October 2015 Links

October 21, 2015

Nuclear and Environment

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, “Iranian Parliament Passes Bill Approving Nuclear Deal.”

McKenzie Wark, “The Capitalocene.”

Trevor Paglen, Trinity Cube.


US Politics

Daniel Schlozman, “The Sanders Phenomenon.”



Nicola Twilley, “Meet the Martians.”

Tom Chmielewski, “After Intelligent Life Is Discovered.”

Ross Andersen, “The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy” (need I say “alien megastructures”?).


National Security State

The Intercept, The Drone Papers.

A visual glossary of The Drone Papers.

Culture Machine, Drone Culture.

Arjun Sethi, “Obama Misled the Public on Drones.”

“Where Spies Go When They Don’t Know.”

And an old one: Mike Lofgren, “Anatomy of the Deep State.”



Alexander R. Galloway, “From Data to Information.”

Jacob Brogan, “The Shame of Finding Your Younger Self Online.”

Curt Hopkins, “In the Age of Digital Music the Tape Is Making an Unlikely Comeback.”

Adrienne LaFrance, “Raiders of the Lost Web.”

Alison Gopnik, “No, Your Children Aren’t Becoming Digital Zombies.”


Literature and Culture

Dawn Lundy Martin, ed., “Dossier: On Race and Innovation,” a special issue of boundary 2.

Charles Stross, “21st Century: A Complaint.”

Alexandra Alter, “Svetlana Alexievich, Belarussian Voice of Survivors, Wins Nobel Prize in Literature.”

Joshua Cohen is writing a novel and allowing people to see him write it (it’s titled PCKWCK).

Terry Eagleton, “Utopias, Past and Present: Why Thomas More Remains Astonishingly Radical.”

Park MacDougald, “The Darkness before the Right.”

“An Interview with Robert Coover.”

Adam Kelly, “E. L. Doctorow’s Postmodernist Style.”

Barrett Brown, “Stop Sending Me Jonathan Franzen Novels.”

Ira Wells, “Mr. Difficult Rejects His Title,” review of Purity, by Jonathan Franzen.

Wesley Morris, “The Year We Obsessed Over Identity.”

Richard Brody, “Postscript: Chantal Akerman.”

Holly Andres, “Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters.”

Dan Brooks, “Banksy and the Problem of Sarcastic Art.”

Alec Wilkinson, “Something Borrowed,” on Kenneth Goldsmith.

Cathy Park Hong, “There’s a New Movement in American Poetry and It’s Not Kenneth Goldsmith.”

Alberto Comparini, “The Questionable Orthodoxy of Genres,” review of The Novel Essay, 1884-1947, by Stefano Ercolino.

Bill Capossere, “Purposeful Motion,” review of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age, by Sven Birkerts.

Davey Wreden’s The Beginner’s Guide.

Laura Hudson, The Beginner’s Guide Is a Game That Doesn’t Want to Be Written About.”

Naomi Alderman, “The First Great Works of Digital Literature Are Already Being Written.”

Mathieu Piccarreta, “French City Introduces ‘Short Story Dispensers’ In Public Areas.”

Caitlin White, “Children’s Picture Book What Is Punk? Introduces Toddlers to Way Better Music Than Raffi.”

The Great Concavity, a new podcast on David Foster Wallace.

Jonathan Moody, Olympic Butter Gold.

And Ian Bogost, “Egg McNothin’.”


Humanities and Higher Education

Audrey Watters, “The Functions of Education-Technology Criticism.”

Mary Ellen McIntire, “How One College Hopes to Reshape General Education.”

Jenna Lay, “Job-Market Advice–for Faculty.”

And I am Pseudonymous, “Dear Cornell University. . . .”



Marylynne Pitz, “Warhol Curator Quits after Five Months.”

And the 2015 Society for Utopian Studies Conference Program.

Panel Abstract: Utopian Geologies

September 6, 2015

I just got word that a panel I organized was accepted for the 2015 Society for Utopian Studies Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, taking place November 5-8. I have included the general abstract for the panel, and the abstracts for each individual paper.

The panel will take place on Saturday, 7 November 2015, 8:30 -10:45 am.


