Nuclear and Environmental
Daniel Bessner, “On the Brink.”
Nuclear and Environmental
Daniel Bessner, “On the Brink.”
Note: it appears that Danielewski had to postpone the Facebook Live event due to technical difficulties. I’ll be posting again when it has been rescheduled.
Mark Z. Danielewski will be appearing on Facebook Live to talk with the members of The Familiar (Volume 1-5) Book Club about his remarkable novel, The Familiar (2015-). He has distributed my recent conference paper, “The Time of Megatexts: Dark Accumulation and Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar,” in advance. I invite you to read my essay and join in what should be an interesting conversation.
It’s been a fun, eventful, interesting, and, of course, busy first semester at Hartwick College. Everything else, however, is quite dark. Some links.
Nuclear and Environmental
US Global Change Research Program, “Climate Science Special Report.”
Ariel Norfman, “Nuclear Apocalypse Now?”
Elizabeth Kolbert, “Going Negative: Can Carbon-Dioxide Removal Save the World?”
Mike Davis, “Nuclear Imperialism and Extended Deterrence.”
Neena Satija, Kiah Collier, Al Shaw, and Jeff Larson, “Hell or High Water.”
Next week I will be presenting a paper on a panel titled “The Power of Digital Talk” at the 2017 Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts Conference at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, November 9-12. The abstract for the paper is below.
Thursday, November 9, Session 1 2:00-3:30pm: 1E “The Power of Digital Talk”
Chair: Julie Funk
“The Time of Megatexts: Dark Accumulation and Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar,” Bradley J. Fest, Hartwick College.
“A Tech-Lover’s Discourse: Roland Barthes, Longing, Loss, and Separation Anxiety in Non-Use Discourse,” Julie Funk, University of Waterloo, Critical Media Lab.
“World Wide Walden: Toward a Thoreauvian Ethics of Screen Time,” John Tinnell, University of Colorado.
The Time of Megatexts: Dark Accumulation and Mark Z. Danielewski’s The Familiar
With the disastrous effects of rising atmospheric carbon becoming increasingly observable and the relentless pace of neoliberal capital pursuing ever-increasing profit, the twenty-first century appears to be a time of dark accumulation. Increasingly, the risks facing the overdeveloped world stem not from absence but from overwhelming presence: everywhere there is a problem of too much. And it appears that such horrifying accumulation goes for contemporary experiences of time as well. An author known, perhaps most famously, for exploring spatial and textual accumulation, Mark Z. Danielewski’s new project, The Familiar (2015–), a twenty-seven-volume serial novel in progress, turns his attention to the multiplying temporalities of the Anthropocene. From the deep time of its cosmic frame tale and the shifting temporalities of globalization experienced by its cosmopolitan characters, to its confrontation with planetarity and its bi-annual, serialized release schedule, The Familiar asks its readers to confront what it means to live in and at too many times. In this paper I will explore The Familiar as an example of what I call a megatext—an unreadably large yet concrete aesthetic and rhetorical transmedia object, produced and conceived as a singular work, and which depends upon digital technology and collaborative authorship for its production—and argue that Danielewski’s massive novel emerges from and responds to a world in which time is no longer out of joint, but overwhelmingly and catastrophically multiple.
Nuclear and Environmental
Robin Bravender, “Trump Picks Top Climate Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition.”
Coral Davenport, “Donald Trump Could Put Climate Change on Course for ‘Danger Zone.'”
Generation Anthropocene, “An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.”
And Avery Thompson, “Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol.”
I’ll be giving two talks in Pittsburgh over the next two months on May 13 and June 22, 2016.
1. Friday, May 13, 2016 — 2:30 – 4:30. Part of a panel on “The Novel in or against Neoliberalism” at the 2016 Studies in the Novel Conference, The Novel in or against World Literature, Wyndham University Center – Oakland Room II.
Chair: Jen Fleissner, Indiana University
“The Megatext and Neoliberalism,” Bradley J. Fest, University of Pittsburgh
“The Novel in India and Neoliberalism,” H. Kalpana, Pondicherry University
“The Novel and Neoliberal Empathy,” Alissa G. Karl, The College at Brockport-SUNY
“Immanent Value in The Golden Bowl,” Paul Stasi, University at Albany-SUNY
The Megatext and Neoliberalism
With the steadily increasing storage capacity and processing power of contemporary information technology, enormously large texts are beginning to emerge that rival the books and libraries once imagined by Jorge Luis Borges. For instance, at some point in the near future, poet and novelist Richard Grossman will install Breeze Avenue—a five thousand volume, three million page “novel”—as a reading room in Los Angeles, and will also make this text available online in a fluid version that will change roughly every seven minutes for a century. Grossman’s text is, quite simply, too big to read; it is a megatext. This paper will consider the appearance of the unreadably massive novel as an emergent form native to the neoliberal era.
