Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Close Every Tab from the Semester or Die Trying Links

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* Some nice conference acceptance news: My semester of David Foster Wallace will end with a panel on “Infinite Jest at Twenty” with Lee Konstantinou, Carrie Shanafelt, and Kate Hayles at MLA 2017. I’ve put the full panel description in the comments for anyone interested…

David Foster Wallace’s Famous Commencement Speech Almost Didn’t Happen. Guest appearance from my friend from grad school, Meredith Farmer!

* It’s been such a busy week I haven’t had time to crow about Jaimee’s poem appearing on Verse Daily.

* An obituary for my friend and Marquette colleague Diane Long Hoeveler.

* CFPs from Foundation: The Essay Prize (for graduate students and adjuncts) and a special issue on SF theater.

* Call For Papers: The Precariat & The Professor.

* For World’s Newest Scrabble Stars, SHORT Tops SHORTER: Nigerian players dominate tournaments with the surprising strategy of playing short words even when longer ones are possible.

Want to See Hamilton in a City Near You? Buy a Subscription and Wait Two Years. Okay, maybe I will!

How Hamilton Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Building A Brand For The Ages.

* google d&d player’s handbook truth: The Curious Case of the Weapon that Didn’t Exist.

Burlington College Will Close, Citing Longstanding Financial Woes. What Killed Burlington College?

* Ending HBCUs in North Carolina.

Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students. And on the Harry Potter Social Justice Wizard beat: a genderqueer student comes to hogwarts and…

* How Student Debt Reduces Lifetime Wealth.

* More data on learning and laptops — but you’ll never convince me that students benefit more from pen-and-paper notes than from a searchable, permanent archive of their entire academic career Spotlight can access and retrieve instantly.

* Many public universities now rely heavily on parents—particularly those with money, time, and connections—to meet their basic needs.

* Big-Time College Sports Neglect Academics, Deflect Blame.

* Huge, if true: In other words, the rush to embrace entrepreneurship is ideological rather than practical.

* Tenure as earned property.

* Diversity defunded in Tennessee.

UW English Chair Caroline Levine: Enough with Scott Walker and the GOP — I’m leaving.

Texas School District Votes to Build Totally Tasteful $62 Million High School Football Stadium.

A new documentary, Agents of Change, describes the five-month SF State protest and a similar strike at Cornell University through the voices of former students like Tascoe who were involved. The film is a gripping case study of the meticulous organizing, community engagement, and careful planning that went into two of the most effective student strikes in American history. Black Studies Matter.

* I was seriously thisclose to writing a #TeamCap blog post to comicsplain Civil War to the confused, but Mightygodking got there first.

* Milwaukee in the ne — oh for fuck’s sake.

Wisconsin communities dominate “Drunkest Cities” report.

Wisconsin woman has confirmed case of Zika virus.

“Rare detailed personal memory a burden, and ultimately a gift.”

* “This 90-Year-Old Lady Seduced and Killed Nazis as a Teenager.”

“Why do all old statues have such small penises?”

* Probably the most honest thing ever said about this election: 87-Year-Old Billionaire Endorses Trump, Says He Doesn’t Care If It’s A Mistake Since He’ll Be Dead. Meanwhile, this is just totally bananas: Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself.

What Would It Take for Donald Trump to Deport 11 Million and Build a Wall?

A First-Person Account of a Texas Artist’s Deportation.

* From what I can tell, the current Sanders campaign is riven between people who are increasingly upset or bewildered by what we might call the resurgent “burn it down” turn of Sanders outlook and others who are fully immersed in the feedback loop of grievance and paranoia that sees all the political events of the last year as a series of large and small scale conspiracies to deny the rectitude and destiny of Bernie Sanders. I’ve seen many, many campaigns. People put everything into it and losing is brutal and punishing. Folks on the losing side frequently go a little nuts, sometimes a lot nuts. The 2008 denouement really was pretty crazy. But it’s not clear that this time we have any countervailing force – adulthood, institutional buy-in, future careers, over-riding pragmatism to rein things in.

Why Pennsylvania Could Decide The 2016 Election.

http://mobile.twitter.com/AlexJamesFitz/status/732583842175975428

* Almost starting to see a pattern here, Disney: Shane Black reveals Iron Man 3 scrapped a female villain because of toy sales. Why Disney needs a gay princess.

From cooperation to black operation: A Conversation with Stefano Harney and Fred Moten on The Undercommons.

* A brief history of the giraffe.

