The Mother of all posts!

Well, it seems I spoke a little too soon when I declared myself a Master of English Lit. several months ago, upon completing my field & general comprehensives… Turns out I have three credits of coursework left to do! (I’m flashing back to Peter Parker’s missing gym class from the early-to-mid seventies) None of this interferes with my plans, really. I’ll still be starting my PhD in the fall, but I might have less time for blogging in the days to come–and then again, I might blog even more, even if it’s only to torture you all with my musings about the Confederation Poets! If you are scratching your heads, my friends, believe me–you are not alone. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout these dudes, and I’m not sure I want to. Nevertheless, there it is. As Sam Spade likes to say–“when you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.” I’m sure he’d offer the same advice to any fool who tries to register for a January graduate seminar in December. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but until that unanticipated epiphany occurs, I’m going to consider this my punishment for getting this far into my academic career without reading a word of CanLit…

Anyway, I figure I’d better put some stuff out there while I still can. Here’s the scorecard:

1. some thoughts on Infinity Inc. #11-15

2. Professor X’s first impressions of Yvor Winters

3. the Baseball Hall of Fame, 2004

4. “seriality and the sublime”

5. “Is God Outside of Time?”

6. Terry Eagleton on the “death of theory”

7. Gene Colan

8. Carmine Infantino


1–Inifinitors aloft!
H, at The Comic Treadmill gives us his impressions of Infinity Inc. #14 & 15. These were, you may recall, the first Todd McFarlane issues, and I think H sums up their significance rather well:

The biggest deal is that Todd McFarlane became the regular artist on the series – his first job with DC and one of his first ever. You may not like the public persona he’s developed over the years or his writing, but there is no denying he did a knock-out job on Infinity Inc. In the letters’ page Roy Thomas predicts that Todd McFarlane “is a name the comics world will hear a lot more of in the future”. Hey Roy – who do you like in the third race tomorrow at Preakness?

In fact, Thomas and McFarlane show real teamwork here with some innovative page layouts. In issue 15, the top of each page consists largely of “talking heads” describing or showing the reaction of the public and secondary characters to what is going on. The “talking heads” include newscasters, religious figures, JSAers and scientists. The bottom part (the majority of the page) consists of the simultaneous action involving the Infinitors. Before you think they’re just copying Frank Miller’s style from the Dark Knight series – this came out first! This technique effectively captures the idea that the menace at hand affects more than just the costumed heroes and it helps the flow of the story, reducing the amount of exposition necessary for the leads (this is particularly helpful in a Roy book, where the expository dialog can take over).

I do hate what he later became, but the fact is, McFarlane really did some great stuff here. The readers, groping for a name from the past to compare the “young Canadian artist” to, kept opting for Steranko, but if you ask me, they’d have done better to reference Barry Windsor-Smith, circa Avengers #66-67 (also written by the Rascally One):

You know, page 13: “Did you ever walk thru something that wasn’t“…

I also agree with H’s assertion that the Chroma story’s potential was sadly wasted, and his musings about the difficulty of conveying sonic effects in comic book form (believe me, it’s not easy in prose either! I should know–my first novel was entirely devoted to an attempt to capture the sublime impact of a “beloved voice” upon an impressionable mind…)

Meanwhile, in the Infinity Inc. letters page (issue #12), Roy saw fit to lash out at the auteur theory, as practiced by the cahiers de cinema guys, and Andrew Sarris. Setting aside the fact that his opposition grows out of his experience on the writing crew of Conan the Destroyer (I try to forget that Roy’s a big Conan guy, because man, I’m not!), I’ll give the man his due–obviously, there are some brilliant auteurs out there (like Frank Capra!), but a great many studio age films (such as most of Warner Bros.’ output in the thirties) have been slighted by critics who don’t find directors like Raoul Walsh, Lloyd Bacon, William Keighley, and even Curtiz and Dieterle sexy enough to discuss… and maybe most of them aren’t (Dieterle did, in fact, prove himself to be an exceptional auteur, in the forties) but their films are! You won’t have to think very hard to see the parallel between these short-sighted critics and people like ADD who are so willfully blind to the merits of “corporate comics”.

