The following are ongoing projects or projects nearing completion:
Novel: Fancy Gap
My thesis project for University of Toronto’s MA in Creative Writing, Fancy Gap, is a novel about a family separated by illness and addiction in southern Appalachia. Religion, sexuality, amnesia and the region’s sociocultural failings propel two brothers and an estranged, self-radicalized, born-again grandmother into a cause de crise for the mountainous border region of western North Carolina and Virginia.
Status: Completion expected April 2019. Mentored by Pasha Malla.
Poetry Collection: I Come Up From The Earth
A poetry collection written from 2009-2017. The collection began as a mediation on my own ontology and an exercise in meaning-making. As all art is somewhat correlated to experience, this collection is tethered to my ethical worries about serving in the US Army as a medic, a concurrent mental scream of ineffectual pain concerning my mother’s second bout with breast cancer, a sharp nostalgia upon returning to my home in the South after becoming an adult in Toronto, and a sense of consequence following my expansion and trespass into the very real worlds of others. The collection is primarily concerned with the waking dream of loss, the double exposure of memory, the circus of family, and the burning smell of sentimentality.
Status: About as good as it’ll ever be. Seeking publication. Poems completed with the help of AF Moritz, Robert McGill and my peers at the University of Toronto.
“Theory” Article: “Concept Numbness: What I Know About Feelings and Affect as Concretely Intimate and Ultimately Isolated from Their Potential Magnitude”
As Douglas Hofstadter notes in his 1982 essay for The Scientific American, “On Number Numbness,” “I have always suspected that relatively few people really know the difference between a million and a billion” (116). I suspect and worry that relatively few people are aware of how relatively unaware they are of the emotional whole of humanity — of emotions and affects in amounts as astounding and mind-boggling as the consideration of those attributed to a true billion people.
This is not to say that there has not been an attempt to quantify emotion, or to take stock of a cumulative emotionality of a whole. The notion of a revolution by a disgruntled and downtrodden proletariat class is one example of a quantification of such emotion en masse. Yet, at what point and under what circumstances do these emotions become concepts? Does an affected class of living and breathing people need to be grouped together to predict conceptual change? I find that affect theory seeks to change this theoretical tendency by focusing on the small, the knowable, as opposed to the large, the assumed. This, I believe, is to avoid the numbness that comes with a consideration of humanity en masse.
To be affected is to prioritize the acknowledgement of the self. In a turn from a Marxist emphasis on the revolution of the many to usurp the few, the collection of individuals that it would take to form a revolution is an unidentified number. A daily revolution, the notion of overturning the “ugly” or “bad” to reveal a purer, unaffected, wholly original self becomes a quiet revolution, but one not less historical. In abstracted terms, Heidegger’s narrative of individuation, the falling or “being thrown” from nothing, then propelled by anxiety to strive into something, a person “being there,” does not have to pertain only to a person’s formation of their identity, but could be a daily operation that begins with being thrown from sleep, and the initiation of anxiety of daily consciousness that quickly re-establishes an identity from experiential memory, while dismissing anything formed from within, dismissing the dream.
Our revolution is a revolution of one within ourselves, and the furor grows in the hours of our sleep and fights against the overwhelming beating taken during the day from knowledge of our insignificance. How many selves have we created, if any, and how many would it take to hold a revolution against the pseudo-hegemonic self that we project? How many new anxieties fuel our own self-multiplication into a force that can cauterize the affective wounds from the day before? Do we truly find strength in numbers? Or do we look for strength in ourselves? If we do find strength for daily perseverance in ourselves, do we find it not in the nothingness that we have been thrown from, but instead in the amalgamation of selves that are daily created, isolated and then undermined by our dreams?
Status: Completed and seeking publication. Reviewed by Mari Ruti.