Last December, during one of those periods of Internet-wondering that happens every so often, I came across an article on Lifehacker (one of the Gawker family of content-scrolls) in which columnist Thorin Klosowski illuminated some reasons to read fiction. While making sure to point out that “[r]eading fiction doesn’t always have the tangible benefits that science demands,” it can help us learn things like: “[f]iction teaches you that change is inevitable” and “[r]eading might help you learn empathy.” Emphasis there, I believe, on the might.
A few weeks later, I found myself confronted by another, competing claim. Bill McKibben, in his introduction to the NYRB reprint of Yaşar Kemal’s epic novel They Burn the Thistles, notes that:
We are all witnessing the effects of capitalism over our present times in the forms of abstraction of work, the disembodiment of the conscience, and the dematerialization of the commodities. The Italian Marxist Franco “Bifo” Berardi attributes the origin of this great transformation through abstraction to the development of finance:
Finance is the most abstract level of economic symbolization. It is the culmination of a process of progressive abstraction that started with capitalist industrialization. Marx speaks of abstract labor in the sense of an increased distancing of human activity from its concrete usefulness. In his words, capitalism is the application of human skills as a means to obtain a more abstract goal: the accumulation of value[i].
On this particular situation he states that the most important changes in societies due to the dematerialization and the general abstraction of the economic rules and procedures are the disembodiment of the “general intelligence”, a concept he uses sometimes in terms of a representation of the cognitive group of workers whose labor is now exploited; the deterritorialization of labor and productivity, that ignited a process of pulverization and precarization of work and worker; the end of growth as a concept related to the “increase of social happiness and satisfaction of the basic needs of people”, but instead the expansion of financial profits and the expansion of the global volume of exchange value. He talks about “the new alienation” occurring in the cognitive worker by precarization and the acceleration of the information flow and productivity. All of these transformations are symptoms of the general intelligence as disembodied, taken away from its own social and erotic body.
Sophia Le Fraga
Michael J Seidlinger
ANA CARRETE is the author of Baby Babe (CCM, 2012). She edits and operates the online literary magazine, NEW WAVE VOMIT.
SOPHIA LE FRAGA is the author of literallydead (Spork, forthcoming 2015), I RL, YOU RL (minutes BOOKS; Troll Thread), I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET (Keep This Bag Away From Children), and the anti-plays W8ING 4 and TH3 B4LD 50PR4N0 (Gauss PDF). She teaches at BHQFU and is the poetry editor of Imperial Matters.
MICHAEL J SEIDLINGER is the author of a number of novels including The Strangest, The Fun We’ve Had, The Laughter of Strangers, and The Sky Conducting. He serves as the Reviews Editor for Electric Literature as well as Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in innovative fiction and poetry.
Opened in June of 2012, James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at Rice University was his 73rd completed Skyspace project. It is only a couple hundred yards from the primary parking lot for the university’s football stadium, but, shielded by the Shepherd School of Music, the construction hides itself from the steadiest stream of casual university visitors.
Since first starting to consider Turrell seriously after viewing his retrospective last year at LACMA, I’ve wanted to say that his work is post-representational. The use of totalizing color spaces, the manipulation of that most ephemeral substance light, the infinite rooms—I have a desire to say that when entering one of his spaces, I exit the world of real things. I am allowed to, momentarily, vacillate between wave state and particle state. But as I see more of his work, including “Twilight Epiphany,” I think more and more that this urge reflects my own underlying desires and drives to find a clean exit rather than that of the work itself.
(Opening scene of Béla Tarr’s Satantango)
We are living in the apocalypse. The first moment of time was the first moment of apocalypse and death. Please, don’t fear the apocalypse.
– László Krasznahorkai
I find a a ring with 11 brass house keys by the TV. “Whose keys are these?”
It’s 3am, our New Year’s party is over. 40 people were here, we only have two people left: Alaina and Julie.
I’m on shrooms and so is my wife, we’re floating around in a bubble. Alaina is sober and asking, “Will you walk with me to get a cab?” She’s not in the mood to get killed, alone on the street.
“Sure, we’ll walk you.”
That means we’ll have to go three avenues east, from our place on the river, till we hit Broadway and 175th street. I say, “Cabbies hang out in front of the 24 hour Dominican chicken place.”
I send two texts on my phone, asking two separate friends, who’d both brought groups of people with them, if they or anyone else forgot a set of keys. “Ask around,” I text.
