March 13th, 2004

Rooting Redux

I had a really nice night after an awful week. First I went to my former office mate Aurelie Sheehan's reading at Antigone Books, chatting with various people before and afterwards. I'd bought the book the day before at Reader's Oasis and read while Skylar was getting her hair cut.

Anxiety of Everyday Objects

Having some familiarity with the novel's topic and principal characters made Aurelie's delivery that much more fun, particularly when she came to parts that I'd found funny in print.

It was good to have a sense of solidarity with the professors, writers, and ordinary people in the audience, rooting for someone who deserves the best.

Afterwards, I talked with a graduate student about his upcoming exams, then drove over to Sean's place to give him back his copy of Artificial Respiration. Somehow, he got me to recount my week of being annoyed at my Department's administrative personnel.

Once I'd calmed down sufficiently, I drove over to the Cushing Street Bar and Grill for Aurelie's reception. I talked briefly with her, but spent most of the time with Eric, Daniel, and Yuanyuan. We had a number of laughs at the "strangeness" of our Department's characters.

Then Eric, Yuanyuan, and I headed over to Amanda's BBQ, where I watched the remainder of the Arizona- Washington game and realized that, yes, I was pulling for the Huskies. I can't really explain it either. I do think Nate Robinson is awesome, but that's not sufficient reason to vote against your employer. Or is it?

Well, it's off to bed. I'll try to post from somewhere near our campground -- Starbucks? -- but I may miss a few days.

Stay strong.

Parts and Hearts

I've been thinking a lot about parts and wholes lately, with my graduate class's Wednesday night discussion of Libra serving as the latest provocation.

The paper I gave at the 20th Century Literature conference in Louisville last month on William T. Vollmann's framing by McSweeney's implicitly touched on the topic.

Does the sublimity of excess differ qualitatively from the sublimity of restraint?

Could it be that minimalism and maximalism meet behind the back of bourgeois literary convention?

When I was a ten-year-old fixated on World War II, my mother was fond of repeating that Hannah Arendt line about how fascism is the coming full circle of communism and vice versa. Arendt used the term "totalitarianism." What would be a good word to describe the converging of minimalism and maximalism?

This morning I was thinking about how my chapter on do-it-yourself publishing, exemplified by McSweeney's, has morphed into a chapter on competing visions of the sublime.

And then the waters muddied with the prospect of time.

How might the handling of time become sublime?

Obviously, you can temporalize the spatial aspect of minimalism and maximalism. Long books take longer to read, right?

The harder I pondered -- can you ponder hard? -- the more I began to see how my chapter on the "serious" recuperation of punk in the late 1980s -- Lipstick Traces lies at the heart of both phenomenon and chapter -- could use the idea of temporal minimalism to advance the "The term 'punk' functions like the term 'sublime'" dimension to my book. Zeroing in on the moment, describing it so fully that the minute becomes excessive -- that's analogous to the minimalism-maximalism convergence.

When the moment is transformed into the momentous, our sense of proportion is destabilized.

Well, time to continue packing. It's raining like mad here. Strange.

March 8th, 1839

This is the second in a series:
We all wish to be of importance in one way or another. The child coughs with might & main, since it has no other claims on the company.

No Age In Talk. I make no allowance for youth in talking with my friends. If a youth or maiden converses with me I forget they are not as old as I am.
Wonder if he managed to make his eighteen-month-old say, "bourgeois proletariat" over and over.
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