Friday, February 25, 2011

Awesome conference

I am currently at the SGS conference, and it, simply put, amazing. I am sure I will have more later. Two weird/cool things: Tim flew into the same airport on the same day I did. Also, someone asked about OOO during the very first q&a period.

More later.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Post of Links

Well, my browser isn't functioning anymore due to the numbers of tabs I have open.

First, Peter talks to a debater about Continental philosophy in policy debate (for you debaters out there, that means they talked about kritiks). I plan to respond later, but hey, debate people, go read. Peter is curious how an organization like SPEP might be able to help encourage or help understanding such philosophy. If you can think of concrete and feasible suggestions, let him know. Make sure to read the comments, where Cameron Kunzelman weighs in with some discussion of how debate utilizes critical literature.

Prodigies and Monsters has been kicking so much ass recently. First up, I cannot over suggest this post on feminist autonomists. Honestly, go over there now. Here is a take away line: "This is, perhaps, just a long way of saying I’m entirely on board when James and Dalla Costa establish as a proper autonomist feminist task the refusal of the night shift so folks can make love." Also, check out this post on the It Gets Better. Here is a paper on Howard Zinn. And lastly, they have their own post of links. They make me feel better for slacking off, because wow, just go read them.

Thursday morning I am flying out to the Sex, Gender, Species conference. Eric has a post up with a preview of his paper that he is presenting there. I look forward to this whole conference.

Speaking of Judith Butler, check out this post by Tim Morton on Butler and OOO. Maybe that isn't your thing for some strange reason. BUT! Tim Morton also links to an article on Queer Ecology. Don't miss that.

In what I can only call important news, it seems that we are beginning to get some data on if pro-animal welfare campaigns actually decreases meat consumption. The answer seems to be yes, they do (h/t Now, unlike the people I link to, I don't think this is a full response to Gary Francione's arguments. There are two important arguments this doesn't respond to: (a) Are people decreasing animal products in general, or just meat? In other words, are they decreasing eating animals, but increasing dairy and eggs? (b) Are these reforms actually more effective than an abolitionist stance? That these reforms are effective doesn't actually answer back issues of comparative effectiveness.
With that said, I think the pro-animal welfare position, with hopes of leading to an abolitionist society, is gaining ground. More data, please!

Speaking of data, here is a test that indicates that monkeys display self-doubt, just like humans. (h/t Graham's blog). The article is interesting, and I suggest reading it. Tests like these are always weird. The more the we prove animals have capacities we think were unique to us, the more I feel even non-violent tests like this one are, at best, creepy. I am thinking of J.M. Coetzee's depiction of primate testing in The Lives of Animals.

Here is an interesting post on how legal scholarship turned toward Carl Schmitt and Agamben following 9/11 (h/t Craig).

Lastly, Levi lets the cat out of the bag: SR has been nothing more than a publicity stunt. Expect to be able to buy a blue coffee mug with an OOO logo in a store near you. (Actually, that is kinda a cool idea. Do I see a cafepress shop in the near future?).

I have a lot of videos to try and choose from this week. But how could I post anything besides the new Radiohead video? (btw, I expect Adam Kotsko to post some funny and insightful take on this video any day now. He is on notice).

They're not errors, they're invitations

You might think I make a lot of errors in my posts. Typos, misspellings, grammatical snafus, etc. You might think I should rethink my belief in hitting the publish post button before any editing on a post. But as Peter Gratton proves-- they're not errors, they're invitations.

And yes, that is exactly what I meant to say. Even the metaphysically confusing parts of the first person actions I might not have done. I meant to say all of it.

Marx, Machines, New Materialisms

Tim Morton has a recent post on marxism and new materialism (that jives well with Levi's post on OOO and humanism).

Tim's post, like many of his, is a concentrated bundle of ideas and connections. In this case, I both deeply agree with parts of it, and also disagree with others.

(1) Marx on machines is pretty essential for those trying to think through non-humanist understanding of relations. Switches from one mode of production to another mode of production comes not through some sort of economism, but rather as a way in which material processes are both shaped and simultaneously shaped by humans. In other words, humans are one part in the creation of history (in Marx a particularly privileged part still, but maybe not a necessarily privileged part), but so are tools, technology, machines, and the inorganic body of nature (sometimes in Marx's writing the natural world seems passive and inert, a mere resource to be used by humans. At other times nature is depicted as a fully engaged process and producer itself, one which is fully enmeshed with the artificial world. In other words, in some nature exists, in others we have a view of ecology).

(2) This is why Marx claims, in a footnote in Capital, that "Technology reveals the active relation of man to nature, the direct process of the production of his life, and thereby it also lays bare the process of the production of the social relations of his life, and the mental conceptions that flow from those relations". This is one my agreements with Tim, who writes:
Marx says that when you have enough machines, in particular machines operated by other machines and making machines, you get a jump from a quantitative increase in machinery into the realm of the qualitative, into fully fledged industrial capitalism. Some kind of jump occurs.
Yes, and all of that is important. This new type of capitalism emerges because we have a new mode of production. Not just a production of economics and things, but an entirely new mode or relation, a new mode of life and the reproduction of life in the full ecological understanding of all of that. This is why it is important to grasp a history of these machines. Or at Marx clarifies earlier in the footnote I cited: "A critical history of technology would show how little of the inventions of the eighteenth century are the world of a single individual. As yet such a book does not exist. Darwin has directed attention to the history of natural technology, i.e. the formation of the organs of plants and animals, which serve as the instruments of production for sustaining their life. Does not the history of the productive organs of man in society, of organs that are the material basis of every particular organization of society, deserve equal attention?"

