Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Next Project: The Brad Pitt Book

Reading David Foster Wallace's essay "David Lynch Keeps His Head" over the past few days got me thinking seriously about my next book project, which will be an interdisciplinary study of Brad Pitt. I've been thinking about this idea off and on for the past ten years, and now that I live in New Orleans I regularly pick up on a sort of ambient critical interest in the actor—both as a mythic Hollywood persona and as an actual person who does things that make a difference in the world. I've also had a series of exchanges with scholars and students that have convinced me that this is a project worth pursuing: there are a lot of facets involved, and it's no mere extension of spectation. So I think it's time. I am curious what other people are writing about Brad Pitt, and so I have put out a call for papers to see if I can cull an eclectic group of essays that cohere around the subject.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Of Getting Lost

Yesterday I got lost in the woods. I mean really really lost: totally disoriented, middle-of-the-day sun overhead and so no bearing on cardinal directions, going probably in meandering circles up ridges and down valleys, tromping through heavy undergrowth, dense expanses of ferns up to my thighs, over a bog whose entire mass jiggled underfoot, through raspberry patches and groves of balsam poplars...trying to find an elusive logging road that finally appeared right in front of me after wandering along a winding ridge-line for a mile or so.

What was supposed to be a relatively short walk in the woods to a somewhat remote glacial 'kettle' lake turned into a four-hour excursion that entailed a lot of displacement and uncanny feelings of total isolation amid the old growth deciduous forests. The tiniest details—the maiden hair fern rachis, a splotch of slime mold on a downed birch tree, drosera carnivorous plants around stunted cedar tree bases, the texture of leatherwood bark—took on incredible thing-ness in the dark and circular woods.

The weird thing is that when I got home and charted where I had been on Google Earth, the area looked so small and easily navigable. Yet while aerial perspective and satellite imaging can certainly zoom in and out impressively and cover a lot of ground, it is very difficult to map or otherwise render the scale of getting lost.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cultural Productions of 9/11

The latest issue of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is now online, and you can read it here. The issue is called "Cultural Productions of 9/11," and my friend Kara Thompson and I co-edited it and wrote the introduction together. We were fortunate to get fantastic contributions from a range of brilliant scholars. When we first put out the call for papers (a year and a half ago), we had nearly 100 strong proposal submissions; it was difficult to decide on the contents, but it is now very rewarding to see all the thematic overlaps and reoccurring tension points that appear throughout the issue as it turned out.