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A specter, haunting the edges of society: because neoliberalism insists there are no social classes, thus, there is no working class, the main subject of Hotel Oblivion, a working class subject, does not exist. With no access to a past, she has no home, no history, no memory. And yet, despite all this, she will not assimilate. Instead, this book chronicles the subject’s repeated attempts at locating an exit from capitalist society via acts of negative freedom and through engagement with the death drive, whose aim is complete destruction in order to begin all over again. In the end, of course, the only true exit and only possibility for emancipation for the working class subject is through a return to one’s self. In Hotel Oblivion, through a series of fragments and interrelated poems, Cruz resists invisibilizing forces, undergoing numerous attempts at transfiguration in a concerted effort to escape her fate.
Cruz is the author of six collections of poems: Guidebooks for the Dead (Four Way Books, 2020), Dregs (Four Way Books, 2018), How the End Begins (Four Way Books, 2016), Wunderkammer (Four Way Books, 2014), The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books, 2012) and Ruin (Alice James Books, 2006). Disquieting: Essays on Silence, a collection of critical essays exploring the concept of silence as a form of resistance, was published by Book*hug in the spring of 2019. The Melancholia of Class, an exploration of melancholia and the working class, was published by Repeater Books in July of 2021.
Cruz earned an MA in German Language and Literature from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD at the European Graduate School where her area of research is psychoanalysis and philosophy. Cruz teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University and is a visiting writer in the MFA Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is also a mentor in the Low Residency MFA Writing Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Cruz co-edits the multi- disciplinary online journal, Schlag Magazine.
“Cynthia Cruz’s Hotel Oblivion is a harrowing noir, hypnotic in the same way the dull thud of the pulse, from inside pain, can hypnotize. This is a self-portrait of the self that exists—in flashes—in the interstices between what we call the body, what we call the mind, and what we call art (or the study of art, the regard we maintain for art as a human project). Unica Zürn and Jean Genet are the presiding elders of this doubled journey across damaged selfhood and Mitteleuropa. ‘The mind,’ Cruz avers, ‘is just a dumb machine / that makes small traces,’ poem by poem. ‘And I have begun now to imagine,’ Cruz ventures, ‘what it might be like / to make art entirely / in solitude, to finally / enter the work, and become / what I have been for so many years / afraid of: the space between, the place / of magnificent, though mostly / terrifying, silence.’”
—G. C. Waldrep
“Hélène Cixous said, ‘The writers I love are descenders, explorers of the lowest and deepest,’ and Cynthia Cruz is a master of descent. Her exquisite new collection, Hotel Oblivion, emerges from ‘the terrible intimacy / of the mouth’ in the form of letters and fragments composed in isolation across hotel rooms in Warsaw, Berlin, and Belgrade. These rooms double as art studios and prisons, as well as rooms of the mind, in which Cruz’s speaker remembers, unknows, and reaches toward a ‘self- / made language’ which is ‘not unlike taking something beautiful apart.’ Hotel Oblivion is a compulsive read—it rivets with its obsessiveness, world-building, and refusal to sublimate: ‘Now the poems are coming like gray rings / of memory. Or an endless series of Polaroids.’ Dear reader, when I got to the end, I wanted to begin again.”
—Allison Benis White