(3) For Marx, individualism in humanism has been displaced, but a certain human causation continues, one he doesn't seem entirely willing to break free of. However, at the same time his writing also freely identifies non-human actants as being full actors. For 'the machine' reaches a certain point where it no longer is run by humans, but rather uses humans as appendages to the machine. Thus, in my dissertation, I explore how we become appendages to the machine. How the birth of a disciplinary subjectivity arises within the assembly line (understood both technologically and managerially) of the Chicago meat-packers. And how a whole complex of forces bring us to that moment (barbed wire fences, monopoly capital, railroads, refrigerator cars, mono-culture agriculture, specially breed animals, etc.). Marx's view of modes of production is absolutely essential for me to think all of this. At the same time, it is also essential that accelerate Marx's posthumanist tendencies, rather than his humanist ones.

(4) Time mentions that it is surprising that we don't have more Marxists engaging with speculative realism and new materialisms, but I think he is doubly incorrect in this part. First, I think we have a lot of Marxists dealing within those terrains, but not particularly older and more established Marxists (though Levi might be the only OOO Marxist out there). Second, it isn't that surprising that so many Marxists would be turned off when so many of those people engaging in speculative realism and new materialism seem specifically anti-Marxist (like Ian's position, Tim's own recent aside about how he isn't a Marxist, Delanda's strong rejection of Marxism, etc). But I don't think Tim really means Marxists in general here, he probably has certain Marxists in mind.

In the end, I think we will probably see increasingly larger number of Marxists engaging new materialisms, and new materialists and realists of all stripes also engaging Marxism. Or at least that is how all of this has always worked within my head.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tim Morton's interview

Normally I would save this for another post of links, but the interview was too delightful and interesting of a read. John Protevi is doing great work in these interviews, and Tim is a wonderfully disinhibited and thoughtful subject.

A take away point for people who read this blog:

I remember one meal—I was a heavy vegetarian at the time, and I was invited to do an interview, which included a meal at High Table. All these Oxford types sitting there telling me how ridiculous vegetarianism is. And I write about it, and I am one! It was like being eviscerated by intelligent insects. They are in eternal attack mode. In the USA I realized that some humans had endoskeletons and soft skin, as it were. Now when I go back I feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians—“Why are you stinging me? That's really annoying! Do you think you're being clever? What is that?” Schivelbusch was important but it was also a lot of Deleuze and Guattari combined with Braudel. When you look at capitalism as forces of deterritorialization and reterritorialization you start to see food not simply as symbolic or “meaningful” or whatever but as an actual material substance that circulates around. I was also fascinated by Žižek as he had just produced The Sublime Object of Ideology, and it seemed to me that food directly was ideology. In other words, a McDonalds Happy Meal doesn't signify comfort: it is comfort, directly. “The Truth Is Out There.” This was very clear to me and very boring for everyone else, who wanted food to fill the gap left by the “death of the Author.” University of California Press flat refused to publish my stuff because it had philosophy in it—that was their actual stated reason! They wanted to replace The Fascinating Story of Charles Dickens with The Fascinating Story of the Potato. Kind of like that movie The Red Violin. After a while I stopped writing about food because I just ran into a lot of walls with my demystification approach. Instead, I started writing about ecology. Vegetarianism is obviously about ecology and all food involves thinking about ecological stuff. That was woven quite explicitly into the first projects.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Post of Links

First up, The Time of Revolution and the Revolution of Time has an official conference blog. Not much there yet, but check it out.

Graham Harman announces a new Speculative Realism book series. Check his blog out for the details. His book on Meillassoux is set to be the first book of the series, and I am pretty excited for it. Speaking of first books, Levi's The Democracy of Objects is soon to be released by the OHP's New Metaphysics series. What is the difference between those two series, you ask? Well, Graham has the distinction as well.

Speaking of books I am totally psyched to read when they come out, Stuart Elden has a final draft of the The Birth of Territory.

Do you have any talented philosophical undergraduated from under represented groups? Well, encourage them to apply to the PISKI summer program. (h/t Feminist Philosophers)

Richard Twine & co recently set up a list of works dealing with Foucault & Animals. While not entirely complete, it is still remarkably thorough. Eric says he wants to do the same with Derrida at some point. I feel that will be a much bigger job.

Speaking of Eric and Foucault, he has an essay of some of his recent work with Foucault. Check it out.

In a similar vein, you have to read MLA's post on Thinking through Sovereignty and Governmentality.

A new journal of critical history, entitled History of the Present, has details up for potential submitters. It seems really exciting. (h/t Elden)

I have been on a huge glam rock kick since I posted my last video of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. So, here is Butch Walker performing "Ladies and Gentlemen... The Let Go Out Tonites!"
It's live, because that is the only way to listen to Butch Walker:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not sure if I mentioned this before, but...

