To Be of Use

Harper Perennial has a very good (convenient, useful) collection of Martin Heidegger’s major works called Basic Writings. On the back cover, in domineering print, is a blurb from philosopher Richard Rorty, writing in the New York Times Book Review. He says: “You cannot read most of the important thinkers of recent times without taking Heidegger’s thought into account.”

I’ve been thinking about what kind of argument that is for reading a writer: that they are important, that their thought must be taken into account. I use this logic all the time, in recommending writers and thinkers to others and choosing them for myself. I recently chose to take a class on Edmund Husserl’s Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. To be sure, part of my impetus was to see what he has to say. But I’m using him, too: to prompt my thinking about the role of the positive sciences, to prepare me to read Merleau-Ponty and other later phenomenology, to inform my reading of Heidegger.

On the one hand, it seems an inevitable way of thinking. No thinker or writer exists in herself. They are all always intertwined, of use to each other. But on the other: in thinking this way, do we risk losing the ability to focus on one saying, cosmic and in-itself? Might such single-minded focus be good? (Might it be useful?)

I’m so grateful to see my work in some wonderful publications.

My story(?), “The Game We Played,” appears in the Electric Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature at theNewerYork here. It’s about conversation and relationships and being the end of the world.

I reviewed two wonderful, boundary-pushing books for Full Stop: Hilary Plum’s novel They Dragged Them Through the Streets and Lucy Corin’s collection One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.

DIAGRAM published my review of 99 Things to Do When You Have the Time, which I called an “inspirational tract-cum-art object,” by A D Jameson, one of my favorite contributors to HTMLGiant.

Finally, I reviewed Tom Perrotta’s Nine Inches for The Millions here.

The sentences in my story “Useless Animals” are getting some Internet kindness. Andy Henion selected one for inclusion on his blog about great sentences, and Michael Alexander Chaney included the first line on a list entitled “Explosive First Lines In Recent Fiction.” Thank you, Andy! Thank you, Michael! More and more, I think sentences are the key.


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