Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘speculative realism

Where Is Your Labor Day Now Links

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* Great local event alert: George Lipsitz (Black Studies, UCSB) will be speaking at UWM’S Golda Meir on Wednesday (September 9) at 4:30pm on “The Ferguson Conjuncture: Why the Humanities Matter Now.”

* One of Jaimee’s poems was on Lake Effect on Friday; her full interview on the program is coming soon.

* After meeting my class and talking a bit with them about their familiarity with Tolkien I’ve updated my syllabus with a few supplementary readings.

There’s a storm in the poetry world, this one set off by the bio in Best American Poetry 2015 of Michael Derrick Hudson, who has been publishing under the name Yi-Fen Chou. A pre-post-mortem from editor Sherman Alexie.

@AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment.

Wikipedia Editors Uncover Extortion Scam And Extensive Cybercrime Syndicate.

Iowa’s New President Is Choice Faculty Opposed. Unpopular pick. On the Suborning of Free Speech and Shared Governance at the University of Iowa.

UH shifts millions from academics to sports.

* Harvard as tax-free hedge fund.

* Speaking for the humanities.

Instead of hoping that higher education should be the solution to all of our economic problems, we should follow Cassidy’s advice and return to the notion that college is a public good and an end in itself: “Being more realistic about the role that college degrees play would help families and politicians make better choices. It could also help us appreciate the actual merits of a traditional broad-based education, often called a liberal-arts education, rather than trying to reduce everything to an economic cost-benefit analysis.” If we focus on making higher education more accessible and affordable as we enhance its quality, we can at least make sure that it does not enhance inequality and decrease social mobility.  The first step is to stop believing that college degrees produce good jobs. 

Meant to keep academics compliant, obedient, and domesticated, audit culture comes to Canadian universities at an otherwise exciting moment for research. Indigenous epistemologies and publicly engaged, participatory, and open forms of research are asserting their places in the academic landscape today. In response to rich debates about what constitutes knowledge, universities are being called to feature relationally and community oriented research outcomes. But with audit culture’s narrow benchmarks and retrograde understandings of what counts as real research, there is little breathing room in the academy for public engagement, community-based research, and Indigenous forms of knowing, since these methodologies can’t be easily captured in the audit forms. Indeed, academics are driven away from socially engaged scholarly activities in part because they are more difficult to measure, assess, and judge.

Daniels seems mildly indignant at the extent to which he has been monitored by Disney, now the home of the Star Wars franchise. As well he might. He didn’t just step off the first space-cruiser from Mos Eisley: he is 69 years old and has been playing C-3PO since before many of his current paymasters were born. “The secrecy has been beyond ludicrous,” he sighs. “For heaven’s sake, it’s a movie. When I got the script, it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn’t photocopy it. I got a hangover just reading it.” He was censured by the studio recently for mentioning on Twitter a fellow actor from The Force Awakens.

* Obamaism distilled: In Alaska, Obama warns against climate change but OKs drilling.

Scientists Calculated How Much Lembas Bread Would be Needed to Walk to Mordor.

The Privatization of Childhood: Childhood has become a period of high-stakes preparation for life in a stratified economy.

The oceans are full of bodies. The things they carry. Migrants welcome.

* TNI, on the counterfeit.

* Assessing the Legacy of That Thing That Happened After Poststructuralism.

* Jacobin on Radical America and on the Ashley Madison bots.

* The earning power of philosophy majors.

* ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.

Paid Leave for Fathers Is Good for Everybody.

The experience will be disheartening, but remember: it is you who chose to play Adjunct Sudoku.

* The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional. Someone tell Wisconsin!

Deaf Culture and Sign Language: A Reading List.

After all the media fawning over the nonprofit Teach for America, there are some veterans of the program who are now telling a different story. “Teach for America Counter-Narratives: Alumni Speak Up and Speak Out” contains 20 essays with anecdotes that seem too crazy to make up.

10,000 zines and counting: a library’s quest to save the history of fandom.

* The end of overparenting. The end of workplace friendships.

* Wake up and smell the weird.

* “Stonehenge II: Archaeologists uncover true scale of ‘superhenge’ – discovered just a few miles from famous prehistoric monument.”

