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1. Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

bart1 Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

Ryan Humphrey posted this fantastic Simpson/Akira mash up comic on his tumblr last night and it’s been picking up a healthy number of notes since. The comic (which you can see below) is really striking, mainly, I think, because of those splashes of colour against that rich cream background, in the sense of drama and dynamism Humphreys evokes, and also in seeing the usually effusive Simpson’s characters strangely non-committal. The comic also struck a chord with artist James Harvey, who picked up the ball and ran with it, proposing to recreate the whole of Akira with The Simpsons cast, with artists who want to take part signing up to do particular sections. Here’s more from Harvey:

I took this idea to him (Ryan Humphrey), he gave it the go-ahead. Milhouse is Kaneda. Lisa is Kei. Bart is Tetsuo. Let’s do it.

I figured it all out. If you’re down, email the address below. In a few days, I’ll send you the cast list (which character from the Simpsons is which Akira character, though the minor characters will be left up to you) and I’ll tell you which 5 pages you’ll be working on. You can request a particular page, but it’s first come, first served.

If 468 people take part, we get to do all six volumes. Even if only 78 are down, we’d still get the entire first volume.

Since it’ll be non-profit, parody/satire, crowdsourced and distributed peer-to-peer, I feel like it’s juuust on the right side of the legal grey area it inhabits. If not- let’s do it anyway. I’ll take the rap.

if you want to be a part of this, drop me a line at  bartkiracommittee@gmail.com

I’m interested to see how this goes: it sounds hugely fun. Often comic jams on the internet throw up some fantastic stuff, with artists putting their own interpretations on things and a host of styles and techniques on display. If you’re  interested in taking part, contact James at the email address above. Or just enjoy the comic like I did.

bart2 Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

bart33 Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

bart3 Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

bartend Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal

0 Comments on Behold: Bartkira! An intriguing comics jam proposal as of 3/19/2013 11:57:00 PM
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2. Jane Mai’s Poop Nightmare

TweetAt the risk of lowering the tone, I relay to you the news of Jane Mai’s Poop Nightmare: so bad it needed capitalization  As someone who lives in an old Victorian house, I can say with the weight of experience that there’s nothing worse than burst pipes, leaky drainage and overflowing toilet: the water seeps everywhere [...]

2 Comments on Jane Mai’s Poop Nightmare, last added: 2/5/2013
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3. Tor Ulven’s Replacement

It’s often unclear whether Ulven’s voices are meant to be many, or one. They certainly speak and think of similar things. Like Beckett’s creations, all are crippled, decrepit, or otherwise waning. Decay, says one, is the “lowest multiple,” which may be why these characters seem to converge. In their infirmity, each shares something essentially human. As it’s put at one point, “people are only really revealed in decline.” Yet if decay and decline disclose the human condition, they also herald a kind of heroism. Early on, we meet an old man for whom “unbuttoning a shirt is a real task . . . a project in itself . . . a triumph every time.” Replacement is full of such everyday struggles. But because the book balances all events equally, compressing life’s major and minor moments, these delicate acts acquire a heartrending resonance...

David Winters reviews Tor Ulven’s Replacement on full-stop.net.

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4. The Long Dark Eternal September of the Soul

_____________________________________________________________________________

The recent, latest online activism against an online idiot encouraged me to write something which I had been thinking about for awhile.

The philosophical musing began when I discovered the following on Wikipedia:

Eternal September

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Long September)
Jump to: navigation, search

Eternal September (also September that never ended)[1] is the period beginning September 1993,[2] a date from which it is believed by some that an endless influx of new users (newbies) has degraded standards of discourse and behavior on Usenet and the wider Internet.

