Michael Robbins has a great piece in this months Harper’s, “Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives: A Poet’s Guide to Metal,” which, in the space of six pages, is able to reference John Milton, Rainer Maria Rilke, Black Sabbath, and Converge. I did not know that could be done. (Even R., who tends to abhor whenever anything loud and screamy even gets near our home’s turntable, enjoyed this piece.) Highlights of the short essay include: quoting a number of lines from William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” and commenting, “sounds pretty metal to me”; describing a Converge show where they “took over that space like a bellowing wooly rhino crashing into a Pleistocene clearing. . . . It’s war music” (a pretty accurate description); and some reflections on metal and capital: “Sometimes I wonder what metal would sound like after capitalism, or whether we would even need metal then. I wonder the same about poetry.”
More DFW stuff. Peter Finocchiaro, “What David Foster Wallace Got Wrong About Irony: Our Culture Doesn’t Have Nearly Enough of It,” which, strangely enough, is actually an interview with Jonathan Lear about irony (rather than an article specifically about DFW’s sense of irony). In my revised version of an essay that will appear in David Foster Wallace and “The Long Thing” (forthcoming July 2014), I make some similar points about the need for irony at the present time. That said, Lear seems to have a better handle on Wallace’s specific take on irony from the television essay than Finocchiaro, emphasizing that DFW was both a gifted ironist himself and that, in “E Unibus Pluram,” he is critiquing institutionalized irony, which I think all us post-ironists or new sincerity people would do well to heed, along with Lear’s acknowledgment that irony can actually be a from of earnestness: “There’s a very famous quote from Kierkegaard — or, I don’t know how famous it is, but it’s one of my favorites — where he said, it’s ‘only assistant professors’ who think irony can’t be a form of earnestness. Basically his claim is that irony when properly understood is a very high form of sincerity and earnestness, not its opposite. As he put it, it’s a real misunderstanding of what irony is to think it’s the opposite of earnestness toward commitment.” I feel the earnestness or “sincerity” of irony as it plays out in DFW’s work and thinking has been something that has been overlooked to the detriment of both our understanding of DFW and irony more generally.
Alex C. Madrigal and Adrienne LaFrance, “Net Neutrality: A Guide to (and History of) a Contested Idea.”
Dexter Filkins writes a letter from Iraq in The New Yorker, “What We Left Behind.”
And from the University of Pittsburgh’s great graduate student film blog, Kevin Flanagan on “Introduction to Applied Airport Studies.”
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: