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”

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”

Oscillation / Fashion

1. Oscillation

You can never really tell when James Murphy’s being sincere, whether he’s making fun of others or making fun of himself. “Pow Pow”’s his statement of philosophy—“from this position / I can totally see how the decision was reached”—which is a sort of pragmatist-PoMo enlightenment: acknowledge perspective’s providence on truth and then turn it into a middle-aged reasonableness (over youthful anger, over Roman conceit).

On the surface Murphy’s all about fashion (“I’m losing my edge to Internet seekers who can tell me every member of every good group from 1962 to 1978… the art-school Brooklynites [with] borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered Eighties”). More substantially he’s obsessed with Hegelian dialectic — thesis, antithesis, synthetic reconciliation (“And they’re actually really, really nice”; “Maybe I’m wrong / And maybe you’re right” ; the love & hate vis-a-vis New York). Continue reading “Oscillation / Fashion”

A Few Types of Literary Compression

“And I said to Mabel, I said, ‘computational aesthetics, super-short. Jürgen Schmidhuber’s Theory Jürgen Schmidhuber, an AI theorist and theoretical computer scientist, has proposed a computational account of aesthetic judgments. In his view, a stimulus is judged to be beautiful or attractive by a subject T to the extent that the stimulus is compressible for T. Schmidhuber’s notion of compressibility is taken from algorithmic information theory, but concerns actual rather than ideal compression: it refers to the actual # of bits in T’s mental representation of the stimulus, bounded and fallible as T may be. Beholden to the limitations of T’s computational resources, two kinds of stimuli should be the most compressible: stimuli with evident internal structure (e.g. fractals or a chessboard), and stimuli with noticeable similarities to stimuli already stored in T’s history (e.g. English words or a the sight of a friend’s face). Experimental psychology supports both a preference for stimuli with internal patterns and a preference for stimuli with a similarity to past stimuli.”

— Peli Grietzer, Amerikkkkka

Continue reading “A Few Types of Literary Compression”