Dead reckoning is the nautical term for calculating a ship’s position using the distance and direction traveled rather than instruments or astronomical observation. For those still recovering from the atrocities of the twentieth century, however, the term has an even grimmer meaning: toting up the butcher’s bill of war and genocide.
As its title suggests, Dead Reckoning is an attempt to find our bearings in a civilization lost at sea. Conducted in the shadow of the centennial of the First World War, this dialogue between Romanian American poet Andrei Guruianu and Italian American essayist Anthony Di Renzo asks whether Western culture will successfully navigate the difficult waters of the new millennium or shipwreck itself on the mistakes of the past two centuries. Using historical and contemporary examples, they explore such topics as the limitations of memory, the transience of existence, the futility of history, and the difficulties of making art and meaning in the twenty-first century.
Andrei Guruianu teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University. His previous books include the poetry collections Made in the Image of Stones and Portrait without a Mouth.
Anthony Di Renzo is Associate Professor of Writing at Ithaca College and the author of many books, including Bitter Greens: Essays on Food, Politics, and Ethnicity from the Imperial Kitchen, also published by SUNY Press.