2–Yvor Winters’ misreading of Emerson
Aaron Haspel’s post about Prof X. (that’s me folks!) motivated me to check out the essay on Hart Crane which furnished him with some of his terminology. Actually, I’ve wanted to read Winters for years… As far as I’m concerned, the early-to-mid twentieth century was the golden age of scholarship, an era when academics didn’t shy away from making grand pronouncements, however insane (and you really don’t know what insanity can be until you’ve gone through A. J. Toynbee’s ten-volume A Study of History–but more about that another time!), and books were written to be read in their entirety, not skimmed by journal-besieged theorists. Perry Miller, F.O. Matthiessen, Richard Hofstadter, Northrup Frye, V.L. Parrington, R.W.B. Lewis, John Livingston Lowes–right or wrong, these people wrote compelling books!

Well, Yvor Winters is clearly a member of that select party–and, just as clearly, he’s wrong as hell about Emerson! He’s wrong when he claims that the Emersonian doctrine is “merely the romantic doctrine with a New England emotional coloration, [and] should naturally result in madness if one really lived it; it should result in literary confusion if one really wrote it”. And he’s wrong when he asserts that it was only the sober habits of his region that prevented Ralph Waldo from running amok. At the risk of beating a dead horse–I’d like to direct you all, once more, to my work on Emerson, which explores, at length, the incredible consequences of the fact that, when Romantics on this side of the Atlantic groped back into the past for some rock to ground their unhinged minds upon, they found the Enlightenment, instead of crazy medieval myths…

Emerson was more than an irrational mystic (although that was one of his moods):

Irrational Symbolism and the Kantian Sublime

The cluster of charged sentences surrounding the image of the “transparent eyeball” in Nature dramatize the tensions generated by Coleridge’s blurring of the boundary between the faculties of Reason and the Imagination. Like most New Englanders of his era, Emerson knew Kant primarily through the Biographia Literaria and the Aids to Reflection. These texts were anything but faithful translations from the original German, and the blueprint of a new monism lurked within Coleridge’s musings upon Kant’s emphatically dualistic schema. However, in Emerson’s seminal book, and in his work as a whole, a sense of the inescapability of subjectivity consistently undercuts the tendency toward mysticism.

It was perhaps inevitable that Coleridge would transform the sober Königsberger’s Practical Reason into a faculty capable of grasping eternal truths through poetic insight. In The Critique of Practical Reason, Kant had written:

. . . there is a knowledge of God indeed, but only for practical purposes, and, if we attempt to extend it to a theoretical knowledge, we find an understanding that has intuitions, not thoughts, a will that is directed to objects on the existence of which its satisfaction does not in the least depend … Now these are all attributes of which we can form no conception that would help to the knowledge of the object…

In the lexicon of critical philosophy, the imagination is a faculty of sense which crumbles in the face of the sublime, paving the way to the “pleasing” knowledge that “every standard of sensibility [falls] short of the ideas of reason”. In Coleridge, by contrast, we find imagination re-christened as the “Imagination”, and its scope considerably enlarged—to the point where it is capable of forming “all into one graceful and intelligent whole”.

Even in Coleridge, for the most part, access to the noumenal realm (through the strangely interfused faculties of Reason and Imagination) is restricted to intuitions, but now it appears that these intuitions are susceptible of incarnation within the creations of the poet. Thus, he can triumphantly declare: “it has pleased Providence, that the divine truths of religion should have been revealed to us in the form of poetry” . More importantly, at the conclusion of Aids To Reflection (which is the work Emerson knew best), Coleridge goes completely off the Kantian rails, arguing that although the mystic mistakenly attaches to “anomalies of his individual temperament the character of reality . . .”, the poet “will know, that the delightful dream, which the [mystic] tells, is a dream of truth”.

In his discussion of mysticism, Coleridge introduces the figure of Jacob Behmen as an example of a “fanatic” who tried to force the vision vouchsafed him down the throats of his neighbors. The very same Behman appears in Emerson’s “The Poet”, in a similar capacity—as a fetishist of “tedious village symbols” rather than a prophet of “universal signs”; but in the subtle shift of emphasis, we see Emerson working to refine the Coleridgean formulation of mysticism. The latter is concerned primarily with the “divine truth” which even the misguided may catch a glimpse of; the former zeroes in on the means of apprehending (or perhaps merely indicating) the noumenal—the symbol.

