CFP: Don DeLillo and Play

Here’s a CFP for conference panel on Don DeLillo and Play that I’m organizing:

CFP: Don DeLillo and Play
Sponsored by the Don DeLillo Society
2009 American Literature Association Conference
Boston, Massachusetts, May 21-24, 2009

The groundbreaking work of Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois suggests that play and games are a fundamental part of life, yet set apart from the ordinary and the everyday, occupying a special preserve with unique boundaries and rules. How does the work of Don DeLillo reaffirm or challenge these classic notions of play? From the obvious football and baseball themes of End Zone and Underworld to the understated language games of The Names and performative play in Players and Running Dog, Don DeLillo has repeatedly focused on games and play in a way that has attracted little attention from scholars. The Don DeLillo Society seeks to redress this gap and welcomes papers that explore the role of sports, games, and play in DeLillo’s novels and stories.

Please send 300-500 word abstracts and a 1-page C.V. to Mark Sample at msample1 at gmu dot edu by January 9, 2009.

The Pros and Cons of Life Hacking

I’ve been meaning to blog about Clive Thompson’s NYT Magazine article on life hacking for a week now, but, as it happens, I’ve been operating on “continuous partial attention” myself since, oh, I don’t know, weeks, months, maybe years even.

While the science Thompson describes is fascinating–when is the perfect moment to interrupt someone at work?–I tremble thinking how this science will eventually be put to use: making us more productive workers.

Taylorism was nothing compared to what the good people at Microsoft are cooking up, with their studies of attentions spans, interruption cycles, and multitasking management.

The whole idea behind the anarchic-sounding life hacking, it seems to me, is to simplify your life, not so you can enjoy it more, but so that you can increase your productivity. Even the famous hipster PDA presumes that efficiency and work are the most important things in your life.

I don’t want to hack my life so that I can work more and work better. I want to work less.

Play is an endangered species.