I have just published a review of Ian Bogost’s How to Talk about Videogames (2015),“The Function of Videogame Criticism,” in The b2 Review. The 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.
Geologies of Finitude: The Deep Time of Twenty-First-Century Catastrophe in Don DeLillo’s Point Omega and Reza Negarestani’s CyclonopediaJuly 15, 2016
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. (It is also behind a paywall, but I’d be happy to send it along to anyone who is interested.)
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.
Nuclear and Environment
Annabell Shark, “MoMA, The Bomb and the Abstract Expressionists.”
Alex Wellerstein, “The Demon Core and the Strange Death of Louis Slotin.”
US and International Politics
Slavoj Žižek, “Could Brexit Breathe New Life into Left-Wing Politics?”
Dan Sinykin, “Trump and the End Times.”
The editors of Salvage, “Lèse-Evilism: On the US Election Season.”
8-Bit Philosophy, “Is Trump Really a Fascist?”
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “The Cynical Sit-In.”
Lyman Stone, “Could eNationalism Be a Thing.”
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.”
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.”
National Security State
Sadie Levy Gayle, “CIA ‘Mistakenly’ Destroys Copy of 6,700-page US Torture Report.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Literature and Culture
Alain Badiou, “Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art.”
Carrie Battan, “Beyoncé’s Lemonade Is a Revelation of Spirit.”
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.”
Crystal Alberts, ed., “Don DeLillo,” special issue, Orbit.
Nick Ripatrazone, “On Don DeLillo’s Deep Italian-American Roots.”
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
Leora Fridman, “Unregulated Glamor,” review of The Pulp vs. the Throne, by Carrie Lorig.
Vinson Cunningham, “Budweiser and the Selling of America.”
Lester Spence, “The Other Game Seven.”
Dan O’Sullivan, “Breaking Cleveland’s Curse.”
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
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.”
Irina Popescu, “The Educational Power of Discomfort.”
Kim Brooks, “Death to High School English.”
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.”
And Existential Comics, “Epictetus Was a Hardass Professor.”
Pittsburgh and Tucson
And Bartholomew Q. Kryzinski, “Pittsburgh, In Theory: The Transportation Imaginary.”
I just published “An Interview with Jonathan Arac” in the most recent issue of boundary 2. I am honored to have had the chance to interview Arac, who has been such a important mentor to me in so many ways. An even further honor is having the interview appear in an issue with work by Tom Eyers, David Golumbia, McKenzie Wark, and others, along with Bruce Robbins’s interview of Orhan Pamuk and Jeffrey J. Williams’s interview of Wai Chee Dimock. What a fantastic issue.
It has been a very busy past few months, and my links have suffered. But spring break has provided some lovely, unencumbered time, so here are many, many links (futilely) attempting to catch up with what’s been happening in the world. (In the interest of space, I’ve also passed over some of the more visible recent stories.)
Nuclear and Environmental
Paul Krugman, “Republicans’ Climate Change Denial Denial.”
Adrienne LaFrance, “The Chilling Regularity of Mass Extinctions.”
Isabelle Stengers, In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism.
Alex Trembath, “Are You and Upwinger or a Downwinger?”
McKenzie Wark, “Creators of the World Unite,” review of Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, by Cory Doctorow.
Robinson Meyer, “The Decay of Twitter.”
Nicole Dewandre, “The Human Condition and the Black Box Society,” review of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information, by Frank Pasquale.
Will Partin, “When a Videogame World Ends.”
Samantha Hunt, “A Brief History of Books That Do Not Exist.”
Alexander Provan, “The Last Platform.”
Bradford Bailey, “Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise (1963-67).”
James Fallows, “On the Impossibility of Fighting ISIL.”
Paul Mason, “The End of Capitalism Has Begun.”
Graeme Wood, “What ISIS Really Wants.”
Etienne Balibar, “In War.”
Jeffrey Fleishman, “‘Poetry is a witness’ to Suffering Wrought by Syria’s Civil War.”
Neel Ahuja, “Still Ahead Somehow,” review of The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism, by Paul Amar.
Literature and Culture
Charles Simic, “Age of Ignorance.”
David Simpson, “Terror Talk and Political Management.”
Matthew Mullins, “Are We Postcritical?” review of The Limits of Critique, by Rita Felski.
Fred Moten, “On Marjorie Perloff.”
Tameka Cage Connely, “Try Me: Beneath the Art of Terrance Hayes.”
Joshua Mostafa, “The View from Nowhere,” review of Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures, by Aamir R. Mufti, and Born Translated, by Rebecca L. Walkowitz .
David Palumbo-Liu interviews Amitav Ghosh, “The Opium Wars, Neoliberalism, and the Anthropocene.”
October no. 155, “A Questionnaire on Materialisms.”
John Freeman, “Ben Lerner Is Apprehensive.”
Sadie Stein, “Ben Lerner on The Lichtenberg Figures.”
Kate Kellaway, “Claudia Rankine.”
Edward Mendelson, “Obama as Literary Critic.”
Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young, “The Program Era and the Mainly White Room.”
Colin Dayan, “Throw Away Your Mind.”
Sam Kriss, “Abandon the Future.”
Zachary Loeb, “The Ground Beneath the Screens,” review of A Geology of Media and The Anthrobscene, by Jussi Parikka.
Duncan Thomas, “The Politics of Art: An Interview with Jacques Rancière.”
