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Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Neo-Sentimentalists

Again, piggy-backing off a post I had a while back that is now sort of, more or less, coming true*, I recently read this great post by Tony Woodlief about contemporary authors being tasked with stripping away all the bullshit of postmodernism and post-postmodernism and getting back to what is real about being a human being on this planet. David Foster Wallace talked about this in his amazing essay "E Unibus Pluram,"** in which he said that the next vanguard of authors will have to battle the circular logic of postmodernism in order to get to something real, or else the future of letters could be at stake. He suspected that the next vanguard of avant gard authors would be what he called Neo-sentimentalists who would be unafraid to be honest and earnest and who would leave irony by the wayside and speak directly and truthfully. That is happening now. The internet is filled with new authors who are not ironic, and if they use irony they use it in order to better facilitate the truth-telling. Whether this movement has legs or not, time will tell. Maybe American Letters have already died too much to be fully revived, or have any major impact on the larger culture. But I'm proud of these new authors, who are unafraid to be honest. Who are unafraid to be talk of love without flinching.

*This was actually an interview with the brilliant neo-sentimentalist, xTx. I think my long-winded "question" in which I lay out my theory about neo-sentimentalism is around question #7. For other neo-sentimentalists see Roxane Gay, Matt Bell, Ethel Rohan, me, Jason Jordan, Alan Stewart Carl, etc.

**Seriously, take the time and read this thing. It's brilliant.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why I will never win a Nobel Prize for Literature

Basically, I'll never win one because I'm a white American male*. Ok, maybe that's a simplification of the argument in the aforelinked article. But, I gotta admit, my first reaction to something like this is, how is a foreign-born immigrant writing about the experience of being a foreign-born immigrant any less solipsistic than a middle-class bourgeois white guy writing about the experience of being a middle class white guy? Essentially, what this article is saying is that it's not that American writers don't win the Nobel Prize because they "write what they know," but rather they don't win because no one cares anymore about what American's know. That's probably a valid argument. The world is bigger and more inclusive than it used to be, but please don't cloak that argument in the pretension that American writers are somehow more self-involved than writers of other nationalities. Writers are self-involved. We're only ever writing about ourselves. Let's just be honest about this.

Case in point, Roberto Bolano is probably one of the best examples of the type of Globally-minded, expansive, non-American writer that they're talking about, yet Bolano's last and greatest novel is basically about how tough it was for him to write that last and greatest novel. In fact, throughout his body of work Bolano referenced himself more than George Lucas. He basically was a literary movement unto himself.

The Nobel peeps are free to give their prize to whomever they wish, and I'm sure that person will be really great and all, but let's not disguise the truth. Americans don't win the Nobel Prize because we are just one country and there is a whole world out there now. Only one person out of millions of published authors can win. The world isn't a small pond anymore, even big fish can get lost.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Picks of the Week

So, we figured some stuff out last weekend, didn't we? Wisconsin, Alabama, and Clemson all emerged as legitimate National title teams. I went 4 for 7 to bring my total percentage down to 61%. I have been going out on more limbs this year and some aren't paying off. I called the Pitt win correctly, but whiffed big time for being so high on Baylor and Ohio State.

This week is fairly calm, aside from some key match-ups for middling teams in the big conferences. The weekend is dominated by Oklahoma/Texas and Florida/LSU so those are the two games to watch.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


This is the second time I've had occasion to write about the hacker group Anonymous.* The last time I was far more critical of the group because it seemed that they were just a petty, mean-spirited group of nincumpoops. But lately they have grown bolder and more organized, turning into something more closely resembling an actual insurgency in techno-sheep clothing. I must admit that every time one of these YouTube threats come online I get the feeling that this is a movie, or that I've seen this before. Certainly there is something vaguely deja-vuish about the group's use of the Guy Fawkes masks from V For Vendetta; there are discussions to be had about the post-postmodernness of all of this. The comic book creates an iconic re-imagining of a historical character in order to represent the rebellious animus, and at the same time creates a definitive anarchist anti-hero, whose masked visage is both frightening and strangely comforting. Then, partly inspired by the rebellious spirit of the comic book, protest groups around the world don the now-classic mask in order to conjure the same terror/comfort dual animus that drove the comic book anti-hero's lust for rebellious destruction in the first place, all the while struggling against the very sort of military-industrial pseudo-fascist corporate regime against which the comic book anti-hero was also struggling against.

There are two ways to look at this: either this is a perfect example of reality feeding art which feeds reality which feeds art which feeds reality, or Alan Moore was just a genius and he truly saw the future for what it was, a growing battle between the haves and have-nots and provided the perfect icon for the future struggle.

Either way, Anonymous plans on erasing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) from the internet on October 10.

*I gotta admit, after re-reading that post, I'm a little struck by how prescient it seems, given the recent Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring stuff going on.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Statues of Famous Authors

Flavorwire has a great compendium of photos of various authors' sculptures from around the world.