The term eternal September is a Usenet slang expression, and was coined by Dave Fischer. The term is so well entrenched that one news server calls itself Eternal September, and gives the date as a running tally of days since September of 1993 (e.g., Sep. 03, 2012 is “September 6943, 1993, the September that never ends.”).[3] This server was formerly named Motzarella.org.[4]

[edit] Background

Usenet originated among American universities, where every year in September, a large number of new university freshmen acquired access to Usenet for the first time, and took some time to acclimate to the network’s standards of conduct and “netiquette“. After a month or so, these new users would theoretically learn to comport themselves according to its conventions, or simply tire of using the service. September thus heralded the peak influx of disruptive newcomers to the network.[1]

Around 1993, the online services such as America Online, CompuServe and Demon Internet began offering Usenet access to its tens of thousands, and later millions, of users. To many “old-timers”, these newcomers were far less prepared to learn netiquette than university students. This was in part because the new services made little effort to educate their users about Usenet customs, or to explain to them that these new-found forums were outside their service provider’s walled garden, but it was also a result of the much larger scale of growth. Whereas the regular September freshman influx would quickly settle down, the sheer number of new users now threatened to overwhelm the existing Usenet culture’s capacity to inculcate its social norms.[5]

Since that time, the dramatic rise in the popularity of the Internet has brought a constant stream of new users. Thus, from the point of view of the pre-1993 Usenet user, the regular “September” influx of new users never ended. The term was used by Dave Fischer in a January 26, 1994, post to alt.folklore.computers, “It’s moot now. September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September that never ended.”[6]

Some ISPs have eliminated binary groups (Telus in Canada)[7] and others have dropped Usenet altogether (Comcast,[8] AT&T[9], AOL[10][11]). This led some commentators to claim that perhaps September is finally over.[12][13]

——

I was a university student who used the Internet before AOL, Compuserve, and the World Wide Web caused the beginning of the “Eternal September”.  I had to learn netiquette.  Even when AOL and other online services began to link to the Internet, the users were still paying to use those services, and could be identified, even if they used a screenname (usually required, because of a limit on length) or an account number (CompuServe).

Now?  Anyone can go online, create an pseudonymous email account, and post away.  If one account is blocked, another can be created.

So, how do you make the Internet a better place for polite discourse?  You probably can’t.  But here are some possibilities:

1.   Hardwire metadata into each online transaction.  A person’s location, the connections used, the computer’s identification number… Sure, these can be spoofed via proxies and offshore servers, but you make that a legal requirement, and thus give authorities another tool for prosecution.  System administrators can block problem users, and report them to a central agency, in much the same way banks report individuals to credit bureaus.  The user would be notified, and an appeal process would be available.  Of course, the electronic evidence trail would be quite specific and damning.  If a computer is blocked but used by various people, (such at a university or family) then the owner would be required to discipline the user.

1.5  Allow internet users, via various Internet services, to automatically block anyone with a suspect reputation.  An individual could even filter by various criteria.  Just as Google Chrome warns of suspicious sites, so could social media sites issue a warning when receiving email, instant messages, or other communications from irreputable individuals or computers (such as boiler room scams).

2.  Pseudonyms are sometimes required.  An individual might be at danger for posting information to the Internet which a government might consider seditious.  A person might have created a following on another website and become known by that screen name, just like a writer is known by a pen name.

3.  The Internet comment system is the electronic equivalent of a newspaper’s “letters to the editor” column.  While it is difficult to monitor comments on every article or web page, there can be alternatives.  Comment feeds can allow readers to rate other comments, and the comment system can hide or promote accordingly.  If the system is widespread, and uses services such as Facebook, Google, Disqus, Twitter or Yahoo for a commenter to login, then those systems can track the reputation of the user.  Of course, this can be abused if others bully a specific user, but then those individual can be identified as well.  (The system can even be programmed to check for people who stalk or bully an individual repeatedly.)

4.  Teach children the importance and responsibility of writing.  “Don’t write anything you don’t want being read in public” was a common warning back when that only meant paper and pen.  Now with instant caching and searching, it’s an even more critical skill.  Teach students how to write clearly, how to argue and debate politely (if deviously), and how to avoid being viewed as a jerk.

I don’t know what the future holds.  The Internet makes it so easy to find information, but it also makes it extremely easy to preach to the choir, to avoid anything which might shatter a fantasy or belief.  I would hope that extremes would be mitigated, in much the way they were a century ago when local newspapers would promote specific agendas without advocating extremes.

I don’t know if that will change.  Some big event, like Oklahoma City, fomented by extremists, won’t make an impact (we didn’t learn the lesson then, and politics has become even more partisan since).  Most likely, it will require a lot of different interests working together to make a positive change, but when no one is listening to anyone else, how do get people to work together?  Maybe interfaith initiatives can provide some guidance, but the problem with being a peacemaker is that you usually get shot from both sides of the battlefield.

