Hyperstition & The New Weird I:
Entities and Worlds/Genres and Climates
Instructor: Ben Woodard and Tony Yanick Guests: Lendl Barcelos, Amy Ireland, Nicola Maciandaro, & Jeff Vandermeer Credit: Module: 1 of 2 Date & Time: November & December 2014

DESCRIPTION: The New Weird is a notoriously difficult literary genre to define, as it involves splicing together of fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres – but as Ann and Jeff Vandermeer suggest, The New Weird undermines those genres’ fixed cliches and overtly romanticized world views. Indeed, the genre remains difficult to define further. As Michael Cisco has put it:

“Nothing could be more unenlightening or useless than a New Weird manifesto. What strikes the observer is precisely the spontaneity with which so many different writers, pursuing such obviously disparate literary styles, should vaguely intersect in this way. Instead of a set of general aims, we have a great proliferation of correspondences on a more intimate level, like a sprawling coincidence of idiosyncratic choices.”

This Fall seminar, “Entities and Worlds/Genres and Climates,” sets out less to pin down what the new weird is and more to establish what it does. Following Cisco’s lead, the New Weird attempts to demonstrate how types of writing do not depend upon the entities invoked, and that the creation of worlds is not the automatic inhabitation of a genre or its typical style. In essence, The New Weird brings the generation of worlds and the depiction of our world closer together.

Furthermore, this seminar will explore how and why the Weird and the New Weird has influenced the Cybernetic Cultural Research Unit (CCRU) notion of hyperstition and the subsequent concept of theory-fiction. Hyperstition, which Nick Land and Sadie Plant defined as ‘making fictional entities real’, has a Lovecraftian provenance which is accelerated by the New Weird’s philosophical and political realisms which still utilize seemingly impossible creatures, dimensions, and technologies. Thus the boundary between speculative philosophy engaging with fictional entities and fiction which engages with speculative philosophy (theory-fiction) further mutates the boundary between genre, world, nonfiction, and fiction.

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