10:04: Everyday Life and The Novel as Late Capitalist Limit-Form

Daniel Barrow


Ben Lerner's 2014 novel 10:04 confronts crisis – ecological, financial, political – as a crisis of narrative form. The novel's involuted narrative structure and experimental incorporation of multiple modes of narrative (poetry, visual collage, autobiography) attempts to grapple with a crisis of representation spurred by mutations in lived experience under late capitalism since the 2008 financial crisis. If the novel has historically been the territory of what becomes, in the bourgeois era, 'everyday life', as Henri Lefebvre defined it, and simultaneously a form for potentially imagining or registering social totality, what happens when the abstract compulsions and movement of capital are increasingly registered or figured as concrete and unavoidable? What is the result when lived time and the time of production draws to the edge of what Fredric Jameson has called 'the end of temporality', when time, after postmodernism, When the concrete lifeworld of the novel form seems to be pushed by the intensification of contradiction within capitalist accumulation to the point of entire disintegration? Drawing on work by Paul Virilio, Jonathan Crary, Michael Sayeau and Guy Debord, this paper will argue that in Lerner's novel the pastiched narrative elements of postmodern fiction are transformed and bricolaged into the experimental reconfiguration of a new 'cognitive mapping' of everyday life under late capitalism. The novel, as the belated and imploded form of narrative of capitalist modernity, finds its formal reconstitution, in 10:04, in the temporal and spatial limits of capital's dominance over 'everyday life': a new set of formal boundaries and experiments with new forms of novelistic temporality.

Dan Barrow, Birkbeck, University of London, dboon147@gmail.com

crisis - literature