Myself, I’ll continue to (try to) be tolerant and calm when confronted by impassioned commentary.  (Most of the time, I just walk away and ignore, refusing to read comments on Yahoo News, for example.)  It’s not easy, but life rarely is.

Now, I’m allowing comments, so be polite, intelligent, and understanding.  Constructive criticism is welcomed, and I enjoy discourse if it makes me think.

11 Comments on The Long Dark Eternal September of the Soul, last added: 9/4/2012
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5. piccolorium.net

Thought and emotion also of course come to know themselves, achieve material clarity through things in the world – a ruined abbey, a peaceful river, the jumpy energy of a crowd in a foreign city. These things will (so to speak) explicate our thoughts and feelings for us, they will act as a ‘voiceless language’, in which the unconscious domain mentioned previously will come to rest, disclose itself..

Thought and feeling articulate themselves through that constellation of examples and figures that the world provides for us.It is not that we project emotion or thought outward onto these things. For that implies that the thoughts are already fashioned and require only to be transferred onto an object. Rather do we receive from them, the realm of objects, what it is we are thinking and feeling. ‘What we are thinking and feeling’ is therefore something that emerges retroactively, post 'expression'.

A "new blog mostly on philosophy and literature and the relation between the two" – welcome piccolorium.net.

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6. Easter Island: The Great Taboo - a review

Easter Island is now little more than a tourist destination, its sacred sites reconstructed without any religious intent, making the island's given name ironic as Christianity supplants another religion based on the continuing life of the dead. Nicolas Cauwe’s narrative, originally published in French and, from a certain stiffness of expression, apparently self translated, has none of the lyric effusions of Pierre Loti’s account of 1872 or the indulgence of other personal narratives such as Katherine Routledge’s The Mystery of Easter Island (1919) and Heyerdahl’s Aku-Aku (1958), which is perhaps inevitable given the exhaustion of Easter Island's enchantment. The stunning colour plates at least offer a glimmer of an aura now faded; a glimmer, however, that still fascinates...
Great revew over at This Space.

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7. On Dublinesque

There is a dream he can realise however, and that is one he had while seriously ill, caused by years of alcohol abuse. He dreamed of Dublin, “a city he had never been to, but which in the dream he knew perfectly well, as if he'd lived there in another life”. That other life is, of course, reading. He has absorbed James Joyce’s Ulysses as a vampire absorbs another's lifeblood, just as Joyce absorbed Homer. As is only natural for someone who has a “remarkable tendency to read his life as a literary text”, Riba decides to hold a funeral for the Gutenberg age of print in the very same chapel that in episode six of Ulysses saw the funeral of Paddy Dignam. If literature is dying, then a funeral must follow (more...)

A Provisional Miracle: Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas

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8. On bloggers & authors

1. Authors need bloggers more than bloggers need authors.

2. Seriously.

3. The thing is, a lit blog can be interesting and appealing without ever running a single author interview. You do not need to blog about the latest releases or trends to maintain a decent readership. Authors on the other hand need bloggers to help spread the word on their books and the sooner after publication (or even before), the better.

4. As someone who had a book published six months ago I am abundantly aware of just how important blog mentions can be - and how much publishers really, really, REALLY want authors to obtain blogger attention.

5. And as a longtime online reviewer (both here and as the Bookslut YA columnist) I know how hard authors work at getting that attention.

6. Here's a tip - emails addressed "Dear Blogger" are not a good use of your time. Ever.

7. The author side of me would like to be able to send out a hundred emails to a hundred bloggers and receive immediate positive replies promising reviews, interviews and blog mentions.

8. The blogger side of me wishes authors would never contact me and instead wait patiently until I sent them emails requesting information or interviews and then responded promptly with exactly what I've asked for.

9. To say I'm conflicted on this subject would be an understatement.

10. Surprisingly, the answer to how blogger and authors can most effectively work together is actually pretty simple. You have to be willing to put in the time. Bloggers have to be willing to write consistently smart and entertaining posts and authors have to be willing to engage with lit bloggers on subjects other than their own books. Through time bloggers will make themselves someone who authors want to engage with and vice versa. Conversations will take place that have nothing to do with the author's book or the blogger's blog but books and blogs and all manner of literary greatness in general.

