Proxies: Essays Near Knowing

Proxies Essays Near Knowing A go for broke essay collection that blends cultural close reading and dicey autobiographyPast compunction expressly unbeholden these twenty four single subject essays train focus on a startling mis

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  • Title: Proxies: Essays Near Knowing
  • Author: Brian Blanchfield
  • ISBN: 9781937658458
  • Page: 332
  • Format: Paperback
  • A go for broke essay collection that blends cultural close reading and dicey autobiographyPast compunction, expressly unbeholden, these twenty four single subject essays train focus on a startling miscellany of topics Foot Washing, Dossiers, Br er Rabbit, Housesitting, Man Roulette, the Locus Amoenus that begin to unpack the essayist himself and his life s rotating concerA go for broke essay collection that blends cultural close reading and dicey autobiographyPast compunction, expressly unbeholden, these twenty four single subject essays train focus on a startling miscellany of topics Foot Washing, Dossiers, Br er Rabbit, Housesitting, Man Roulette, the Locus Amoenus that begin to unpack the essayist himself and his life s rotating concerns sex and sexuality, poetry and poetics, subject positions in American labor not excluding academia , and his upbringing in working class, Primitive Baptist, central piedmont North Carolina In Proxies an original constraint, a total suppression of recourse to authoritative sources, engineers Brian Blanchfield s disarming mode of independent intellection The repeatable experiment to draw only from what he knows, estimates, remembers, and misremembers about the subject at hand often opens onto an unusually candid assessment of self and situation The project s driving impulse, courting error, peculiar in an era of crowd sourced Wiki knowledge, is at least as old as the one Montaigne had when, putting all the books back on the shelf, he asked, What do I know

    One thought on “Proxies: Essays Near Knowing”

    1. I loved when Brian Blanchfield got vulnerable with us. I felt riveted when he wrote about his former lover coming out to him as HIV positive in another friend's house, the intimate and now-embarrassing games he used to play with his mother, and the insecurity and upstream battles he has fought as a creative writer in academia. These essays contain a lot of intellect - from queer theory to linguistic analysis to literary allusion - but they shine most when Blanchfield inserts himself, the tender [...]

    2. An instant (queer) classic. I can't get over how damn good this was. Blanchfield is a modern, American, less obtuse Barthes. Proxies is a stunning, delicate memoir of a middle-aged gay man disguised as a collection of essays elucidating and exploring various topics and ideas. Intricately and precisely written, it packs more onto a single page than most books hold between their covers. I look forward to re-reading this many, many times in the years to come.

    3. To be perfectly frank, Blanchfield and I are in some kind of erotic humiliation relationship. I keep returning to him and he keeps making me feel stupid and useless. What kind of mind writes this way? From his poetry to his essays, I am obsessed. But, I never fully get any of it. Constantly in awe. Spank me!

    4. Blanchfield positions his distrust of intellect and memory, two aspects of the mind that readily fail, as his guiding light. I cannot recall a book that so honestly eschews the need for context to be correct. To not look up the 'facts' until after the book was written is a defiant act, and draws focus to the development of individual intellect outside of research, outside Google and . Proxies also airs the incongruity of academia, the placeholder aspect of queerness, and of being a cultural and [...]

    5. Admittedly I read this as a writer with an eye to seeing what Blanchfield was attempting to do with the essay form. His life as a gay man in early middle age, with a fundamentalist Baptist background and the complicated family of origin issues that carry over do take a centre stage in many of the essays, but there is much more here. An intelligent, engaging exercise in free form essay writing. See my full review here: roughghosts/2016/08/04/in

    6. Strong collection of essays exploring a diverse array of topics, always hovering near the beating heart of memoir. Definitely in conversation with Maggie Nelson's Argonauts and Leslie Jamison's Empathy Exams (also Roland Barthes' short essays) and shares their comingling of the confessional and critical theory. At times loses itself in academese, but clearly, Blanchfield is a deep thinker. The portions that weave in his personal history as a gay man are the most poignant and moving.

    7. "On Tumbleweed," "On House Sitting," "On the Leave," "On Abstraction," "On Dossiers" and "On Reset" were my favorites.