Virginia Jackson, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time.”
Adrian Parr, “What Is Becoming of Delezue?”
Dinah Lenney and Arne De Boever Interview Christopher Schaberg and Ian Bogost, “Here Comes Everything.”
Nicola Masciandaro, “Wings Flock to My Crypt, I Fly to My Throne.”
Zak Bronson, “Living in the Wreckage,” review of Salvage: Amid This Stony Rubbish, no. 1.
Heather Scott Partington, “Life-in-progress,” review of Submission, by Michel Houellebecq.
Spencer Kornhaber, “The Rapper of Refugees: What’s M.I.A.’s ‘Borders’ Video Really About.”
Adam Fleming Petty, “The Spatial Poetics of Nintendo: Architecture, Dennis Cooper, and Video Games.”
Michah McCrary, “Many Layers, Many Guises: An Interview with Sven Birkerts.”
Aaron Shulman, interview with Robert Coover.
John Baskin, “Death Is Not the End.”
D. T. Max, “Beyond Infinite Jest.”
Tammy Oler, “Oh, the Humanity,” review of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy.
Paul Kincaid, “The Destruction of Genre,” review of Slade House, by David Mitchell.
Elizabeth G. Dunn, “The Myth of ‘Easy’ Cooking.”
Ester Bloom, “How ‘Treat Yourself’ Became a Capitalist Command.”
Fandor Keyframe, “What Is ‘Lynchian’?”
Richard Jean So and Andrew Piper, “How Has the MFA Changed the Contemporary Novel?”
Cathy Day, “My Critique of a Critique of MFA Programs.”
Robin James, “Hello from the Same Side.”
Aaron Bady, “Our Star Wars Holiday Special.”
Sam Kriss, “Smash the Force.”
Julia Johanne Tolo, “Margaret Atwood Is Writing a Superhero Comic Book.”
Michael Maizels and Patrick Jagoda, The Game Worlds of Jason Rohrer.
Nathan Reese, “An Exhibition That Proves Videogames Can Be Art.”
Mike Sterry, “The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City.”
A. Will Brown, “Matthew Barney: River of Fundament.”
Meghan Tifft, “An Introverted Writer’s Lament.”
Emily Carlson, Symphony No. 2.
Tracy K. Smith, “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?”
Ashley Hutson, “Lit Mag Committed to Social Change is Intense, Provocative, and Simply Good Reading,” review of Asterix (Fall 2015).
Rose Eveleth, “Imagination Battles: What Will the Future Look Like?” review of Speculations (The Future Is ___), edited by Sarah Resnick.
And Kobe Bryant, “Dear Basketball.”
Humanities and Higher Education
Andrew Hoberek, “Why I Continue to Support Melissa Click.”
Goldie Blumenstyk, “As Big-Data Companies Come to Teaching, a Pioneer Issues a Warning.”
Colleen Flaherty, “Academics Get Real,” on #realacademicbios.
Rani Neutill, “My Trigger Warning Disaster.”
And Claire Vaye Watkins, Derek Palacio, and Anni McGreevy, “Academic-Job Listings for My Exes.”
Raymar Hampshire, “Why I Left: Pittsburgh Has an Expiration Date.”
At this year’s MLA Convention in Austin, Texas, I will be on a panel on The Anthropocene and Deep Time in Literary Studies. I have included the information on the panel and an abstract for the paper I will be presenting below.
670. The Anthropocene and Deep Time in Literary Studies
Saturday, 9 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 6B, ACC
Program arranged by the forum LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American
Presiding: Heather Houser, Univ. of Texas, Austin
The notion of the Anthropocene was coined in 2000 to highlight that human beings’ transformation of the planetary environment will be visible in the geological strata. Beyond its crucial influence in the environmental humanities, the Anthropocene links to discussions of deep time in literary studies. This session taps into and elaborates on these two ongoing discussions.
“Fictional Quantities That Make Themselves Real”: Speculation, Petropolitics, and Deep Time in Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia
Since its publication in 2008, Reza Negarestani’s experimental work of “theory-fiction,” Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, has become somewhat of a literary touchstone for a variety of writers and thinkers revolving in the orbit of speculative realism. Resembling what would happen if Deleuze and Guattari collaborated with H. P. Lovecraft, Cyclonopedia is a serious, albeit ironic encounter with non-correlationist thought, with speculation, deep time, and hyperobjects of all kinds. It is also a rigorous literary attempt to think through climate change, the War on Terror, and the petropolitical realities of the twenty-first century. This paper will explore a variety of issues that converge in Negarestani’s remarkable book. Beginning with Cyclonopedia’s implicit emphasis on how speculation is necessary for thinking the present (rather than, say, rationalism, measurement, or management), this paper will argue that Negarestani’s encounter with geology and nonhuman hyperobjects indicates that experimental literature may be uniquely suited to thinking about deep time and the realities of climate change in a way unavailable to more conventional narratives. If Steven Shaviro has recently suggested that “at its best, speculative philosophy rather resembles speculative fiction,” then Negarestani’s “novel” is evidence of what might happen when speculative philosophy becomes speculative fiction. Cyclonopedia is not only an important text for thinking about nonhuman entities and deep time in an age of observable climate change, it is also an important entry into the ancient debate between poetry and philosophy. Less a “novel after theory” than theory as novel, Cyclonopedia demonstrates that literature will continue to play an important role for understanding the Anthropocene.