What we talk about when we talk about the New Sincerity, part 2

"Hi, How Are You?" cover art by Daniel Johnston (1983); "financially desperate tree doing a 'quadruple kickflip' off a cliff into a 5000+ foot gorge to retain its nike, fritos, and redbull sponsorships " by Tao Lin (2010)

It made me very happy to read the various responses to Part 1, posted last Monday. Today I want to continue this brief digression into asking what, if anything, the New Sincerity was, as well as what, if anything, it currently is. (Next Monday I’ll return to reading Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose and applying it to contemporary writing.)

Last time I talked about 2005–8, but what was the New Sincerity before Massey/Robinson/Mister? (And does that matter?) Others have pointed out that something much like the movement can be traced back to David Foster Wallace’s 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction” (here’s a PDF copy). I can recall conversations, 2000–3, with classmates at ISU (where DFW taught and a number of us worked for RCF/Dalkey) about “the death of irony” and “the death of Postmodernism” and a possible “return to sincerity.” Today, even the Wikipedia article on the NS also makes that connection:

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What we talk about when we talk about the New Sincerity, part 1

Miranda July; Steve Roggenbuck (photo dates unknown)

I wasn’t surprised that my Monday post, which was ultimately about reading & applying some ideas from Viktor Shklovsky’s Theory of Prose, mostly generated conversation about Tao Lin and the New Sincerity. I knew that would happen even as I wrote it. So I thought I should take a post to clarify my thoughts on “the whole NS thing.” What follows will be a mix of fact and personal reflection.

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THE ZERO-DEGREE NOISELESSNESS OF DEATH: LECTIO IX-XII

Lectio I-IV
Lectio V-VIII

Systemic limits to growth require that the inevitable recommencement of the solar trajectory scorches jagged perforations through such civilisations. The resultant ruptures cannot be securely assimilated to a metasocial homeostatic mechanism, because they have an immoderate, epidemic tendency. Bataille writes of ‘the virulence of death’. Expenditure is irreducibly ruinous because it is not merely useless but also contagious. Nothing is more infectious than the passion for collapse.

-Nick Land, “After the Law”

LECTIO IX: Beyond Novelty, Into The Uncanny
LECTIO X: Shame and the Texture of the Flesh
LECTIO XI: Artaud as Arrogance Without Ego
LECTIO XII: When Nothing is Real

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