11. Many good things happen at this point.

12. Of course you can certainly circumvent all this time and work. As a blogger you can conduct giveaways, lots and lots of giveaways, and you can drive up traffic to your blog by being the place that gives away free stuff and authors will want to take advantage of those numbers and likely ask you for the chance to guest post or interview and it will seem like a good idea to do this but authors need to keep in mind that readers who are looking for free books don't generally translate into sales (which is what authors need) and bloggers who run endless giveaways need to realize that this is a lot of work.

13. But hey, if being the book world's version of Wrap-N-Pack is your idea of having a literary conversation then go for it.

14. For authors this is all a lot trickier then you might have hoped or planned for. Again, we are the ones who need that blogger attention and must deal with publishers advising us to court it while never explaining how. The notion that authors must start investing time in the lit blogosphere years before publication might seem crazy and, quite frankly, a hella lot of work with no promises of a return.

15. (It's sort of like writing that way.)

16. But that's what you have to do. Bloggers (most of them anyway) are blogging about books because they love them and they want to share their thoughts with other book lovers. Authors are writing books because they have stories to tell that they want to share with the world. Engaging in online conversations (via comments and tweets) is the best way for us all to geek out in the most wonderful bookish way. Authors should approach blogs from the point of fun, read blogs they like and comment on posts they enjoy. This isn't hard (it's fun!) and over time you get to know the bloggers, the bloggers get to know you, and thus when you have a book come out there are already some folks cheering online in your corner.

17. As this is what happened to me, I'm sure it is wha

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9. Liebster Award–Surprising Turn from Rejection

Coming home from any trip, short or long, requires a person to reacquaint herself with location, premises, and obligations therein. Ask anyone who travels semi-regularly.

When I returned today from Central Washington, fatigue schlepped my belongings upstairs, unlocked the door and returned to the car for another load. Sister did the same. Once ensconced inside, again occupying our apartment, the next order of business was computer, email, and whatever had darkened our cyber thresholds during our absence.

Embedded within the hundred plus emails of my main inbox were two from editors. I didn’t need to read them. I knew they contained rejections. They’d arrived too quickly from new venues I’d submitted to the previous week.

Rejection

Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was right. They sat there, staring at me, daring me to protest. I couldn’t. Rejections are a fact of life for every writer. The first time I saw Jane Yolen post about receiving a rejection for a story, I almost cheered; not because she’d received bad news, but because she’d received bad news was willing to flaunt that rejection on Facebook for all the world to see.

I gathered strength from that act of personal/professional bravery on Jane’s part. She was the first well-known working writer whom I’d seen admit to receiving that palest of pink slips from an editor. Hope sprang to my heart. Perhaps I wasn’t a terrible writer after all.

Now, all this time later, I’ve begun racking in my own pile of pale pink slips. I’ve an area of wall beside my desk which will soon be decorated with them as a constant reminder that if I stop receiving them, it’s because I’m not sending out any work for judgment. The reminder to keep writing will be lurking, available for loud recriminations should I forget.

After I’d dealt with mail, uploaded work to go out for guest blog this coming week and another small bit of brainstorming I’d done yesterday, As soon as I got up from a short nap, I returned to my secondary email inbox and found another rejection. The personal note was nice. Still, it will go on my Wall of Encouragement.

All of this rejection could have turned maudlin, but I was saved by Randy Hill. Randy is a super-duper poet with an engaging personality and talent. I found his comment on Claudsy’s Blog about dropping in to collect my Award. I was confused. Award?

I did as instructed and slipped over to his second abode, “Coudfactor5.” He’d posted a lovely piece about poetry and encouragement and how Jlynn Sheridan had honored him with a Liebster Award for creating and operating a ki

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10. Mitchelmore on Knausgaard

I started writing reviews in the year Josipovici's review was published (1996) and had not read an author entirely new to me that I believed was a masterpiece. As I read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, I thought that this is perhaps the closest I will ever get. Such is the reach of the word masterpiece beyond craft and industry considerations, my instinct was not to review at all but to thrust the book into the hands of friends for whom reading is absolutely central to their lives (not many).

