Anybody who does not spend at least a little time every day checking the comment thread on the second part of my Zeek piece is missing out on some truly grade-A internet shit. The hatred is palpable. I’d say something incisive about it, but really … really? You should just go read it and marvel.

I’m speaking at NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association) tomorrow, which is my first real conference. I wish it weren’t this close to my oral exams, as I think I could have come up with something a bit more polished if I had the time. Ah well. The paper is sort of about Samuel Beckett but mostly about Nathanael West. I don’t know if I’ll post it on the work page or not, but here’s a sample:

After “Some Notes on Violence,” and after reading West’s note to Cowley, the laughter in the Shoop episode appears as both a representation of a broadly American fascination with violence and as a metastasis of West’s vexed relationship to the comic. The cultural problem of violence and the individual problem of style, then, intersect in a moment of laughter that does not transfer from the page to the reader. In some sense, then, the presentation of this form of black comedy extricates the reader from his own dilemma: we’re required to recognize the scene as comic, but laughing at its comedy makes us the object of its critique.