Ok, I have a weak wireless signal, so I will make use of it before the thunderstorm gets closer and I will lose connectivity.
1. Just got home from my neighborhood dive-bar. Had a cheap PBR and could sit at the bar without yuppies or frat boys. How refreshing! Downside of the short excursion: the lock of the door to my building was broken when I got home, so I had to wait on the sidewalk until someone got home whose cell is already connected to the buzzer. May have to ask my super to connect mine as soon as possible.
Note: my wireless connection went out last night (to a neighborhood bar, I assume) and so the things that follow are a recreation of the long post I lost last night (damn!).
2. We had the final organizational meeting for the Marxist Literary Group Institute on Culture and Society that will begin at UIC on June 20th (see previous posts for the conference program). Now all that is left for us to do before the actual work begins (i.e. the day before the conference when people will get here) is to go shopping for essentials such as coffee, cream cheese and hummus at Costco. What a wonderful day of super-sized consumption that will be!
3. Some quick final thoughts on recent novels: I read Palahniuk’s Rant a few weeks ago and I would just like to make sure that everyone knows that it is truly a remarkable piece of shite. Do not read it. In fact, run into the opposite direction of you encounter a copy in the wild. What used to be Palahniuk’s signature move in his earlier works, i.e. troubling the idea of counter- and subcultures through deeply ironic stories infused with biting social critique, has turned into the contained spectacle (as defined by Debord) of subculture narratives in Rant. In fact, having read his recent works makes me increasingly believe that Fight Club and Diary may have been accidents. Very sad. If you want to read a recently published novel by someone who can write, read Geraldine Brooks’ March (see previous posts). Finally, I do in fact recommend DeLillo’s Falling Man. It is by no means the novel you might have expected when looking at DeLillo’s previous musings on 9/11 and it does break with his previous novels in interesting ways but it is still worth reading. What I mean by breaking with his previous works is the following: DeLillo is known for composing what may be considered examples of the contemporary (postmodern, if you must call it a name) epic, examining the sociopolitical underbelly of the US in narratives of great complexity, spanning a quite vast canvas of representation. However, Falling Man, despite the fact that 9/11 is truly an event that must be represented in all its (global) complexity, i.e. on a broad canvas, DeLillo (as so many others before) can only represent this event within the confines of a small-scope narrative, limited to the structure of a family (which does lend itself to an expansion of its allegorical level but that is still a far cry from the desirable rigor in respect to the true complexity of the event). This, however, is less a sign of a bad novel than a symptom of a problem regarding all literary approaches to 9/11 up to this point (which hints at deep-seated, unresolved residual ideological issues within the US). Within this paradigm DeLillo is definitely worth reading and stands out among spectacular failures such as those produced by Art Spiegelman and Safran-Foer (especially Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers was absolutely terrible). There are serious problems regarding 9/11 and literary representation that I should expand upon at some point but let me just say this: if you want to read a literary account of 9/11 go for the first one (which is still by far the best one) and the most recent one: Gibson’s Pattern Recognition and DeLillo’s Falling Man.
Ok–now I have to continue doing some research for my dissertation director while trying to remember what the already completed half of my present dissertation chapter was about. Moving is just so incredibly disruptive!