“Jonathan Franzen: what’s wrong with the modern world” vs. “What’s the Matter With the Modern World: Jonathan Franzen”

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First, Jonathan Franzen in The Guardian with a piece generating some interesting responses:

Karl Kraus was an Austrian satirist and a central figure in fin-de-siecle Vienna's famously rich life of the mind. From 1899 until his death in 1936, he edited and published the influential magazine Die Fackel(The Torch); from 1911 onward, he was also the magazine's sole author. Although Kraus would probably have hated blogs, Die Fackelwas like a blog that everybody who mattered in the German-speaking world, from Freud to Kafka to Walter Benjamin, found it necessary to read and have an attitude toward. Kraus was especially well known for his aphorisms – for example, “Psychoanalysis is that disease of the mind for which it believes itself to be the cure” – and at the height of his popularity he drew thousands to his public readings.

The thing about Kraus is that he's very hard to follow on a first reading – deliberately hard. He was the scourge of throwaway journalism, and to his cult-like followers his dense and intricately coded style formed an agreeable barrier to entry; it kept the uninitiated out. Kraus himself remarked of the playwright Hermann Bahr, before attacking him: “If he understands one sentence of the essay, I'll retract the entire thing.” If you read Kraus's sentences more than once, you'll find that they have a lot to say to us in our own media-saturated, technology-crazed, apocalypse-haunted historical moment.

More here. Next, Fiona Duncan and Sarah Nicole Prickett in New Inquiry:

Chris Kraus’d lovers Fiona Duncan and Sarah Nicole Prickett were on Twitter, debating the latest instance of an old man yelling at iCloud — a 5,000-word screed against Apple, Amazon, Twitter, smartphones, self-promotion, Jennifer Weiner, poor people, young people, elderly German women, and “the ‘dehumanisation’ of a wedding” — when one of us, doesn’t matter who, decided we should cunt up the text, replacing every quoting of and reference to Karl Kraus with, well, see below.

***

“The only way I’d gotten any meetings in Rotterdam or the Cinemarket two years before had been by getting drunk and flirting with an ex-philosopher turned producer by telling him I was the grand-niece of the satirist Karl Kraus.”

– Chris Kraus, Aliens & Anorexia

Chris Kraus was an American stripper and a central figure in fin-de-siecle New York‘s famously rich life of the mind. From the late 80s on , she edited and published the influential Semiotext(e) series Native Agents; she is also an author. Although Kraus would probably have hated academic journals, Semiotext(e) was like a journal that everybody who mattered in the American-speaking world, from Acker to Baudrillard to Rosalind Krauss, found it necessary to read and have an attitude toward. Kraus wasespecially well known for her aphorisms – for example,“Reading delivers on the promise that sex raises but hardly ever can fulfill” – and at the height of her popularity she drew thousands to her public readings.

More here. Also some more comments at Crooked Timber, here and here. See Amanda Hess's comment in Slate's XX Factor here. And Jennifer Weiner, whom Franzen singles out in passing, responds here.

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