H. P. Lovecraft meets Gilles Deleuze. The Iraq War meets Assyrian demonology. Flashes of brilliance meet clouds of turgidity. Gonzo cultural theory meets wacko horror fiction!
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, a weird work of semi-fiction/pseudophilosophy by Reza Negarestani.
When scalding oil rains down on a roomful of celebrities, is it hilariously satirical, or is it just hilarious? When a bunch of critics hail a book as an epoch-nailing masterpiece but you think it is “only” a very good novel, does that make you, like, some kind of hipster?
The Sometime Seminar discusses Jennifer Egan’s 2010 novel A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Discussed in the podcast: Pankaj Mishra’s review of the novel in the London Review of Books
Improbably cool heroes investigate implausibly cool mysteries at the behest of impossibly cool billionaires! Is cool-obsession just another form of geekiness?
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses the novels of William Gibson’s “Bigendian Trilogy” or “Blue Ant Trilogy”: Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010).
1) High fantasy. 2) War games. 3) Statistical modeling. 4) Collaborative storytelling. 5) ??? 6) D&D! A truly improbable confluence of subcultures ended up producing Dungeons & Dragons, and hence modern role-playing games.
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses Jon Peterson’s recent cultural history of wargaming and Dungeons & Dragons, Playing at the World.
Enough has been given to morality; now comes the turn of Taste. No murders were committed during the recording of this podcast on Thomas de Quincey’s weird sense of humor.
The Sometime Seminar discusses the work of nineteeth-century essayist Thomas de Quincey, focusing especially on “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.”
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses the cultural significance of the independently produced computer game Dwarf Fortress. Tangentially discussed are other simulation games and “god games” such as Civilization, the arguments for games as works of art, and the relation between narrative and gaming.
Is any sufficiently advanced genius indistinguishable from incompetence? How many living burials can a story contain before it just gets…weird? And just what is a weird tale, anyway?
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses Poe’s only long work, the Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, the questions of genre it raises, and whether it’s reasonable to call Poe the father of various forms of “weird” fiction.
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses J.M. Coetzee’s newest fiction, The Childhood of Jesus.
Roger also subsequently reviewed the book for the LARB.
Supplemental links (mostly subsequent to the recording of this episode, since our discussion preceded the book’s US publication): an excellent review from Joyce Carol Oates in the NYT and other useful ones from Benjamin Markovits in The Observer, Michael Duffy in The Millions
This week we return to the planet of the long poems, with a discussion of the middle books of William Wordsworth’s Prelude (the 1805 text of course, sheesh). Now with intro music!
This episode of The Sometime Seminar discusses Wordsworth’s Prelude, especially books 5, 6, and 7, and focusing on the version of 1805.