Elaine Scarry Has a New Book on Nukes, and Other Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a discussion of Elaine Scarry‘s new book, Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom (2014). Nathan Schneider has written an extensive review of Thermonuclear Monarchy, “A Literary Scholar’s Voice in the Wilderness: Elaine Scarry Fights American Complacency About Nuclear Arms.” Scarry is also the author of the monumentally important, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1987).

“Melting Ice Makes the Arctic A Much Worse Heat-Magnet than Scientists Feared.”

January was actually one of the warmest months on record.

And more disastrous weather to come.

Lennard Davis and Walter Benn Michaels writing for Jacobin on the University Illinois-Chicago faculty strike.

Davis and Michaels explaining why they’re striking at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Noam Chomsky: Zombies are the New Indians and Slave in White America’s Collective Nightmare.”

“David Foster Wallace, Mathematician.”

Samuel Cohen on Wallace, “Future Tense.”

My friend David Letzler reviews Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge (2013).

On Dead Poets Society (1989) and the humanities.

“Feminism, Depravity, and Power in House of Cards.” I just finished watching the fairly incredible second season last night.

Paranoia and Conspiracy: 2013 Style

So, amidst the nearly daily revelations of the NSA, Scott Shane for The New York Times reports that “No Morsel Too Miniscule for All-Consuming NSA”:

From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations. It spies routinely on friends as well as foes, as has become obvious in recent weeks; the agency’s official mission list includes using its surveillance powers to achieve “diplomatic advantage” over such allies as France and Germany and “economic advantage” over Japan and Brazil, among other countries.

I am tempted to say that the NSA represents something like the capital T Truth of our global, hyperarchival reality.

And in still paranoid, but less frightening news, Carolyn Kellogg, friend and writer for The Los Angeles Times, appears on a podcast discussing Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge at Three Percent.

More Bleeding Edge Reviews and The Crisis in the Humanities

This month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine has a lengthy and interesting review of Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge by Joshua Cohen (article link requires subscription), and an interesting take on the crisis in the humanities (something this blog has posted frequently on this last summer) in Thomas Frank’s monthly column, “Easy Chair,” titled, “Course Corrections.” Frank nicely summarizes many of the issues facing humanists and the humanities today, and ends with a fairly bold call: “The world doesn’t need another self-hypnotizing report on why universities exist. What it needs is for universities to stop ruining the lives of their students [financially]. Don’t propagandize for your institutions, professors: Change them. Grab the levers of power and pull.” (On a semi-related note I’m happy to report that my own current department looks like it is doing just that.)

Anticipating Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge


As the publication date of Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, The Bleeding Edge is only now a month away (17 September 2013), I thought I might post a number of links previewing it.

Slate has a few brief comments on Pynchon, but more importantly, the first page of the novel, which features a wonderful description of early-2000s New York.

J.K. Trotter wrote a fairly extended piece for the Atlantic in June, “Thomas Pynchon Returns to New York, Where He’s Always Been.”

Library Journal has a brief preview, as does The Examiner.

The New Yorker celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of V. (1963).

There is what appears to be the first review of the novel (though I’m skeptical).

A panel at MLA 2014 has already been announced that will discuss Bleeding Edge.

And even Grantland is in on the hype.

I myself will be putting in my pre-order any day now.

For further info on Pynchon, see the always wonderful thomaspynchon.com, Spermatikos Logos, and the Pynchon wiki.

Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge

So it looks like my first speculation about when this novel was going to be set has turned out to be true: the 1990s and/or 2000s, thereby completing his epic of the 20th c. The New York Times reports that Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Bleeding Edge will be out Sept. 17, and is “set in 2001, [and] takes place in ‘the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11.’” Wow. 2001 seems close enough for me to feel like my speculation was accurate. Who would’ve thunk that maybe the best 9.11.01 novel might be Pynchon’s . . . .