inadequate futures

tagged with theory:

Juliana Spahr's That Winter the Wolf Came offers solace in a moment of ecological anxiety and disaster. As Trump pulls the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord (indeed, a largely symbolic act but with very real ecological, economic, and political ramifications), I'm struck by the right's oxymoronic stance on the country's autonomy, or the ability to be autonomous in an age of intensified globalization. It's easy to see the tension between the way the nation-state holds open the door for transnational capital---i.e. producing fluid borders rather than locking them down and securing the reproduction of a specific citizenry---and the insistence that somehow the U.S. can stand alone, or dictate the terms by which its borders function. The travel ban, increased racist violence, and the dream of an economy sustained by coal all play into this fantasy of the autonomous nation, and by proxy the autonomous masculine figurehead Trump longs to become.

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[005 - Satin Island]

May 20, 2017

alex christie

I picked up Tom McCarthy's Satin Island when I began conceptualizing and planning my dissertation proposal. In an effort to situate my project in whatever 'the contemporary' is, I scoured the web for discussions, syllabi, and articles that focused on the contemporary novel. Reading through Post-45's series of letters from Princeton's 'The Contemporary' conference, McCarthy's novel came into focus as 'the most discussed (and maligned) novel of the conference,' so I decided to give it a shot.

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[004 - negativity in Culp]

May 15, 2017

alex christie

I'm revisiting Andrew Culp's Dark Deleuze this week. My director suggested the book last summer somewhere between me reading A Thousand Plateaus and Claire Colebrook's Death of the PostHuman as an example of a negative version of Deleuze that might help make sense of Colebrook's work. In general, and this is the way I've always read D&G, TP has always been this joyous and affirmative text riddled with 'little monsters' for cultivating novel concepts (Culp 1). Each plateau offered something new---a new concept, methodology, reading. In moments of lucidity (usually while reading and then never again) it feels very portable. Dark Deleuze, by comparison, is very different: 'Emerging from scholars concerned with the condition of the present, the darkness refashions a revolutionary Deleuze: revolutionary negativity in a world characterized by compulsory happiness, decentralized control, and overexposure' (2). This struck me as odd for two reasons: first, all of my work is 'concerned with the condition of the present,' so it seemed odd that I hadn't encountered much of this scholarship. But second, and while I absolutely agree with Culp that the revolutionary concepts offered by Deleuze throughout his corpus---'transversal lines, rhizomatic connections, compositionist networks, complex assemblages, affective experiences, and enchanted objects'---had been largely integrated into public consciousness, it's never occurred to me Deleuze's work had run it's course, cleaved into neoliberal-ese (7).

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One thing I'm having trouble articulating and working through in the dissertation proposal is the extent to which posthumanism and posthuman subjectivity (interrelated but definitely not coterminous) are either local and site specific or transcendent and ontological. It's clear to me how posthumanism as a discourses arises in the latter half of the 20th century: globalization, transnationalism, and the onset of network culture force us to think differently about how humans are connected. The cellphone (and really, the smartphone) shifts attention away from the human body to the human with(in) a network. The smartphone has become a very literal and felt extension of one kind of cyborg subjectivity. In this way, it's like what Nathan Jurgenson says about identity performance: 'Social media surely change identity performance. For one, it makes the process more explicit' ('The Disconnectionists'). Our imbrication in technology makes explicit something we might have missed before---how the human and tool are woven together into assemblages or amalgams---but that then seems ontologically grounded.

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