Emerson’s oeuvre manifests various and conflicting attitudes toward the possibility of a perfect correspondence between the subject and the cosmos: from the arch-pantheism of “Brahma” to the postlapsarian gloom of “Experience”. However, on the whole, he privileges the transportive power of language over the terminus of the noumenal (or the “Over-Soul”). There is no counterpart in Emerson to Coleridge’s “divine truth” (which is basically revealed Christianity), and certainly there is nothing like Kant’s categorical imperative. In “Self-Reliance”, he urges the reader to “detect that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within”, but there is rarely any indication, in Emerson, of what the light might disclose. The Emersonian project is an attempt to capture that gleam in words, without reference to what may lurk beyond it. Emerson’s commitment to the pure symbol manifests itself most startlingly in the famous “transparent eyeball” passage. It is a linguistic pressure cooker, which contains the wildest extremes of pantheism and solipsism. Clearly, it is impossible to “be nothing” whilst “seeing all”. To complicate matters, the very idea of “seeing all” is unfathomable—to “see” is the most subjective, fragmented operation a being can perform; in order for seeing to take place, some exterior object must be present to be seen. Furthermore, one cannot see oneself (at least, not the organ that does the seeing). Clearly, Emerson has anticipated these objections by making the all-seeing eyeball a transparent one, but this apparent solution only makes matters worse, for, in effect, this would make the eyeball blind to itself. Is it possible that this is how Emerson wishes us to read the passage–that the subject must cultivate a blind spot in order to feel the “currents of the universal being” circulating through itself?

More likely, the passage is groping toward a dramatization of the contradictions inherent in the experience of the Kantian sublime, as interpreted by Coleridge. When confronted by the abyss of “infinite space” (an instance of the mathematical sublime), Emerson is “glad to the brink of fear”, and his imagination expends itself in the creation of a symbol without a referent, protesting all the while that it is gaining a Coleridgean glimpse of the Divine. The transparent eyeball is an opaque symbol, a wall of words, performing analogously to Kant’s Reason, which papers over the sublime by positing a film of numinous Ideas.

Having read some of Winters, I see now, Aaron, why you place so much emphasis upon the logical consequences of philosophical positions. But you cannot deal with Emerson (or me!) this way. For Winters, Crane is a superior Emersonian, because he is “not content to write in a muddling manner about the Way; he is concerned primarily with the End.” But this is precisely what makes him such a failure as an Emersonian–and a sane human being. Life is a problem. People, like works of art, are alive so long as they maintain their ideas in tension. To long for the resolution of these tensions, as you do Aaron, is to long for catastrophe. There’s a lot more to be said about this, but let’s move on–for now!

3–Al Phillips on the Hall of Fame

My friend Al (who should have a blog of his own, frankly) sent me this impressive overview of the 2004 Hall of Fame ballot. I thought I’d offer it to you folks [with a bit of parenthetical kibitzing from yours truly]. Now, there was a time, in the early eighties, when I wanted nothing more than to be Sabermetrician, and I had a good mind for stats–but I have to admit, Al’s done a better job of keeping his head in this particular game than I have…

2004 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions are coming and the ballots are out and being discussed. Here they are:

Bert Blyleven. 287 wins, 3701 strikeouts, 3.31 ERA, 242 complete games. It’s laughable he isn’t already enshrined. The most similar pitcher to Bert is Don Sutton (who is in). Eight of the top ten pitchers similar to Blyleven are already in (the other two are Tommy John and Jim Kaat). [I agree wholeheartedly with this]

Joe Carter. 396 homers, 1445 RBI, 1170 runs, .259 BA, .306 OBA, .464 SLG. 5-time all-star. I really don’t want Carter inducted. The most similar player to Carter is Dale Murphy.[ditto–Joe Carter? Come on!]

Dave Concepcion. 9-time all-star, 5 Gold Gloves. The most similar player to Concepcion is Bobby Wallace (who is in). Wallace played in the early 20th century. Concepcion is kind of like Barry Larkin: a decent enough hitter who could run and also play defence. I don’t want Concepcion inducted.[voting Concepcion in would be ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the fact that Bobby Wallace made it!]