But I must write something. Reading My Struggle was often like reliving fragments of my own life – an intensity resonating in a void – and a review would mean explicating this in formal terms, and that wouldn’t be right. Yet the terms available seemed too personal, something to be shared only by handing the book over in silence. How then to recommend?

Lovely review from the matchless Mr Mitchelmore of Karl Ove Knausgaard's highly-praised A Death in the Family.

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11. Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog

tumblr m02ini3af81r801jw Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog
On the “authority” scale, the idea of New York cover editor Françoise Mouly launching a blog about New Yorker covers and art would rank….very high. And so Blown Covers, which she describes as a personal blog. Although it’s unafiliated with the New York, she’s holding weekly themed New Yorker cover contests and is “always on the lookout for good ideas and great artists.” So yeah, this is an audition.

This week’s theme is the idiom “In like a lion, out like a lamb” and submissions are open until Thursday at noon, along with four examples of past covers inspired by the phrase including this beauty by Lars Hokanson/Frances Cichetti, and one by art spiegelman. The contest is definitely open to comics artists, so knock yourself out!

Other weekly features include artists spotlights, inspiration posts, and so on.

Need we say…bookmark?
tumblr m02eaiilxx1r801jw Françoise Mouly launches Blown Covers blog

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12. Nox

Unfolded, Anne Carson’s book length poem Nox is nearly 1000 inches long – or wide, to be exact.

An accordion-fold book housed in a clamshell box, Nox is a single collage-like poem composed of dictionary entries, snapshots, scraps of paper, postage stamps, written memories, and other texts  in which we see Carson as she copes with the death of her brother, as she tries to comprehend “the smell of nothing,” “the muteness,” and the meaning of memories scattered across a lifetime.  Just as the physical book unfolds and then collapses back into itself, the unifying structure of Nox is the unfolding and collapsing of a short poem by the Roman poet Catullus.  Nox opens with the poem – known as Poem 101 – in Latin.  As you turn each page or further unfold the book (whichever way you choose to read Nox), you are confronted with the individual dictionary entries for every Latin word in Catullus’ poem.   As the dictionary entries mount up and you realize that Carson is working toward an English translation of the poem, these entries induce a kind of literary vertigo.  Each Latin word has multiple definitions that can be wildly different from each other, if not seemingly contradictory.  The net effect is to make the reader reel from the endless English permutations possible from sixty-three Latin words.

Via sebald.wordpress.com, and one of my current reads...

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13. David Winters on Dukla

Dukla is a small town close to the Carpathian Mountains. Dukla is a discontinuous set of descriptions of Dukla. Because the book bears the name of the place, the two seem to stand in some sort of relation. Perhaps the relation of Dukla to Dukla approaches the ‘pure’ form of what links a work to its object. But if so it’s a doubled relation, since reality is already relational. After all, Stasiuk’s subject is not so much Dukla as what Dukla reflects or refracts: what its reality relates to him. He doesn’t just look at a landscape; in so doing he looks through a lens at what makes a landscape possible (more...)

David Winters' splendid review of Andrzej Stasiuk's novel Dukla is up now on 3:AM.

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14. Chandrahas Choudhury falls in love...

In the autumn of 2000, I was a 20-year-old student in Cambridge, at home in the English language but new to England and the English. Producing dutiful but desiccated essays every week on regicide and gender-bending in Shakespeare, struggling meanwhile with the almost complete absence of rice and dal (“lentils”) in the British diet, I suddenly fell violently in love in an unlikely place – Galloway & Porter, a home for cut-price and remaindered books. Thankfully the object of my affections was, like Barkis, willing. She was, to squeeze out the last of my metaphor, The Novel.

Chandrahas Choudhury, an old pal of RSB, talks about Falling in love with the novel over at the Telegraph...

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15. An Interview with Mark Fisher

An interview with Mark Fisher over on More Thought:

“Since there are so many people who are depressed – and I maintain that the cause for much of this depression is social and political – then converting that depression into a political anger is an urgent political project....Anti-depressants and therapy are the opium of the masses now.” Mark Fisher

Interview with writer, theorist, and teacher Mark Fisher about his book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?

