Posts Tagged ‘David Foster Wallace’
who pounds a rubber-gloved fist on the podium so hard it knocks the Seal askew and declares that Dammit there just must be some people besides each other of us to blame
The facial stills that Mario lap-dissolves between are of Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner, founding standard-bearer of the seminal new ‘Clean U.S. Party,’ [C.U.S.P.] the strange-seeming but politically prescient annular agnation of ultra-right jingoist hunt-deer-with-automatic-weapons types and far-left macrobiotic Save-the-Ozone, -Rain-Forests, -Whales, -Spotted-Owl-and-High-pH-Waterways ponytailed granola-crunchers, a surreal union of both Rush L.– and Hillary R.C.–disillusioned fringes that drew mainstream-media guffaws at their first Convention (held in sterile venue), the seemingly LaRoucheishly marginal party whose first platform’s plank had been Let’s Shoot Our Wastes Into Space, C.U.S.P. a kind of post-Perot national joke for three years, until — white-gloved finger on the pulse of an increasingly asthmatic and sunscreen-slathered and pissed-off American electorate — the C.U.S.P. suddenly swept to quadrennial victory in an angry reactionary voter-spasm that made the U.W.S.A. and LaRouchers and Libertarians chew their hands in envy as the Dems and G.O.P.s stood on either side watching dumbly, like doubles partners who each think the other’s surely got it, the two established mainstream parties split open along tired philosophical lines in a dark time when all landfills got full and all grapes were raisins and sometimes in some places the falling rain clunked instead of splatted, and also, recall, a post-Soviet and -Jihad era when — somehow even worse — there was no real Foreign Menace of any real unified potency to hate and fear, and the U.S. sort of turned on itself and its own philosophical fatigue and hideous redolent wastes with a spasm of panicked rage that in retrospect seems possible only in a time of geopolitical supremacy and consequent silence, the loss of any external Menace to hate and fear.
* “Whoa,” said the gangster/minotaur, awed at how close he’d just come to losing his forearm. He was beginning to understand that this wasn’t the relatively straightforward world of street-level dope dealing anymore; this was Dungeons and Dragons.
* I’m glad somebody finally paged KSR: “Why Elon Musk’s Mars Vision Needs ‘Some Real Imagination.'”
* “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.” This is how computer scientist Pedro Domingos sums up the issue in his 2015 book The Master Algorithm. Even the many researchers who reject the prospect of a ‘technological singularity’ — saying the field is too young — support the introduction of relatively untested AI systems into social institutions.
* One teaching artist sees it differently. “There will always be bad artists with a lot of money who want to go to art school,” she said. On the Future of the MFA.
* There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: On Viktor Frankl and Man’s Search for Meaning. Relatedly: The World’s Happiest Man Wishes You Wouldn’t Call Him That.
* Degree programs in French, geology, German, philosophy and women’s studies are suspended, effectively immediately. Eight additional majors within existing departments, six teaching programs and four graduate programs have been shut down. The university is planning a teach-out program for currently enrolled students. Tenured faculty members in affected programs will be reassigned to different departments. The future of the campus’s nursing, dental education and medical imaging programs is still under discussion. Degree programs in environmental geology and environmental policy were cut previously, in July.
* Advice for how to use Twitter as an academic. Of course, as everyone knows, the only winning move is not to play.
* From David M. Perry: “My non-verbal son communicates through ‘Hamilton.'”
* Dylan, Christ, and Slow Train Coming. Teaching the controversy: Kurt Vonnegut in 1991: “Bob Dylan Is the Worst Poet Alive.” Imperialism-in-Artistry: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Win Is Proof Adichie Is Right about Beyonce. Local Boy Makes Good. But not too good: The Nobel Prize Committee Have Given Up on Trying to Get in Touch with Bob Dylan.
* The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of “imaginative power,” and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.
* Another gerrymandering primer. I’m inclined to make a joke about Obama’s proceduralism even ruining his post-presidency but this really is a major issue worth throwing his weight against.
* Atlas Obscura: The Land of Make Believe.
* And then there’s this one: Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown.
* Thank god the Mac version isn’t ready yet: Civ VI is out.
* A dark, grittier Captain Planet: Leonardo DiCaprio wants to make a Captain Planet movie.
* Hungerford makes Infinite Jest represent how commercial publishers and their enablers in the mainstream media engineer a novel into a canonizable success. The market is corrupt, she says. But is it any more corrupt or distasteful than the publication and marketing of her university press book? “Post 45” is a scholarly association; Hungerford is one of nine Board members. Two other Board members are the series editors for the “Post 45” imprint. The “Advance Praise” for Making Literature Now includes effusive comments by two people whom Hungerford praises in the book, a blurb by a former colleague at Yale, and other comments so hyperbolic that they appear to have been written under the influence of laughing gas. Hungerford put out a misleading trailer for the book in the Chronicle, excising the misogyny charge that’s essential in her closing chapter, perhaps because she feared anyone who had read Infinite Jest would see through that charge and not order Making Literature Now. Her title is grandiose because her data is extremely limited. Rather than the survey that the title implies, Making Literature Now is literary tourism combined with two takedowns.
