigh Alexander, “2016: The Year the Internet Became Real.”

Noel Kirkpatrick, “A River of Books Floods a Busy Toronto Street.”

Michael Enright, “Why We Still Need Public Libraries in the Digital Age.”

Leif Weatherby, “The Cybernetic Humanities.”

Josh Chin, “China’s New Tool for Social Control: A Credit Rating for Everything.”

Thomas Rid and Ben Buchanan, “Attributing Cyber Attacks.”

Timelapse Satellite Photos.

“Google Unveils Neural Network with ‘Superhuman’ Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image.”

And Mike Wehner, “CNN Uses Screenshot from Fallout 4 to Show How Russians Hack Things.”

 

Criticism and Theory

Mark Fisher, “On Kubrick, Tarkovsky, and Nolan: An Extract From The Weird And The Eerie” and “Good for Nothing.”

John Doran, Capitalist Realism Author Mark Fisher Dies.”

Fredric Jameson, “Badiou and the French Tradition.”

Jennifer Ruark, “Bait and Switch: How the Physicist Alan Sokal Hoodwinked a Group of Humanists and Why, 20 Years Later, It Still Matters.”

Arne de Boever, ed., “Bernard Stiegler: Amateur Philosophy,” special issue, boundary 2, with essays by Tom Cohen, Claire Colebrook, Alexander R. Galloway and Jason R. LaRivière, Mark B. N. Hansen, and many others. (de Boever’s introduction here.)

Patrick Jagoda, “Videogame Criticism and Games in the Twenty-First Century.”

Andrew Hageman, Timothy Morton, and Jeff VanderMeer, “A Conversation Between Timothy Morton and Jeff VanderMeer.”

Lisa Ruddick, “When Nothing Is Cool.”

Marc Parry, “What’s Wrong with Literary Studies.”

Terry Eagleton, “Structurally Unsound.”

Adam Soboczynski and Alexander Cammann, “Heidegger and Anti-Semitism Yet Again: The Correspondence Between the Philosopher and His Brother Fritz Heidegger Exposed.”

Aku Ammah-Tagoe, Christopher Patrick Miller, and Mande Zecca, “Letters from ‘The Contemporary.'”

 

Literature and Culture

Robert Minto, “A Smuggling Operation: John Berger’s Theory of Art.”

William Deresiewicz, “In Defense of Facts,” review of The Making of the American Essay, The Lost Origins of the Essay, and The Next American Essay, edited by John D’Agata.

Being Human, Dan Kubis, “Interview with Michael Chabon.”

Colson Whitehead on David Bowie, and many others on those who passed in 2016.

Osvaldo Oyola, “Between the World and Wakanda: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther.”

Julie Marie Wade, “The Rumpus Interview with Dawn Lundy Martin.”

Sasha Chapin, “The David Foster Wallace Disease.”

Aaron Bady, Westworld, Race, and the Western.”

Joanna Radin, “Where Nothing Can Possibly Go Worng.”

A. O. Scott, Rogue One Leaves Star Wars Fans Wanting More and Less.”

Dan Hassler-Forest, “Politicizing Star Wars: Anti-Fascism vs. Nostalgia in Rogue One.”

Kate Aronoff, “Star Wars Goes to the Countryside.”

Morgan Leigh Davies, “Art in the Age of Masculinist Hollywood: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land.”

Ian Bogost, “Nintendo’s Sad Struggle for Survival.”

Lana Polansky, “Towards an Art History for Videogames.”

Eric Swain, “The Year in Videogame Blogging.”

Geoff Shullenberger, “The Socialist Singularity.”

Min Hyoung Song, “Monsters Come Home: On Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s Monstress.”

Zero Books, “Michel Houellebecq and The Liar’s Paradox.”

Jeannie Blue, review of Requiem for Hell, by Mono.

Alexander Provan, “Unknown Makers.”

Paul Celan, “From ‘Microliths,'” trans. Pierre Joris.

Rachel Nagelberg, “Two Poems.”

 

Humanities and Higher Education

Jayne Anne Phillips, “Why Teaching (Writing) Matters: A Full Confession.” In Praise (and Defense) of the MFA.

Will Schwalbe, “The Need to Read.”

Kevin Carey, “A Peek Inside the Strange World of Fake Academia.”

And “Professor Drops Lame Ass Class.”

 

Pittsburgh

Jessica Glenza, “Pittsburgh Water: Expensive, Rust-Colored, Corrosive, and High in Lead.”

Brentin Mock, “An Exit Interview with the Woman Who Drove Pittsburgh into the Innovation Age.”

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

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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.

“2015.01” in TXTOBJX

“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

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.