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16. Paul Ennis on Quentin Meillassoux

Called the most rapidly ascendant philosopher since Jacques Derrida, Quentin Meillassoux, the star pupil of Alain Badiou, has achieved something akin to cultish sainthood since the 2006 publication of his of his first book, After Finitude. And rightly so, given that his ideas inform the basis of speculative realism, one of the most hotly debated theoretical strains of the 21st century.

Yet, Meillassoux's theses—including his critique of 'correlationism', or the post-Kantian notion that being and thought are perpetually and inescapably intertwined—can be difficult to unpack. Helping us do that is Paul Ennis, editor of the journal Speculations and a recently graduated doctor of philosophy, whose explications of Meillassoux have been sanctioned by no less than the thinker himself.

Q: In Post-Continental Voices, you interview a number of post-Continental theorists about their intellectual and professional development, and their feelings about emergent philosophical strains. So, let me turn your own question back on you: What have been some of the formative influences on your academic maturation, and how did you become involved with speculative realism?

PE: When I started my Ph.D in 2007, I was treading a quite familiar path as far as my department was concerned (University College, Dublin). The plan was to write a thesis on Heidegger and ecological thinking, with a side-line in spatial/topological issues. For roughly two years, I was carrying out this project dutifully and was heavily influenced by the phenomenologists around me. For the most part, I was exposed to the Heideggerian version of phenomenology as ontology, as well as related offshoots of this tradition that stretch into Derrida and the weak theology of Caputo and others. Hermeneutics was also in the background, and I suspect my writing will always have something of this nexus in it.

The names that grabbed my attention during this time were Ed Casey, Stuart Elden, and Lee Braver. These are the kinds of thinkers I aspire to be like. Ed Casey revealed to me that phenomenology could still be carried out as method, rather than historical exegesis. Elden and Braver are master readers of other thinkers, and they are absolutely meticulous when doing so. I'm trying to get back to that way of writing after undergoing a bout of excitement that came with being released from a mental quagmire; more on this release in a moment.

In a more historical sense, I was fond of reading Dilthey and dipped into (the Heideggerian version of) Schelling. Hegel, due to the great respect he had amongst my peers, became quite important toward the tail end of my thesis. My thesis has its speculative crescendo, but the first two chapters lean heavily on Kant and Hegel. I'm not a Kantian or a Hegelian, but I know that the two form the broad hermeneutical horizon for what I do (more...)

The above via Fractured Politics. Paul Ennis received his doctorate from University College, Dublin in 2011. He is the author of Post-Continental Voices (2010) and Continental Realism (2011), as well as the editor of Speculations, a journal of speculative realism. Follow his blog at Another Heidegger Blog and on Twitter at twitter.com/lordwhatever.

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17. Celan and the Demand of Reading

Paul Celan is a limitless poet; a poet who requires our full attention, and our quiet patience. His dense, recondite work has challenged readers since the 1950s. His poetry keeps giving because, in truth, at first, it gives so little... For obvious reasons he sees through a glass darkly, but his shadow-drenched lens seems to disconcert and distort so much at first that we can't get a foothold on exactly what his poetry means.

But then we realise something. Celan's words are limpid, but appear so only if we adjust our expectations, allow his words to adjust our expectations: only if we are prepared to listen. Celan’s exactness clashes with what we think of as exact: the everyday is not exact, it is a cliché; realism requires vertiginous originality. But how can one be exact about what is truly unspeakable? One can only write knowing that one approaches and approximates, and that language fails you the while; you run after exactness, but the world gets away and your words fail. Beckett taught us about this failure because he knew failure and writing were synonymous.

I have a post over on the Carcanet blog, Celan and the Demand of Reading, written as a response to Correspondence: Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs which I've recently been reading, and thoroughly recommend.

It is a rather slight piece, for sure, but not too shoddy, I hope. For a much fuller recent post on Celan, let me direct you again to Stephen Mitchelmore's superb essay on The Meridian: Final Version–Drafts–Materials, by Paul Celan.

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18. The Beat wins Shel Dorf Award for Best Comics Blogger!

x2 8731ade The Beat wins Shel Dorf Award for Best Comics Blogger!
The Shel Dorf awards were given out this weekend at the Detroit Fanfare con, and while the complete winner list has not been posted anywhere we could find, we know we won for Best Comics Blogger! Woot! The competition was tough and to have prevailed is really humbling and gratifying. We don’t know who exactly voted on these awards, but whoever did — thank you so much.

