Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’
* Today at Marquette: Today (Tuesday the 8th) from 5-6 PM in Lalumiere 208 we’ll be having our last Pop Culture Lunch Dinner of the semester, on music’s British Invasions. There will be pizza! Come out!
* Tomorrow at Marquette: Tomorrow (Wednesday the 9th) is Marquette English’s annual celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, which this year takes the form of a “Sonnet Slam.”
* This Weekend in Milwaukee: All weekend the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is hosting a very exciting conference on “Anthropocene Feminism.”
* 4/22 in Cleveland: On April 22 I’ll be giving a talk at my beloved alma mater, Case Western, titled “Science Fiction and/as Philosophy.” More details to come!
* 4/26 at Marquette: The weekend of April 26th Marquette graduate students are hosting a conference on “Representing the Natural,” which also promises to be excellent.
* 5/2 in Chicago: I’ll also be giving a brief talk and participating in a roundtable at the Joss Whedon celebration at DePaul, reprising my role as snake-in-the-garden perfected at last year’s Doctor Who celebration.
* And, finally, 5/23 in Madison: I’ll be giving a paper at SFRA/WisCon on the great stuff I found in the Octavia Butler archives, especially the various unfinished drafts of Parable of the Trickster.
See you at all of these!
* What we’re talking about in my cultural preservation class today: Jyotsna Kapur’s “Capital limits on creativity: neoliberalism and its uses of art.” I’d actually suggest the adjunct herself functions as “the model worker of the new economy” alongside the freelancer.
The results of the Creative Culture Industry policy have already started to come in. Kate Oakley, among others, has shown that in the case of Britain these policies have exacerbated rather than eliminated inequality. They have led to gentrification and pockets of wealth in the midst of disintegrating social infrastructure. At the same time, work in the creative industries has become increasingly precarious — that is, temporary, project-based, and competitive, putting artists and media people in a constant in search of work (2006). As Richard Shearmur has indicated, calling upon local governments to modify their policies, planning, and budgets in order to respond to the preferences of the creative class boils down to reinforcing and subsidizing elites to a kind of ‘talent welfare’ that is reminiscent of ‘corporate welfare’ (2006-7, 37). In the process, art’s entire social role is undergoing a profound transformation. From being considered an imaginative and critical outsider or a participant in social transformation, the artist is now presented as the model worker of the new economy.
* The bad conscience of empire: Historic papers about the slave trade are among the enormous cache of public documents that the Foreign Office has unlawfully hoarded in a secret archive, the Guardian has learned.
* The chemical spill that contaminated water for hundreds of thousands in West Virginia was only the latest and most high-profile case of coal sullying the nation’s waters.
Connersville, Indiana police chief David Counceller’s most recent self-inflicted wound occurred when his sweatshirt jammed against his 40-caliber Glock’s trigger as he attempted to holster the weapon. He was examining a new Glock at a gun shop at the time.
* “To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence,” he wrote to Ó Méalóid. “It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.”
* The headline reads, “Pubic Hair Grooming Injuries Have Quintupled.”
* “All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak,” he said. “If you’re under 40 (years old), you’ve not seen this stuff before.” The Polar Vortex Is Coming.
* Like Sendak and Gaiman, Tolkien insists that fairy tales aren’t inherently “for” children but that we, as adults, simply decide that they are, based on a series of misconceptions about both the nature of this literature and the nature of children.
* Our brains don’t work: Lavishing Kids With Praise Can Make Them Feel Worse About Themselves.
* And the Internet is a massive time-travel killjoy. Why didn’t someone come back and warn us this would happen?
* All years are terrible years; the predicament of being human tends towards the negative. We read the news and are left feeling nothing more noble than “only I have escaped to tell thee.” A given year can be pronounced good only in a solipsistic sense.
* This headline seems like it was generated by some dystopian headline generator: Yakuza Gangsters Recruit Homeless Men for Fukushima Nuclear Clean Up.
* And then there’s this one: Climate Change Vastly Worse Than Previously Thought.
* If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet’s biggest oil producer and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we’ve begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine.
* And then there’s this: Drone Testing Sites Announced In Six States.
* “Diversity is something that’s being marketed,” Pippert says. “They’re trying to sell a campus climate, they’re trying to sell a future. Campuses are trying to say, ‘If you come here, you’ll have a good time, and you’ll fit in.’ “
The drop follows two years of modest gains, but even those gains hadn’t come close to returning to the level of openings before the economic downturn hit in the fall of 2008. This year, the AHA posted 686 jobs, and the pre-recession total was 1,064.
* Handed up by an Orange County, N.C., grand jury, the indictment charged Nyang’oro with “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously” accepting payment “with the intent to cheat and defraud” the university in connection with the AFAM course — a virtually unheard-of legal accusation against a professor. It’s simply incomprehensible to me how the alleged behavior could have been accomplished by just one person acting alone.
* “In 1969 the median salary for a male worker was $35,567 (in 2012 dollars). Today it is $33,904. So for 44 years, while wages for the top 10 percent have continued to climb, most Americans have been caught in a ”Great Stagnation,” bringing into question the whole purpose of the American capitalist economy. The notion that what benefited the establishment would benefit everyone, had been thoroughly discredited.”
* Spied On from My iPhone: NSA has “backdoor access” to iPhones.
* And now an annual tradition: What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2014?
On Twin Earth, a brain in a vat is at the wheel of a runaway trolley. There are only two options that the brain can take: the right side of the fork in the track or the left side of the fork. There is no way in sight of derailing or stopping the trolley and the brain is aware of this, for the brain knows trolleys. The brain is causally hooked up to the trolley such that the brain can determine the course which the trolley will take.
