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

February 20, 2015

Below is an abstract for a paper I will be presenting at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, taking place February 26-28, 2015. I will be presenting this paper on a panel titled, “Postcolonial Finance and Disaster Capitalism in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Fiction.” The panel will be taking place 2:45 – 4:15 Saturday, February 28th, in room 122 of the Humanities Building at the University of Louisville.

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

Abstract: The twenty-first century has seen a remarkable confluence and transformation of twentieth century narrative and historical discourse. On the one hand, the Cold War nuclear sense of an ending and US national fantasy of Mutually Assured Destruction has multiplied, producing a diverse array of eschatological imaginaries. Indeed, in the age of disaster capitalism, this multiplication has caused some to revise earlier concerns and to now suggest that we are “witnessing the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world.” On the other hand, there has been an increasing sobriety from a host of intellectuals and writers about human finitude, especially considered in light of the postnatural condition of the Anthropocene, with its present focus on deep ecological and cosmological futures. Human extinction is no longer shocking; it is a mute fact of geologic time. At the intersection of multiplying, immediate, and local disaster—both real and imagined—and a perspective on the deep history of human finitude, this paper will argue that Don DeLillo’s Point Omega (2010) and Iranian writer Reza Negarestani’s remarkable Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) make strong cases for the novel’s continuing ability to complicate and illuminate human finitude and historical temporality in contemporaneity. Written in the midst of the long and disastrous US incursions in the Middle East from two distinct transnational, philosophical, and aesthetic standpoints, DeLillo and Negarestani raise important political questions about vital materiality in the age of hyperobjects and the ecological realities of the War on Terror. In decidedly different and complimentary ways, each novel acknowledges that though the twenty-first century has made it clear that the catastrophic present cannot be divorced from the inevitable doom at the end of the world, we still desperately need to imagine something else.


February Links

February 20, 2015

It’s that time of year when I’m busy busy with all sorts of things. Combined with the miserable weather (it got down to -11° Fahrenheit in Pittsburgh last night), some links have been piling up.

 

Environment, Science, International, Disaster

Rebecca Solnit, “The Age of Capitalism Is Over.”

Noam Chomsky, “The World of Our Grandchildren.”

Graeme Wood, “What ISIS Really Wants.”

Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, “Climate Hacking Is Barking Mad.”

Sam Kriss, “Manifesto of the Committee to Abolish Outer Space.”

Cari Romm, “How Three People Can Make a Baby.”

Alan Taylor, “What Record-Breaking Snow Really Looks Like.”

 

Hyperarchival

Conor Friedersdorf, “The NSA’s Director of Civil Liberties Renounces Secret Law.”

Julie Beck, “Losing the Internet You Grew Up With.”

Manuel Correa, “The Philosophical Origins of Digitality,” an interview with Alexander R. Galloway.

Jonathan Goodwin, “Is the Network a Brain?” a review of The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future by Andrew Pickering.

Gavin Mueller, “Trickster Makes This Web: The Ambiguous Politics of Anonymous,” a review of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman.

Adam Chandler, “A Warehouse Fire of Digital Memories.”

Preserved 1956 kitchen.

 

Literature and Culture

“Evening Will Come,” The Volta Tribute to  Tomaž Šalamun.

Stephen Maher, “The Lost Counterculture: Inherent Vice Brilliantly Depicts How Neoliberalism Co-Opted the Counterculture.”

Megan Garber, “Harper Lee: The Sadness of a Sequel.”

Jessa Crispin, “Don’t Do It Harper Lee.”

Zadie Smith, “Brother From Another Mother: Key and Peele’s Chameleon Comedy.”

Adam Kotsko, “Nice to Meat You.”

Janet Maslin, “In Layered Fiction and Wry Notes to Mom, a Cosmic Genius Distilled,” a review of The David Foster Wallace Reader: A Compilation.

Parul Seghal, “Fresh Terrain in Huck Finn’s Adventure,” a review of Huck Finn’s America: Mark Twain and the Era That Shaped His Masterpiece, by Andrew Levy.

