Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Žižek

Wednesday Night!

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alkebu-lan-1260* Kinsey gaffe from the Times re: CUNY: Mr. Milliken, 56, the president of the University of Nebraska since 2004, will take over a school system that has undergone a spate of recent expansion but is still troubled by large pockets of impoverished and academically lagging students, the overwhelming majority of whom come from the city’s public schools. Still troubled by existence of the students the school was established to serve. Must be a real nightmare over there.

* Women Destroy Science Fiction!

* First as tragedy… Žižek’s Jokes contains every joke cited, paraphrased, or narrated in Žižek’s work in English (including some in unpublished manuscripts), including different versions of the same joke that make different points in different contexts.

* Oliva Pope fixes Chris Christie.

Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love.

* Disband West Virginia. I’m From West Virginia and I’ve Got Something to Say About the Chemical Spill. Why So Many West Virginians Relied on Water from the Elk River: Industry Already Polluted the Others.

Do You Really Want to Use a Commercial Learning-Management System?

The colonization counterfactual. “What if Africa had never been colonized but was still re-formed into the kinds of political bodies which colonialism sought to create.”

The university is dead. The question to ask now is not, how do we bring it back. That’s impossible and quite undesirable. The question is what new forms of genuinely democratic self-organization might rise from its ashes? To even begin to ask this question we must first of all get rid of the police.

* Cultural Preservation: Preserving Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. This is where Dylan hitchhiked to see Woody Guthrie, right at the border of my hometown.

* BREAKING: Fox Only Talks About Climate Change When It’s Cold.

* RT @wewatchwatchers: In whiteness news: Man found with pipe bomb at Edmonton airport allowed to fly.

* Bruce v. Christie: I’ll allow it.

* Schweitzer tacks against Obama: The inside story of how Obamacare became an insurance-industry bailout.

* NLRB finds that Wal-Mart illegally intimidated and retaliated against organizers. I assume that means the corporation is dissolved and becomes a worker’s collective.

Studies Confirm: Kids Ruin Your Life. Now they tell me?

* And three years ago it cost me $1000 to sequence one gene. Now that’s what it costs to sequence an entire genome.

However Many Links You Think There Are In This Post, There Are Actually More Links Than That

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9710380815_b64e98462e_b* First, they cast Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, and I said nothing.

* de Boer v. Schuman re: Hopkins. It’s not the supply, it’s the demand.

The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto.

Earth’s Quietest Place Will Drive You Crazy in 45 Minutes.

If I worked at Kansas University, this post might get me fired.

* Rortybomb v. the social safety net.

* Charlie Stross v. Bitcoin.

* X-tend the Allegory: What if the X-Men actually were black? Essay version. Via.

“Men’s Rights” Trolls Spammed Us With 400 Fake Rape Reports.

The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency.’ It’s already here. 96 Percent Of Network Nightly News’ Coverage Of Extreme Weather Doesn’t Mention Climate Change. The year in fossil fuel disasters.

* “Unfathomable”: Why Is One Commission Trying to Close California’s Largest Public College? ACCJC Gone Wild.

San Jose State University has all but ended its experiment to offer low-cost, high-quality online education in partnership with the massive open online course provider Udacity after a year of disappointing results and growing dismay among faculty members.

Data Mining Exposes Embarrassing Problems For Massive Open Online Courses.

CSU-Pueblo revising budget downward; up to 50 jobs at risk, loss of $3.3M.

* For-Profit College Oakbridge Academy Of Arts Suddenly Shuts Down.

* “This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not,” the billionaire told Politicker, calling her plight “a sad situation.”

In Defense of ‘Entitlements.’

* The way we die now.

* Oh, I see, there’s your problem right there. Links continue below the graph.

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“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

* World’s first full-size Lego car can hit 20 mph, powered by insane, 256-cylinder compresed air engine.

Scott Walker signals he will sign school mascot bill.

Thieves steal risqué calendars, leave protest signs.

* DC Passes Great Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Days Bills. What’s in Them?

