Marriage, Fate, and a Bathroom Epiphany in Sheila Heti’s “How Should a Person Be?”

Irony often plays on the gap between expectation and reality. The gap between is a commonplace in much schlemiel fiction.   Playing on the main motif of How Should a Person Be? Sheila Heti, the main character and author of the novel, casts the other as her teacher. She looks for ethical and artistic models of […]

Little Tricks: Revising Myths and Warping Fairy Tales in Kafka’s Parables and Sheila Heti’s Postmodern Fables – Part I

One of the major tasks of the modern Enlightenment project is to “demythologize.” As a part of this project all types of myths are challenged. They need not be changed by science, the humanities, and psychology, however. The greatest battling ground for challenging mythology may be in the medium that is used to convey myth; […]

The Postmodern Chelm, or The Artistic Community in Sheila Heti’s “How Should a Person Be?” – Part I

I can remember the first time I ever heard a story about the Jewish fool otherwise known as a schlemiel.   What struck me about the story, when I first heard it (when I was six or seven years old), was that the schlemiel wasn’t an independent agent. He lived amidst other schlemiels – in a […]

The Other is My Teacher: First Thoughts on Sheila Heti’s “How Should a Person Be?”

When I first started reading Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? I was struck by the title, the first words of the novel, and their speaker, the main character, who is an amalgamation of fiction and non-fiction: her name is Sheila Heti.  Her book, published in 2012, has received great reviews by The New […]

(Un)Happy Endings: Existential Reflections on “It was ok, an album of comedy by David Heti”

David Heti is an (un)timely comedian. His comedy speaks to a time that is becoming more and more unhappy with itself. (And I mean this in a good way since I believe that such unhappiness will prompt us to come out of our dogmatic slumber…and think.) Unlike many comedians whose jokes are purely scatological and […]

On an Aesthetic of Redemption or The Problem With Historicizing Walter Benjamin (Take 1)

I’m not an intellectual historian.  And while I enjoy reading intellectual history, I always worry about the problem of periodization.   Like any historicization, the risk is to say that on this or that date everything changed with this or that thinker.  The problem with such claims is that – in a Derridian sense – something […]