... I have ridiculously amazing colleagues. If any of you follow this blog, thank you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Post of Links

Hey, my birthday is coming up this Saturday. I will be at GA Tech coaching and judging for the debate team. On to the links:

HJM of Prodigies & Monsters has this powerful and moving post on the need for those of us who consider ourselves radical thinkers to also be committed to trans/gender non-conforming rights. I cannot agree more. Few things feel me with as much disgust as radical thinkers who reject such concern as Bourgeois multiculturalism. Also, those thinkers who simply ignore such people are in some ways no better. After summarizing some of the shocking conditions for existence that trans people deal with, HJM concludes:
In short: you can’t just not write about this, folks, even if you don’t ‘do’ queer and/or feminist theory, no matter how much you love the Situationists, no matter what your dissertation is on or what your next article is about, whatever courses you’ve been assigned this semester. If you don’t feel you have whatever knowledge-base you need to think about resistance and the amelioration of certain of these modes of thoroughly naturalized and normalized brutalities, better ask somebody.

Fuck yes.

Speaking of the rights of transgendered, there is both good and bad news out of Canada, both of which come out of Feminist Philosophers. The good news is that the lower house in the Canadian parliament passed legislation protecting trans people. The bad news is that the legislation seems in danger in the upper house.

Tim Morton and Zachery Price have been discussing OOO and politics. Morton's take home point is in favor of anarchism. Tim is here, and Zachery's follow up is here.

Also, Adam Kotsko and Tim have been discussing OOO and negative theology (in relationship to Derrida and Hagglund's work on Derrida). Adam is here. Tim is here, and here, and here. Make sure to read the comments as well, to get the full discussion.

Also, I know this getting Tim heavy, but he has some discussion on internet types and women in blogging over at Arcade. Since my blog has started to attract its own trolls, I've been thinking a bit more on this issue. I don't have much to say. I don't publish troll comments, and yet trolls keep making them knowing this. Turning their comments into a one-way message to me. It is a weird impulse. One of my debaters referred to as pure art. Not sure if I agree with that, but libidinal economy that certain trolls engage in is one I do not understand. (I will, I presume, get trolled on this post having brought this up. It will continue to amuse and mystify me).

Over at APPS is a wonderful and insightful interview with Cynthia Willett. Check this out, as well:
Now I am working on how the same basis for sociality in the preverbal eros between infants and their caregivers also accounts for ethical relations across species.

Totally awesome, I cannot wait.

Lastly, you have to read this amazing polemic against foodies. Not only is there the enjoyment one gets from reading any good polemic, but it is also very insightful. Some of the quotations are long, but here is a short one that summarizes both joys:
That’s right: guests have a greater obligation to please their host—and passersby to please a vendor—than vice versa. Is there any civilized value that foodies cannot turn on its head?

It is one of the truths of the foodie world that guests are obligated to take on the role of host, and thus hospitality is turned on its head. Maybe so, maybe so. But it is certainly a philosophical insight.

I recently finished teaching Plato's Symposium to my Intro to Philosophy class. I should have thought through how a book that deals with homoeroticism and pederasty might cause a bit of a stir in my Baptist university located in the middle of GA. But, I didn't, really. Anyway, I am going to be showing them Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and I cannot wait for that discussion. In honor of that, here is Hedwig and Angry Inch's The Origin of Love. If you haven't seen the movie/play and are curious how it relates to the Symposium, this is one of the overt parts. You have to see it if you teach this work by Plato. Or, if you like awesome movies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Post of Links

The problem about not doing updates very often, is that I lose a lot for my Post of Links. So, feel free to promote links in the comments.

There is a new blog to add to your readers: Lines of Fracture. Among academic blogging, this blog is somewhat unique. It is a group blog composed primarily of debaters, and features many high schoolers and undergraduates engaging heavily with continental philosophy and radical politics. You should check it out.

Graham Harman has been an amazing resource on what is going on in Egypt. So, check out his blog regularly.

Mark Bittman has given up his old column as The Minimalist, and is now focusing full time on food politics. Here is his first column. And here is his blog post reflecting on reactions to that shift.

Many of you have read here and elsewhere arguments that violence towards other animals leads to violence against other humans. Or at least there are connections. In ways that can only be described as weird, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) has combined those thoughts with a thorough-going xenophobia. Check out this Mother Jones article.

Bruno Latour was interviewed in The Hindu. Highly worth reading. (h/t Anthem).

This posts song is from Amanda Palmer, remixed by Peaches and the Young Punx. If that wasn't warning enough, this video might be what they call not safe for work (though I watched it at work, so who knows). Also, Amanda Palmer and Peaches should let you know how awesome this video is. Here is the "Map of Tasmania".

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RIP Edouard Glissant

News on his death (in French, h/t John Protevi).

Glissant was an amazing writer and thinker. I have many times suggested a larger readership for his book, Poetics of Relations. "Death is the outcome of the opacities, and this is why the idea of death never leaves us." (p. 194)