* France institutes a carbon tax.

Community Season 5 Feels Like An Old Friend Has Finally Come Home.

62 Percent of Restaurant Workers Don’t Wash Their Hands After Handling Raw Beef.

* Mars by night.

* Shock in Ohio: No evidence of plot to register non-citizen voters. That only proves how successful the conspiracy has been!

* Wow: Tampa Toddler Thriving After Rare 5-Organ Transplant.

* The Decline of the US Death Penalty. Still illegal to murder people in Detroit (maybe). 15 Things That We Re-Learned About the Prison Industrial Complex in 20123. Data Broker Removes Rape-Victims List After Journal Inquiry.

* The true story of the original “welfare queen.”

Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable.

* The 16 Colleges and Universities Where It’s Hardest to Get an A.

* Michael Pollan on plant intelligence.

Signs Taken as Wonders: Žižek and the Apparent Interpreter.

Marriage equality reaches New Mexico.

A vigil planned as a peaceful remembrance of a teen killed in police custody ended with tear gas and arrests Thursday night in downtown Durham.

* An oral history of the Cones of Dunshire.

* On scarcity and the Federation.

* “Characters” trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

* And ion has your science fiction postage stamps.

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm

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Friday End of the Semester Why Aren’t I Already Sleeping Links

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All the Sunday Night Links

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tumblr_mwcdieFONm1rl1rfao1_500In the light of such an absolute and irretrievable failure, I think we need to revise the slogan about it being easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. It’s as though we collectively were given a choice of which we would choose, and we chose to end the world. See, you know, also.

Student Debt & Wall Street By The Numbers: State-By-State Factsheets. Here’s Wisconsin.

* More Wes Andersony than Wes Anderson: Cosmonaut survival kit.

Zizek, Toilets, and a Defense of the Humanities.

* Crazy story: Princeton weighs whether to offer meningitis vaccines.

* Wheeeeeee: Wisconsin GOP pushes new voting restrictions.

A Day In the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine. Male novelist jokes.

Q: How many male novelists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: His alcoholism was different, because someday he was going to die.

Like Reinharz, many other college presidents across the country are negotiating huge exit packages when they step down, which critics say is emblematic of schools’ unrestrained spending on everything from administrative salaries to elaborate new buildings that drive up the cost of higher education.

MOOCs were supposed to be the device that would bring higher education to the masses. However, the masses at San Jose State don’t appear to be ready for the commodified, impersonal higher education that MOOCs offer without the guidance that living, breathing professors provide to people negotiating its rocky shores for the first time. People need people.

Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds. 11,000-kid, decade-long study.

* Dr. Seuss’s Stalin cartoons.

Exxon’s Fine For Massive Tar Sands Spill Is A Mere 1/3000th Of Its Third-Quarter Profits.

Judge Slashes Sentence For Alabama Man Who Raped Teen To Probation With No Jailtime.

‘Like Being in Prison with a Salary’: The Secret World of the Shipping Industry.

* Well they closed down the video store in Philly last night… Requiem for Blockbuster in the key of Springsteen.

* Laugh and cry in a single sound: San Francisco turns into Gotham City for Batkid.

* They kept a quantum computer working for 39 minutes.

* The flowchart of J. Alfred Prufrock.

* Stephen Colbert destroys Richard Cohen.

* The real ending for Breaking Bad has finally leaked.

* And communists seize Seattle! Could Portland be next?

Wednesday Night Links: 8,000 Barrels, 0.000025%, 3,387 Men, $100 Bills, and More

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Over a longer time span, say a decade, we would expect about 19 spill incidents with an aggregate spill volume of about 8,000 barrels, enough to fill about half of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  We would expect about 1.3 of these spills to be “large,” which means that on average we would expect a “large” spill to occur about once every 8 years or so.  Clearly, based upon reported historical industry performance, spills in general and large spills in particular would not be a rare occurrence for the proposed pipeline.