Danny Darwin. 171 wins, 3.84 ERA. The most similar pitcher to Darwin is Murray Dickson (?). I don’t think Darwin should get in. [no. no he shouldn’t]

Andre Dawson. 438 homers, 1591 RBI, 1373 runs, 314 steals, .279 BA, .323 OBA, .482 SLG, 8-time all-star, 8 Gold Gloves. The most similar player to Dawson is Billy Williams (who is in). I don’t mind if Dawson gets in. [I loved watching the Hawk in the eighties, but I really don’t think he’s HOF material. neither is Billy Williams, frankly]

Doug Drabek. 155 wins, 3.73 ERA. I don’t think Drabek should get in. The most similar pitcher to Drabek is Jim Lonborg.[no comment]

Dennis Eckersley. 197 wins, 390 saves, 3.50 ERA, 6-time all-star. I think Eck deserves serious consideration. The most similar pitcher to Eck is Lindy McDaniel. The fact McDaniel himself is not very similar makes Eck look even better.[I would vote for the Eck–he was ridiculously good from 1988-1992, plus he had some very fine years as a starter]

Jim Eisenreich. .290 BA, .341 OBA, .404 SLG. If Eisenreich gets even one vote then something is wrong. The most similar player to Eisenreich is Tom Paciorek.

Cecil Fielder. 319 homers, 1008 RBI, .255 BA, .345 OBA, .482 SLG, 3-time all-star. If Cecil hadn’t eaten himself out of baseball then perhaps he would have been worthy. The most similar player to Fielder is Jay Buhner. Hmmm.. Physically Buhner was a direct opposite of Fielder. Buhner had no body fat at all. I wonder if there would be a tremendous explosion if both Buhner and Fielder occupied the same space on a baseball diamond?[Fielder was cool, as were all of the Tiger hitters of his generation, but he didn’t sustain his production for a long enough period]

Steve Garvey. 272 homers, 1308 RBI, 1143 runs, .294 BA, .329 OBA, .446 SLG, 10-time all-star, 4 Gold Gloves. I always hated his phoney “senator” image. I hope he never makes it. The most similar player to Garv is Al Oliver. [if Garvey ever gets in, they might as well close the hall down–that OBA for a first baseman is sickeningly bad]

Rich Gossage. 124 wins, 310 saves, 3.01 ERA, 9-time all-star. Goose deserves serious consideration. He was used more like the relievers of old than today’s closer goofballs. The most similar pitcher to Goose is Rollie Fingers. I’m surprised not only that Fingers is in before Goose, but also that Fingers has been in for a while now. Is there that much difference between them?[no. there isn’t. the Goose should go!]

Keith Hernandez. 162 homers, 1071 RBI, 1124 runs, .296, .384 OBA, .436 SLG, 5-time all-star, 11 Gold Gloves. The most similar player to Hernandez is Mark Grace. Nevertheless I can’t see any OTHER reason to leave Hernandez out. [Al & I disagree strongly about this one–a slick-fielding first-baseman doesn’t have much defensive value–and though the OBP is very good, it’s not quite good enough to make that SLG look hall-worthy. Which is not to say that Hernandez wasn’t an excellent player. but that’s not enough!]

Tommy John. 288 wins, 3.34 ERA, 2245 strikeouts, 4-time all-star. There is no sensible reason why John has been kept out. Besides Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat, and Tony Mullane, all of John’s top ten similarities are in the Hall of Fame.[I don’t know about Tommy. He hung around forever, yes–but he never dominated the way Blyleven did, despite the fact that Bert played on so many awful teams… I don’t think Kitty Kaat should be in there either]

Jimmy Key. 186 wins, 3.51 ERA, 4-time all-star. The most similar pitcher to Key is Dave McNally. I don’t think Key should get in.[nope]

Dennis Martinez. 245 wins, 3.70 ERA, 4-time all-star. I don’t Denny should get in. The most similar pitcher to Denny is Jerry Reuss.[ah Dennis–we call him el Perfecto ’round these parts–why’d you drink so much, my friend?]

Don Mattingly. 222 homers, 1099 RBI, 1007 runs, .307 BA, .358 OBA, .471 SLG, 6-time all-star., 9 Gold Gloves. He’s kind of a poor man’s Keith Hernandez. I wonder if it is a coincidence that Donnie Baseball retired at the exact moment the Yankees started winning World Series again?[he was way better than Keith ever was in 1985–but he was awful from, like 1988 on… no way!]

Kevin Mitchell. 234 homers, 760 RBI, 630 runs, .284 BA, .360 OBA, .520 SLG. A poor man’s Cecil Fielder. Mitchell shouldn’t get any votes. Amazingly, the most similar player to Mitchell is Andruw Jones. That’s foolish, since Jones is a really good fielder. Jones is the only player I’ve seen run up the center field mountain in Houston. I mean, that hill is seriously hard to catch fly balls on.
[my favourite Mitchell memory is still that time when my friend Anthony threw a giant Pretzel at him from the Olympic Stadium bleachers, back in 1990, and Mitchell looked ready to eat it!]

Paul Molitor. 3319 hits, 234 homers, 1307 RBI, 1782 runs, 504 stolen bases, .306 BA, .369 OBA, .448 SLG, 7-time all-star. Molitor is a definite Hall of Famer. The most similar player to Molly is Robin Yount. That’s pretty amazing, except Yount isn’t very similar. Molitor was so good nobody is truly similar. Seven of the top ten comparibles to Molitor are already in, and the other three are Vada Pinson, Tony Gwynn, and Al Oliver.[Molitor is one of the best lead-off men of all time and I don’t see how he could be turned away!]

Jack Morris. 254 wins, 3.90 ERA, 2478 strikeouts, 5-time all-star. I can’t see him as a Hall of Famer. The most similar pitcher is Dennis Martinez.[Jack is close, and that 1991 World Series was amazing–but no cigar!]

Dale Murphy. 398 homers, 1266 RBI, 1197 runs, .265 BA, .346 OBA, .469 SLG, 7-time all-star, 5 Gold Gloves. If there were a Good-Guy Hall of Fame then perhaps Murphy would make it. The most similar player to Murphy is Joe Carter.[he just wasn’t good enough]

Randy Myers. 347 saves, 3.19 ERA, 4-time all-star. Sorry Randy but you stay out. Actually I’m kind of shocked that he’s been retired for five years. The most similar pitcher to Myers is Jeff Montgomery. I’m glad to see Monty’s name pop up like that.[no]

Dave Parker. 339 homers, 1493 RBI, 1272 runs, .290 BA, .339 OBA, .471 SLG, 7-time all-star, 3 Gold Gloves. If he hadn’t snorted his career up his nose he would be ranked among to best outfielders. But he did, so he isn’t. The most similar player to Parker is Tony Perez. Perez is in the Hall but I still believe that he was a poor selection. Actually all of Parker’s top ten comparibles are all debatable Hall of Famers. Guys like Harold Baines, Vada Pinson, Andre Dawson, Chili Davis. (I’m glad to see his name pop up)[Perez doesn’t belong in there and neikther does Parker–I’m glad to see Chili too!]

Terry Pendleton. .270 BA, .316 OBA, .391 SLG, 3 Gold Gloves. He had three good seasons out of fifteen and with this kind of talent on the ballot he better not get any votes. The most similar player to Pendleton is Carney Lansford. Now that’s pretty cool even though Lansford has no business sniffing his nose around the Hall of Fame. And I see that Pendleton is fairly similar to Claudell Washington. I thought I would throw Claudell’s name out there since that’s the only time he’ll get mentioned alongside Hall of Famers.[Claudell should have been better than he was–but he squandered his talent. Pendleton, on the other hand, really overachieved, and we can applaud him for that–but we don’t have to enshrine him–he’s Terry Pendleton for chrissake!]

Jim Rice. 382 homers, 1451 RBI, 1249 runs, .298 BA, .352 OBA, .502 SLG, 8-time all-star. Rice is kind of a granddaddy Joe Carter. He’s as close as you can get without actually getting inducted. If people hadn’t started hitting 60 or 70 home runs a year perhaps Rice would have gotten in. But now his numbers seem kind of impotent. The most similar player to Rice is Orlando Cepeda. Four of Rice’s top ten comparibles are in (Cepeda, Duke Snider, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell), The other six are Andres Galarraga, Ellis Burks, Joe Carter, Dave Parker, Chili Davis, and Dale Murphy.[king of the GIDP–no way!]

Juan Samuel. 396 stolen bases. He shouldn’t get a single vote, although if he played today he’d be Alfonso Soriano. The most similar player to Samuel is Phil Garner (of all people). In 1994 Phil Garner got 2 votes before being dropped (not enough votes to stay on the ballot).[even when he was good–he wasn’t really good]

Ryne Sandberg. 282 homers, 1061 RBI, 1318 runs, 344 stolen bases, .285 BA, .344 OBA, .452 SLG, 10-time all-star, 9 Gold Gloves. If Ryno had stayed retired in 1994 and not made a small comeback then he would been on the 2000 ballot. That might have got him in. Too bad because he was one of the best. I would like to see him get in. The most similar player to Ryno is Lou Whitaker. That’s fine with me because I’d like to see Lou get in also (eventually). That just shows you how Whitaker lived up to his moniker of ‘dumber than wood’. He was still devastating when he quit whereas Sandberg had nothing left. By having Ryno leave too late, and having Whitaker leave too soon you have neither get in. Whitaker’s highest slugging average came in his final season. Doh![I think the Ryno belongs–so does Sweet Lou!]

Lee Smith. 478 saves, 3.03 ERA, 7-time all-star. I am curious to see how many hundreds of his saves came with a 3-run lead with the game already over. If the answer is “not very many” then I would welcome his enshrinement. The most similar pitcher to Smith is Jeff Reardon.[leave the Big Dog in the Dog House!]

Dave Stieb. 176 wins, 3.44 ERA, 7-time all-star. Stieb didn’t last quite long enough. The most similar pitcher to Stieb is Virgil “Fire” Trucks. Wow. Nowhere else will you find Dave Stieb being compared to Virgil Trucks. Trucks is most famous for throwing not one, but two no-hitters in a year where he won 5 games and lost 19.[Stieb was awesome in the early eighties, but the Blue Jays burned his arm]

Bruce Sutter. 300 saves, 2.83 ERA, 6-time all-star. Since he single-handed started this whole closer craze he should be denied entry. Well, except for maybe his beard. The most similar pitcher to Sutter is Doug Jones. I guess I might as well dig up all these closer fossils and mention that the other nine comparibles to Sutter are : Tom Henke, Jeff Montgomery, Rob Nen, John Wetteland, Jeff Reardon, Roberto Hernandez, Todd Worrell, Trevor Hoffman, Dave Smith. Dave Smith (!)(?)[I wouldn’t vote for Sutter]

Bob Tewksbury. 110 wins, 3.92 ERA. He shouldn’t get any votes at all. The most similar pitcher to Tewk is Jack Lynch. Jack Lynch ? I’ve never heard of the guy so I guess that’s a bad thing for Tewksbury. Now that I’ve checked up Lynch I see that his stats are similar to Tewksbury’s except that Lynch squeezed it into seven seasons (in the 1880’s) instead of 13. Lynch pitched an average of 275 innings in those 7 years. And one year he only actually pitched 9 innings. So that would be an average of 320 over 6 seasons.[Tweksbury was somethin’ to see, but not a HOFer, obviuously]

Alan Trammell. 1231 runs, 1003 RBI, .285 BA, .352 OBA, .415 SLG, 6-time all-star, 4 Gold Gloves. He’s a debatable Hall of Famer. The most similar player to Trammell is Barry Larkin. It’s really painful to see 119 losses in his managerial record. At that pace of 119 losses a year it would only take him ‘only’ 33 years to tie Connie Mack for most career losses in history by a manager. Not only is Mack in the Hall of Fame as a manager, but he’s also considered one the greatest managers of all time.[I’d vote for Trammell–I think he’ll get in eventually…]

Fernando Valenzuela. 173 wins, 3.54 ERA, 2074 strikeouts, 6-time all-star. I firmly believe Tommy Lasorda burned him out prematurely. The most similar pitcher to Fernand is Ken Holtzman. Valenzuela might actually get enough votes to make it onto next year’s ballot, but I hope not. That would be stupid.[It sure would be!]

4–Comics Scholars Unite!!!

Paging Justin Colussy Estes! (also–I’m almost ready to get to ya about the Mrs. Bridge paper!)