“When you have a child with a life-threatening illness, you have an irrevocably altered existence,” Barbara Sourkes had told the Levys, and Esther feels that is true. She had always felt in control of her fate, but now she believes this to be a fiction. She finds it difficult to reconcile bitterness over the blight of Andrew’s illness with gratitude for the reprieve. “We are the luckiest of the unluckiest people in the world,” she says. “I truly believe that.”

With playdates replacing free childhood play, it’s upper-class families who set the social norms — and working-class families who pay the price.

Can Graduate Students Unionize? The Government Can’t Decide.

* TSA forever and ever amen.

* After all this time, who can say really who sent whom to Robben Island for 27 years.

* I too like to live dangerously: Uber Says Riders Will Pay the Most When Their Phone Battery Is Dying.

Small Beer Press to Publish 400-Year-Old SF Novel.

* On Kim Stanley Robinson and “solarpunk.”

Nate Moore, 37, is the lone African-American producer in the film division at Marvel Studios. And elsewhere in Marvel news: Agents of SHIELD Star Says Marvel Doesn’t Care Enough About Its Own TV Show.

* DC has, to all reports, done something utterly crazy. Big shakeup in their film division to boot. Can Booster Gold save the DC Cinematic Universe?

Not even $100 million can make Daniel Craig give a fuck about James Bond.

* World-famous ethicist isn’t.

* What terrible luck! The CIA has “mistakenly” destroyed the sole copy of a massive Senate torture report in the custody of the agency’s internal watchdog group, Yahoo News reported Monday.

Americans Don’t Miss Manufacturing — They Miss Unions.

* University title and salary generator.

Behind Some Campus Protests, a Team of Paid Professionals.

* The Sochi hoax.

* Attempt no landings etc: Europa Is Even More Earth-Like Than We Suspected.

* Outrageous slander: The Warriors Still Aren’t the Best Team Ever.

Liberal Think Tank Fires Blogger for Rude Tweets. Bruenighazi.

Against the Crowdfunding Economy.

In other words, Zootopia advances a sublimated theory of power that is strangely conservative, and — perhaps not so strangely — fundamentally allied with the project of economic neoliberalization. After a humiliating stint as a traffic cop, Judy Hopps is assigned to the case of a group of predators who have suddenly gone “savage,” which in this anthropomorphized universe means ripping off their clothes, dropping to all fours, and attacking other animals. It turns out that this crisis of respectability was engineered by the unassuming Bellwether, a champion of rabbits and mice who has dosed the predators with a weaponized narcotic that returns them to a “primitive” state of bestial violence. In order to bolster her own political prospects, Bellwether has engineered an interspecies crisis of what 1990s Clintonites called “super-predators” run amok. This is very close — if we pursue the allegory to its political ends — to alleging that the state has manufactured crises of, say, black masculinity in order to whip up the white public-safety vote and secure its own legitimacy. Now that would be an interesting intervention, if the film took us all the way there. And it really almost does.

What Kinds of Difference Do Superheroes Make?: An Interview with Ramzi Fawaz. Part Two.

NCDOT tries something new to thwart Durham’s Can Opener bridge.

The Most Successful Female Everest Climber of All Time Is a Housekeeper in Hartford, Connecticut.

* The Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines.

* Ted Chiang vs. Chinese logograms.

* Fracking comes to England.

An unorthodox anthropologist goes face to face with ISIS. Is the payoff worth the peril?

* CBS All-Access gets a second show. And that’s why The Good Wife had a terrible ending!

Mitch Hurwitz is still confident that another season of Arrested Development will happen.

* I’m feeling pretty on board with Luke Cage, I have to say.

* As with the comic before it, the film version of The Dark Tower will likely detail a different, later iteration of the series’s defining time loop.

“Perfect” Donkey Kong score achieved.

* The only Twitter account you need: @LegoSpaceBot.

No human alive has seen 7 months this hot before. Get with the program, Great Lakes!

What drought? Nestle plans $35 million plant to bottle water in Phoenix.

* Alas, Venezuela: There has never been a country that should have been so rich but ended up this poor.

* Project Earth is leaving beta.

* In the back room of the morgue.

* But it’s not all bad news: Our Solar System Could Remain Habitable Long After Earth Is Destroyed.