* Elsevier’s behavior is so egregious that it has provoked a boycott from academics who refuse to write or review papers for its journals. But to focus on one malefactor elides a larger question: Why should academic knowledge — largely produced by academics at public and nonprofit universities and often with government grants — be turned into private property and kept from public dissemination?

Dartmouth College Cancels Classes After Sexual Assault Protesters Receive Rape Threats. More at Student Activism.

* Piranhas are a very tricky species: On Gift Horses and Trojan Horses: The Proposed Aquatics Center.

* Tumblr of the day: Little Girls Are Better at Designing Superheroes Than You.

Women Writers take heed, you are being erased on Wikipedia. It would appear that in order to make room for male writers, women novelists (such as Amy Tan, Harper Lee, Donna Tartt and 300 others) have been moved off the “American Novelists” page and into the “American Women Novelists” category. Not the back of the bus, or the kiddie table exactly–except of course–when you google “American Novelists” the list that appears is almost exclusively men (3,387 men).

“I love to paint. It is — painting has changed my life in an unbelievably positive way,” the unprosecuted war criminal said.

Mad Men’s Misery Problem And How TV Can Handle Characters Who Never Change.

Right Wing Media Exploit Boston Bombings To Attack Government Assistance Programs. West Virginia Republican: Make Kids Work As Janitors For School Lunches.

Feds spend at least $890,000 on fees for empty accounts. That’s a crushing 0.000025% of the federal budget going to WASTE.

Holding Corporations Responsible for Workplace Deaths. And then there’s Matt “Proud Neoliberal” Yglesias.

Rhode Island Becomes 10th State To Approve Marriage Equality.

* A Slavoj Žižek Text Adventure.

* Monster.com bans unpaid internships.

* You majored in STEM? And you thought you’d get a job after graduation? Why didn’t you major in something useful?

* And the new $100 is awful. Good thing I’ll never actually have one.

Wednesday, Oh, Wednesday

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* There’s nothing inherently fascist in Žižek’s call for an elite cadre of benevolent dictators to rule us like kings. Why, it says so right there in black and white:

There is absolutely nothing inherently ”Fascist” in these lines – the supreme paradox of the political dynamics is that a Master is needed to pull individuals out of the quagmire of their inertia and motivate them towards self-transcending emancipatory struggle for freedom.

* Peter Frase on the perils of wonkery. And then there’s Kotsko’s take:

The NCAA’s Perfectly Fair Rules.

* Despite three generation of survivalist horror in mass media, “Sociologists have shown that people tend to behave very admirably under the pressure of a disaster; panic and anti-social behavior are fairly rare.”

* How student debt (and of course the larger economic collapse) is messing with the larger consumer economy.

“Public higher education, which educates 70 percent of students in the United States, is about to cross a historic threshold,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “For the first time ever, students will pay a higher percentage of the operating costs… than state governments.”

But the system of federal financial aid is constructed in such a way that putting together strict “maintenance of effort” requirements — requiring states to keep funding public higher education in order to receive federal dollars — is difficult because states receive relatively little money for higher education from the federal government. As a result, previous maintenance of effort requirements have been “nibbling at the edges,” Madzelan said.

* Who is promoting Alex Jones?

The Gold Collapse Is Personally Costing Ron Paul A Fortune.

* And the headline reads, “New Hampshire Lawmaker Calls All Women ‘Vaginas.’” I mean really.

Thursday Night Links

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* Merit and the academy. Challenging, thoughtful post from Timothy Burke.

* My beloved alma mater found out about MOOCs. Meanwhile, the New York Times kind of buries the lede: “So far, most MOOCs have had dropout rates exceeding 90 percent.”

* The Atlantic argues the student loan crisis ain’t no thang. I suspect they’re quite literally cribbing from Adam.

* What could possibly go wrong? Utah considering bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.

According to the Times, the ACLU compiled a 5,000 page report on the SAO, a group of former Minutemen and other right-wingers and violent home-grown fascists, for the benefit of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “alleging the Federal Bureau of Intelligence recruited a band of right-wing terrorists and supplied them with money and weapons to attack young antiwar demonstrators.”

