“The appropriate term for what both [David Foster] Wallace and [Roger] Federer did, however, perhaps isn’t synthesis; more apt would be the Hegelian term, aufheben, which can mean a great many things – to lift up, to abolish, to cancel, to suspend, to sublate, to preserve, to transcend – all at once, where two existing terms are abolished, sublated, transcended by way of the orchestration of a collision between them, out of which a new term emerges, which then itself goes in search of a partner with which to collide.” A really fantastic review of David Foster Wallace’s String Theory from 3:AM Magazine.
Thanks to the Yale Open Courses program, you can watch all 26 of Amy Hungerford’s lectures on “The American Novel Since 1945.” Also from the program, I highly recommend checking out John Rogers’ series of lectures on John Milton and Paradise Lost, as well as Paul H. Fry’s “Introduction to the Theory of Literature.”
“Yehuda Amichai’s genius lies in how—to borrow from his own language—he makes metaphor ‘useful.’ He thinks metaphorically, and in so doing he makes stories of them, treating his likenesses as if they were not metaphorical but animated literalisms. That’s why, I suspect, his metaphors have not merely poetic power but practical vitality, in the way that a horse is not only alive but usefully alive.” Every time James Wood publishes a big profile in The New Yorker, it’s worth a read; this week’s essay on the “secular psalmist” and poet Yehuda Amichai is no different.
What inspired Samuel Clemens to change his name to Mark Twain? Was it a Mississippi riverboat captain? Did he earn it by “drinking at a one-bit saloon in Virginia City, Nevada?” Or, as rare book dealer Kevin Mac Donnell now alleges in the new issue of Mark Twain Journal, did the author find his pseudonym in a popular humor journal?
Muna Mire has written an incisive and timely essay for The New Inquiry on the Black Feminist classic Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman by Michele Wallace. Coinciding with last month’s reissue of Black Macho by Verso Books, Mire’s essay discusses justified anger rightly-directed and the potential utility of Wallace’s “Black Movement” in the context of today’s racially-charged political climate.
Picador’s Gabrielle Gantz is holding monthly conversations with bloggers, and she posts the results on the publishing house’s fantastic Tumblr. Here she interviews Aidan Flax-Clark, associate editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, and gets him to discuss the similarities between his research and The Matrix.
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
Gigantic’s going intergalactic with Gigantic Worlds, the lit journal’s first venture into book territory, in the form of a sci-fi flash fiction anthology. Authors include Jonathan Lethem, Lynne Tillman, Ed Park, Grace Krilanovich—and potentially you. Gigantic is currently seeking funding for their mission: the more money they raise, the nicer the rocket ship (or something like that).