If you aren't checking in here regularly, you are doing yourself a disservice.
It seems that modernism was the source of all the ills of the 20th Century. It is big, rational, ordered: soul-crushingly unifying. Post-modernism is warm & fuzzily diverse, local, tribal: essentially divisive. I wonder how that's gonna' work out. Oh and it has something to do with the Fleshtones. A panacea? You'll have to ask Levi.
Is this really how you're supposed to structure your short-story collection? Who knew Canadians had such short fuses?
Is there any hope for fiction—beyond rationalism and commerce?
Mark Sarvas interviews Joseph O'Neill here. My review of Netherland is here. I still don't see why no one else sees the image of the WTC at the end of the book as wickets: "'Even, at the end, with his wife and son gliding up and around on the gleaming London Eye, Hans is content to drift back in memory to an earlier Staten Island Ferry ride toward the Twin Towers with his mother which, in turn, reminds him of a childhood memory of pencils.' (but NOT wickets!?)."
I'm not so sure this post is really about mathematics or even money. But I sincerely hope it is. Don't pull a Mme. Psychosis on us. Just write.
Monty Python coherent? But doesn't that take all the fun out of it? I guess it depends on what you were smoking when you saw it.
(h/t 1 & h/t 2) Richard Powers videos here, here, here, here, and here. My encounter with Mr. Powers here. Guy's brilliant. Great writer.
This promises to be an interesting series of posts re: the world of literary magazines.
Are you keeping up? I'm a few pages behind, but that's okay.
I'm not sure that this guy isn't onto something. We can quibble about specifics, but he's definitely asking the right question.
Jacob Russell thinks that "Aesthetics is lost without ontology." That seems trivially true, as everything is lost without ontology. Without ontology there is nothing. So, we can agree there. Russell's piece appears to be a response to this post at Larval Subjects. Larval believes as follows:
"It seems to me that what has been most fruitful in literary studies– and its best chance for relevance beyond the monadic cells of literary studies folks –are not those moments where it “respects the literary object qua literary object” (though we hear a lot of this rhetoric) but precisely when the literary object is assembled with something else: linguistics, marxist social theory (Jameson), phenomenology, philosophy, systems and complexity theory, ethnography, information theory and cybernetics, etc. In other words, literary studies does not articulate what is “in” the text, but rather provokes texts to speak by assembling them with something other than the text."a/k/a Intertextuality. Larval then takes a run at Jacob here: He is "willing to wager that the aesthetic theory of a philosopher contains, in fractal form, the inner kernel and truth of any philosopher." And, to my mind, he asks precisely the right question: "Might it instead be the reverse, that ontology (and epistemology) is nothing without aesthetics?" But his thoughts then sort of dwindle into anecdote. Perhaps it's because there's a fundamental contradiction in his argument.
Look: We cannot know what is not presented to us, i.e., apparent to us either perceptually or conceptually. Aesthetics just is the attempt to grasp what is apparent in all its manifest plenitude. And based on a full appreciation of what is apparent we can begin to posit what is (if, in fact, it is any different), i.e., ontology. So, yes, ontology (and epistemology) is nothing without aesthetics in this sense. However, aesthetics is something other than theory. Aesthetics is precisely the study of what Beardsley liked to call the "regional qualities" of the work. To bring it all back home to fiction, a novel is a "model of consciousness". It challenges us to inhabit it, thus (re-)creating the reality it presents. Understanding how this reality is created—the techniques, mechanisms, forms, craft, artistry, conception (i.e., the aesthetic values)—is of utmost importance, and the intertext (particularly the intertext of theory) is merely subservient to this quest. To the critic or, better yet, the Larval theoretician, however, the square peg of the text must be made to fit into the round hole of some theory. That is, s/he has some axe that needs a good grinding. Thus, s/he refuses the immersion in the world of the text. Refuses the fullness of the aesthetic moment with a flailing grasp for relevance: "I don't like that book because it doesn't have any relevance with my life as a (insert ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, political affinity, etc., label here)." "That character is not sympathetic because s/he doesn't resemble me or share my concerns." "That novel doesn't jibe with my fixed ideas of what a novel should do and be." The Larval point of view is an explicit disavowal/refusal of any experience that is other or alien (i.e., non-relevant): If the text cannot be subsumed in the (favored) theory, then the text has no relevance. Larval seeks to extract some readily identifiable (commodifiable) theoretical content from the novel, when what the aesthetic object is all about is form. The novel, true to its name, is the presentation of something new—a new experience, a new reality, a new model of consciousness.