End of the Semester Links, Spring 2016

Nuclear and Environmental

Justin Gillis, “Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries.”

Ross Andersen, “We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction.”

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, “On Extinction and Capitalism.”

Robert Macfarlane, “Generation Anthropocene.”

Will Worley, “Radioactive Wild Boar Rampaging around Fukushima Nuclear Site.”

Rebecca Evans, “Weather Permitting.”

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Spring Break Links 2016

It has been a very busy past few months, and my links have suffered. But spring break has provided some lovely, unencumbered time, so here are many, many links (futilely) attempting to catch up with what’s been happening in the world. (In the interest of space, I’ve also passed over some of the more visible recent stories.)


Nuclear and Environmental

Paul Krugman, “Republicans’ Climate Change Denial Denial.”

Democracy Now, “Naomi Klein on Paris Summit: Leaders’ Inaction on Climate Crisis Is ‘Violence” Against the Planet.”

Adrienne LaFrance, “The Chilling Regularity of Mass Extinctions.”

Isabelle Stengers, In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism.

Sebastian Anthony, “Scientists Discover an Ocean 400 Miles Beneath Our Feet that Could Fill Our Oceans Three Times Over.”

Kylie Mohr, “Apocalypse Chow: We Tried Televangelist Jim Bakker’s ‘Survival Food.'”

Alex Trembath, “Are You and Upwinger or a Downwinger?”

Eric Bradner, “Newly Released Documents Reveal US Cold War Nuclear Target List.”

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A Miscellaneous Group of Not Very Doomy Links

Surveillance, consent, networks, numbers, the hyperarchival condition of the contemporary: Natasha Lennard writes “Of Being Numerous” for The New Inquiry.

This doesn’t seem like reading at all: the new “speed reading app.”

Rebecca Stoner in The Daily Sophist: “What’s Love Got to Do with Anything? DFW Biographer D.T. Max Speaks on Campus.”

“A Game is Being Beaten” by Leigh Alexander at The New Inquiry: “The trend in video game design is to comment on violence by asking players to perform violence. But could there be pleasure in performing consent?”

“How Benjamin Kunkel Went from Novelist to Marxist Public Intellectual” by David Wallace-Wells at Vulture.

Between Two Ferns: The Selling of the President, 2014.”

A very interesting forthcoming issue of Critical Inquiry.

A(nother) soundtrack for the apocalypse. Track 1 seems especially doomy. (Thanks Michael.)

My good friend Ryan Pierson on The Lego Movie: “On the Nonessential Beauty of Legos.”

And because I saw it yesterday and enjoyed it (though I am a bit confounded by this fact), another: Andrew O’hehir for Salon: The Lego Movie: Plastic Blocks Fight for Freedom!”

German philosophers play Monopoly. (I wonder what would happen if they got a game of Risk [The Game of Ruining Friendships] going.)

And sad news in hyperarchival realism. Google is redoing its Street View for many places in Pittsburgh, and thus Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett’s wonderful Street With a View is going away. (Right now it goes from a marching band in the rain to a deserted, sunny street. Uncanny.) Ah, the transitory internet–perhaps it isn’t an archive at all, for really, how do we archive the present in the present. . . .

A short film on Street With a View:

Mark Sussman on DFW and D.T. Max’s Biography

A buddy of mine from back in my Arizona days, Mark Sussman, has an interview with D.T. Max on his new DFW biography and DFW as a “Burkean conservative,” and an article/review of the book as well. Check’em out. (There’s also a nice little nod to Prof. Charles Sherry in the interview, who was probably one of the most important teachers I’ve ever had, even if I did write a nonsensical disaster of a senior thesis on Nietzsche for him.)

Brett Easton Ellis . . .

. . . is making a fool of himself. Though I’ll admit D.T. Max’s Every Love Story is Ghost Story left me slightly disappointed (actually, I could probably criticize much of it, like on a sentence level, but I won’t), it is still a welcome addition to our understanding of DFW’s life and work, and it surely doesn’t make me want to submit this kind of  twitter fiasco Ellis is involved in: “Reading D.T. Max’s bio I continue to find David Foster Wallace the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation…” It is precisely this kind of vitriolic internet rambling, of the upset nerd commenting on well, whatever, that is beginning to define the critical atmosphere of today. If Matthew Arnold was around today, and answered the question of what the function of internet criticism is at the present time, I don’t think things like Culture and Anarchy (1869), or much of anything else, would have been written; he would’ve been too despondent. Further, to me the atmosphere of constant, instant, widespread, poorly-thought-out, and loud criticism from hardly qualified and anonymous people with nothing better to do that dominates “comments”-discourse today, this culture of easy and quick dismissal (of anything), practically requires of us the most generous, considered criticism we can muster. Ellis’s words don’t make me want to read his significant oeuvre any less generously (though I do think DFW has a point in “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” a salvo he launched against Ellis in 1987, so yes, he got the first shots in quite a while ago). In fact, for those of us who are seriously in the business of criticism, this kind of thing only re-emphasizes the need for us to be as generous, thoughtful, and, well, kind as we can. It is much easier to say what is “bad” about a work of art–really, any art, how easy is it to call, say, Jackson Pollock’s paintings bad b/c my “five year old could have painted that”–and it is esp. easy to say what is “bad” about a dead artist. It is much more difficult to figure out what is worthwhile in a work, particularly something that does not immediately strike one as worthy of one’s attention. And even more difficult is actually trying to figure out what kind of aesthetic work something is trying to do, what the poem, novel, painting is trying to say, what meaning it is constructing, etc. I have to imagine Ellis’s own work would benefit from seriously considering DFW and, if he were still around, vice versa. But, for now, being loud and mean surely gets oneself a minute of attention, “but a minute was all it was. After nature had drawn just a few more breaths the planet froze and the clever animals had to die.”[1]

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lying in a Non-Moral Sense,” in The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, Trans. & ed. Ronald Speirs. Ed. Raymond Geuss (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 141.