Poets are Intelligence Assets

As I understand it, the idea in Benjamin Hoffman's "Poets are intelligence assets" is that there's all this ambient information about specific cultural moments which is packed into a text unintentionally. My impression is past theorists have called this, loosely, "ideology," though the word carries deep-politic connotations. "Worldview" may be a better term, but I'm not… Continue reading Poets are Intelligence Assets

Metric Prose in Austen’s Emma

Rhetorician Fred Scott divides writing into what he dubs the “motative” and “nutative” styles. Nutative writing, as its name implies, has a rhythm which nods; it was, contemporaneous with Austen, synonymous with verse and poetry. Motative writing, meanwhile, moves: Scott describes it as having the rhythm of the tides, moving shore-ward with each successive rising and falling wave, then receding back again in a similar fashion. It is writing which has climaxes and troughs but which bases its dynamicism on  content. (Pound's distinction between the "musical" and the "metronomic" comes to mind.) Motative writing is primarily communicative; it encompasses the essay, the argument, the novel — essentially, prose writing.

New Fiction is Psychic Occupation

Fiction—or more generally, longform narrative text—has long been the handyman of culture, serving whatever functions are most urgently needed at a historical moment. The Greek oral tradition, famously, functioned in part to preserve cultural histories and customs—hence the sprawling lists of names and figures, or lengthy descriptions of hospitality, in Homer. Arabic maqamas synthesized and… Continue reading New Fiction is Psychic Occupation

Mental Imagery 1

Disclaimer: Most of the insights in this post have already been addressed by semiotics, and won't strike anyone familiar with that discipline as novel. This is more just an attempt to reframe and re-analogize a process than to advance actual arguments. Delving into the world of machine learning has me interested in encoding as an… Continue reading Mental Imagery 1

Valencia/Rectify/Film/Television/Literature

I. James Nulick's Valencia opens with an HIV diagnosis. Nulick, protagonist, is dying. He has traveled to the southern coast of Spain to stay at the hotel which gives the novel its name. He has traveled there to hasten his death, to preempt the prolonged and painful corporal vulnerability which immunodeficiency entails. He has brought with him… Continue reading Valencia/Rectify/Film/Television/Literature

Effect Ideas and Close Encounters

Gabriel Duquette of Liposuction has raised a number of objections to my insertion of effect-ideas into his maps/chords dualism. Either effect-ideas are not real, he argues, or they are not significant. They are trivial in that they are wildly personal, unpredictable, and unengineerable. Read rather than written into texts, they are the creations of readers… Continue reading Effect Ideas and Close Encounters

A Possibility for Artistic “Meaning”

Interested in literary or artistic "meaning" as the sum of all infinite interrelationships between a work of art/literature and the equally infinite set of all data points which exist both inside the work and out in the world. These data points include, but are not limited to, the composition of society in its entirety, both… Continue reading A Possibility for Artistic “Meaning”

Maps, Chords, and Effect Ideas

  "A dramatic presentation should be an act of initiation during which the spectator will be awed and even terrified... During that experience of terror or frenzy... the spectator will be in a position to understand a new set of truths, superhuman in quality." (Wallace Fowlie on Artaud's "Theater of Cruelty") Gabe Duquette, writing at… Continue reading Maps, Chords, and Effect Ideas

Alva Noë & Baseball

I do not watch baseball, though many of my favorite passages and anecdotes are inspired by the sport. There is DeLillo, of course, in his prologue to the monumental Underworld, whose opening line — He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful. — remains one of the best ever written.¹ And… Continue reading Alva Noë & Baseball

Excerpts from Alva Nöe’s Strange Tools

"Tools are useful only against the background of our needs and capacities. Let’s return to the doorknob. A simple bit of technology, yes, but one that presupposes a vast and remarkable social background. Doorknobs exist in the context of a whole form of life, a whole biology—the existence of doors, and buildings, and passages, the… Continue reading Excerpts from Alva Nöe’s Strange Tools