Aaron Jaffe is Frances Cushing Ervin Professor of American Literature at Florida State University. His books include The Way Things Go: An Essay on the Matter of Second Modernism (2014), Spoiler Alert: A Critical Guide (2019), and the co-edited collection Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism (2021). He co-edits the Year's Workbook series on Fan Cultures and Cultural Theory from Indiana University Press.
Articles of Aaron Jaffe
The known forms of criticism are only possible in certain habitable zones. Lately, these seem precariously confined to surfaces shrinking precipitously. Professions of critical humility abound, commonsensical, descriptive reading lessons about realism, flat ontologies, the mortifications of theory, etc., are legion. The lynch-pin of this pseudo-reading lesson involves retraining ourselves to want less as we wait in line for alien perspectives. This essay invites us for a journey to find Flusser’s Planet: a habitable zone for criticism. From Richard McGuire’s Here (2008) to Stephen Hawkings’ Five Favorite Places, following Flusser’s five-runged schema that plunges into inhuman deep time – in a four-dimensional, ancestral zone shared with animals, plants and rocks – and then reaches an apex of sorts in the zero-dimensional computational universe, the essay proposes a Flusserian form of criticism in the idea of an “extreme deixis,” a criticism that would emphasize the subject’s position in the world, with a focus on questioning temporality.