Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Post of Links

I am planning on trying to update the look and functionality of blog in the near-ish future. I used my blogroll, originally, instead of an RSS reader. Now I use google reader, and I only add blogs to that reader, not to my blog roll. My plan is to fix that, but I was curious if anyone would have problems with just a list, rather than auto-updating blogs? I know that a while back at least a few of you used my blog roll as your reader, as well. Okay, time to the links.

Peter Gratton, who helped write that SPEP resolution (you know which one I mean) posts the full resolution and his thoughts on it. The really short version: He believes the proposal was carefully written, and is meant mostly as a push back against people who attacked SPEP and SPEP-'style' philosophy. Other interpretations requires ignoring carefully crafted and purposeful language.

Leon at After Nature has a post up on animals grieving, de-anthropocentrism, and OOO (and a follow up post here). From the first post:
I think that being decentered means that realizing that animals, too, are objects of importance - albeit a unique but in no way superior importance. [...] It seems to me that an animal's own non-human form of aesthetic communication (and for me this is both semiotic and phenomenological, to be prehended fundamentally as *feeling*) should count just as much as any other persistent semiotic communicative object in withdrawal. In other words, in matters of context, animals, then, would count equally to humans. Their manners of communication could (and perhaps should) be taken into consideration when caring for the network - that is, for objects-felt-as-subjects, unique and distinctive center points of feeling with an infinite worth and value of their own. As I've stated, empathy is crucial in feeling out a "Jamesian speculative exploration of a non-human consciousness" (HT Steven Shaviro).

Good stuff, more there. I have occasionally been accused of doing OOO and critical animal studies. And despite my interests in dialogue on such subjects, it has never been true. But Leon seems to be trying to develop some interesting stuff with ethics, animals, OOO, and communication systems theory.

Speaking of OOO, I am sure you have heard there is now a Object-Oriented Studies journal? The announcement and first cfp is here. (An awesome editorial board) Does this mean the correct term is OOS? Because that will ruin my Adventure Time jokes. First they take away my OOPs jokes, and now my Adventure Time jokes. What will be next? Oh yeah, go look at the cfp.

Here is a recent issue of Foucault Studies on the topic of Race.

Speaking of Foucault, Clare (on her other blog) has a great post up on blogging in terms of promotion. The Scientific American blog post she links to is very interesting, as well. The proper place for blogging in the academy is something I often wonder about. For example, how many of you put your blog links in author bios or CVs?

Here is an abstract for an upcoming Geology conference arguing that a Triassic Kraken arranged bones as self-portrait. I have no clue if this is serious or a joke. (h/t TCiW)

John Protevi has an interesting post on the human microphone of The Occupation and political affect. It also begins with Judith Butler's talk at OWS. So, you know, even more reason to go check it out. This reminds me of something I don't really know about for sure, but have been thinking about in terms of the idea of the infrapolitical within The Occupation (the idea of the infrapolitical comes from the work of James C. Scott, but is also heavily developed in Robin D. G. Kelley's Race Rebels). It seems that this is less about any sort of habermasian counter-public, and more about a way of radicalizing each other outside of normal overt political channels. I mean, sure, The Occupation is clearly overtly political, but a lot of the power of the various Occupied places is there developing methods of radicalizing each other through infra-political scripts and dialogues.

Ike Sharpless has an worthwhile post on labels and food politics. When you hear me talk about the need for animal advocates to move away from the economies of the pure and the polluted, the sacred and the profane, the saved and the damned, etc., this is partially the sort of thing I am talking about.

I'm putting this at the bottom because it is old, not because it isn't important. Here is an article about a year old by Richard Twine that I am just now coming across on the animal industrial complex. I don't think I need to say more, but if do, go read it.

I've been enjoying listening to The Head and the Heart. The whole album is great, but here they are performing "Down in the Valley" live.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Really? (UPDATED)

So, it's Saturday. I went to a recruitment fair. I am alternating working on changing the debate budget in response to across the board budget cuts here, and at the same time editing a chapter. Frustrated with both, I made the mistake to check my google reader.

The SPEP resolution passed. Jon Cogburn, in response to Peter, had this to say:
[...]will prove to be concretely harmful [...] to graduates of SPEP programs trying to get jobs in non SPEP dominated departments (do not underestimate how destructive this will be). [...] And now they have sacrificed job prospects of their own students.
Really? Really? (side note, I am not reading this as Professor Cogburn as advocating such a position as a good idea. I know from reading his blog is that he wouldn't adopt such a position personally).

Now, I can't say exactly what Professor Cogburn means here, but I really cannot understand it outside of some of the claims of some outrageous behavior (again, not on Professor Cogburn's part). Namely, that schools will decide to blacklist graduates from certain schools, for things these students/graduates probably had nothing to do with. Can we all slow down a bit and recognize how anti-intellectual, insulting, and plain stupid such a response would be? Can we also admit that such a reaction really only goes to further a view that a certain strand of analytic philosophers (as opposed to analytic philosophy) uses their clear and obvious institutional strength to act as childish bullies? Can we all take a deep breath, and admit all of that?

