Monday, January 11, 2016

'brief eruptions of much deeper concerns'


My latest Canberra Times column is a brief introduction to Nein: A Manifesto, by Eric Jarosinski. A sample:
Anyone expecting Jamesian paragraphs will be disappointed, as Nein is just over a hundred pages of sparseness: aphorisms, definitions, quips. What began as Jarosinski's distraction from academe, as the Twitter personality @NeinQuarterly, has become a job of its own: an oddly nihilistic persona with the face of philosopher Theodor Adorno. 
Jarosinski takes the gloomy analyses of Adorno and his Frankfurt School comrades, along with the greats of German philosophy and literature, and combines them with deliberate sentimentality, conflicted desire and oddly relaxed ennui. Take the first aphorism from Nein
Only two problems with the world today.
1. The world.
And 2. Today.
Three, if you count tomorrow. 
It begins with a seemingly consoling fact, then turns this into an indictment of everything we have. But wait, there's more: this everything will continue, and there's no hope. But there is hope of a stripe, because we're laughing. Many of Jarosinski's aphorisms have this quality, of offering a dismal portrait of existence while nudging the reader to smile.
(Illustration: courtesy Erix Jarosinski)

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