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The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature$
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Zuzanna Ladyga

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442923

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442923.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 28 October 2021

Inertia and Not-Knowing in the Fiction of Donald Barthelme

Inertia and Not-Knowing in the Fiction of Donald Barthelme

(p.210) Chapter 6 Inertia and Not-Knowing in the Fiction of Donald Barthelme
The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature

Zuzanna Ladyga

Edinburgh University Press

The chapter looks at Barthelme’s literary work through the prism of sloth/laziness variants such as inertia, nausea, and most importantly, Anton Ehrenzweig’s rendition of inoperativity via the concept of unconscious scanning. From Barthelme’s early renditions of the figure of the artist such as the Pollockian Paul in Snow White (1967), through avatars of passive artists in his short stories, to the half-dead-half-alive carcass of D.F. in The Dead Father (1975), there emerges a radical counter-Rosenbergian philosophy of action/inaction. No author of American postmodernism has done more to counteract the Rosenbergian post-Romantic idea of heightened sensibility of passive repose than did Barthelme. The purpose of this chapter is to bring the themes of inertia and sterēsis, understood by Barthelme as Ehrenzweig’s unconscious scanning, as unique insights into creative processes, insights which exceed the classical postmodern ethical and aesthetic regime

Keywords:   Exhaustion, Unconscious scanning, Attention/inattention, Donald Barthelme, Ronald Sukenick, William Gass, Susan Sontag, Harold Rosenberg, Anton Ehrenzweig, Adam Phillips

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