McGill University, Montreal
March 20-21, 2004
10th Annual Graduate Symposium on Language and Literature:
“Infinite Impressions: Literature and the Promiscuity of Text”

Panel Topic:

The Serial and the Sublime: Collecting History in Postmodern

This panel examines the obsession of “collecting” history in
postmodern fiction. In “The Literature of Exhaustion,” John
Barth argues that postmodern fiction
draws upon infinite possibilities to evoke both the hyperreal
nature of postmodern culture, but simultaneously creates its
magic. In Umberto Eco’s The Name
of the Rose, book collections invoke a labyrinth of secret
codes. In Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover, narrative and
characters intersect in the form of a tarot
spread, where the concepts of collection and narrative archetype
conflate. Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier
and Clay examines historical
representation through comics, where form and seriality
intersect. Seriality and collection become linked concepts in
postmodern fiction, where history
retrieves the ability to be read, examined, and reshuffled.
Questions that may be considered, but not limited to, include
the following:

-Can the historical subject in postmodern narratives retrieve
the past only through a consideration of the material? -What are
the conditions of “collecting,” and
what theoretical considerations does the collection pose in
understanding postmodernism? -What are the repercussions of
viewing the collection? How does
this correspond to the conditions of postmodern representation?
-Is the postmodern novel fundamentally an aesthetic art form?
Or does the novel give rise to a
sense of the sublime? Does the collection live?

Please send essay proposals, in the body of an email, of no more
300 words in length, to Erin Vollick at
The deadline for proposals is January 26

5–Archimedean Musings

Father Tom asks: “is God outside of Time?”

Interesting stuff-but I’m more interested in where memory fits into this equation…

6–Terry Eagleton closes the book on theory

courtesy of Michael at 2Blowhards.

Back to love and death hunh? Let’s do it!!!

7–Anyone out there seen The Essential Gene Colan Poll?

How could they pass up on “Unto Us, The Sons of Satannish”, in the favorite single issue category? And who put “Favorite Colan Art Technique” on this questionanire? that’s just silly, no? Did you take part in this vote Neilalien?

8–Speaking of fan sites: isn’t there one for Carmine Infantino?

Who wants to hear the man talk about Jack Kirby when he could be talking about himself? Let’s see some action on this okay? Have I ever mentioned how much I love Infantino’s work? Well I do! From Phantom Stranger to Flash to Spider-Woman to Flash again (I even love The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl!

I’m not kidding–that’s a pretty decent series…

Good night friends!



  1. Interesting Hall of Fame analysis. I nearly choked when while reading it though because I had forgotten my arch-nemesis, Juan Samuel, was on the ballot this year. Easily my least favorite player of all-time. When he first came up, he had a fair amount of talent, but never bothered trying to mentally imrpove his game. It wasn’t long before any decent pitcher could get him out on three pitches low and away. Or low and in the dirt. He’d swing at those every time too. I became so fed up with him, I recall heckling him so loudly once (all clean language) that he stopped and stared at me. It was then I knew we were arch-enemies. Fortunately we both moved on from Philadelphia (he’s coaching in Detroit now – look no further for an explanation of Detroit’s abysmal record) and I became too old and respectable to heckle anymore. One last Samuel complaint – I remain convinced that it was only because Samuel lied about his age that the Phillies traded Sandberg instead of Samuel. Oh the years of my youth I lost sitting in the Vet watching Samuel strike out again and again and again. Why is this man on the Hall of Fame ballot? They shouldn’t even let him if he has a ticket! Phew. Thanks for letting me rant. I feel better.


  2. H,

    I feel for you, believe me… however, just remember that, while you were screaching at Samuel, I was suffering through the horror of watching the “Team of the Eighties” die because they couldn’t get anyone better than Doug Flynn or Bryan Little to play the keystone for them…

    If the Expos had had Samuel in 1982-4, they could’ve batted him seventh and three-peated with no problem! My big issue with Juan was that he couldn’t play the key offensive role that the Phillies asked him to play. Despite his stolen base power (which, in this age of the Weaverian walk-homer continuum, we are realizing is no power at all), he was a nightmarish lead-off man and not much use as a number-three hitter either–he just didn’t on base nearly enough…

    Not to twist the knife in your Sandberg wound or anything–but did you ever get raw with Von Hayes?


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