And here’s the Infinite Jest syllabus. This one turned out to be a surprisingly difficult puzzle to put together, just because I felt strongly that the book absolutely had to be finished by the class period before the class period before Thanksgiving (and later determined that we really needed a whole week to talk about the book just as a whole) — while I also felt (after the experience of the Tolkien class was so great) that it would be really good to have a slow start where we talked a bit about Wallace as a thinker and read some of his other work. This seemed especially urgent to me because of the fact of the suicide, which really does seem to risk retrospectively poisoning some aspects of the book and Wallace’s larger career (I’ve included the MLA panel we’re doing explicitly in the course as a last-day exercise, though I realized yesterday while prepping the course that I seem to have completely cryptomnesically ripped off Tom Bissell in my panel abstract — very embarrassing).
I decided early on that “beginning with the end” was the way to do this course, discussing the suicide openly and concretely at length at the very start of the class. My workshopmates in my Jesuit pedagogy seminar last semester very helpfully suggested some strategies for making the course a comfortable place to talk about some very uncomfortable things, and strongly suggested that I include an explicit content note in the syllabus (which as you can see, I did, a fairly lengthy one; I don’t think I’ve ever done one before, except in briefly offering the possibility of an alternate assignment for Lolita in a sophomore-level survey).
The result of all this is a syllabus that I’m pretty happy with and that I hope won’t be too demanding. I’ve thought a lot about not just trying to generate buy-in and a spirit of shared endeavor, but also how to make sure I don’t lose a ton of people along the way. In the end, with a MW class meeting trying to read a 1,079-page novel in nine weeks while leaving space at the beginning and end for other conversations about Infinite Jest, I decided I just couldn’t do much better than around 50-70 pages per class period for the long haul, especially in the back half. I hope the assignments and the structure of the course pull them through, and give them space to get something valuable out of it, even if (as seems inevitable) some number of them completely hate both the book and me by the end…
As before, full syllabus with course procedures and all assignments at the link, but here’s the day-by-day schedule:
|M||Aug 29||FIRST DAY OF CLASS
audiobook: “This Is Water” (Commencement Address to the Kenyon College Class of 2005) (in class)
|W||Aug 31||“Alas, Poor Yorick” monologue from Hamlet, Act V, sc. i [D2L]
George Saunders, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]
Jonathan Franzen, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]
roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Sad Things, Together
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #1
|M||Sep 5||LABOR DAY—NO CLASS|
|W||Sep 7||David Foster Wallace, “The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing” (1984) and Afterword by Kevin J. H. Dettmar (2016)|
|M||Sep 12||David Foster Wallace, “Octet” (1997/1999)
Guest Lecture: Tom Moore
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #2
|W||Sep 14||David Foster Wallace, “Octet” discussion continues
Infinite Jest forewords by Dave Eggers (2006) and Tom Bissell (2016) [D2L]
roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Literature, Art, Artists, Genius, Greatness, Pretension, Ambition, “Trying Too Hard,” Success, Failure, Annoyance, Fondness, Commitment, Honesty, Community, Solitude, Work, Intellectual Experiences That Might (or Might Not) Change Your Life, &c.
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #3
|M||Sep 19||Infinite Jest through p. 17
brief primer: How to Read Infinite Jest [in class]
|W||Sep 21||Infinite Jest through p. 63||46|
|M||Sep 26||Infinite Jest through p. 127||64|
|W||Sep 28||Infinite Jest through p. 171||44|
|M||Oct 3||Infinite Jest through p. 226||55|
|W||Oct 5||Infinite Jest through p. 283||57|
|M||Oct 10||Infinite Jest through p. 342||59|
|W||Oct 12||Infinite Jest through p. 398||56|
|M||Oct 17||Infinite Jest through p. 450||52|
|W||Oct 19||Infinite Jest through p. 503||53|
|M||Oct 24||Infinite Jest through p. 589||86|
|W||Oct 26||Infinite Jest through p. 648||59|
|M||Oct 31||Infinite Jest through p. 711||63|
|W||Nov 2||Infinite Jest through p. 775||64|
|M||Nov 7||Infinite Jest through p. 845||70|
|W||Nov 9||Infinite Jest through p. 911||66|
|M||Nov 14||Infinite Jest through p. 981
|W||Nov 16||Samuel Cohen, “To Wish to Try to Sing to the Next Generation: Infinite Jest’s History”
N. Katherine Hayles, “The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest”
OPTION #3 PROSPECTUS DUE BY TODAY
|M||Nov 21||Research Workshop with Heather James (Raynor)
Bring in the general topic you think you might want to write about, as well as some useful research questions.
