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.

January Links

January 29, 2015


“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.



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.”



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.



“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.)



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’?”



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.”



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.”

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.

Some End of 2014 Links

December 23, 2014


Matthew L.Wald, “Betting on the Need, Scientists Work on Lighter, Cleaner Nuclear Energy.”


US National and International

Patrick L. Smith, “We Are Fucking Sadists: We Are Not Decent, and We Are Not a Democracy.”

Moisés Naím, “The Cuba Deal: Why Now?”

Dan Froomkin, “Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland.”



David Golumbia, “Tor Is Not a ‘Fundamental Law of the Universe.'”

Alexander R. Galloway, “The Reticular Fallacy.”


Literature and Culture

Eileen Jones, “Thinking Serious Thoughts.”

Adrian Hong, “North Korea: Not Funny.”

Matthew Buckley Smith, “Why Poems Don’t Make Sense.”

Jason Bailey, “How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA.”

Willie Osterweil, “Weight Gains.”

The New York Review of Video Games.

Chris Suellentrop, “Game Theory: A Golden Era for Criticism.”

Ian Bogost, “Winning Isn’t Everything.”

Alexander R. Galloway, “Counter-gaming.”

Wesley Morris, “Beyond the Edge of Tomorrow: The Year the Blockbuster Was Busted.”

And the end of everything: tl;dr;lit is a “bot that takes works of literature and algorithmically summarizes them, a chapter at a time, to 1% of their original length.” I mean, finally!



Michael Mau, “An Open Letter to America From a Public School Teacher.”


Reflections on 2014

“The Year of Outrage.”

“20 [Experimental] Games You Shouldn’t Miss in 2014.”

A Few December Links

December 16, 2014

To put off grading for a little while longer, here are a handful of links.


Nuclear and Disaster

Sir Martin Rees, “Can We Prevent the End of the World?”

Atomic Nancy.


US Government

Charlie Savage and James Risen, “Senate Rejects Claim on Hunt for Bin Laden.”

Alexis C. Madrigal, “What It’s Like to Work for Donald Rumsfeld.”



Jacob Silverman, “Is Charles Johnson a Digital Darth Vader?”


Literature, Theory, and Culture

Daniel Zamora, “Can We Criticize Foucault?” and “Foucault’s Responsibility.”

Lee Konstantinou, “William Gibson’s Breakfast Burrito,” a review of William Gibson’s The Peripheral (New York: Putnam, 2014).

Jason Read, “Of Labor and Human Bondage: Spinoza, Marx, and the ‘Willing Slave’ of Capitalism,” a review of Frédéric Lordon’s Willing Slaves of Capital: Marx and Spinoza on Desire (New York: Verso, 2014).

Aster(ix) picks favorite poetry of 2014.


Humanities and Higher Education

Audrey Waters, “Teacher Wars and Teaching Machines,” a review of Dana Goldstein, The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession (New York: Doubleday, 2014).

Teddy Wayne, “I’m an English Professor. In a Movie.”

And Alexis C. Madrigal, “The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This Chart.”

End of the Semester Links, Fall 2014

December 7, 2014

I have been understandably busy with the end of a fun and challenging semester. So there are quite a few links that have built up.


Nuclear and Environment

William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, “US Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.”

Robert Burns, “Air Force: Hagel Departure Won’t Slow Nuke Reforms.”

Mark Memmot, “Nun Who Broke Into Nuclear Complex Gets 35-Month Jail Term.”

Barbara Starr, “Navy Investigation Under Way after Female Officers Filmed.”

Eric Holthaus, “Seventy–Seven Zero–Inches of Snow for Buffalo as Winter Overpowers America.”



Michael Kimmelman, “The Berlin Wall: A Microcosm of the World’s Chaotic Change.”

Arif Dirlik responds to Susan Buck-Morss’s “Democracy: An Unfinished Project” in “Twin Offspring of Empire, Neoliberalism and Neotraditionalism: Thoughts on Susan Buck-Morss, ‘Democracy: An Unfinished Project'” (excerpts).


US, Ferguson, Race

Eyder Peralta and Bill Chappell, “Ferguson Jury: No Charges for Officer in Michael Brown’s Death.”

Carly Schwartz and Christopher Mathias, “Protesters Shut Down Three New York City Bridges in Reaction to Ferguson Decision.”

John Cassidy, “Ferguson: An American Dilemma” and “New York’s Verdict: We Can’t Breathe.”

Cornel West, “The State of Black America in the Age of Obama Has Been One of Desperation, Confusion, and Capitulation.”

Susan Kruth, “Chris Rock Explains Why He Doesn’t Want to Perform on College Campuses.”

Frank Rich, “In Conversation with Chris Rock.”

The Editorial Board of The New York Times, “A Search for Justice in the Eric Garner Case.”

Nicholas St. Fleur, “They Shouted ‘I Can’t Breathe.'”



Ewen MacAskill, “Edward Snowden Wins Swedish Human Rights Award for NSA Revelations.”

David A. Banks on Anonymous, “Naming Nameless.”

David J. Gunkel and Billy Cripe, “Apocalypse Not, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Machine.”

Verso Books and Triple Canopy’s Encryption Workshop.

Timothy B. Lee, “American Broadband Is Better Than You Think.”


Literature and Culture

Rachel Arons, “‘We Will Need Writers Who Can Remember Freedom': Ursula K. Le Guin and Last Night’s NBAs.”

Michael Erard, “The New Work of Words.”

An interview with Hillary Chute and Patrick Jagoda on their recent co-edited issue of Critical Inquiry on comics and media.

Ewan Morrison, “YA Dystopias Teach Children to Submit to the Free Market, Not Fight Authority.”

David Denby reviews Rosewater and Happy Valley, “No Laughing Matter.”

Nathan Altice, “The Lenses of Failure,” on Dark Souls II and Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Videogames (2013).

Richard Hill, “‘Internet Freedom': Digital Empire?” a review of Dan Schiller, Digital Depression: Information Technology and Economic Crisis (2014).

David Haglund, “Jonathan Franzen’s Next Novel Is Called Purity.” Uh oh.

Sarah Gray, “Toni Morrison Completely Schools Stephen Colbert on the Topic of Racism.”

Aaron Bady, “‘As an American Writer’ (Toni Morrison on Colbert).”

Andrea Battleground, “New Novel from Toni Morrison Coming in April.”

Rob Horning, “Selfies without the Self.”

Luke Karmali, “Gorgeous Non-Combat MMO Wander Coming to PS4 and PC.”

Philip Maciak, “Is Beyoncé the Future of Digital Cinema?”

Isha Aran, “Video Game Reviewer Is Contacting the Mothers of Her Online Harassers.”

Tom Boggioni, “Game Reviewer Strikes Back at Male Stalkers with a Brilliant New Ploy: Telling Their Moms.”

And Gabino Iglesias reviews my friend David James Keaton’s new novel, The Last Projector (2014).


boundary 2 Conference on “Poetry and Poetics”

Jonathan Arac, “Emily Dickinson and the Liberal Imagination.”

Paul A. Bové, “Wallace Stevens and the Confidence of the Imagination.”

Colin Dayan, “The Dog of the Poem: On William Carlos Williams’s Paterson.”

Donald E. Pease, “Whitman’s Leaves and Embers.”


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