On the right side of the track there is a single railroad worker, Jones, who will definitely be killed if the brain steers the trolley to the right. If the railman on the right lives, he will go on to kill five men for the sake of killing them, but in doing so will inadvertently save the lives of thirty orphans (one of the five men he will kill is planning to destroy a bridge that the orphans’ bus will be crossing later that night). One of the orphans that will be killed would have grown up to become a tyrant who would make good utilitarian men do bad things… (yes, there’s more)
* Law school in America moves toward an open admissions policy. Where are the accreditors? This is insane.
* In short: because of what the U.S. government assumed it could do with information it had the technological ability to intercept, American companies and American interests are sure to suffer in their efforts to shape and benefit from the Internet’s continued growth.
* In other words, gold pays off when there is an outbreak of goldbug-ism. Gold is a bet that there will be more goldbugs in the future than there are now. And since the “gold will be money again” story is very deep and powerful, based as it is on thousands of years of (no longer applicable) historical experience, it is highly likely that goldbug-ism will break out again someday. So if you’re the gambling type, or if you plan to start the next Zero Hedge, or if your income for some reason goes down when goldbug-ism breaks out, well, go ahead and place a one-way bet on gold.
* With all the bad news today, this is the one that really breaks my brain: Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You. That’s completely lunatic. I just can’t believe it’s a real event that happened.
* My friend Brent Bellamy has a working bibliography of U.S. post-apocalyptic fiction.
Think about the writing-for-free model that has taken over journalism. His point can be supported by the millions made by Arianna Huffington, while many of her writers worked for little or nothing. Yes, writing is one of what Lanier is calling the “pleasant” jobs — as is teaching (I didn’t say easy. But dedicated writers and educators alike see what they do as rewarding and important work.) Why should journalists or educators be working for little to no money, living at the edge of poverty, while the people at the top of this sort of economic structure are reaping enormous fortune? According to Lanier, this is a conscious breach of the all-important social contract that not only provides what he calls the “hump” of middle class citizens — that middle area surge on the economic chart where the majority of people fall — but that large, sustained middle class keeps the rest of the system going. Without it, the economy fails, as does democracy itself.
* It is very hard to accept this — the wealth gap is not a mistake. It is the logical outcome of policy and democratic will. From the streets of Cicero on up, the point was to imprison black people in the black belt and then exploit them. The goal was pursued through public policy, private action, and open terrorism. The goal was accomplished.
FD: Chinese sci fi has about a hundred years of history. When it started, in the late Qing dynasty around 1902, it was chiefly concerned with the problem of bringing ancient China into modernity. At that time, Liang Qichao [translated sci fi] because he thought it would be beneficial for China’s future … as something that could popularize scientific knowledge. And Lu Xun thought that if you gave ordinary people scientific literature to read, they would fall asleep. But if you blended scientific knowledge into stories with a plot, it would be more interesting. [He thought that] in this way, the people could become more modern.
* Chris Beckett wins Arthur C. Clarke award for Dark Eden. Probably the first book I’ll read once the semester is over, thanks to @shaviro’s great paper on it at ICFA.
* See no evil, hear no evil: Republicans propose abolishing the unemployment rate.
* Administrators are maniacs: School Conducts Surprise Shooting Drill with Real Gunmen Firing Blanks.
Speaking of definitive takedowns, Alex Galloway may have just posted one for speculative realism/OOO at An und für sich.
I cite this as a textbook example of the liberal bourgeois position that people from the likes of Zizek to Carl Schmitt have called “depoliticization and neutralization.” It shows Harman’s anti-political position quite clearly. Today we might even call this an anti-badiousian position (although Harman of course has no interest in being badiousian in the first place!). The reason is because he has no opposition to the state of the situation. By his own admission, he only expresses revulsion *after* the confrontation with the state has taken place, after he witnesses the excesses to which the state will go to hold on to power. That’s a classic case of liberal neutralization (“don’t rock the boat,” “we just need to go along to get along,” “this is the best of all possible worlds,” “ontology shouldn’t be political,” etc.). This is thus not a political desire of any kind, merely an affective emotional response at the sight of blood. But such palpitations of the “sensitive” bourgeois heart, no matter how reformed, do not a politics make.
By contrast, Badiou’s position is so useful today because he says that it’s all about the *first* antagonism, not the last. To be political means that you have to *start* from the position of incompatibility with the state. In other words the political is always asymmetrical to the state of the situation. The political is always “trenchant” in this sense, always a “cutting” or polarization. Hence the appeal of Badiou’s “theory of points” which forces all of the equal-footed-objects in OOO into a trenchant decision of the two: yes or no, stop or go, fight or retreat. Hardt and Negri say something similar when they show how “resistance is primary vis-a-vis power.” For his part Harman essentially argues the reverse in this interview: ontology is primary (OOO “is not the handmaid of anything else”), power is secondary (Mubarak), resistance is a tertiary afterthought (the Arab Spring). Yes we should applaud the Spring when it arrives, Harman admits, but it’s still just an afterthought that arrived from who knows where.
If you’re still skeptical just use the old categorial imperative: if everyone in Cairo were clones of Harman, the revolution would never have happened. That’s political neutralization in a nutshell. In other words there is no event for Harman. And here I agree with Mehdi Belhaj Kacem’s recent characterization of Tristan Garcia’s ontology, modeled closely after Harman’s, as essentially a treatise on “Being Without Event.”
* GOP preparing to pack the state supreme court in Florida. All the more reason for Obama to pack SCOTUS…
* And can the GOP survive as a party with literally no constituency? Ezra Klein reports.