Reading group with
The Cursed Assembly
Y2K: The curse sets in motion a dialogue. What do we think and say when under a curse, a destiny of doom, the prospect of a terrible ‘end’? What ideas are spawned? As we see fear, anxiety, delirium, and paranoia become generative of ideas, we find the Y2K period, specifically, to be a cultural-historical moment that binds the qualities of an archival crisis to the epistemic, apocalyptic landscapes of the assembly.
In this four-session reading group, we will be reading four Y2K bestsellers and situate them in their period. We attempt to discuss and articulate the aesthetic, literary, and discursive specificities of Y2K and the multi-faceted crises that originated from changes in archival practices, digitised information, and belief systems, and how these phenomena are reflected in literature. Our selection of books provides an approach to post-truth that moreover considers the material object of the book itself and the physicality of information and its circulation. In short, we see these books as pop-cultural events and cultural-literary culminations of an (as we call it) “epistemologically apocalyptic” atmosphere.
We will be reading:
– THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown [Crisis of Truth, 19 October 2023]
– HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS by J. K. Rowling [Youth Crisis, 30 November 2023]
– THE SECRET by Rhonda Byrne [Spiritual Crisis, 25 January 2024]
– THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson [Informational and Moral Crisis, 22 February 2024]
Each session of about 90 minutes will consist of a short introduction, a reading of chosen passages, and a discussion. We encourage the participants to read the books in advance, but this is not mandatory.
#1 THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown [Crisis of Truth]
All of a sudden, we see Europe as a map of lies, secrets, and continuous manipulations of the capital-T Truth according to political expediency – aesthetically, historically, religiously. The Da Vinci Code creates an intellectual ecosystem, an aesthetics of conspiracy – not only in the story, but also to the audience – which resonates with The Cursed Assembly. We like to read books that have emanated beyond themselves and seeded the soil with dangerous, destructive ideas: literary objects that become epistemologically apocalyptic.