next steps

Work on the Invitation & Repair project has basically come to a halt, and there are three major reasons for that.

First of all, I really need to buckle down and get some work done on my project of editing Auden’s book The Shield of Achilles. I agreed to produce this edition a year or so ago, but thanks to Covid I’ve been unable to get into the archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, which is where the key manuscripts are located. The Ransom Center is still closed to the public, but I expect that it will be opening pretty soon and so it’s time for me to get started on this project.

Second, I’ve lined up the project that will follow that one. Years ago I had a wonderful time writing about the Book of Common Prayer for the Princeton University Press series Lives of Great Religious Books, and I’m delighted that I have the opportunity to write another volume in that series. This time my subject will be Milton’s Paradise Lost. More about that in due course.

The third reason for putting Invitation & Repair on hold is that it has recently become clear to me that while I have done a good bit of thinking about the techno element of technopoly, I haven’t thought enough about the poly element, that is to say the political and economic structures and practices that make it possible for digital technologies to dominate so much of our lives. I’ve come to realize that I really need to educate myself in political economy, with a particular eye towards understanding what Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism” — with a special emphasis on what capitalism actually was, is, and might become — and also to try to figure out what plausible alternatives there are to that way of being in the world. I made a first stab at that when I wrote this essay on certain recent technological developments as a kind of distributism for creatives — and also, I guess, in the small things I’ve written about anarchism. But those are baby steps. So over the next couple of years, in my spare time, if I have any, I’m going to be trying to get a better understanding of the political economy of our moment. Because my imagination is reliably activated by fiction, one of the first things I’m going to do is read John Lanchester’s novel Capital.

Anyway, the Invitation & Repair idea continues to be important to me, but it’s going to be moving slowly for quite some time. You’re never too old to learn, but learning takes time. Which also means that there may not be much blogging here for a while, though I will still, I think, be posting photos to my

May 17, 2021

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