End of the Semester Links, Spring 2017

It’s been a long year, long for many reasons, but here’s a backlog of some links. (Some very good news is imminent. . . .)


Nuclear and Environmental

New York Times Editorial Board, “The Finger on the Nuclear Button.”

Rebecca Savranksy, “US May Launch Strike if North Korea Moves to Test Nuclear Weapon.”

Kaveh Waddell, “What Happens if a Nuclear Bomb Goes Off in Manhattan.”

Radiolab, “Nukes.”

Laurel Wamsley, “Digitization Unearths New Data From Cold War-Era Nuclear Test Films.”

Michael Biesecker and John Flesher, “President Trump Institutes Media Blackout at EPA.”

Brian Kahn, “The EPA Has Started to Remove Obama-Era Information.”

Zoë Schlanger, “Hackers Downloaded US Government Climate Data and Stored It on European Servers as Trump Was Being Inaugurated.”

Cass R. Sunstein, “Making Sense of Trump’s Order on Climate Change.”

Laurie Penny, “The Slow Confiscation of Everything.”

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Prefiguring Control: The Confidence Man as Protocological Network

Here is the abstract of a paper I just presented at the 2009 WVU Grad Colloquium this last  weekend.  The paper is still in progress, so I will refrain from posting it at the moment.

(btw, if you haven’t seen this, holy moly)

Perhaps what is most striking to a contemporary reader of Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man: His Masquerade (1857), is the manner in which it mirrors current experiences of identity mediation through technology. From avatars on discussion boards, to spam and electronic advertisements claiming their authenticity, to the necessity for various passwords proving who one “is,” to identity theft in general—everywhere the postmodern subject is being asked not only to verify who they are, but to have confidence in what things and people say they are, who, like the Confidence Man himself, often have malicious ends predicated upon having confidence in the authenticity of another’s identity. This paper will explore some of the implications of reading The Confidence Man as a postmodern allegory avant la lettre: how Melville’s text both prefigures the multiplicity of postmodern identity, while exploring the inevitability of the fragmentation of the Western subject when faced with the mediating effects of accelerated technologization brought about by the increasingly efficient working of capital towards the reification of that subject. Ultimately, this paper will argue that the Confidence Man can be read parallactically as both a posthuman figure of resistance to the regime of multiple avatars or identities, and as a figure of that regime himself; that the Confidence Man perhaps finds his most appropriate analogues in the ambiguous artificial intelligences found in Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End (2006) and Leinad Zeraus’ Daemon (2006), than previous modes of reading him as an allegory for Satan.