    8. Beautiful is not a word I thought I'd ever use to describe an essay collection, a book of essays on topics as diverse and sometimes cold sounding as Foot Washing, Dossiers, Housesitting and Man Roulette. But written without the internet and without reference material, this book is not about these things but rather the author's interaction with them. The book purposefully rejects objective information and even fact in preference of the subjective. Not "what is there to know about X", but "what do [...]

    9. I heard Blanchfield read "On House Sitting" at the Queer Heart panel at the &Now conference a few years back and have been eager to read this collection. The last essay starts there, actually (at the conference), a meditation on queer love in uncertain times. All of these essays are tightly constructed yet airy with rumination and allowing for errata. I especially appreciated the ways Blanchfield writes about the South and also the academic job market for creative writers. Favorites, in addi [...]

    10. Demands to be read twice, but who has time for that? Either way, half the pleasure is in reading the corrections. It's more personal than the gimmick suggests, and that's the source of its power; some details will mark you indelibly. Flirts with gobbledygook at points, but (thankfully) never jumps into bed with it.

    11. One less star due to the vast stretches of this book that were not intelligible to me. The concept of this book is as important as the content - in style, you could certainly draw parallels to Maggie Nelson, though in form you could also nod to Sarah Manguso's Ongoingness. These are essays that draw strongly from the self and process of thought, and as noted at the very beginning, research was not a part of this book - except, after it was done, to include afterward notes containing clarificatio [...]

    12. The professor that served as the chair of my graduate thesis committee (CNF) recommended this book to me after writing a review for it on Rumpus, and I wasn't even halfway through when I emailed him back to gush about how much I loved it. This collection embodies everything I love about "the essay." It explores, it discovers, it's a "loose sally of the mind." The topics touched upon and made touching comprise are comprised of rich language and original perspectives. For me, this book achieves (i [...]

    13. Gorgeous and complicated. It's rare I read things I learn from, wonder at, and enjoy so much that I know I will reread them later; Proxies is one such book.

    14. Something a little different to end the month, a book that was recommended to me by Rough Ghosts whilst I was reading Ben Lerner’s “The Hatred of Poetry” Brian Blanchfield is a North American poet, with two published collections to his name, Not Even Then and A Several World, which won the 2014 James Laughlin Award and was longlisted for the National Book Award. “Proxies; Essays Near Knowing a reckoning” is a collection of twenty four essays, musings on the mundane.As explained in th [...]

    15. Fascinating and original, but easily the book that has left me feeling the most stupid in quite a while. I give it four stars because I think Blanchfield is on to something here, creating a category of essay that didn't really exist until he wrote this collection. So kudos for that, but the problem is that the reading experience, while often very engrossing, is also terribly off-putting because of Blanchfield's reliance on pedantic, academic terms that are too cerebral by half. I'm sure he knows [...]

    16. Blanchfield's Proxies is an exercise that grasps the broad and the narrow, astounding in its willingness to accept the frames of ones own knowledge and associations. Driven by just how much is already locked away, how much the author already knows, each essay in Proxies instills a faith in the reader that we learn even in error. In an era defined by constant access to knowledge and the ability to fact check every conversation, Proxies is a reminder that we don't need to and that we have so much [...]

    17. Blanchfield writes with a strong control of language, structure, and the source material, which, in mosts cases, is his own life. While I consider this creative nonficiton, Blanchfield writes with the certainty of an omniscient narrator, usually seen in fiction. His essays take unexpected twists and turns yet by the end of each I felt that I was right where I needed to be. Subjects appear and reappear, complimenting each other. There's a lot of digest, and I definitely need to read it again to a [...]

    18. An excellent collection of biographical essays showcasing the queer mind at work. Blanchfield jumps from the mundane to the profound with ease and grace, often blurring any distinction between the two.

    19. "Because when someone asks how you are feeling and you cannot say, you can see them try to access what's inside; and it troubles you enough to close tighter, or cover more."#howigotthroughighschool

    20. I've been reading a lot of essay collections recently. While I like the concept here, I simply couldn't get into the language. Reading it felt too much like work. It was less lyrical and poetic than I expected it would be.

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