Utopian Geologies

Panelists: Racheal Forlow, Dan Malinowski, and Bradley J. Fest

In the twenty-first century, the Anthropocene has emerged as an important concept for understanding the impact of human life on the planet. As activists, journalists, and scholars attempt to respond to the challenges this new epoch presents, many invoke deep time as a significant mode of thinking. This panel will take up the question of how the utopian imagination, long a site for speculating about the future, might contend with such geologic timescales. Responding to the conference topic of “global flows” by discussing things that flow at very, very slow paces, each paper will consider an important literary encounter with utopian geology. From Walt Whitman’s emergent poesis, to Kim Stanley Robinson’s posthuman environmental ethics, to the emphasis on human finitude in recent speculative thinking, these papers all signal a desperate need to reinvest in the imagination in the face of observable climate change.


Walt Whitman’s Geologic Imagination and the Future

Racheal Forlow, University of Pittsburgh

Western utopian traditions imagine how human activities might create better futures. Today, those who pursue projects of this kind confront a singular set of challenges. Scientists argue climate change and a range of other environmental emergencies threaten the future of the species. Because most agree the activities a tradition of Enlightenment thinking privileges produced these threats, the present seems to demand we conceive anew the ways we hope to project and build better worlds. Some artists, intellectuals, and activists committed to this work therefore suggest we abandon anthropocentric views of the universe and autonomous views of human individuals for more broadly materialist accounts. In this paper, I argue a tradition of American poetry Walt Whitman originates offers projects of this kind historical and conceptual resources. Whitman treats the human faculties contemporary projects require—among these imagination, reason, and feeling—in thoroughly material terms. In “Song of Myself” (1855), he imagines human creative power is an evolutionary force that emerges out of deep, geologic history. So conceived, the human is not a powerful, autonomous agent that dominates what is not identical to it. Instead, the species participates in a broader set of transformative processes. I believe recognizing US traditions offer this alternative vision of the human might serve attempts to project and build futures in the novel ways contemporary crises compel.


Should We Eat the Dirt? Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, Geology, and New Materialism

Dan Malinowski, Rutgers University

No matter where humanity goes, it will shape and be shaped by its environment. In this talk, I will explore the ways in which Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy (1994-96), through the long time-spans in which it occurs, allows us to follow the flow of human society on literally untouched land, providing a useful thought experiment for exploring the ethics of the relationship of humanity to geological features. I will examine the debates surrounding terraforming enacted within these novels, highlighting their central aporia: namely, how a utopian society can (or cannot) coexist with a posthuman ethics towards the natural landscape. I will show how the recent work in the New Materialism can articulate this problem more productively than the Heideggerian model of geological ethics proposed by Fredric Jameson in his essay on the trilogy. In doing so, this paper will articulate a view of the world in which the interactions of the “dead” world and its new inhabitants flow back and forth in an ongoing and multi-directional process, a consideration inseparable from any utopian possibility whether here on Earth or there on Mars.


Speculative Criticism, Black Metal Theory, and Utopia: Richard Grossman’s “Torah Ball”

Bradley J. Fest, University of Pittsburgh

In recent years, invoking Fredric Jameson’s famous quip about it being easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism has become something of a cliché. Given the realities of observable climate change and the seeming inability for human institutions to make the broad, sweeping changes necessary for responding to life in the Anthropocene, one might find it difficult to disagree with claims about the foreclosure of the utopian imagination. So it is perhaps surprising that a variety of thinkers, emerging from the school of Speculative Realism (or New Materialism), have been emphasizing species finitude, particularly with regard to deep, geologic timescales. Rather than explore possible utopian futures, writers like Ray Brassier, Nicola Masciandaro, Reza Negarestani, Eugene Thacker, McKenzie Wark, Evan Calder Williams, and others, often writing under the heading of “Black Metal Theory,” frequently invoke the utter inevitability of human extinction. As part of a larger project of articulating what I am calling “speculative criticism,” this paper will explore what such dark geologies might offer for both the study of literary works massively extended in space and time and the pressing need to reconceive and reinvest in the utopian imagination in the twenty-first century.

Poetics of Control

July 15, 2015

I just wrote a review of Alexander R. Galloway’s The Interface Effect (Malden, MA: Polity, 2012) for The b2 Review. Check it out.

Many April Links: Catching Up

April 10, 2015

Another semester is coming to a close, and I finally have a chance to sit down and sort through the backlog of links that have been piling up over the past few months. So, with no further ado, links.


Nuclear, Environment, Ruins

Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s Leaders Fall Into Line Behind Nuclear Accord.”

William J. Broad, “Hydrogen Bomb Physicist’s Book Runs Afoul of Energy Department.”

John R. Bolton, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Um, no.

Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, “South African Nuclear Cache Unnerves US.”