Matt Taibbi, American Sniper Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize.”

Carolyn Kellogg, “With Holy Cow, David Duchovny Is Finally, Officially a Novelist.” (An interview with Duchovny.)

A very interesting sounding new collection of essays, Postmodern Literature and Race, edited by Len Platt and Sara Upstone, and including an esssay by Samuel Cohen, “The Whiteness of David Foster Wallace.” (Read a bit here.)

Stephen Squibb, “The Last Days of Football.”

Rudi Batzell, “Socialize Football.”

Adam Chandler, “America’s Ugly Super Bowl.”

Adam Chandler, “Exit Jon Stewart.”

David Sims, “Jon Stewart Is Going Out On Top.”

Amy Poehler should take over for Jon Stewart. Just saying.

Juliet Lapidos, “Wait, What, I’m a Millennial?” (I knew it.)

Alexander Tucker, “Video Games: Offered by Universities?”

David Sims, “Could The Legend of Zelda Really Work on Television?”

Melody Nixon, “Topical Poetry: An Interview with Jonathan Moody.”

Cassette Gods, review of NAH, Otheration.

Steph Roman, Shadow of the Colossus: Boss Fight Ecology.”

Dan Kubis, “The Shrinking Power of Punk.”

Nathan Grayson, “A Game About Taking Selfies as a Skeleton. That’s It.”

Peter Schultz, “Artistic Movements’ Favorite Drinking Games.”

And The Raphael Parable:

 

Humanities and Higher Education

Sydni Dunn, “Where Do English PhDs Get Jobs? It Depends on Where They Studied.” (Indeed.)

Colleen Flaherty, “Closed Networks.”

Michael Mirer, “Scott Walker Thinks My University Has Fat to Trim, Yet My Department Is Barely Scraping By.”

Claudia Klein Felske, “An Open Letter to Government Walker.”

Conor Friedersdorf, “What HBO Can Teach Colleges About ‘Trigger Warnings.”


Robin Mackay’s “A Brief History of Geotrauma”

February 14, 2015

I have been working on Reza Negarestani‘s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (2008) and I ran across this fascinating introduction to Negarestani by Robin Mackay that I cannot help but share. The work below is tilted “A Brief History of Geotrauma, or: The Invention of Negarestani.”


January Links

January 29, 2015

Environmental

“Did the Anthropocene Begin with the Nuclear Age?”

Lyn Ringenberg, “A Dramatic Doomsday Warning to the World.” The Doomsday clock has been moved closer to midnight.

 

Hyperarchival

Jill Lepore, “The Cobweb: Can the Internet Be Archived?”

Alexander R. Galloway, “Network Pessimism.”

David M. Berry, “Flat Theory.”

Sandy Baldwin, The Internet Unconscious: On the Subject of Electronic Literature.

Ian Bogost, “Introducing the Supertweet.”

Lorne Cook, “YouTube Says It’s Too Overwhelmed to Keep Terrorist Videos Off the Site.”

Adam Greenfield with Matthew Shen Goodwin, “Too Smart for Their Own Good.”

 

International

Richard Seymour, “On Charlie Hebdo.”

Teju Cole, “Unmournable Bodies.”

Gabriel Bristow, “The Next Front Against Austerity.”

 

National Security State

David E. Sanger and Martin Fackler, “NSA Breached North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack, Officials Say.”

 

US Politics

Nathan J. Robinson, “Money Talks.”

Jamala Rogers, “Selma Is Now.”

Thomas J. Sugrue, “Restoring King.”

 

Literature and Culture

Aisha Harris, “Watch Larry Wilmore Kick Off The Nightly Show by Assessing ‘The State of the Black Protest.’”

Mary Morris interviews Margaret Atwood.

Ian Goodrum, American Sniper, or Stolz der Nation.” (I just had the opportunity to read Kenneth Burke’s “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s ‘Battle'” for the first time, and think that we would do well to consider American Sniper seriously, as a text with obvious and significant rhetorical power, along the same kinds of critical lines Burke lays out in that essay. I owe R. for this thought.)

