Post-ThxGiving Links: DFW Syllabi, Imminent Danielewski Hyperarchivalism, billions and billions of dollars, and the Bomb (as always)

Katie Rophie over at Slate discusses David Foster Wallace’s syllabi: “The Extraordinary Syllabi of David Foster Wallace: What His Lesson Plans Teach us About How to Live.”

The New York Times‘ Julie Bosman informs us that Mark Z. Danielewksi is going to publish a 27 volume serialized novel, The Familiar, appearing every three months beginning in 2014. I wonder how long each volume will be. . . . Also, an interesting interview w/ Danielewski.

From Inside Higher Ed: report finds literary research an inefficient use of university money according to Marc Bousquet, in his article from The Minnesota Review, “We Work.”

xkcd money chart.

George Orwell on the nuclear bomb.

And a pretty great nuclear bibliography.

From a Nuclear Critical Perspective, Firestorm is Bonkers

I’ve been testing out DC’s New 52, now and then wandering down to the comic shop, and today I wondered why the hell I hadn’t picked up the first three issues of The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men. The book is written by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone, drawn by Yildiray Cinar, in what sometimes looks to be watercolor, and it is crazily nuclear.

Um. Here is the premise: Some corporation, who supposedly runs the world, is after the missing “Firestorm Protocol.” Unbeknownst to the kinda deepish highschool quarterback in who knows USA, the kid who just so happens to have written a fairly scathing article about the jock in the highschool newspaper, who also happens to be a genius level nerd, has been given the missing protocol by its creator as the result of a private msg board. So when the jock confronts the nerd in the library, and they go out in the hallway to settle it, and the evil corporation (who probably isn’t all that evil, I mean, they are chasing the power to become a nuclear man perhaps so it doesn’t fall into the “wrong hands”) attacks to retrieve it, and to save their lives own lives, the nerd and the jock become Firestorm!? And are able, with their powers combined, to create Fury, a big Power Ranger unleashed by their anger at one another!? And their primary conflict has already been drawn along racial lines. And the nerd is black. It is very promising right now in terms of narrative trajectory. Oh yeah. Firestorms’ powers? So far they seem to be able to turn guns into flowers. And shoot nuclear fire from their hands.

At a certain level it almost doesn’t matter, because this is all really an excuse to post these gorgeous covers. It makes me wanna start a band called The Fury of Firestorm. Oh yeah, and there’s a bunch about the SuperCollider.

Some Links: On the “End” of Postmodernism, Quantum Theory, Apocalypse, and Destroyed Archives

Edward Docx (sounds like a pseudonym) just wrote a piece, “Postmodernism is Dead,” over at Prospect.

At Nature, Eugenie Samuel Reich reports on a major breakthrough in quantum physics. “But the new paper, by a trio of physicists led by Matthew Pusey at Imperial College London, presents a theorem showing that if a quantum wavefunction were purely a statistical tool, then even quantum states that are unconnected across space and time would be able to communicate with each other. As that seems very unlikely to be true, the researchers conclude that the wavefunction must be physically real after all.”

“Why are Apocalyptic Narratives So Popular?” Why, I don’t know. . . .

Occupy Wall Street Archival Destruction.

My colleague Adriana Ramirez is having her students blog for her class “Narrative and Technology: We Might Be Gadgets.” The class just got done playing World of Warcraft (Blizzard: 2004-2011), and I had the great privilege to deliver a guest lecture a few days ago. Check out the blog here.

America’s growing anti-intellectualism.

And a nice discussion of the archival “Etymology” and “Extracts” section of Moby-Dick (which I’m teaching right now).


Excerpt: Pynchon on the Bomb

From one of the rare moments Pynchon addresses his own work:

My reading at the time also included many Victorians, allowing World War I in my imagination to assume the shape of that attractive nuisance so dear to adolescent minds, the apocalyptic showdown.

I don’t mean to make light of this. Our common nightmare The Bomb [note the capitalization] is in there too. It was bad enough in ’59 and is much worse now, as the level of danger has continued to grow. There was never anything subliminal about it, then or now. Except for that succession of the criminally insane who have enjoyed power since 1945, including the power to do something about it, most of the rest of us poor sheep [the preterite] have always been stuck with simple, standard fear. I think we all have tried to deal with this slow escalation of our helplessness and terror in the few ways open to us, from not thinking about it to going crazy from it. Somewhere on this spectrum of impotence is writing fiction about it–occasionally, as here, offset to a more colorful time and place. (Thomas Pynchon, “Introduction” in Slow Learner [New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1984], 18-19.)

New Literature: ENGLIT 0635

I just finished designing the course I’m going to be teaching in the Spring at Pitt, New Literature (ENGLIT 0635), which I’ve titled “U.S. Fiction in the Wake of Postmodernism,” and I am quite excited about it! One of the challenges for such a course (whose online course description is incredibly broad, literally any lit. from the past 25 years, not limited to region, country, genre, style, school, etc.), is figuring out what exactly is meant by “new” literature. Consequently, I’m beginning the course where I often end other courses–Don DeLillo’s White Noise–and am taking up very seriously the idea that the lit. we’re reading is, if not precisely “after” postmodernism (not post-postmodernism, a useless term), then at least positioned in its wake–i.e. the pomo is still around, but it has also left, or something. The class will start w/ grounding pomo in fairly “standard” ways, move through Southland Tales, through some “theory” as lit. (informed by DFWs old “Fictional Futures” essay) and end by seriously considering two U.S. novels that have gotten quite a bit of play as of late, Freedom and The Submission. New lit. indeed. Below is the major reading list, followed by the rest. . .

Don DeLillo, White Noise: Text and Criticism, ed. Mark Osteen (New York: Penguin, 1998 [1985]).

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (New York: Picador, 2011 [2010]). 

Richard Kelly & Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga (Anaheim: Graphitti Designs, 2007).

Amy Waldman, The Submission (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011).

David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1989).

Slavoj Žižek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (New York: Verso, 2002).


And the additional reading:

Jonathan Franzen, “Why Bother” in How to Be Alone: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002), 55-97.

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), 217-253.

Jean Baudrillard, “The Precession of Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation, trans. Sheila Faria Glaser (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994), 1-42.

John Barth, “Lost in the Funhouse” in Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice (New York: Anchor Books, 1988 [1968]), 72-97.

Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” in Postmodernism; or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991), 1-55.

David Foster Wallace, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1996), 21-82.

David Foster Wallace, “Octet” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (New York: Little, Brown & Co., 1999), 131-160.

Steven Shaviro, “Southland Tales,” The Pinocchio Theory (weblog),

David Foster Wallace, “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction 8.3 (1988): 36-53,

Jacques Derrida, “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives),” trans. Catherine Porter & Philip Lewis, in Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Vol. 1, ed. Peggy Kamuf & Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 387-410.

Fredric Jameson, “New Literary History and the End of the New,” New Literary History 39.3 (Summer 2008): 375-87.

Lev Grossman, “Jonathan Franzen: The Wide Shot,” Time 176.8 (Aug. 23, 2010): 42-8, time/magazine/article /0,9171,2010185,00.html.

Michiko Kakutani, “A Family Full of Unhappiness, Hoping for Transcendence,” The New York Times (Aug. 15, 2010), C1,

Sam Tanenhaus, “Peace and War,” The New York Times Book Review (Aug. 19, 2010), 2010/08/29/books/review/Tanenhaus-t.html?ref=books

B.R. Myers, “Smaller Than Life,” The Atlantic (Oct. 2010), 10/smaller-than-life/8212/