Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

more on the Anthropocene theology project

A few months ago, when I was doing my Big Pynchon Readthrough, I wrote to a couple of editors I knew and asked them whether they would be less inclined to accept a book about Pynchon if a significant amount of it had been drafted in public, on a blog. Both of them said yes, that it would be a tougher sell to their editorial boards if much of the book — or just the core ideas of the book, even if the presentation ended up being significantly revised for publication — was available for free online. That made sense to me, so I stopped writing about Pynchon here.

But, it turns out, I also stopped writing about him privately.

Though the Blog Era appears to be permanently over, there’s something about blogging that comports well with the workings of my brain. I’m not sure precisely what it is, but I think that blogging has, for me, just the right level of accountability. The awareness that at least a few people will be reading what I write keeps me from posting stuff I haven’t reflected on, or citing people’s ideas without tracking down the source and making sure I’m not imagining things; but, on the other side, the innate casualness of the medium means I don’t hesitate to try out ideas that may eventually come to nothing, which encourages intellectual risk-taking. And the general expectation that a blogger will post at least semi-regularly has a good disciplining effect on me too.

So while I understand the response my editor friends gave me, and might very well give the same advice if I were in their shoes, I’m going to blog my way through Anthropocene Theology (the tentative title of this book) anyway — because I’m not sure it will get written otherwise. And if in the end nobody will publish it I’ll do it myself. It’s not like I need any more peer-reviewed entries on my CV.

But I bet someone will publish it.

Anyway, that’s the plan: I’m gonna write that book, or at least a first draft of that book, right here on this blog. It won’t be the only thing I do here, but it’ll be the main thing. So, dear readers, I would be most grateful if you would not only read but comment: question my argument, suggest further reading, whatever — as long as it’s meant constructively I’ll be grateful for it.


  • very good to hear this.
    (remembering your post on "folds" (Deleuze, and Pynchon's V and Mason & Dixon)

  • This is nice.

  • What significance, if any, do you see in the writings of David L. Schindler and Michael Hanby on the modernity's technological-ontology for your Anthropocene Theology project?

  • Andrew, I think of what Schindler and Hanby are doing, while valuable in its own way, is almost the opposite of what I'm trying to do. Maybe I can explain that somewhere down the line.

  • I'll tell you, I have had more fun writing this new blog project of mine than I have in years. Restricting my blogging to a narrow focus and for a correspondingly smaller readership has been just what I needed. And blogging through/with academic research is a perfect sweet spot for me.

  • This is awesome!!! Looking forward to TEARING YOUR ARGUMENTS TO SHREDS. Just kidding, but I am seriously pumped about this. Good luck.

  • When you have to pitch this project to publishers, you could point to the recent success of Rod Dreher's book, which was not despite but because he tested the ideas in public and generated a broader conversation that increased demand.

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