“South Africa Rebuffs US Attempts to Take Over Its Nuclear Material.”

Jon Greenberg, “The Odd Reality of Iran’s Centrifuges: Enough for a Bomb, Not Power.”

Charlie Jane Anders, “Nanotech Could Make Nuclear Bombs Much, Much Tinier.”

Andreas Malm, “The Anthropocene Myth.”

99% Invisible, “Ten Thousand Years.”

Emma Haslett, “Raycats and Earworms: How Scientists Are Using Colour-changing Cats and Nursery Rhymes to Warn Future Generations of Nuclear Danger.”

Jonathan Waldman, “The Rustiest Place in America.”

Jonathan Franzen, “Carbon Capture.”

Michael Schaub, “Jonathan Franzen ‘Miserably Conflicted’ About Climate Change.'”

Book trailer for Liam Sprod‘s Nuclear Futurism; The Work of Art in the Age of Remainderless Destruction (Winchester, UK: Zero, 2012).


National Security State and US Politics

Andrea Germanos, “Noam Chomsky: Edward Snowden a True Patriot Who Should be Honored.”

John Oliver on surveillance.

Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman, “Hillary Clinton to Announce 2016 Run for President on Saturday.”



Vitalik Buterin with Sam Frank, “Decentralized Autonomous Society.”

Christina Pazzanese, “Explaining Capital.”



Julie Edgar, “A Rich Library of African-American Poetry Goes Digital.”


Literature and Culture

Mark Sussman, “Smarter.”

Adam Kotsko, “On the Perfunctoriness of House of Cards.”

Cory Doctorow, “How Heinlein Went From Socialist to Right-Wing Libertarian.”

Alexander R. Galloway, “Something About the Digital.”

Tom McCarthy, “The Death of Writing: If James Joyce Were Alive Today He’d Be Working for Google.”

Natalie Shapero, “Cold Comfort,” review of Lines the Quarry, by Robin ClarkeVestigial, by Page Hill Starzinger, and Go Find Your Father / A Famous Blues, by Harmony Holiday.

Jonathan Gatehouse, “America Dumbs Down.”

Lauren Oyler, “The Weird, Sexy, Touching Emails of Writer Kathy Acker.”

Charlie Jane Anders, “First Gorgeous Look at Mark Z. Danielewski’s New Series, The Familiar!”

Richard Hill, “The Internet vs. Democracy,” review of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy, by Robert W. McChesney.

Peter McDonald and Patrick Jagoda, The Portal | The Sandbox.

Sam Kriss, Game of Thrones and Marxist Theory.”

Leigh Gallagher, “The Suburbs Are Dead–And That’s Not a Good Thing.”

Mark Bittman, “Why Not Utopia?”

Javier O’Neil-Ortiz, “Inferiority Complex: On Black Mirror.”

Lawrence Berger, “Being There: Heidegger on Why Presence Matters.”

Ian Bogost, “Videogames Are Better Without Characters.”

Chay Close, “All Videogames Are a Joke.”

Spencer Robbins, “Wittgenstein, Schoolteacher.”

Jessica Saia and Sierra Hartman, “What Our Office Learned Working Naked for One Month.”

Kevin M. Kruse, “A Christian Nation? Since When?”

Black Metal Theory.

David Itzkoff, “Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.”

Footnotes (podcast on comic book series).

Snap Judgment, “The NeverEnding Story.”

Michael Idov, “The Movie Set That Ate Itself.” (An oldie, but goodie on Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s ambitious failure of a filmic megatext.)

The Brontosaurus is back.

Daniel Krupa, “The Emotional Storytelling of Everybody’s Gone to Rapture.”

“What if Wes Anderson Directed X-Men?”

“Marx Madness.”

Jason Schreier, “You Can Play Pac-Man on Google Maps Right Now.”

Jon Stewart knees a professional wrestler in the junk.

And the cast of Twin Peaks begs David Lynch to come back:


Humanities and Higher Education

Janet Napolitano, “Higher Education Isn’t in Crisis.”

Terry Eagleton, “The Slow Death of the University.”

Colleen Flaherty and Kaitlin Mulhere, “Day of Protest.”

Carmen Maria Machado, “O Adjunct! My Adjunct!”

Fareed Zakaria, “Why America’s Obsession with STEM Education Is Dangerous.”

Stephanie Saul, “NYU Professor Is Barred by United Arab Emirates.”

Laura McKenna, “The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet Briar’s Professors.”

