What does a modernist aesthetic of clarity and authenticity look like after 30 years of failed hopes? What can the words “Little Baby Ass” avail against the anti-poetic forces of capitalism and empire?
The Sometime Seminar discusses the wonderfully of-its-moment early work and wonderfully out-of-its-moment late work of modernist poet George Oppen.
What’s this Freud guy’s deal, anyway? Can you write a narrative of Freud’s life in the light of Freud’s writings on life and narrative without being really annoying?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Becoming Freud (2014), an intellectual biography of the early life of Sigmund Freud by Adam Phillips.
Can you talk about love without being in love, and can you be in love without talking about it? Even if it’s impossible to construct a philosophy of love, can you cobble together philosophy, memoir, literary criticism, psychoanalysis and semiotics into something that looks kind of like a philosophy of love if you squint a little?
The Sometime Seminar discusses A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (Fragments d’un discours amoureux, 1977), a late work by the inimitable Roland Barthes.
Gothic intensity, psychological acuity and historical horror bleed into one another in a story of literary ambition entangled with fascism.
The Sometime Seminar discusses By Night in Chile (2000/English translation 2003), a novella by Roberto Bolaño.
Can a theoretical hodgepodge leaping enjoyably from sex to cybernetics to urban planning to the history of bathrooms answer the question “What the heck is everyday life, anyway?” And if not, is it okay to just put your feet up and enjoy the ride?
What’s everyday life, and what isn’t? What’s the critique of everyday life, and what is it good for? What’s unorthodox Marxism, and what’s just…sociology?
The Sometime Seminar discusses the first two volumes of The Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre. (Vol. 3 will be discussed in the next episode.)
Dreamily plotless tales of journeys through fantastical lands? Amiably formulaic stories to tell in your London club over copious brandy? Get you an aristocratic dilettante who can do both.
The Sometime Seminar discusses the fantastical, and later not-so-fantastical, short fiction of Lord Dunsany, as collected in In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales.
What happens if you sprinkle late-19th-century-British fairy dust all over 20th-century upstate New York? What do you call it when a multi-generational family saga and a sweeping fate-of-the-world fantasy novel collide with 70s-style quote-unquote postmodernism? How many layers of meta-narrative reflection are you on?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Little, Big (1981) by John Crowley.
It’s a fine-tuned realist novel…about an author of extravagant romantic novels. It’s middlebrow fiction…but extremely good. It’s Elizabeth Taylor…but not that Elizabeth Taylor.
The Sometime Seminar discusses Angel (1957) by Elizabeth Taylor.
Plans go awry, digressions abound and hobbyhorses gallop in all directions as The Sometime Seminar discusses Laurence Sterne’s seriously unserious comic novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767).
Supplemental links: Sigurd Burckhardt, “Tristram Shandy’s Law of Gravity” (ELH, Mar. 1961); Viktor Shklovsky’s “The Novel as Parody: Sterne’s Tristram Shandy“ (from Theory of Prose)