Para-Academia & Theory Fiction | Session 2: Wythe Marschall on Gnostic Vertigo in Bataille and Lovecraft (Audio is part one of two)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Observatory at Proteus Gowanus, 543 Union Street, Brooklyn 
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society and The Public School New York

The para is the “alongside,” that which comments on the official or normative. While academics debate the finer points of Shakespeare and Kant, para-academics aggregate around shadow-commentators whose works do not so much categorize (striate) and enlighten (bring light into) difficult terrain, but produce that terrain, creating obscure spaces and nebulous discourses that are immune to traditional academic approaches.

Blogs, speculative medievalisms, Cyclonopedia, Charles Fort, teratology, print-on-demand—these and other tentacles of a polycephalic (many-headed) para-academia have entwined to produce an addendum and, finally, an ultimatum to established disciplines and practices.

The second session of the Para-Academia & Theory Fiction series considered links between two highly disparate authors whose work during the 1920s and 30s concerned, among other things, the unspeakable, the limits of philosophy, heterology (study of extreme “Otherness”), and cosmic terror.

Though they were on different planets politically, French anti-philosopher Georges Bataille and American horror luminary Howard Phillips Lovecraft shared a common concern for the foundation of a new, materialist mythology that can see beyond Reason, reconnect man to the world of things (and shit, and horrible creatures), and speak to the unutterable terror of being alive—of being trapped on a ball of mud circling a much larger ball of fire hanging in a void. (The realization of this terror produces “gnostic vertigo.”)

Wythe Marschall is a writer and artist. He works in advertising during the week and teaches writing at Brooklyn College on the weekend. With illustrator Ethan Gould, Wythe is the founder of the Hollow Earth Society, a pacifist army, conceptual art movement, and para-academic educational network.

For related texts and more information, go to:

Audio from the second part of the class can be found here.

Audio from the first session in the series featuring Nicola Masciandaro on Commentary can be found here.

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