Rory Fanning, “Learning from American Sniper.”

Elias Isquith, “Our American Sniper Sickness: How American Exceptionalism Wrought Guantanamo.”

Aaron Bady, “American Snipper.”

Katie Kilkenny, Leviathan: An Incisive Take on Russia Even Putin Couldn’t Ignore.”

Frank Pasquale, “To Replace or Respect: Futurology as if People Mattered,” a review of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

Mike Bulajewski, “What Drives Automation?” a review of Nicholas Carr, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.

Colin Dayan, “Thinking the Permissible, or Speaking in Common.”

Tomaž Šalamun reading and in conversation with David Rivard.

And  André Naffis-Sahely, “The Post-Šalamunian Period.”

 

Humanities and Higher Education

W. H. Auden’s syllabus. (I cannot even imagine how undergraduates would react to a class like this today. . . .)

Dan Berrett, “The Day the Purpose of College Changed.”

Jacques Berlinerblau, “Teach or Perish.”

Bill Chappell, “Student Tuition Now Outweighs State Funding at Public Colleges.”

Colleen Flaherty, “Major Exodus: Where Have All the English Majors Gone?”

And Lucy McCalmont, “Scott Walker Urges Professors to Work Harder.” Um.

 

Pittsburgh

“Lawrenceville Seceds from City of Pittsburgh to Form First Hipster Republic.”


Early 2015 Links

January 15, 2015

A new semester has begun and I have a lot of exciting projects for 2015 that I am eager about, some of which I hope to report soon. But in the meantime, here are some links that have accumulated while the semester was beginning, while I was in Vancouver for MLA, and since. (Also, in mini-hyperarchival news, I just received in the mail today a 32 gigabyte USB drive to replace my almost full 4 GB drive. It feels good to be moving up in the world with regard to how much textual data I have/can produced/store.)

 

Environment

Trent Moore, “This Is the Final Video CNN Plans To Air When the Apocalypse Eventually Arrives.”

Out of the Woods, “Klein vs. Klein.”

Rebecca Solnit, “Everything’s Coming Together While Everything Falls Apart.”

Emily Atkin, “A Nuclear Plant Leaked Oil into Lake Michigan for Two Months Straight.”

 

National Security State

Hugh Eakin interviews Mark Danner, “Our New Politics of Torture.”

Erika Eichelberger and A. J. Vicens, “The Cost of US Wars Since 9/11: $1.6 Trillion.”

 

Black Lives Matter

Teju Cole, “Unmournable Bodies.”

George Yancy and Judith Butler, “What’s Wrong with ‘All Lives Matter’?”

 

International

Richard Seymour, “On Charlie Hedbo.”

Dashiell Bennett, Charlie Hedbo‘s Brazen Defence.”

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, “Anonymous Claims Its First Victim in ‘Operation Charlie Hedbo.'”

Keely Lockhart, “‘Hacktivist’ Group Anonymous Says It Will Avenge Charlie Hedbo Attacks by Shutting Down Jihadist Websites.”

 

Hyperarchival

William Davies, “The Data Sublime.”

Insurance Archives of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library.

Gabrielle Karampelas, “Stanford University Press Awarded $1.2 Million for the Publishing of Interactive Scholarly Works.”

 

Literature and Culture

SJ Fowler, “Dinner with Tomaž: Remembering Tomaž Šalamun 1941-2014.”

Jeffrey J. Williams, “The New Modesty in Literary Criticism.”

Joshua Rothkopf, “Sex, Drugs, and the Postal Service: Thomas Pynchon, a Beginner’s Guide.”

Anna Shechtman, “Too Faithful to Succeed: On Inherent Vice.” 

Evan Kindley, “The One that Got Away: On Inherent Vice.”

Paul Auster, “How I Became a Writer.”

