Thursday, December 25, 2008

Book Lust

Well, one of the many reasons of the holidays is I get lots of books.
Here is what I have gotten so far:

Ernst H. Kantorowicz - The King's Two Bodies

Maurice Merleau-Ponty - Nature: Course Notes from the Collège de France

Jacques Derrida et al. - Ghostly Demarcations

Ralph R. Acampora - Corporal Compassion: Animal Ethics and Philosophy of Body

EDIT: Theodor Adorno - Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life

Christian Marazzi - Capital and Language: From the New Economy to the War Economy


Matt Ruff - Bad Monkeys

Victor Pelevin - The Sacred Book of the Werewolf

Austin Grossman - Soon I Will Be Invincible

Warren Ellis - Crooked Little Vein

Anyway, I am sure there are more on the way. But anyone else get good books, or interesting stuff? Or just good winter break/holiday stories?

If so, post them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Biopolitics and eurocentrism

Shaviro has a post about biopolitics over at his blog that I am sure will end up generating a lot of discussion. I won't be around for it, and because I am already on vacation (seriously) this will be a short post. Yes, I think the current theory of biopolitics is particularly eurocentric in most of its major incarnations (the French and Italian ones).
I don't find myself particularly invested in the word, biopolitics, but I certainly still find it a useful trope to think through and with. But for me, the question of biopolitics is the question of the politics of humanism.

However, the eurocentrism is something we clearly need to be weary of. Deleuze and Guattari were found of talking about a becoming-minoritarian without, actually, citing very many minorities. The process and practices of decoloniality are rich, and all of us could do to study it. Would it not be helpful, for example, to bring into dialogue the question of biopolitics with Anibal Quijano's "Coloniality of Power" (which you can download here )? Or perhaps by understanding the biopolitics of racism by thinking through the giddy multitude of colonial Virgina, and the racialized slavery practices that emerged as a way of separating and splintering the giddy multitude.

But with all that said, the questions of biopolitics seem central to me. That it to say, the questions of how we manipulate and control life, the politics of humanism, the distinction between zoe and bios, the distinction between phone and logos, the ways in which we construct a global linear thought that puts disposable populations on one side and others in a global green zone on the other, all of that falls under the rubric of biopolitics for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taking a break

I'm taking a break for, well, winter break. I'm not really sure how you would know the difference, except this way I will have an excuse for my lax blogging.

I believe I have finally answered everyone's comments, if not I apologize. Also if I haven't, post and tell me. Sometimes, especially when people write thoughtful and long responses, I feel the need to give their posts thought before I respond. Then I end up writing a response in my head while commuting or washing dishes, but I don't get around to always writing those responses back down. However, comments is what makes me keep posting, and my keeping posting is, at this point in my life, rather useful. Thanks to everyone.

And now, for a quotation to leave everyone on for my break,

“One could not stand and watch very long without becoming philosophical, without beginning to deal in symbols and similes, and to hear the hog-squeal of the universe.” – Upton Sinclair, The Jungle.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Blog: Sex, Science, (De)Coloniality

There is a new blog entitled Sex, Science, (De)Coloniality.
The blog is technically a group blog of a research group that goes by the same name. Here is the about: "Sex, Science, (De)Coloniality is a research network based at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Philosophy, Interpretation and Culture at Binghamton University. We work on sorting through, unpacking, and rethinking the epistemological and ontological legacies (scars, wounds) of scientific and philosophical taxonomies and figurations of the ‘human,’ with an emphasis on the attendant political foreclosures effected by not only their histories, but their ongoing, continual maintenance."
It is mostly maintained by my partner in crime, Hilary, but I also occasionally post their, including my most recent post, "Biopolitics and Zoepolitics: On Humanism." In the future I will probably cross-post any posts there I make that would relate to my work here, but this time I won't, in encouragement to go check out the blog. So go, read and respond. We'd really like it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A question on Agamben

Has Agamben ever explained his use of the hebrew aleph as an indicator for his thresholds? And if he hasn't, do we know anyone who has written about it?

My guess is that it is related to the role of the aleph as a glottal stop in Hebrew. But I have no real clue.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Peter Singer

I recently finished teaching Peter Singer's Animal Liberation to my The Animal and the Ethical class. I hadn't read this book since I was an undergrad (not that long ago, but still, long enough), and I was amazed as I taught how much I generally liked the book. I didn't particularly care for the book when I read it last, partially because I was full of a new found poststructuralist hatred of utilitarianism, and partially because even though I was a promoter of vegetarianism, it was all about the environment and nothing about animals themselves.
Reading it now, I am really taken with it. Sure, there are large parts I disagree with or would do differently (and his short history of specisism reveals how much better at genealogy people on this side of the philosophical divide are at that sort of thing), but it's smart, politically compelling, a strong mixture of nuance and moral outrage. If you haven't read it, or haven't read in a long, long time, I suggest picking it up. I'd be more than willing to discuss it with people. I am, in general though, surprised by how much people doing "critical" animal studies often wish to immediately distance themselves from Singer. It's fashionable, but I think it would be intellectually disingenous for me to do so at this point. I find Animal Liberation no more or less problematic than I find either Derrida's The Animal that Therefore I Am or Agamben's The Open.

Speaking of Derrida, I taught the first part of The Animal ... right before I started teaching Singer, and one of the weirdest things is that I am pretty sure that in many ways Derrida's The Animal that Therefore I Am is a response to Singer's Animal Liberation. A paper still remains to be written on this "secret" dialogue, but if there is interest I might post some of the things that make me feel this way.

EDIT: I know I said it was fashionable, but before I forget, I want to note two serious thinkers who obviously don't feel the need to automatically distance themselves from Singer. Leonard Lawlor and David Wood have both at least made footnotes supporting that there is a strange relationship between Derrida's thought and Singer's.