The writing, publication, and distribution of megatexts are impossible without the informatic, technological, and economic transformations of neoliberal globalization. For instance, the composition of Breeze Avenue would be inconceivable without big data and algorithmically generated text, without significant funding and personal wealth (Grossman was a high-level executive for a multinational financial firm in the 1970s), and without transforming the labor of the author from writing to managing. Mark Z. Danielewski’s twenty-seven volume meganovel-in-progress, The Familiar (2015- ), takes full advantage of contemporary digital composition and production to create a work deeply enmeshed in the digital present by self-reflexively remediating the new media forms made possible by the distributed networks and posthuman technologies of the twenty-first century—including electronic literature, premier serial television, social media, videogames, and YouTube. And Mark Leach’s seventeen volume, ten thousand page, open source, digitally generated meganovel, Marienbad My Love (2008), takes advantage of crowd-sourced, collective authorship, reflecting the always-on unpaid digital microlabor that has come to characterize work in the overdeveloped world. Understanding such texts as unique outgrowths of and important critical reflections upon the age of neoliberalism allows us to explore important questions about the role of the novel in the twenty-first century and the possibilities for responding to the nonhuman logics of contemporaneity.
2. Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00, I’ve organized a panel on “Videogame Adaptation” with Jedd Hakimi and Kevin M. Flanagan, colleagues in the Film Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh, for the Keystone DH 2016 Conference, Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh. (A schedule of the conference.)
As videogames continue to emerge as a dominant twenty-first-century form, it is becoming clearer that they have complex relationships to other media. This panel, part of a larger collaborative project, will address issues of adaptation and videogames from a transmedia perspective, drawing particularly on the resources provided by film and literary studies.
Videogame Adaptation: Some Experiments in Method
Kevin M. Flanagan, University of Pittsburgh
This paper outlines the concerns and conceptual practices of videogame adaptation, noting the many ways in which videogames shape, or are shaped by, ideas, narratives, and mechanics from other media. In situating videogames into the discourses of textual transformation that animate current work in adaptation studies, I argue that traditional approaches to adaptation in English departments (which privilege novel-to-film adaptation in a one-to-one correspondence) have a lot to learn from games, which function as adaptations at all stages of their production and consumption. I also demonstrate how adaptation studies challenges claims to medium specificity that form a foundational conceit of videogame studies.
Metaproceduralism: The Stanley Parable and the Legacies of Postmodern Metafiction
Bradley J. Fest, University of Pittsburgh
Most critics of contemporary literature have reached a consensus that what was once called “postmodernism” is over and that its signature modes—metafiction and irony—are on the wane. This is not the case, however, with videogames. In recent years, a number of self-reflexive games have appeared, exemplified by Davey Wreden’s The Stanley Parable (2013), an ironic game about games. When self-awareness migrates form print to screen, however, something happens. If metafiction can be characterized by how it draws attention to language and representation, this paper will argue how self-reflexivity in videogames is best understood in terms of action and procedure, as metaproceduralism.
Playing Los Angeles Itself: Experiencing the Digital Documentary Environment in LA Noire
Jedd Hakimi, University of Pittsburgh
Almost everything about the predominantly faithful depiction of 1947 Los Angeles in the recent, police-procedural videogame LA Noire (2011) was based on archival material, including period maps, photography, and film footage. And while scholars have thought extensively about how film spectators experience mediated depictions of real-world cities, the videogame player’s parallel experience has been relatively unexplored. Accordingly, I take LA Noire’s simulacrum as an opportunity to reflect on what happens when a real-world environment is adapted into the setting for a videogame. Specifically, I position LA Noire in the tradition of the “city-symphony” film and a particular sub-set of Film Noir known as the “semi-documentary” to make the case LA Noire contains crucial aspects of the documentary image. Consequently, LA Noire is not so much creating a fictional, diegetic world, as it is presenting our own world back to us in a manner that changes the way we experience the world in which we live.
National Security State
Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, “Key Parts of Patriot Act Expire Temporarily as Senate Moves Toward Limits on Spying.”
Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, “Senate to Take Up Spy Bill as Parts of Patriot Act Expire.”
It’s been a busy month, and a there’s a bunch of stuff to catch up on, so links:
Disaster and Environment
Sarah Resnick, “A Note on the Long Tomorrow.”
Phil Plait, “Jovian Armageddon +20.”
Jamie Lauren Keiles, “Millennial Revenge Fantasy.”
Maureen McHugh, David Rieff, Benjamin Kunkel, Joseph McElroy, Srikanth Reddy, and Ted Nelson: “Speculations Archive: Overextending Ourselves.”
Another semester is coming to a close, and I finally have a chance to sit down and sort through the backlog of links that have been piling up over the past few months. So, with no further ado, links.
Nuclear, Environment, Ruins
Thomas Erdbrink, “Iran’s Leaders Fall Into Line Behind Nuclear Accord.”
William J. Broad, “Hydrogen Bomb Physicist’s Book Runs Afoul of Energy Department.”
John R. Bolton, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Um, no.
Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, “South African Nuclear Cache Unnerves US.”
Charlie Jane Anders, “Nanotech Could Make Nuclear Bombs Much, Much Tinier.”
Andreas Malm, “The Anthropocene Myth.”
99% Invisible, “Ten Thousand Years.”