Charles Bernstein, “Letter from Warsaw.”

Cory Doctorow, “Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States Graphic Novel.”

David A. Bell, “On The New Republic.”

The Nostalgia Trap, “Punk Rock and Shitty Jobs.”

Greg Barnhisel reviews “Literchoor Is My Beat”: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions by Ian S. MacNiven.

Sam Barsanti, “Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville Is Getting a Remake.”

Mark Harris, “The Birdcage.”

Alex McCown, “Yes, Scarlett Johansson Will Star in the Ghost in the Shell Movie.”

Scott Mendelson, “For Universal Pictures, Zero Blockbusters Equals Record Profits.”

Alison Flood, “David Mitchell to Publish New Novel Slade House this Autumn.”

Paul Rosenberg, “God Is on the Ropes.”

Derek Thompson, “The Shameful Triumph of Football.”

Rachel Zarrell, “Over 2,400 MS-DOS Games–like Oregon Trail–Can Now Be Played Online.”

Charlie Jane Anders, “67 Science Fiction And Fantasy Movies To Watch Out For In 2015.”

Um, Lincoln Michel, “Mark Zuckerberg Aims to Start World’s Largest Bookclub on Facebook.”

North Pole Labor Study Group, “The Class Struggle at the North Pole.”

And an old student of mine, Mary Pappalardo, just started a new blog, Infinite Organs.

 

Humanities and Higher Education

Alyssa Christensen, “A 7-Step Guide to Your Final Semester as an English Major.”


Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) and Other Links

January 2, 2015

I am sad to say that Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014), one of my most important teachers, has passed away. I have written a short remembrance of him that either will appear here or in some other form.

 

Tomaž Šalamun

Christopher Merrill, “Remembering Tomaž Šalamun.”

Andrew Epstein, “Tomaž Šalamun (1941-2014) and the New York School.”

Dalkey Archive Press on Šalamun.

And though I can’t read Slovenian, there is much here, including video of a television report.

 

Environment and Disaster

Alyssa Battistoni, “Nature’s Metropolis.”

Sam Gindin, “When History Knocks.”

Lindsay Abrams, “Europe’s Age of Inferno: How a Volcano Swallowed the Western World.”

Nick Bostrom, “You Should Be Terrified of Superintelligent Machines.”

David Harvey and Leo Panitch, “Beyond Impossible Reform and Improbably Revolution.”

 

National Security State

Margo Schlanger, “Infiltrate the NSA.”

Matt Taibbi, “The NYPD’s ‘Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal.”

 

Literature and Culture

A. O. Scott, “Is Our Art Equal to the Challenge of Our Times?”

Michael Gould-Wartofsky, “When Rioting Is Rational.”

Joshua Zelesnick, “The New Civil Rights Movement.”

Ben Davis, “After Ferguson: A New Protest Culture’s Challenge to Art.”

Jonathan Sturgeon, “2014: The Death of the Postmodern Novel and the Rise of Autofiction.”

Jhave, Prying: Jhave on Tender Claws’ New App.”

Victoria Dailey, “Descartes, Dick, and the Dog: Pierre Huyghe at LACMA.”

Max Fisher, “Seeing The Interview Doesn’t Hurt North Korea and Kim Jong Un — it Helps Them.”

Alexander R. Galloway, review of The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism, by Steven Shaviro.

Bryan Doerries, review of Why Homer Matters, by Adam Nicholson.

Eric Swain, “This Year in Video Game Blogging: 2014.”

Abraham Riesman, “Meet Valiant Entertainment, Superhero Comics’ Strangest Success Story.”


Spring Semester 2015

December 31, 2014

I am looking forward to a fun, productive, and challenging spring semester at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ll be teaching three classes: two sections of Narrative and Technology (ENGLIT 0399; class blog here) and a course that is being offered for the first time, Interactive Literature (ENGLIT 1001; class blog here). I owe Mark Best considerable credit for Interactive Literature as I drew many ideas about organizing the course from the design of his initial proposal.


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