Photo by Lauren Sankovitch.

13 Comments on The Beat wins Shel Dorf Award for Best Comics Blogger!, last added: 9/27/2011
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19. Three steps not beyond: Peter Handke's trilogy of thresholds

The opening paragraph of Peter Handke's Nachmittag eines Schriftstellers, as translated by Ralph Manheim, is a marvel in a book of marvels. Even in English, or perhaps only in English, the sentences, not written but spoken, verify their meaning by enacting the same experience of renewal in the reader. The Afternoon of Writer is only 85 pages long and not a great deal occurs in terms of narrated event, yet the same can be said of the whole. It is a clearing in a forest of books.

When the novel was published by Methuen in 1989, with the paperback of the translation following two years later in the superb Minerva imprint, it completed a series of three consecutive clearing novels: it was preceded in 1986 by Across and by Repetition in 1988. All three are long out of print and a new work by Handke has not been issued by UK publisher since Absence in 1990. Perhaps this fact explains the reason for my sudden need to revive attention for these books and this particular moment twenty years on. The more likely reason is that I want to understand how a quiet, reticent book like The Afternoon of Writer can mean so much more than the overtly worldly and eventful novels that are published instead. How is literary renewal possible?

Three steps not beyond: Peter Handke's trilogy of thresholds

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20. Larkin on MacNeice

Larkin once wrote of MacNeice in the New Statesman: ‘When we were young... his poetry was the poetry of everyday life, of shop-windows, traffic policemen, ice-cream soda, lawn mowers, and an uneasy awareness of what the newsboys were shouting. In addition he displayed a sophisticated sentimentality about falling leaves and cigarette stubs: he could have written the words of These Foolish Things. We were grateful to him for having found a place in poetry for these properties.’

From Joe Moran's blog...

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21. Wolk’s Dredd Reckoning

cursedearth Wolks Dredd Reckoning
Douglas Wolk is blogging about Judge Dredd . The author of “Reading Comics,” has presented us with several specialized comics blogs in the past — like his amazing 52 Pickup analyzing all the metadata of DC’s 52 — but now he’s wading right in to the world of the ultimate law, and one of Britain’s most popular native characters:

Mills’ Dredd never really feels like Wagner’s, though. In some ways, more power to him–nearly every other writer’s Dredd feels like a watered-down imitation of Wagner’s, and Mills definitely has his own voice. (Even Garth Ennis, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison, when they wrote Dredd, often seemed to be doing Wagner lite, and they’re not writers you can ordinarily accuse of not having strong voices.) But a tiny thing that illustrates the difference is that Mills’ Dredd exclaims “By Stomm!” all the time. Wagner’s Dredd is more likely to say “Stomm!”–a curse, but not an oath sworn in the name of some sort of greater entity.


Dredd wlll be the subject of a movie starring Karl Urban this winter, so consider this your chance to get in on the ground floor. If Doctor Who is a bit too twee for your tastes, Dredd may be the Brit institution for you.

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22. "... literature tries to exhaust literature by means of literature..."

The incommensurability of death then is the dominant theme and determines the style and content. Alice avails herself of the modern world, phoning for taxis, visiting cafés and state-of-the-art hospitals, yet these are the limits of reference. There is only one reference to literature, an unnamed SF novel being read by her husband. It is as if the loss of religious context has also emptied art and literature of consolation; the fate of art has followed the fate of theology. It has disappeared, more or less. However, while characters have bland, pan-European names and live in bland, pan-European cities, as if to emphasise the universality of the incommensurable, there’s only so much that can be drained from the particulars of place and time before it disappears into silence. As well as evoking obscure pathos, such motifs and metaphors inevitably invoke a tradition.

For example, in an otherwise insignificant moment, an unidentified, “multi-legged” insect drowns in Alice’s latte macchiato. The readerly impulse here is to recognise a possible allusion to Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, and thereby to appreciate the implications of this absurd event. We may asks: is German literature drowning in consumer culture? Instead, or in addition, we ought to admit the tension this moment generates, when literature tries to exhaust literature by means of literature...

Steve Mitchelmore reviews Alice by Judith Hermann.

