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Dworkin on Hamilton

Listen [here] to a thought-provoking paper on "Affective Imbalance in Contemporary Literature" from Craig Dworkin, given at Leeds Beckett University's Inside Out lecture series. 

In the course of an argument about larger trajectories in 21st-c poetry, Dworkin offers an insightful, extended reading of Diana Hamilton's Okay, Okay (Truck Books, 2012). Drawing on Maurizio Lazzarato's theories of affective/immaterial labor,  Dworkin uses a close reading of Hamilton's book about "the intersection of labor and weeping" to address what Michael Hardt has characterized as the 21st century's peculiar "synthesis of cybernetics and affectivity" and what Dworkin calls "the monetization of cathexis":

[Hamilton's] book works to pull back the cubical divider and reveals the paradoxical inverse of the strictures and expectations of the affective economy.

The discussion of Okay, Okay and affective labor (starting just before 14:00) represents just one of three major axes in Dworkin's talk, and the rest (including the synoptic and very lucid technological-historical introduction) is well worth watching. To briefly paraphrase (and, of course, oversimplify) the lecture's larger outlines: certain recent trends in poetry, Dworkin argues, reflect a definite shift from the conceptual poetry of the early 00's and can be indexed to the changing cultural milieu of online life. What we commonly simplify under the rubric of "Web 2.0" actually does represent a real sea change in both the underlying technological infrastructures and the lived experience of internet use, and Dworkin suggests that the formal representation of affect in Hamilton's poetry offers one way of measuring the distance between the online environment today and the promises/menaces of the earlier, 2000-era internet as they were explored in the poetic bulk-curation projects of two decades ago.