* Infinite Jest pages per day (approximate) (not counting footnotes)
|M||Nov 28||OPTION #1 and #2 PROSPECTUS DUE TO ME ON D2L
Michael Pietsch, editor’s note, The Pale King (2011) [D2L]
David Foster Wallace, “Good Old Neon” (2001) [D2L]
|W||Nov 30||Lee Konstantinou, “No Bull: David Foster Wallace and Postironic Belief” [D2L]
Adam Kelly, “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction” [D2L]
|M||Dec 5||Ed Finn, “Becoming Yourself: The Afterlife of Reception” [D2L]
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Infinite Summer: Reading, Empathy, and the Social Network” [D2L]
MetaFilter.com, “RIP, DFW” [Web]
The Howling Fantods, Wallace-L, etc.
|W||Dec 7||FINAL THOUGHTS: MLA 2017 panel: “Infinite Jest at 20” [D2L]
Bring in four copies of the prospectus for your final project.
LAST DAY OF CLASS
|W||Dec 14||FINAL PROJECT DUE BY 12:30 PM|
Now, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.
It’s called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.
Here’s how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.
This is literally highway robbery.
* In Rochester, a paid informant went undercover and drove a man suspected of being an Islamic extremist, Emanuel Lutchman, to a Walmart in December to buy a machete, ski masks, zip ties and other supplies for a would-be terrorist attack on New Year’s Eve. Because Mr. Lutchman, a mentally ill panhandler, had no money, the informant covered the $40 cost.
1. In the 2013-2014 school year, 6.5 million children were chronically absent from school, missing 15 or more days of school.
2. 850,000 high school students didn’t have access to a school counselor.
3. 1.6 million students went to a school that employed a sworn law-enforcement officer, but no counselor.
4. Nearly 800,000 students were enrolled in schools where more than 20 percent of teachers hadn’t met state licensure requirements.
5. Racial disparities in suspensions reach all the way down into preschool: Black children represent 19 percent of all preschoolers, and 47 percent of all those who were suspended.
* Everyone has celebrated how Beyoncé’s celebrity power has elevated Warsan Shire’s work to global attention. But African literature should not only attain universal value when endorsed by the west, argues Ainehi Edoro.
* Talk grows of replacing Trump at GOP convention. Talk of a convention coup rattles Republican politics. Walker Agonistes. Advisors Fear Trump Will Suddenly Announce VP Pick on Twitter. Google GOP Dot Com Truth. Trump is really bad at this. Calm Down, Trump Won’t Be President. Trump and Weimar America. “For what it’s worth, however, I would suggest that the least bad option is for all career lawyers in the Justice Department—and career officials in other agencies—to stay put and serve in a Trump administration.”
* The general problem is that the modern liberal nation-state and its characteristic institutions are simply no longer capable of delivering on their baseline promises and possibilities to any national population anywhere. Even in nations that appear by most measures to be successful, the state withers due its lack of vision. Liberalism cannot handle the extension of its rights to all who are entitled, and its major alleged champions increasingly endorse depraved forms of military and economic illiberalism in the name of its defense. The brief moment of reform in which capital seemed to be harnessed to social democracy is very nearly over, and the difference between illicit and licit economies now seems paper-thin at best. Very little policy gets made because it’s the right thing to do; most policy is about transfer-seeking. Every dollar is spoken for. Every play is a scrum in the middle that moves the ball inches, never yards. Political elites around the world either speak in laughably dishonest ways about hope and aspiration or stick to grey, cramped horizons of plausibly incremental managerialism. Young people all around the world recognize that there is little hope of living in a better or more comfortable or more just world than their parents did, and their grandparents must often live every day with the possibility of losing whatever they’ve gained, that they are one lost job or sickness away from falling without a safety net. In the United States, what this all means in a more immediate sense is that Donald J. Trump is only the beginning.
There are some constraints to naming, however. The IUPAC rules stipulate new elements must be named after either
* “A mythological concept or character (including an astronomical object)”
* “A mineral, or similar substance”
* “A place or geographical region”
* “A property of the element”
* “A scientist”
* A new study produced by Cambridge University statistician David Spiegelhalter suggests the cause of declining sex trends over the past 30 years is Netflix.
* Fighting salary compression at the University of Washington. This is such a tough problem everywhere; the situation sounds much worse on every level at Marquette, for instance, than even what the article describes at Washington.
* For more than 20 years, actors and crew members stayed silent about mistreatment they suffered at the acclaimed Profiles Theatre. Now they’re speaking up, hoping to protect workers in non-Equity theaters across the country.
* Do Deaf Babies Need to be ‘Fixed’? I’ve found this debate utterly fascinating for years. I have no idea how to solve it.
* Of course you had me at “Biologists Have Learned Something Horrifying About Prairie Dogs.”