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23. Translating Beckett

The second volume of Samuel Beckett’s letters will be published in October by Cambridge University Press. The Cahier series, which I mentioned a little while back, will be publishing a pamphlet by George Craig on his experiences translating letters for this volume, titled “Writing Beckett’s Letters.”

I would highly recommend this Cahier to anyone interested in Beckett, translation, or writing. What Craig does is to use his translations as a focus through which to draw a number of apparently divergent but in fact related threads: these would include handwriting (and an author’s physical interaction with a text); particular, in-depth translation questions; failure and futility; the uses of intellectual and cross-genre collaboration; the effects of writing in another language; and the ways in which the effects of writing in another language are transcended.

This is quite a bit of ground for a long essay that comes in at 36 pages (with illustrations), but Craig impressively remains light on his feet while treating each of these subjects with rigor. His method is to use many short, overlapping sections to build up a related set of ideas about Beckett’s writing and translation.

Via Conversational Reading.

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24. Must Read: Thoughts on the comics life

4851958368 4da4fd838f Must Read: Thoughts on the comics life

“You have a life-threatening condition,” the doctor said.

“We need to get you somewhere where they can operate on you,” he continued, the words tumbling out of him.

“We need to get you there immediately.” A breath.

“We have a hospital. We have a surgeon. When we have an ambulance, you’ll go.”


Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve seen Tom Spurgeon’s essay on facing a life threatening illness, an illness which led to his unexpected blogging absence earlier this summer, and which still affects him, although he’s recovering. Since looking death in the face usually prompts some inventory of life, Spurgeon does just that in an astonishing essay that covers his life and his life in comics, if there is a difference. That a man fighting for his life should spend that time thinking about the Green Lantern movie is both ridiculous and awesome — Tom’s thoughts on why we chose the comics life and why we stay there speak for me about 80% of the time. It’s not that we have no choice, but rather why would we WANT to leave a field that is full of such honest, unpretentious work and creative, life-loving people?

I mean no disrespect to Tom’s great essay by linking to two others in the same post; but they amplify many of the same thoughts. This weekend Frank Santoro writes of a fun comics weekend in the city:

That’s when Dan waved his hand again because I was being too loud. What-ever! I was having fun. I can’t help it! See, the cool thing about comics is that if you hang in there long enough your heroes can become your friends. And what’s cool about comics people is that we all know how hard it is to do comics or publish comics or write about comics – and so there is a certain comfort in sharing stories because no one really outside of comics actually gets what comics is about. So this was an occasion to celebrate this most crossroads-y, interzone-y – most impure art form on the planet. I was happy.

And last week Becky Cloonan was asked about the freelance life and mentioned both its horrible drawbacks — long hours for little pay — and why it’s so great:

What makes it worth it though, is I love drawing. I LOVE IT. I love making comics. I love starting a new page and buying new paper, ink and brushes. I love telling stories! I love the people I work with, I love the people I meet. I love thinking about the syntax and language of comics. I love esoteric discussions about the comic book industry. I love the opportunities I’ve had in life because of comics. The second I stop loving it I will find something else to do. Comics are hard work. Comics are relentless. Comics will break your heart. Comics are monetarily unsatisfying. Comics don’t offer much in terms of fortune and glory, but comics will give you complete freedom to tell the stories you want to tell, in ways unlike any other medium. Comics will pick you up after it knocks you down. Comics will dust you off and tell you it love

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25. Lucretius and the Wilderness

It’s hard not to simultaneously feel crushed and filled with wonder and joy when reading Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, all morons. I jest, of course, but truly, in De Rerum Natura, it’s all there. Beautiful poetry, a profound understanding of nature, a beautiful ethical vision and project of emancipation, an account of emergence, a thoroughgoing posthumanism, a [rather misguided] sex manual replete with meditations on love; it’s all there. All too often we get the sense that many philosophers are civil servants acting on behalf of the state, superstition, and ideology, yet with Lucretius we get the sense that we are before truth – or at least the germinal hypothesis that would lead us truth – and the seeds of a genuinely emancipatory project. That emancipatory project unfolds at the psychological level striving to free us from fear and to lead us to peace of mind, that unfolds at the social level, emancipating us from superstition and ideology, and that unfolds at the political level emancipating us from despots and unjust systems (more...)

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