Three of us step into the hallway, Julie stays behind at the pad, asleep at my desk. The apartment door clicks shut behind us, locking. I’m tripping pretty good, walking down the hallway. I keep patting my pant pocket, making sure I have my keys. My wife laughs hysterical. Alaina is telling us a joke. I don’t remember what the joke was, but I do remember almost falling down the stairs, that’s how funny it was. Alaina forgets we’re high and for a minute thinks she’s the funniest person on earth. I’m happy to help.
Halfway up the block, I realize I’m wearing my slippers instead of my sneakers. Oh well. The road is frozen. My toes are blue.
But there are cabs right where I thought they’d be and it feels like a miracle. A girl in a white fur coat climbs out of the cab.
I say, “Is that polar bear fur? Did you kill the polar bear?”
She’s says, “YES! I KILLED THE BEAR!” The polar bear girl warns us that the cabbie doesn’t have GPS. “Alaina’s probably more sober than the cabbie. You should drive the cab, Alaina.”
She gives me a hug goodbye “Maybe they’re my cousin’s keys?”
Off Alaina goes down Broadway.
My wife leads the way back towards the apartment, we’re hugging and laughing again as we walk—there are worse things in this world. Coming up the sidewalk is a young couple just like us, except they’re not hugging and walking. She’s yelling at him and he’s saying “I’m sorry you had the worst night of your fucking life!”
They pass and my wife says, “Oh god, they didn’t have fun.”
“We did, we win.”
But there up ahead is a stoop and there’s another couple sitting on the stoop and he’s screaming at her and she’s screaming at him.
this inaugural post is dedicated to
Sara Uribe and Kim Schreiber,
both generous and kind
I left my country on the 204th anniversary of its independence. I took a plane. I wasn’t really thinking too much. I wasn’t really paying attention. I just thought it was the best day to leave given the circumstances. As a very dear friend would tell me later, mocking me: “only the unpatriotic and the stateless leave their homeland right on its Independence Day celebrations.” I felt unpatriotic. I was rendered stateless. I sensed I was leaving a lot behind. Also I suddenly realized there were a whole lot of events coming right in front of me. Perhaps more than I could actually foresee. More than I can imagine. I left Mexico on September 15, 2014 in order to start a new adventure in life. I had chosen to keep my academic career going. I’d decided I wanted to recover my writing career as well, after four years in public service. The opportunity was before me when I sent my application so stand for the Master in Fine Arts degree in Writing at the University of California, San Diego. I got accepted. A whole new ground of possibilities was suddenly open before me. But at the moment, as I was crossing the U.S. border, I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t know a thing.
Besides acquiring formal education in writing for the first time, I now have the chance to explore the recent writing techniques and theories, and put them in practice in my own writing. I’m attracted to the experimental approach on writing of the MFA program. One of my main goals is to address current Western Culture societies in conflict based upon evidence found through language. My interest is chiefly aimed at language as a community builder. On exploring how language binds us together as a community. Which could be the principles that make us hold together even though it may seem societies are falling apart? (There are many making that statement nowadays.) Upon the rise of Internet as the almighty machine that has radically affected the concept of writing; I’m particularly interested in working with virtual communities. Language shown in the user comments of sites around the World Wide Web is of a very different kind than any other used in any other support. Nonetheless it works as adhesive when establishing relationships, encouraging dialogue, and building communities. But it is also a language based more frequently upon anonymity/identity, context[s], shared or unshared. What do user comments across the Internet stand for when referring to commonality?
I’m infatuated with Western Culture. How does the West talk about love in the twenty-first century? I’m interested in researching and updating through writing experimentation what Freud theorized about the Eros & Thanatos duality. Is Western Culture closer to death, aggression, and destruction in the twenty-first century? If this is considered true, then: In what ways is Eros defined by Western Culture in the now? How can our present be defined based upon the relationship established between eroticism and destruction, particularly one that is perceived through public language across the Internet and other ‘new’ media? How do these relationships define our global communities therefore? What does all of this say about human condition?
My contribution to Enclave is that I will mine poetry (contemporary and otherwise) for quotations that speak to current events. These will be brief, and likely contextualized by nothing but hashtags. My thought was I would do a first post with something about winter. Something fun.
Then this morning I read about the death of Antonio Martin, an 18-year-old black man shot by cops outside St. Louis.
After listening to the statement regarding the grand jury’s decision to not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in November, I (and many others) turned to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Since that night Citizen continues to have resonance as more and more young black (often) men have fallen under fire from police. This quotation in particular hits hard. It catches my breath. I’ll just leave it here.
Claudia Rankine, Citizen:
[W]here is the safest place when that place / must be someplace other than the body?
(photo by Diana Arterian)