N1BR: Issue 7

May 2010

D’Agata is at his best when he sheds the artifice of the lyric essay and writes straightforwardly about Yucca Mountain. He adroitly parses the project’s byzantine network of claims and counter-claims, reports and rejoinders, assurances and recriminations, risk assessments and ten-thousand-year forecasts—the endless generation of facts to supplant facts. More…

The Berlin U-Bahn, like the New York subway, is a surprisingly easy place to feel alone. People avoid eye contact in the crush, and the German announcer’s voice has a lilting softness at odds with the language’s guttural reputation. For the year I lived in Berlin, the U-Bahn was where I spent time in my own head, easing into the day. It was unusual when, riding the U1 through Kreuzberg, my faux-solitude was interrupted by the onset of paranoia. More…

Look up Greil Marcus’s chapter on Moby-Dick in Harvard’s New Literary History of America, and you’ll find a TV Guide description of John Huston’s 1956 film version: “A mad captain enlists others in his quest to kill a white whale.” It’s Melville’s epic reduced to a sentence of plot summary, which is funny, maybe. But then Marcus glosses the sentence, “Isn’t that America, the thing itself, right there?” and it starts to get confusing. More…

Is the philosophical program that emerges out of this double movement, between tradition and innovation, even coherent? It seems to me that x-phi simply cannot decide what it wants to do. More…

Great or only willing greatness, Reality Hunger neither dissolves nor founds but slips into a growing mode of authorial self-presentation, an instance of what I’d call either the fallacy of “hipness by analogy,” or “the fantasy of the writer as hip-hop DJ.” More…

Image: Anne Collier, Puzzle (Jackson Pollock, Convergence), 2009. C-print, 46.8" x 58". Courtesy of the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York.