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This is the First Post

A blog post, like a signpost, is itself an indication of direction: here we are, at the beginning of something new.

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What Are We Waiting For?: Postmodern Powerlessness in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

I believe that postmodern literature was born in the shadows of WWII. Proceeding from these shadows is a parade of western literature imagining that the human species is experiencing its death throes. Certain post-WWII, postmodern writers communicate an overwhelming sense of powerlessness in response to the technological and scientific innovations that contribute to these fatal conclusions.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Sina Queyras’ Expressway and the Ubiquitous Invisibility of Oil in North America

Oil sustains a level of urban modernity and culture throughout North America that collapses as quickly as it is constructed when oil production and value suddenly vanish. Are the people whose lives are affected by oil in unobvious ways aware of these consequences? And would they consent to the use of oil as a primary economic, social, cultural, and environmental influence if they were fully aware of the vice grip oil has over all of these factors? In order to address these questions and determine how oil is an invisible influence in many parts of contemporary North American urbanity, it is necessary to discuss how the uncertainty and negative potential consequences of oil prosperity is erased from the public consciousness.

A Tale of Two Cities: How Oil Shapes the Culture, People, and Cities of American and Arab Harran in Munif’s “Cities of Salt”

In Cities of Salt, it is first the oil and then the money that attracts the Americans to the oasis Al-Uyoun, and later pulls workers from all over the world to settle in Harran (divided into two distinct locations: Arab Harran and American Harran). The desert goes from being driven by scarcity—thus promoting the nomadic need for caravans to move people, goods, and information from settlement to settlement—to being bewitched by this petromagic. The city Harran appears seemingly out of nowhere. The oil, the money, and the overnight prosperity literally shapes the horizon: concrete is poured over sand, and high-rises sprout from the ground. Where once the water dried up in the hot sun, now there are pools in every yard. But not everyone gets a pool, or even a house. This is the power of the as-if economy: of living as if one has all the money, and all the control, and as the oil that courses under one’s feet gives one the opportunity to shape landscapes, cultures, and societies however one pleases.