Happy graduation day, Marquette!

nasa-april-temp

Written by gerrycanavan

May 22, 2016 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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  1. Infinite Jest at 20
    Gerry Canavan, Marquette University
    Lee Konstantinou, University of Maryland, College Park
    Carrie Shanafelt, Farleigh Dickinson University
    respondent: N. Katherine Hayles, Duke University

    Detailed Description of Session

    “Twenty years have gone by and we still do not agree what this novel means, or what exactly it was trying to say, despite saying (seemingly) everything about everything.”
    –Tom Bissell, Foreword to Infinite Jest (20th Anniversary Edition)

    This panel takes up one of the most important and influential works of American literary fiction of the last half-century, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (1996), as it turns twenty years this year. The novel stands apart from other works of the 1990s in its ambition, its complexity, and its prescience—despite its age Infinite Jest remains not only remarkably vital but somehow extremely current, speaking with surprisingly relevance to a wide variety of technological and social transformations only nascent in its moment that have since come to define American life. If anything appreciation of the book has recently entered a kind of renaissance on the Internet, as it inspired long-duration digital book-clubs (“Infinite Summer,” 2009; “Infinite Winter,” 2016) for both new and returning readers.

    And yet any novel, even a generation-defining one, begins to show its age, especially in the wake of Wallace’s subsequent work and too-early death, by suicide, in 2008. What’s next for Infinite Jest, as it enters its maturity? Or, we might as well ask, what’s left for Infinite Jest, and its scholars, twenty years after it first set the world on fire, as the world it originated in and the “future” it ostensibly “predicted” both slide further and further into the past? Wallace’s invocation of Hamlet’s poor Yorick for his title has always primed readers for a kind of aestheticized being-towards-death as they read this novel (which itself is largely concerned with the exegesis, and even the literal exhumation, of a singular creative genius who is dead by suicide)—while the book’s ambiguous refusal of traditional narrative closure, and famously unresolved ending, produces just the opposite effect. How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?, Hamlet asks the gravedigger; we’ll ask the same of Infinite Jest, and explore why the book still seems so remarkably alive.

    Paper Abstracts

    Lee Konstantinou, University of Maryland, College Park
    “Infinite Jest’s Near Future”

    Carrie Shanafelt, Farleigh Dickinson University
    “Aesthetics of Trauma in Infinite Jest”

    Gerry Canavan, Marquette University
    No Year of Glad: Infinite Jest after 9/13/2008

    “There is only one really serious philosophical question,” Camus told us: the problem of suicide. The question of suicide, or at least nonexistence, haunts so much of Infinite Jest; suicide is shown to be the secret desire lurking behind that addictive tendency of the mammalian brain that leads it to seek to obliviate itself in sex, alcohol, drugs, reading, writing, and other forms of (E)ntertainment. “Once you are sufficiently enslaved by a Substance to need to quit the substance in order to save your life,” Wallace writes,

    the enslaving Substance has become so deeply important to you that you will all but lose your mind when it is taken away from you. Or that sometime after your Substance has just been taken away from you in order to save your life, as you hunker down for required A.M. and P.M. prayers, you will find yourself beginning to pray to be allowed literally to lose your mind, to be able to wrap your mind in an old newspaper or something and leave it in an alley to shift for itself, without you. (IJ 201)

    In the wake of 9/13/08—the sad date, of course, of Wallace’s own suicide—this encounter with death threatens to consume all other possible readings of the novel altogether. Reading Infinite Jest after 2008 becomes something like reading The Bell Jar after February 11, 1963; knowing that Sylvia Plath committed suicide a month after the book’s publication destroys our ability to believe in its assertions of an apparently happy ending for its Sylvia-stand-in, Esther. Knowing what ultimately happened to DFW—what he did to himself—deeply unsettles our ability to believe “[t]hat no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable” (IJ 204)—an utterance which seems now, in retrospect, less like truth, and more like the desperate prayer of a person who hopes they might someday believe it.

    This paper thus seeks to take up Infinite Jest and its confrontation with the problem of suicide, not only in search of some longed-for philosophical answer but also in search of contemporary critical alternatives: ways that the novel might yet be seen to resist or refuse any reduction to the maudlin and depressive biocriticism to which our real-life knowledge of Wallace’s life and death might otherwise seem to condemn us. How to read, teach, and write about Infinite Jest without succumbing to the precise sort of grave-robbing that its citation of Act 5, scene 1 of Hamlet now ironically, tragically echoes. Where be Infinite Jest’s gibes now? its gambols? its songs? its flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? 

    respondent: N. Katherine Hayles, Duke University

    gerrycanavan

    May 22, 2016 at 8:01 am

  2. “Rare detailed personal memory a burden, and ultimately a gift.”

    The linked article breaks the legal requirement that all pieces written on this topic must mention Borges’s story “Funes, the Memorious” (previously observed in every such one I’ve read, by the by)

    Stephen Frug

    May 22, 2016 at 7:20 pm


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