As predicted, I have been quite busy indeed and have not had a chance to post anything over the past couple of weeks. A bunch of fascinating stuff has been happening, a bunch of interesting books are coming out, etc., so I’m sad that I’ve been remiss in my duties. Hopefully this large batch of links will make up for that.
Apocalypse and After
George Dvorsky, “Have Humans Already Conquered the Threat of Extinction?”
Or not. Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander, “Limits to Growth Was Right: New Research Shows We’re Nearing Collapse.”
One of the first reviews of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
Jessica Corbett and Ethan Corey, “5 Crucial Lessons for the Left from Naomi Klein’s New Book.”
Eric Holthaus, “New Study Links Polar Vortex to Climate Change.”
Eugene Thacker on Radiolab.
And who knows where to put this one: Alison Flood, “Margaret Atwood’s New Work Will Remain Unseen for a Century.”
Environment and Disaster
Robin McKie, “Miami, the Great World City, Is Drowning While the Powers That Be Look Away.”
More on Miami: Jeff Goodell, “Goodbye, Miami.” (And there’s definitely a joke to be made about LeBron leaving Miami here. . . .)
And when it rains, it also might pour lava from the sky: Scott Kaufman, “Parts of Yellowstone National Park Close After Massive Supervolcano Beneath It Melts Roads.”
More adventures in nuclear incompetence: Lily Hay Newman, “Air Force Security Failed a Takeover Drill at a Nuclear Silo.”
Climate Change, Catastrophe, and the Anthropocene
We’re doomed. “A Galaxy Far, Far Away . . . Will Hit Ours.”
Lindsay Abrams, “Researchers: The Collapse of Greenland’s Ice Sheet Could Be a Bigger Disaster Than We Thought.”
Ari Phillips, “In Landmark Class Action, Farmers Insurance Sues Local Government for Ignoring Climate Change.” Is that what we need? For the insurance companies to get involved?
Yes. McKenzie Funk, “Insuring the Apocalypse.”
Paul Krugman, “Cutting Back on Carbon.”
On the flooding in the Balkans.
Everything is the worst: Ryan Koronowski, “House Votes to Deny Climate Science and Ties Pentagon’s Hands on Climate Change.”
And scientists agree, we should just start calling climate change “You will be burnt to a crisp and die.”
As I have been lax in posting things, yesterday I posted a bunch of links on recent stories regarding the NSA. Today I’m posting links of more general interest. I’ve tried to organize them by category.
The biggest story I have not had time to address were the diplomatic talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So here are some links to that.
On 5 November 2013 Reuters reported that Iran, Israel, and Middle East countries “took part in a meeting two weeks ago about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”
Temporary nuclear pact.
UN nuclear inspectors in Iran.
“Iran, from Enemy to Ally.”
Right on the verge of a nuclear agreement, perhaps the biggest event in nuclear nonproliferation in my lifetime, Bob Mendez fights Obama on imposing new sanctions on Iran, as do fifteen other democrats. More here.
Though from today: progress in nuclear talks.
Here’s a couple things I’ve found interesting recently that I forgot to post amidst the work of the semester.
From The Atlantic, Taylor Clark covers Braid designer Jonathan Blow in “The Most Dangerous Gamer.”
An excellent long review of DFW’s The Pale King that I missed from last year: John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Too Much Information,” in GQ.
Pictures from the secret town of Oak Ridge.
15 writer’s bedrooms. This is Faulkner’s:
And Žižek on The Wire.
Seriously, check it out here.
Here is an abstract for a paper I will be delivering at the 2011 Society for Utopian Studies Conference, “Archiving Utopia–Utopia as Archive,” in State College, Pennsylvania. The conference goes from October 20-23.
The Apocalypse Archive: Reconsidering Nuclear Criticism
There has been a curious trend toward a reconsideration of the apocalyptic as a valid category for utopian possibility in some recent Marxist thought, perhaps best exemplified in the recent work of Slavoj Žižek. Responding to the economic crisis in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce,Žižek tells us that, “paradoxically, the only way to prevent the disaster is to accept it as inevitable.” It is precisely against such retrograde apocalypticism that this paper would like to propose the necessity for reconsidering nuclear criticism. Quite provocatively, in the founding document of this critical practice, Jacques Derrida informs us that nuclear war—and consequently any contemporary apocalyptic formulation—“is fabulously textual.” What this claim allows Derrida to explore is the literary archive’s relationship to disaster, that the archive is simultaneously the object of destruction as well as its agent. Though with the end of the Cold War nuclear criticism all but disappeared after 1993, I claim that, to think through the utopian possibilities contained within and around the archive, especially in light of the burgeoning new technologies of archivization attending the information age, we must take very seriously a return to a critical practice capable of not only watching over the archive of disaster—whether in terms of destruction or accumulation—but imagining the archive of possibility. It is precisely through a reconsideration of nuclear criticism as anti-eschatological, as against apocalypse in all its forms, rhetorical, messianic, or otherwise, that a path through and toward the utopian archive may be found.
Over in Guernica, there are two recent articles. One is Alexis Madrigal’s “Nuclear Haze,” which discusses some of the historical markers of nuclear energy. The other is an excerpt from Slavoj Žižek’s Living in the End Times, titled (quite interestingly) “The Un-Shock Doctrine.”
David James Keaton pointed me to these 51 post-apocalyptic images (though most of them look like they come from, or are art accompanying the Fallout games). Here’s a sample:
It turns out that Leó Szilárd , one of the father’s of the atomic bomb, wrote some posthuman sf.
Junot Díaz weighs in on the apocalypse, at the Boston Review.
And an excerpt from Evan Calder Williams’s quite fascinating Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (Winchester, UK: Zero Books, 2011):
“However, The Bed Sitting Room and the salvagepunk aesthetic more generally grasps that we’ve been living after the apocalypse for a while now, and that the problem is too much of the hidden has been revealed. Too much uncovered data, too many telling images, too many public secrets. It’s piling up everywhere and making it impossible to find the correct enemies, the right cracks to widen, the right ways to attack and build better. In this sense, salvagepunk post-apocalypticism is concerned with being more apocalyptic than the apocalypse: clearing away the clutter to reveal the true hidden-in-plain-view, namely, the deep, permanent antagonisms on which capitalism runs and the untenability of that system’s capacity to run” (56).