* The total surveillance society, but with a human face.

* Toronto’s parking ticket jubilee.

* Alzheimer’s at 38.

* PC Comedy and Paul Revere vs. Putting Out Fire with Gasoline.

* Free your mind; start high school later in the morning.

* Course List for Rupert Giles, Master of Library Sciences Candidate, Michaelmas Term 1982.

* And of course you had me at The Alternative Universe Of Soviet Arcade Games.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 8, 2015 at 8:18 am

Wednesday Links!

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* Marquette English’s course offerings for summer and fall 2015, including my courses on Science Fiction as Genre, J.R.R. Tolkien, and American Literature after the American Century.

* Speaking of my courses, this is such an incredible answer to the last few weeks of my cultural preservation course I almost feel as though I somehow made it up.

* An amazing late comment on my Universities, Mismanagement, and Permanent Crisis post, including some great commentary on the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

* My review isn’t coming for a few months, but I really loved Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora. I can’t wait to talk to people about it. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll keep my mouth shut for now.

* If you want a vision of the future: Sweet Briar College, Citing ‘Financial Challenges,’ Will Close Its Doors in August. (More, more.Clarkson U., Union Graduate College Explore Merger. It’s Final: UNC Board of Governors Votes To Close Academic Centers. Jindal cuts higher ed by 78%.

Where has all the money gone? The decline in faculty salaries at American colleges and universities over the past 40 years.

* It’s always “the end of college.”

* “De-tenure.” Don’t worry, it’s just another regrettable drafting error!

Why we occupy: Dutch universities at the crossroads.

The academic-fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has focused largely on how fake undergraduate classes helped athletes maintain their eligibility to compete. In an article in The News & Observer over the weekend, a former UNC official says athletics officials also sometimes asked the university’s graduate school to bend the rules to admit athletes in order to extend their eligibility.

* This is the best Dean of Eureka Moments post yet. Maybe literally the best possible.

* College admissions and former inmates.

* Nine out of ten startups fail, which is why every institution in society should be converted to the startup model immediately.

The Search for a Useable Past: An Interview with Paul Buhle on Radical America.

* The politicization of even the idea of knowledge.

Michigan Frat’s 48-Hour Rager Wrecks Resort, Causes $430,000 in Damages.

* Le Guin vs. Ishiguo: “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

* The United States of Megadrought: If you think that California is dry now, wait till the 2050s.

US sea level north of New York City ‘jumped by 128mm.’

A Major Surge in Atmospheric Warming Is Probably Coming in the Next Five Years.

* Vox considers the end of American democracy: 1, 2.

* Against the West Wing.

* Against “learning styles.”

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules. Hillary Clinton’s personal email account looks bad now. But it was even worse at the time.

* …whose frown / And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command / Tell that its sculptor well those passions read / Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things…

Why aren’t the seven witnesses to Dendinger’s nonexistent assault on Cassard already facing felony charges? Why are all but one of the cops who filed false reports still wearing badges and collecting paychecks? Why aren’t the attorneys who filed false reports facing disbarment? Dendinger’s prosecutors both filed false reports, then prosecuted Dendinger based on the reports they knew were false. They should be looking for new careers — after they get out of jail.

When A Newspaper Gave Blade Runner‘s Replicant Test To Mayor Candidates.

* “An ode to Juiceboxxx, a 27-year-old rapper from Milwaukee no one’s ever heard of.”

* “When Your Father Is the BTK Serial Killer, Forgiveness Is Not Tidy.”

Scott Walker Wants To Stop Funding Renewable Energy Research Center. Of course he does.

Defense Bill Passes, Giving Sacred Native American Sites To Mining Company.

The forgotten masterpieces of African modernism.

Man gets life in prison for selling $20 worth of weed to undercover cop.

* Justice department determines Ferguson is a terrible place.

* Wrong way Obama?

* The Americans and austerity.

* Two ways of looking at income inequality.

* How a French insurer wrote the worst contract in the world and sold it to thousands of clients.

* Teach students about consent in high school.

Vermont Town May Allow 16- And 17-Year-Olds To Vote In Local Elections.

* Crunching the numbers: How Long Can A Spinoff Like ‘Better Call Saul’ Last?

