We Got Sick of Theory and Talked About That


Between July 9th and August 5th , Alec Niedenthal and I had a long & blabby conversation that began when Alec enthusiastically responded to me saying “I’m almost completely gagged now by fucks like Deleuze.” Knowing Alec mostly as a fellow young philosophy & theory head, I asked after his newfound disillusionment with the stuff.

That conversation posted here—mostly unedited—in hopes you find it useful or rousing.

Ken: What literature strikes you as bullshit now?

Alec: Your question is great, but I’m not sure that I’m equipped to answer it. I’ll explain why. First, I’m not sure how possible it is today to talk about what sort of art is valueless, ie bullshit, when the role of art is so unclear and, less evidently but no less significantly, when we as avant-garde writers are unsure whether there should be an institution called “Art” any longer. That’s to say, it’s hard to even talk about what literature should be doing when the “should”-level claim about literature in general—basically, what it ought to depict and how to depict it—is supposed to be. READ MORE >

Random / 6 Comments
September 17th, 2013 / 9:18 pm

Everyone must be at AWP.

For those of us who like theory, what’s the most productive theoretical work you’ve ever read? (Interpret that however you like.)

In the In

Last week, I had this awesome conversation with a grad student about theory. And he was like, Have you read this guy?, and I was like, Who?!

And so I come to my problem: What is going on in theory these days?

When you’re in school – in school like a student – you get this fab readings lists, from professors, from friends, from other students. You’re always in conversation, whether in the classroom or out of it. Either way, ideas are just around you. All you have to do is listen.


Random / 13 Comments
October 12th, 2011 / 2:01 pm

Q & A #5

If you have questions about writing or publishing or whatever, leave them in the comments or e-mail them to roxane at roxanegay dot com and we will find you some answers.

Most places I am interested in submitting to ask for ‘no previously published material.’ But what constitutes previously published material? I understand why editors wouldn’t want a poem or story that is already available somewhere online or in a widely circulated journal. But what if your piece just shows up in your friend’s ‘zine, which he has only made 50 copies of and gives away for free? What if he has made 500 copies? What if he is selling them? What if they are only circulated in a single city? Ultimately my question is, where is the line drawn for previously published material? When is something considered published?

Nick Antosca

If it’s been in your friend’s zine and he only published 50 copies, feel free to submit it, unless you think there’s a realistic chance that one of those 50 copies got to the editor of that magazine.  There probably isn’t.  The line is arbitrary.

Uncategorized / 45 Comments
March 9th, 2010 / 5:02 pm

Primordial Theory Question

I am alive and did not ask to be

1. While any subject can be interesting to any bozo at any given time, history indicates that there are a limited number of topics that are always immediately and profoundly engaging to everyone, all the time.

2. These issues are what is referenced by the term “the human condition.”

3. They are: death, love, and the idea that I am alive and did not ask to be.

4. Death meaning, I am going to die and I don’t know when or how to behave in the face of that.

5. Love meaning, for instance, I am lonely and drawn to other humans, and yet I am human and drawn to inflicting pain.

6. I am alive and did not ask to be meaning I don’t know if you are, too, or if I made you up.

7. So my question is, what is all this other crap that people are writing?

8. In other words, how far from these issues can I take a story and still have a story that anyone will care about?

I defer to your expertise.

Random / 138 Comments
March 24th, 2009 / 10:46 am