Leonard Cassuto, “The Problem of Professionalization.”

Plugs, Play, Pedagogy, “Teaching with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives.”

August Links

August 2, 2014

Its been a couple weeks since I’ve posted any links, so there’s a bunch of stuff here.


Disaster, Nuclear, Environment, and Deep Futures

John Oliver on America’s Insecure Nuclear Arsenal.

Willie Osterweil, “The End of the World as We Know It.” On the reactionary politics in ancient apocalypse films.

Josh Marshall, “Disaster Porn, For Once for Real.”

Ross Andersen, “When We Peer Into the Fog of the Deep Future What Do We See–Human Extinction or a Future Among the Stars?”

Radical eco-nihilism. Wen Stephenson, “‘I Withdraw’: A Talk with Climate Defeatist Paul Kingsnorth.”

Paul Kingsnorth, “Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist.”

Mark Strauss, “Space Junk Is Becoming a Serious Security Threat.”

Robert T. Gonzalez, “Bad News: Scientists Have Measured 16-Foot Waves in the Arctic Ocean.”

Nadia Prupis, “‘There Will Be No Water’ by 2040? Researchers Urge Global Energy Paradigm Shift.”



Andy Borowitz, “Congress Blocks Obama’s Attempt to Order New Office Supplies.”

Sahil Kapur, “Top Obama Aide: Boehner Has ‘Opened the Door’ to Impeachment.”Alyssa

Eduardo Porter, “Why Voters Aren’t Angrier About Economic Inequality.”

Jeff Shesol, “The Impeachment Vogue.”

Hmm, probably should have seen this coming. Katie McDonough, “Satanists Want Hobby Lobby-Style Religious Exemption from Anti-Choice Counseling Laws.”



David Harvey, “The 17 Contradictions of Capitalism.”



Graham Allison, “Just How Likely Is Another World War? Assessing the Similarities and Differences Between 1914 and 2014.”

Noura Erakat, “Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza Debunked.”

Ken Isaacs, “Why Are We Ignoring a New Ebola Outbreak?”

Susannah Locke, “Ebola Outbreak Worsens: Liberian Doctor Dies, Virus Spreads to Nigeria.”

Ebola reaches Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.



Cory Arcangel’s Working on My Novel, the Book.

Ian Svevonius, “All Power to the Pack Rats.” In the sleek Apple future, our “outdated” possessions are turned into symbols of poverty.

The New Yorker has opened up its archives. Joshua Rothman and Erin Overbey, “A Summer in the Archive.” Matt Buchanan, “All The New Yorker Story Roundups You Should Read While the Stories Are Still Unlocked, As Well As All The New Yorker Stories They Link To.”

Two interesting hyperarchival podcasts. The first, Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, takes on the herculean task of trying to explain the hyperarchival, meganarrative that are the X-Men comic books.

The second, Go Bayside, discusses every episode of Saved by the Bell (1989-93).

This is also fantastic. “30 Essential Songs from the Golden Era of Emo.” The nostalgia here is about as thick as it can be.

Unpublished photographs from the National Geographic archives.

And the television hyperarchive: Megan Garber, “Woohoo! Simpsons World Will Transform the Show into Delicious, Delicious Data.”


Literature and Culture

This is fantastic. Carolyn Silveira, “If You See This Woman and Think She Doesn’t Seem Punk, Wait Till You See Her in Her Underwear.”

Andrew O’Hehir, Lucy: The Eurotrash, 2001 ScarJo Action Sequel You’ve Been Waiting For.”

Christopher Orr, Lucy: The Dumbest Movie Ever Made About Brain Capacity. I utterly disagree with Orr’s review, however, as I loved Lucy (2014), thought it was great for many of the reasons Orr thought it poorly made, think it is what Steven Shaviro calls post-cinema (putting it in line with such films as Southland Tales (2006), Gamer (2009), Spring Breakers (2013), etc.), and just wish there were many more movies like this. Such as. . . .

Aaron Bady, “A Snowpiercer Thinkpiece, Not to Be Take Too Seriously, but for Very Serious Reasons.”

“Meta: Snowpiercer.”

Unemployed Negativity, “Hijacking a Train: Revolution and Its Limits in Snowpiercer.”

Michael M. Hughes, “How an Obscure 2nd Century Christian Heresy Influenced Snowpiercer.”

Finally, Grant Morrison’s Multiversity. Matthew Jackson, “Comics Legend Grant Morrison Unveils Massive DC Comics Event The Multiversity.”