What Marvel Characters End Up Being Called In Other Languages.

Panpsychism’s Labyrinth.

* Careers of the future: professional dumpster diver.

* It’s where those parallel lives diverge, though, that might provide a lasting new insight. Beginning on the day in 1968 when Jack was drafted and Jeff was not, Jack suffered a series of shifts and setbacks that his brother managed to avoid: two years serving stateside in the military, an early marriage, two children in quick succession, a difficult divorce, and finally, in the biggest blow of all, the sudden death of his teenage son. After these key divergences in their lives, Jack went on to develop not only Parkinson’s but two other diseases that Jeff was spared, glaucoma and prostate cancer. The twins place great stock in these divergences, believing they might explain their medical trajectories ever since. Scientists are trying to figure out whether they could be right.

* The globalist sublime.

Mars One colonists better off eating frozen pizza than local veggies.

Local Lab In Berkeley Accidentally Discovers Solution To Fix Color Blindness.

Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.

How the MFA Glut Is a Disservice to Students, Teachers, and Writers.

But there’s another breed of MFA program out there, proliferating constantly. These programs have nearly 100% admittance rates, fund zero percent of their students, collect outrageously high tuition, and often pay their instructors very little. And because there are so many people (rightly or wrongly) clamoring for MFAs, they have no incentive for standards, either—no incentive to reject any person, no matter how badly they write. One person’s money is as green as the next, after all. If you’ve received an undergraduate degree and can type on a computer, you’re in.

10-Year-Old Math Genius Studying for University Degree.

* The Last Man on Earth really shouldn’t work. And yet…

Officials at Arizona State University probably weren’t expecting the full Stormfront treatment when its English department advertised a spring semester class exploring the “problem of whiteness.”

No shades of grey in teaching relationships.

* Pendulum keeps swinging: Now Americans Should Drink Much More Coffee.

* But not Keurig.

* It’s been so long so I posted one of these I haven’t even linked to anything about the dress yet.

In 1971, William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook, a guide to making bombs and drugs at home. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.

* Why Americans Don’t Care About Prison Rape.

Robear: the bear-shaped nursing robot who’ll look after you when you get old. What could possibly go wrong?

* The invention of blue.

In the 1800s, Courts Tried to Enforce Partnerships With Dolphins.

* The 16 Strangest Dragons In Dungeons & Dragons.

* Mark your everythings: Community comes back March 17.

* First the gorilla who punched the photographer, now this.

* Wes Anderson’s X-Men.

* Abra kazam.

* LLAP.

* And the arc of history is long, but: North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Thursday Night Bummerwatch

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* 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.

Inequality, MOOCs and The Predator Elite.

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.

A Dangerous Supplement: Speculative Realism, Academic Blogging, and the Future of Philosophy.

Silicon Valley’s Awful Race and Gender Problem in 3 Mind-Blowing Charts.

* And MetaFilter goes inside World War Z, a film “already being called the biggest flop in film history.” So at least there’s that.

The Philosophy Beat

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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.”

The Emperor Has No Objects – 2

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Even if you don’t care about all that you may get a kick out of the Speculative Realism blog generator. The best I got was “Dwindling Motifs.”

Written by gerrycanavan

January 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

The Emperor Has No Objects

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The last time I mentioned speculative realism on this blog I promised to do some more serious reading and thinking it about as a penance for undue glibness. And in fact I’m doing this; not only am I reading through The Speculative Turn with some similarly skeptical Duke folks, I’m planning on attending the local Speculative Aesthetics working group with some people who are a bit more into it.

More on that later, maybe. In the meantime I think this set of posts [1, 2, 3] from Chris Vitale is something like an emperor-has-no-clothes moment for OOO, both in terms of its proposed philosophical content as well as its general tone and style of argument. At the very least it suggests important philosophical questions for which OOOists need (and aren’t really providing) adequate answers, among them the self-defeatingly undefined definition of what actually constitutes an “object”:

1) what determines when/if an object changes into another (genesis, dissolution, transformation)? To say ‘it just happens’ doesn’t explain how. What is the process of change? Or do new objects emerge as if from a void, and the transition is ineffable, magical, etc? If not, why not? And where does this change come from? And if from inside objects, how then does ‘the new’ mediate what is between objects?

