Aesthetic Animism

Excerpt from David Jhave Johnston’s Aesthetic Animism:

Aesthetic Animism“Words in ancient usage were both practical tools and living magic, sent through the ether, emanating from the gods. Our terms for gods might have changed yet some parallels persist: remote communication is now both inspirational and normative, and our contemporary pantheons are platforms. Since the Renaissance, as science explored the universe, the habitat of ancient myths (which gestate the evolution of the poetic aspects of language) dwindled. Displaced from oracular dominance, poetry became a refugee, a fallen exiled god. Incarnated and mortal, poetry devolved into secular interiority, fluctuating states of consciousness, wordplay, and the primacy of phenomena.”

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On the concept of digital poetry: “Poetry’s relevance involves engaging with technology’s effect on language. And not just the surface effects of shifts in word usage and transitions in styles, but fundamental transformations that are occurring in how words operate ontologically.”

SOURCE: Johnston, David Jhave. “National Poetry Month: Aesthetic Animism.” MIT Press.

Translator Sean Sell on Contemporary Indigenous Literature in Mexico

Excerpt from Paul Worley & Kelsey Woodburn’s interview with Sean Sell:

Not many people know that Maya literatures or even in general indigenous literatures exist. Why do you think that is? What is the role of the translation in the promotion of these literatures even within their countries of origin?

unnamed-1“Colonialism in the new world has not ended; rather, the colonizers took control away from European nations. Indigenous people throughout North and South America continue to fight to preserve their culture and have at least some control over their lives. Words like autonomy, sovereignty, and agency all relate to this struggle. While Western Civilization may see the world as a set of nations based on lines drawn hundreds of years ago by white politicians and map-makers, indigenous people (those who haven’t been displaced) have older connections to lands based on where and how their cultures developed. These writers use literature to speak for their connection to the land, a theme that comes up repeatedly.”

SOURCE:  Woodburn, Kelsey, and Paul Worley. “Translator Sean Sell on Contemporary Indigenous Literature in Mexico.” Asymptote.

The Becoming-Literature of the World: Pheng Cheah’s Case for World Literature

“What Is a World?, by contrast, aims to identify the ‘ethicopolitical horizon [that literature] opens up for the existing world’: literature’s normative, rather than merely 25778724reflective, capacity — in other words, its ability to shape a world rather than simply being its product.”

“To that end, Cheah mobilizes a series of terms that seem to have long gone out of fashion, beaten out of use by historicist deconstruction: world spirit, universality, teleology, and authenticity. What Is a World? argues that novels that merit the name world literature ‘remake the world against capitalist globalization’ by pointing, through their narrative contingencies, at the openness of ontological structures.”

 

 

SOURCE: Alon, Shir. “The Becoming-Literature of the World: Pheng Cheah’s Case for World Literature.” Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB). 

How to Recognize a Dystopia

“The genre of dystopia –- the ‘not good place’– has captured the imaginations of artists and audiences alike for centuries. But why do we bother with all this pessimism?”

SOURCE: Gendler, Alex. “How to Recognize a Dystopia.” TED-Ed.

Let’s Ditch the Dangerous Idea That Life Is a Story

fullsizerender8“But I do, like the American novelist John Updike and many others, ‘have the persistent sensation, in my life…, that I am just beginning’. The Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa’s ‘heteronym’ Alberto Caeiro (one of 75 alter egos under which he wrote) is a strange man, but he captures an experience common to many when he says that: ‘Each moment I feel as if I’ve just been born/Into an endlessly new world.’ Some will immediately understand this. Others will be puzzled, and perhaps skeptical.”

SOURCE: Strawson, Galen. “Let’s Ditch the Dangerous Idea That Life Is a Story.” Aeon.