Unlocking the Conspiracy Mind-Set.

Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey results suggested that people who rejected climate science were more likely than other respondents to reject other scientific or official findings and buy into assorted fringe theories: that NASA faked the moon landing, that the Central Intelligence Agency killed Martin Luther King Jr., that the AIDS virus was unleashed by the government, and so forth.

This piece of research appeared in a specialized journal in psychological science, but it did not take long to find its way onto climate skeptics’ blogs, setting off howls of derision.

A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs.

* Forget it, Jake, it’s Pretoria: The South African police replaced the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius homicide case on Thursday after embarrassing revelations that he was facing seven charges of attempted murder himself.

* Zombies and the bomb.

Why Gender Equality Stalled. This country hates rational health care distribution, too. America!

Prison and the Poverty Trap.

* Doctors are the next career to be deskilled and deprofessionalized. Ah, progress!

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

It Wouldn’t Surprise You If This Headline Was About 318 People Being Shot In 12 Different Public Places.

* A sea change for mass culture: Nielsen Ratings Will Add Streaming Data For Fall 2013.

* Tumblr of the day: Shit Rough Drafts.

Emory President Censured.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.

Slavoj Žižek vs. capitalism, round 200. This is almost literally a full rerun.

* Florida, after two years of Tea Party Rule. But even he isn’t a real conservative…

* Ezra Klein: Obamacare is winning.

The average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced on average to 15 years, despite the fact that most women who kill do so in self-defense.

* World’s greatest Venn diagram: Chemical Elements vs. US States.

The NCAA, an organization with such open-decision making practices and clear accountability as to provide lessons to the mafia, is forcing a University of Minnesota wrestler to give up his music career or be declared ineligible for profiting off his own image.

* From the too-good-t0-check files: Young Japanese Women Rent Out Their Bare Legs as Advertising Space.

The New York State Thruway Project, Social Issue Signage Disguised as Historical Markers.

And we’re going to burn every drop of oil and destroy the future. Gleefully. Enjoy your weekend!

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Literally Every Weekend Link There Is

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* It’s official: J.J. Abrams will ruin Star Wars (more).

* More drone fiction, please. Tweets not bombs. Lip-syncing the poetry of empire.

Žižek vs. Zero Dark Thirty.

Imagine a documentary that depicted the Holocaust in a cool, disinterested way as a big industrial-logistic operation, focusing on the technical problems involved (transport, disposal of the bodies, preventing panic among the prisoners to be gassed). Such a film would either embody a deeply immoral fascination with its topic, or it would count on the obscene neutrality of its style to engender dismay and horror in spectators. Where is Bigelow here?

* Anti-war activism at the University of Wisconsin, c. 1940.

* Stunning read on living as a victim of child abuse from the New York TimesThe Price of a Stolen Childhood.

* David Foster Wallace and depression, in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

* Steve Benen and Maddowblog has been all over the Republican vote-rigging scheme, even going so low as to cite one of my tweets. What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans’ Vote-Rigging Plan. Scott Walker, of course, is rigging-curious. And a delicious little bit of schadenfreude.

It is a sin against the new world of mediocrity to be distinct or distinguished.  We are in the chain-store, neon-lighted era.  Almost every city looks the same.  The same people all dress the same – kids as Hopalong Cassidy, men with loud sportshirts and Truman suits, women in slacks.  Sometimes you can tell whether a trousered individual is a man or a woman only by the width of the buttocks.  Only a few cities have individuality.  They are the seaports, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco.  Boston reeks of decay, and is not genteel.  The rest are all Cleveland.

* Today in legal hyperformalism.

Would you believe me if I told you that President Obama is in constitutional trouble—with hundreds of decisions of the National Labor Relations Board from the last year now potentially invalid—over the meaning of the word the?

* When The Shining had an optimistic ending.

* So we’re going to destroy the world: Australian shale oil discovery could be larger than Canada’s oilsands.

* The trouble with English.

None of these past challenges compares with the one under way now. While other humanities disciplines—philosophy, linguistics, and modern languages, for example—have relied upon a range of foundational practices at the modern mass university, many English professors have depended on literature (narrowly defined), written discourse, and the printed book as the primary elements in teaching and scholarship. But hidebound faculty members who continue to assign and study only pre-computer-based media will quickly be on their way toward becoming themselves a “historical” presence at the university.

That’s why I specialized in iPad-2-era Twitter-based fan-fiction, and frankly I’ve never looked back.

* Mainstreaming MOOCs.

* Open, New, Experimental, Aspirational: Ian Bogost vs. “The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.”

* New research indicates tuition has little correlation with educational outcomes.

If markets are efficient and if markets make things better, then there is no explanation for why we have the worst media in the world rather than the best. The problem is that markets don’t really make things better or more efficient. They make things cheaper and they’re responsive. That’s why we get the news we want rather than the news we need.

Child labour uncovered in Apple’s supply chain.

* n+1 visits MLA.

* Defending freedom: A St. Paul man who recently purchased an assault rifle out of fear of an impending gun ban threatened his teenage daughter with it because she was getting two B’s in school rather than straight A’s, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.

For The Sixth Time In One Week, Man Shot At Gun Show.

* Adam Mansbach: My fake college college syllabus.

* Copy Of The Scarlet Letter Can’t Believe The Notes High Schooler Writing In Margins.

* Debunkng the “the Soviets used a pencil” gag. The more you know!

* Occam’s Razor suggests it must be Cory Booker who is putting these people and animals in danger in the first place.

* More on the Arizona “loyalty oaths” issue, with a religious freedom focus.

* New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence.’ Republicans, honestly, we have to talk.

* Seriously, though, I could fix the whole damn system if they’d listen to me.

* Even the Pentagon doesn’t know what the the point of the draft is supposed to be.

* Xavier and Magneto Heading to Broadway for Waiting For Godot.

* And a little something just for the Harmenians: “I wanted a memorable Harmontown show in Kansas City, and for my sins they gave me one.” Dan Harmon predicts pain.

‘To Truly Address Ralph’s Complaints Would Require a Total Overhaul of the Social Order; Or, a Revolution, a Re-Programming of the Ideological Code That Generates Their Reality’

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In Wreck-It Ralph as in Toy Story, during the night when the arcade is closed, the arcade game characters are conscious, living beings who are aware of their position in the world as game characters. They are able to leave their games and visit others by traveling through the machines’ electrical cords which are connected through a power strip.

But despite this knowledge of the real world, the staged antipathy between Wreck-It Ralph and the Nicelanders continues even once the lights in the arcade have been turned off. In a nice example of Žižek’s theory that ideology continues to function even when you don’t believe it, the Nicelanders adore Felix as a hero and despise Ralph even though they see through the game’s “official ideology”. They know it is only a game, and although this is never really stated, logically we have to conclude that the Nicelanders know that Ralph is not really a bad guy.

They treat him as if he was a villain not because they believe he is, but because they suppose an Other who really believes. Or as Michel De Certeau puts it in his essay What We Do When We Believe, “it is a belief in the belief of the Other, or in what one makes believe that he believes”, a version of the Lacanian subject supposed to believe. For the Nicelanders, this Other is clearly the children who come into the arcade every day with their quarters. “Children are in a way the basis for the belief of adults,” says De Certeau. The innocence of this Big Other is assumed, and it must be maintained if the system is to function.

Žižekian reading of Wreck-It Ralph? You had me at hello. As a bonus, you’re treated to what we might as well call Dean’s Cudgel:

Finally, the way the characters invoke the phrase “going Turbo” as an ever-present, threatening possibility reminds me of Jodi Dean’s thesis that while the left seems resigned to defeat and the impossibility of really changing things, the right betrays their belief in the necessity and imminent possibility of radical change in their frantic paranoia that everyone and everything is communist:

In the US, we are reminded daily that radical change is possible, and we are incited to fear it. The threat, or specter, is communism, right-wing radio and blogs scream, and if we don’t do something, we will be under the communist yoke. The right, even the center, regularly invokes the possibility of radical change and it names that change communism. Why does it name the change communism? Because extreme inequality is visible and undeniable.

The right believes in communism as the solution to capitalism because of how frequently they invoke it to silence even talk of reform. In the same way, the characters in Wreck-It Ralph invoke the specter of going Turbo in response to the antagonisms and contradictions in their universe of which they are well aware.

Via @zunguzungu.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Some Brief Thoughts on the Now-Famous “No Olds” Ad at CSU

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Chad Black and Scott Eric Kaufman (1, 2) have done a great job publicizing the now-famous “No Olds” ad at CSU English, to the point where the ad has now been revised and the MLA Executive Council will take up the matter for discussion at its next meeting. What I hope won’t be lost in all this is the extent to which—regardless of the actual, unknowable intentions of the CSU search committee, and the thorny question of whether this particular ad meets the legal standard for age discrimination—explicitly posting the criteria by which the decision will be made can easily be seen as a kindness to applicants from a search committee that knows how bad the market is and wants to be as honest and transparent as possible.

From this perspective the real “crime” of the CSU ad looks like Žižek’s ideology—the crime is not in doing the thing but in accidentally admitting it, saying it out loud. The crime, in other words, is really at the level of the utterance, and the “punishment” (such as it is) is being forced to retract the utterance.

But nothing has happened that will stop CSU or any other search committee from continuing to make decisions on any secret, unpublicized criteria they like, legal or illegal; what has happened is that committees will be less inclined to be similarly honest and transparent about their decisions and their real criteria in the future. That’s not much of a victory if the process ends here, because it encourages more mystification, not less, in the market.

So my hope is that when the MLA Executive Committee takes this up they do so at a level that pierces mere utterance, and attempts to gather real, concrete, material data about actual hiring practices, including this and other “secret criteria” for jobs that are being enforced without being announced. Then we can begin to talk with real specificity about what’s going on, and the consequences of this arcane and mystified process for the profession as a whole.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

‘Not That the World Will No Longer Suck, But That It Will No Longer Suck in This Particular Way’

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These contradictions don’t show that ideology is “irrational” — the problem is exactly the opposite, that there are too many reasons supporting their views. Žižek argues that these piled-up rationalizations demonstrate that something else is going on.

A similar sense that something else is going on always strikes me when I read a review of Žižek’s work in the mainstream media. (A recent example is John Gray’s review of two of Žižek’s books in the New York Review of Books, to which Žižek has responded.) Now academics are always ill-used in the mainstream press, particularly if they deal in abstract concepts and refer to a lot of European philosophers. Yet there’s something special about the treatment of Žižek. In what has become a kind of ritual, the reader of a review of Žižek’s work always learns that Žižek is simultaneously hugely politically dangerous and a clown with no political program whatsoever, that he is an apologist for the worst excesses of twentieth-century Communism and a total right-wing reactionary, both a world-famous left-wing intellectual and an anti-Semite to rival Hitler himself.

The goal is not so much to give an account of Žižek’s arguments and weigh their merits as to inoculate readers against Žižek’s ideas so they feel comfortable dismissing them. To find left-wing thinkers and movements simultaneously laughable and dangerous, disorganized and totalitarian, overly idealistic and driven by a lust for power is to suggest: there is no alternative.

Adam Kotsko spins some recent blog and Twitter observations into review-essay gold in the Los Angeles Review of Books with “How to Read Žižek.”

Žižek does not hold out the utopian hope of eliminating all conflict — in fact, he believes our supposedly “post-ideological” era is blinded by the truly utopian hope that all genuine conflicts might be resolved, allowing the system of liberal-democratic capitalism to go on more or less forever. What Žižek hopes for, in tracking down the contradiction at the heart of our society and identifying with the class that embodies it, is not that the world will no longer suck, but that it will no longer suck in this particular way, that we will no longer be stuck in this particular vicious cycle, that we can somehow find a way to stop frantically grasping at rationalizations for our self-destructive fixations and do something else — in short, to jolt us into the realization that there is an alternative.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 2, 2012 at 8:57 am

Wednesday Night Links: Žižek, Affleck, and More

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‘And, As Is Usually the Case When a Real Choice Is on Offer, The Establishment Is In a Panic’

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Greece is not an exception. It is one of the main testing grounds for a new socio-economic model of potentially unlimited application: a depoliticised technocracy in which bankers and other experts are allowed to demolish democracy.

Žižek in LRB: Save us from the saviours.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Capitalism as a Very Bad Way of Organizing Communism

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Aaron suggested on Twitter the other day that David Graeber was threatening to eclipse Žižek as the go-to theorist of the revolutionary left. We’ll have to see about long-term sustainability—is there a Graeber bubble?—but in the short term at least it definitely seems possible. Today, he’s talking to Rebecca Solnit in Guernica.

Communism is the basis of all sociology and it’s the basis of cooperation. Within a capitalist corporation, someone says, “Lend me a wrench,” and someone asks, “Yeah, what do I get?” You assume that the idea of each according to his or her abilities, each according to his or her needs—in solving a problem—is actually the only thing that works. And in situations of disaster, there are often communistic notions of improvisation, where you basically exchange hierarchies and all of a sudden all those things that are luxuries that you can’t afford, you have them in an emergency. So I think we need to think of capitalism as a very bad way of organizing communism. Much of what we do is already communism, so just expand it.

But how do we get to “communism” via someone who doesn’t like Marxists and doesn’t really want to talk about Marx?

Written by gerrycanavan

May 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

Tuesday Night

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* Post-Apocalyptic Book List. Awesome.

* Slavoj Žižek: The Wire, or, the Clash of Civilisations in One Country.

* Back From Yet Another Globetrotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail And Discovers That His Bid For Tenure Has Been Denied.

* Final Polls Say Michigan Primary as Close as Possible. Rush Limbaugh says Romney stinks, Santorum’s dirty tricks are just fine. Romney says no brokered convention. Exit polls show Romney winning the rich. McCain on the GOP primary: “This is like watching a Greek tragedy.” How they did it to themselves.

* Which persona is real? Neither. Romney’s soul isn’t in the five minutes he spent as a pro-lifer in that interview, or in the two seconds he spent as a pro-choicer. It’s in the flux, the transition between the two roles. It’s in the editing of his record, the application of his makeup, the shuffling of his rationales. Romney will always be what he needs to be. Count on it.

* Wisconsin working hard to make us feel just a little bit more welcome when we arrive this summer.

* Meanwhile, Olympia Snowe has unexpectedly retired, dealing a serious blow to Republican hopes of retaking the Senate.

* Dow Jones Closes Above 13,000 For The First Time Since May 2008; Obama-Style Communism Responsible.

* NPR says it’s going to try to be “fair to the truth” rather than report the lies of both sides equally. Blasphemy!

* Colorado looks to legalize it. Vermont’s on board.

* I was very disappointed to have actually read none of the 10 Weird Science Fiction Novels That You’ve Never Read.

* “In 1994, the Air Force proposed a magic bomb designed to turn foes into gay vampires with bad breath.”

* The New Yorker has your secret history of Mormonism.

* Ze Frank has your insanely successful Kickstarter project. Almost $100,000 in 24 hours!

* Netflix takes another big hit.

One big difference between patents and other kinds of intellectual property, like copyrights and trademarks, is that patent-holders who want to sue someone for infringement don’t have to show that their patents or their products were actually copied by the defendant.

* This conspiracy theory is pretty byzantine, but I bet it could be more byzantine: Rep. Issa Says President Obama Wants To ‘Convert’ The Constitution ‘To Some South African Constitution.’

* And your ecology minute: Will the EPA’s new climate rules get killed in court? Scientists: Global Warming Played ‘Critical Role’ In Snowpocalypse Winters. NYRoB: Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong.

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