Each Venture Is A New Beginning

Peli Grietzer’s Amerikkkkka is the kind of text that punches preternaturally out of its weight class, manages miracles. It back-charts five years of intellectual growth, cultural mappings, one-off gags and twelve-page academic endeavors that together begin to depict a certain type of lifeworld.

I had the chance to gChat with Peli for a few hours as he rode the train from Brussels to Berlin.

Basic bio points, correct me/elaborate freely: Amerikkkkka—originally published Amerikkkka—was written over five years between 2009 and 2014, just after you’d moved from Israel to the United States and coinciding with the start of your comparative lit program at Harvard.

Continue reading “Each Venture Is A New Beginning”

A Bayesian hermeneutic

A preprint of “A Bayesian hermeneutic” — the cogsci paper Thomas Rutten & I worked on last summer in Mexico City — is available at Research Gate here.

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The 1975’s Brief Inquiry

1. The 1975

“One and the same civilization produces simultaneously two such different things as a poem by T.S. Eliot and a Tin Pan Alley song, or a painting by Braque and a Saturday Evening Post cover… [W]hat  perspective of culture is large enough to enable us to situate them in an enlightening relation to each other?”

—Clement Greenberg, “Avant Garde & Kitsch”

When I was nine or ten I heard “We Didn’t Start The Fire” in my grade-school music class and was assigned to write a poem in similar cadence. The bulk is lost but I remember clearly couplets like “George Bush/ brain mush” (it was 2004). Sentimental, then, to hear The 1975’s “Love It If We Made It”: “Consultation/ Degradation/ Fossil fuelling/ Masturbation/ Immigration/ Liberal kitsch/ Kneeling on a pitch.” This is Dombal’s “Anthem for Our Time,” a “mirror up to our collective faces.” Zoladz over at The Ringer calls it “one for the time capsule” right after mentioning the quoted lyrics took two years for Healy to write. Both Dombal and Zoladz seem the type who’d think the climate change scenes in Schrader’s First Reformed were its finest moments (and who couldn’t accept its ending in redemptive if wholly a-contemporary grace), where relating to the present and the political are inherently valuable as ends, aside from quality, nuance, or integratedness of commentary.

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Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm

Spilled Reality, “One more on The 1975?”:

The 1975 bloomed late in pop critics’ multi-decade questioning of masculine-rockist values like authenticity and edginess. In the new pop(ul)ist paradigm, entertainment value and its near heuristic, melodic propulsion, are strong arguments for aesthetic quality in themselves. Authenticity is redefined, less a matter of sheer aesthetic originality (anxiety of influence) or economic identity (working class fetish) but of emotional confession or appearance thereof. The boolean fact of politicization, and the polarity of sympathy, matter more than the sophistication of approach.  Continue reading “Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm”

Teenage v. Depressive Ontology

Taken from Ghosts of My Life by Mark Fisher, esp. “No Longer the Pleasures: Joy Division,” and “K-Punk, or the Glampunk Art Pop Discontinuum.”

On Teenage Ontology:

Romanticism is the dressing-up of Teenage Ontology as an aesthetic cosmology. Teenage Ontology is governed by the conviction that what really matters is interiority: how you feel inside, and what your experiences and opinions are. In this sense, sloppy drunkard Ladette Tracy Emin is one of the most Romantic artists ever. Like Lads—the real inheritors of the hippie legacy—Emin’s bleary, blurry, beery, leery, lairy anti-sensualist sensibility is an advert for the vacuity of her own preferences.

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Against Expression

In his introduction to The Ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing, Craig Dworkin positions conceptual writing in opposition to romantic expression, to writing that conveys “the emotional truth of the self.” But he replaces it with a vision of writing that’s true to its linguistic self, writing that can’t be conceived of as taking any other form. Continue reading “Against Expression”

Enthusiasm, Play, and “Cool”

Idea: Young animals of countless species have been observed engaging in play, exploring their environment, testing boundaries, and entering low-stakes simulations of behavior that will in adulthood become high-stakes (e.g. wrestling, hunting, dollhouses). In humans, playful exploration in this sense is associated with the sincere enthusiasm of discovery—young children can still be surprised or highly excited in the face of imminent newness. These patterns of behavior inevitably leave a trace in group epistemics; that is, there is a strong association in the culture, conscious or not, between  affects like enthusiasm or playfulness and the status of an organism with much to learn. Continue reading “Enthusiasm, Play, and “Cool””

Sontag v. Top-down Frames

The title of Sontag’s “Against Interpretation” is misleading, and regularly confuses readers who believe her “erotics of art” precludes interpretive dot-connecting and inference. This is not the case: the piece is more accurately titled “Against Allegorization,” or “Against Ideological Readings” — those hermeneutic approaches that set out to find “encoded” and symbolic meanings in a work of literature according to the reader’s personal schema. Continue reading “Sontag v. Top-down Frames”

Schematic Disruption

Cognitive poetics is one of the most exciting literary-theoretic subfields I’ve stumbled upon. So far as I can tell, Peter Stockwell, whose paper on resonance I’ve cited previously, is one of cognitive poetics’ primary authorities, and has written an introduction to the discipline (Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction, 2002).

Stockwell summarizes “schema theory,” a composite of different theorists’ attempts to better grasp how readers bring interpretive contexts and frameworks to texts during a literary encounter. We can understand “schemas” loosely in the way Piaget, Kant, and Schmidhuber have all used it:¹ a mental framework and interpretive system into which new ideas are tested and assimilated. Synonyms for schema include frameworkworldviewway of seeinginterpretive filter, and mental modelContinue reading “Schematic Disruption”