2) It seems that whenever two entities link, they are an object. But what determines the boundaries of objects, or their difference from things like process or flow? Why are objects, and jumps and distinctions between them superior to flow/process which congeal/uncongeal into objects?

3) How do we determine what to call can object? If I say ‘my blue coffee mug’ over there, is this a shorthand for ‘that which appears to me as a blue coffee mug, but may in reality be different, to the point of even not ‘really’ being even a unified thing’? This is not asking whether or not qualities may be different, but whether the unity of what appears as a single object may be something which differs depending on one’s relation to what is. Yes, there are infinite objects, nested in each other, one of which is the blue coffee mug, and this is split into phenomenal/real objects. But are the boundaries and distinctions between objects flexible? Is the blue coffee mug an object, but the blue coffee mug and one oxygen molecule next to it not (or a less important or real object somehow?) Is the blue coffee mug and micky mouse an object? The critique articulated by process-relation folks is that OOO imports human seeming categories into ontology, bypassing questions of episemtology, while OOO says it has shifted the terrain. How is this shift accomplished? Where do the essences which anchor qualities come from? Is the answer any better than those given by Kant/Husserl, and how might OOO get beyond the critique leveled against ding-an-sich/eidos for these figures?

and

Where I differ is that while I think we can say that something exists in the vicinity of the blue mug, we shouldn’t say ‘the blue mug exists,’ at least not without a ton of qualifiers. For as soon as we say the blue mug exists, and call it the blue mug, we have qualified this existence with blueness, mugness, even a location in space and time, no matter how extended or fuzzy. And as soon as we do this, we move beyond ontology (sheer being, no?), and into the realm of qualities like blueness, mugness, etc. Now, aren’t these epistemological issues? There’s no denying the wavelengths emited by photons that bounce off the mug are in what humans call the blue spectrum. But this does not make the mug ‘blue’ to anyone but a human – and a human using the English language, for that matter.

Now, if you said ‘that being, which this human describes as blue’, I’ve got no issue. But as soon as you say the EXISTENCE of the blue mug, well, the blue mug AS SUCH does not exist anywhere except for those who have categories like blueness and mugness. Surely there’s SOMETHING there. But to call it a blue mug, and to talk about the ontology of the blue mug, AS blue mug, well, unless you are talking about the ontology of the IDEA of the blue mug, rather than the blue mug as such, well, then you’re taking over epistemology in the name of ontology, or, as I’ve said before, importing human categories into the realm of ontology.

If you follow Vitale’s links you can find some opening answers to some of these issues, though none that really satisfy the objection, as well as some counter-critique about the tone and method of OOO critics themselves…

Written by gerrycanavan

January 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Links for the Day after Christmas

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* I consider myself extremely skeptical about the overall theoretical usefulness of object-oriented ontology (see Vu’s excellent Polygraph review for a primer)—frankly I consider claims like these to be so preposterous as to be self-refuting—but nonetheless I’ve downloaded the PDF for new anthology The Speculative Turn at the terrible risk of someday having to writing a conversion essay.

* Hippeism: pray for a cure.

* They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They? Informative, almost-SFW essay via this AskMe thread about the violence and ugliness of contemporary pornography.

* Biden says gay marriage is inevitable, and Obama is teasing that he may even soon stop pretending that he opposes it. Progress!

* Where Obama failed: Nearly One In Nine Federal Judgeships Are Now Vacant.

* Republicans say they just won’t bend on the DREAM ACT. Obama’s eleven-dimensional strategy of aggressive deportation hasn’t brought them around at all; maybe it’s time to give it up.

* UNC plans to take the fight to grade inflation. There’s a pretty dramatic collective action problem here; more informative transcripts would disadvantage UNC’s own students while doing little or nothing to combat any larger nationwide trends.

The Scott Pilgrim Alternate Ending That Was Never Shot. The DVD also has the surprising original ending in which Scott goes back to Knives after all. I’m shocked this was really considered, much less lasted long enough to actually be shot.

* You had me at “Michelangelo painted a UFO.”

* And, at long last, the death panels are real.