Skip to content

Notebook on Cities and Culture S2E8: Paris Legitimizes with Daniel Levin Becker

Colin Marshall sits down in San Francisco’s Castro with Daniel Levin Becker, member of the experimental literary group Oulipo, reviews editor at the Believer, and author of Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature. They discuss whether Oulipo membership impresses the ladies; his earlier, long pre-Oulipo days, when he would make mixtapes consisting entirely of songs without the letter “e” in the title; his fascination with taking mundane patterns, applying enough work to them, and making something pretty incredible; palindromes, beau présent, homophones, metro poems, mathematical constraints, and Greimas squares; his Fulbright-enabled stay in Paris to organize Oulipo’s junk, which led to his writing a book on the group, and then to their offer of membership even before he thought he had accrued the necessary literary steez; whether Paris retains its status as a literary-minded young American’s dream, and its status as a “literary mindfuck” nevertheless; what Paris legitimizes, including but not limited to sexy Orangina animals; “gamification,” in the artistic, urban, and Silicon Valley senses; the possible use of Oulipian restrictions in Many Subtle Channels itself; what makes Oulipo distinctively French, and what its irony about the canon may have in common with the irony of D.A.R.E. shirts worn in the United States; the Believer as a representative of west coast United States literary culture, and how the scrappiness of Chicago stands in contrast; and when he suspends his Chicagoan-ness, and how much of that involves not eating spicy meats.

Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed or on iTunes.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *