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MEILLASSOUX’S MALLARME: THE FINITUDE OF INFINITE CHANCE

The Number and the Siren
by Quentin Meillassoux
Urbanomic/Sequence Press, May 2012
306pp. / £16.99/$25.95
Buy from Urbanomic or Sequence

Meillassoux made a major splash in the world of contemporary philosophy with the publication (and more specifically, the English language translation) of his pivotal work, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. Ostensibly launching a new realm of thought organized between the titles of “speculative realism” and beyond, the book posited the idea that, despite what the last few centuries of philosophy has decided, there is a world that can and indeed has existed outside of any phenomenological experience of it; to assume that the world is dependent upon the humans who inhabit it ignores the idea that the world turns whether or not we, as humans, exist on it. And to do so it meticulously examines how this is possible with what have been traditionally described as the hard sciences; math, physical science, geology, etc.

The Number and the Siren, on the other hand, turns away from the world and instead focuses on a singular work of poetry that already has a hold over the 20th and 21st centuries—that of Mallarmé’s game changing Un Coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard. Mallarmé’s poem has been an insistent staple in the development of poetry since its publication, but Meillassoux’s approach to the work is both unique and, truly, astounding. When considering the diegesis of a work of literature, we look at a book as its own internal world, in some modes of thought as a self-contained entity oblivious to the outside. This is both an often short-sighted AND revelatory method of reading a text.
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May 24th, 2012 / 3:53 pm

JON LEON & A POETRY OF CONTINGENCY

THE MALADY OF THE CENTURY
By Jon Leon
Futurepoem Books, May 2012
88 Pages / $16.00 Buy from SPD

 

 

 

 

In consideration of the work of Jon Leon, it is necessary to consider Jon Leon, the poet, simultaneously as an apostle and a construction. Anna Kaven (nee Helen Emily Woods) ended up, at a particular point in her career as a novelist, changing her name from that which she was born with to a name she had invented for a character in one her own books—Jon Leon has always simply insisted on living as a character in his work, as the character in his works.

His poetry.

There is a level of both the inter-textual and the extra-textual interaction present throughout his entire oeuvré; something that becomes apparent throughout his career. As Dan Hoy points out in his case-study of Leon, there’s a particular overlap of reality with a poetic construction of reality:

“We mixed agitprop, erotic dance, and horror to construct a total environment of focused bliss.” Jon Leon, Hit Wave

I’ll risk substituting tropes here and suggest the above sentence from Jon Leon’s Hit Wave could be taken somewhat literally as a nod to his overall objective (construct a total environment of focused bliss = enable and induce the experience of the impossible) and strategy (mixing agitprop, erotic dance, and horror = forming a triangulation of world, life, and nothingness).

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April 17th, 2012 / 11:17 am

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