Andrew Pilsch, “The Banality of Dystopia” and “Object-Oriented Food? Time, Poverty, and Cooking.”

J. R. Hennessy, “The Tech Utopia Nobody Wants: Why the World Nerds Are Creating Will Be Awful.”

Patrick Jagoda and Melissa Gilliam, “On Science Fictions and Ludic Realities.” Jessica Kim Cohen, “Program Serves Local, Adventuresome Youth.”

One of my favorite activities: how to read in bars.

Courtesy of The New Yorker‘s archives opening up: Jennifer Egan, “Black Box.” A story told through tweets.

Ulysses virtual reality game. I can’t wait.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar trailer.

Stephen Colbert on The Hobbit.

Jacob Kastrenakes, “Philip K. Dick’s Cult Novel Man in the High Castle Becoming an Amazon TV Pilot.”

Katharine Trendacosta, Ascension: An Alternate History About a Planned Community in Space.”

Ugh, Ira Glass sounds like a teenager because he thinks Shakespeare isn’t “relatable.” Alyssa Rosenberg, “Ira Glass and What We Get Wrong When We Talk About Shakespeare.” And Rebecca Mead wonderfully responds in “The Scourge of ‘Relatability.'”

And my friend Adriana Ramirez has launched a new poetry press, Blue Sketch Press. Check out their two releases so far: Adriana E. Ramirez, The Swallows (2014) and Amy David, No Body Home (2014).


Humanities and the Higher Education

Ian Bogost, “The Opposite of Good Fortune Is Bad Fortune: Is ‘Adjunct Activism’ the Only Path to Labor Reform in Higher Ed?”

The financial crisis in higher education.

And yet, Lawrence S. Wittner, “Why Are Campus Administrators Making So Much Money?”

“Our Internal and Public Messaging About Administrative Bloat.”

David Matthews, “Thomas Docherty to Face Insubordination Charge in Tribunal.”

David Masciotra, “Pulling the Plug on English Departments.”

Gamification is not the answer. Blaine Greteman, “Can World of Warcraft Save Higher Education?”

Rachel Applebaum, “The New Glass Ceiling in Academe.”

And student loan forgiveness for adjuncts.

Atomurbia and Other Links

June 25, 2014


Bill McKibben, “Climate: Will We Lose the Endgame?”

Paul Krugman, “The Big Green Test: Conservatives and Climate Change.”



What I’ve been speculating about for years now: physicists are saying consciousness is a state of matter.

The Hubble has seen a star eat another star.



Benjamin Kunkel’s long review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.


National Security State

David Cole, “The Drone Memo: Secrecy Made It Worse.”

Adam Liptak, “Major Ruling Shields Privacy of Cellphones.”



Dylan Matthews, “The Surreal Infographics ISIS is Producing, Translated.”

Peter Beinart, “Obama’s Disastrous Iraq Policy: An Autopsy.”

Choe Sang-Hun, “North Korea Warns US Over Film Mocking Its Leader.” (Oh no. James Franco and Seth Rogen cannot be responsible for WW III. . . .)


US Culture and Literature

Ryan Bubalo, “Danger Close: The Iraq War in American Fiction.”

Annalee Newitz and Emily Stamm, “10 Failed Utopian Cities That Influenced the Future.” Atomurbia, the Nuke-Proof National Land Use Plan is particularly interesting.



Humanities and Higher Education

Student debt is perhaps slightly different than we thought.

And a quite funny “Adjunct Survival Syllabus” by Miranda Merklein.

January 2014 Links

January 25, 2014

It’s been a busy month, both in the news and in the world. Here’s a few things I’ve almost had time to read.


Nuclear and Disaster

“Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True,” Eric Schlosser, The New Yorker.

The DSM-5 is the worst.

So are polar vortexes.

The state of emergency in West Virginia and its long term effects.

Literary destruction.

XKCD on the weather.



NSA has a backdoor into your computer and to your iPhone.

Everything we know the NSA can do.


21st Century and beyond.

Sixty words.

Net neutrality.

Future timeline.

Climate apartheid.



Amiri Baraka will be missed.

History of American utopias podcast.

Bruce Robbins on the MLA Israel debate.

John McGowan has some questions about David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

It’s up to the Millennials now.

A reason to switch your major: there’s no jobs for scientists.

David Remnack’s time with President Barack Obama.

No more poverty?

Matthew Barney’s new film, River of Fundament.


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