Look, most of this blew up over the summer, when I was on my honeymoon, or moving, or whatever. So, I have never followed this issue to the degree I feel I have a good sense of what is going on. But even if the Pluralist Guide is the Devil herself, a blacklisting on hiring from people not involved is absurd, more than absurd.


UPDATE: I somehow missed this post by Jon Cogburn over at the APPS. He clarifies his position, somewhat. I have very little doubt he is right that this will make people getting hired from so-called SPEP affiliated institutions at other places harder. Of course, it is already pretty hard. And despite the truth of this that anyone who engages in such blacklisting (either overtly or covertly), is simply engaging in anti-philosophical practices.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Impossibility of PIC

For reasons that I have never fully grasped, PIC seems to have always been under attack since I first joined the program. The particular reasons the program is under trouble has changed each time, but there is always some new excuse for trying to close down PIC after the program addresses these issues. Over the years we have had our funding lines (once up to 12) completely slashed, so that now PIC doesn't have a single funding line not connected to outside grants and funding. While the slashing was originally justified due the economic situation, no other program was so effected. Recently PIC had some very good news in terms of our ranking by the National Research Council (in it the program was ranked number one in terms of diversity, for example). But that hasn't helped, as the newest issue is an over a decade old filing error that suddenly threatens the entire program's continued existence.

I could go on. It is ridiculous. I will probably make further posts on this issue as I know more, and probably do some begging of letter writing and petition signing on behalf of PIC.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bull's Anti-Nietzsche is out

Malcolm Bull's Anti-Nietzsche is out (while I knew it was coming, h/t to Tim for posting it is out).

I haven't read the book yet, or even been able to find a table of contents online. However, one assumes it follows up his justly infamous article in the New Left Review, "Where is the Anti-Nietzsche?". That article itself gets fleshed out a bit more in some lectures he delivered at Berkeley, which can be found in the book Nietzsche's Negative Ecologies.

Bull's argument is explicitly pro-egalitarian, and challenges the reader to read Nietzsche is a different way. According to Bull, we normally read Nietzsche as if we are one of the victors, one of the nobles, one of the predatory animals, one of the supermen. What if we read him as if we are one of the losers? What happens when we read not as a carnivore, but as a herbivore and herd animal? What happens when we read not as one who finds the difference between humans and apes as a laughable gap, but rather one who reads as closer to the ape? What happens when we read Nietzsche not as a superman, but as a subhuman?

Anyway, I can't wait to get and read the book.

UPDATE: More over here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Communication Studies and Animal Studies: A request

As most of you know, I am mostly housed in a department of communication studies these days. Anyway, I have been looking around at animal studies within the world of communication studies, rhetoric, etc. I have found some things, but do any of you have suggestions for things for me to look into, syllabi, people who are doing work at these intersections, etc. Also, if any of you are doing the work at these intersections, let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

One more.

Right after I hit publish on my last post, I check my reader. Graham Harman has a further reflection on the discussion here. He then goes on to lay this out: "Ultimately, I think there are two kinds of pro-anthro philosophy floating around these days".

Anyway, go check it out.

One more try, Pro-anthropocentric backlash.

So, last night I made this short post on the idea of a pro-anthropocentric backlash. I think this is a perfect example of the downfalls of blogging. Articulating something off the top of your head, doing it very quickly right before bed, while I am also chatting with my wife. And so, Joshua Miller (in the comments of that post) and Mike Burns make some very good points. They are well taken. So, let me try this again.

First, the good news. When I first started working on animals, not only were there very few critical animal scholars, but in general anthropocentrism was the reigning ideology. While there were plenty of people who would say they were oppose to humanism, but it certainly was a very strongly anthropocentric humanism. But these days, every time I turn around I run into someone who is critiquing anthropocentrism. And of course, there are all sorts of different oppositions, and many of us disagree with each other. Still, I feel that the anti-anthro crowd is on a rising tide. We are forcing people to answer our positions, getting more institutional support, convincing people, etc. This is all good news.

And I would say this is also part of a movement. I said it is always cutting edge to be opposed to the cutting edge. Hipster logic, but still true. And being part of the cutting edge matters. It attracts attention, gets people talking, etc. This is not to say that people do not legitimately believe their positions.

Second, I agree with Mike Burns that there really is nothing new about this anthropocentrism (I can't speak to Meillassoux’s position, Harman's book is having to wait until winter break). However, because anthropocentrism was the default before, the anti-anthropocentrism crowd is forcing the pro-anthro crowd to articulate their position and defend their viewpoints. Hell, the very fact that I can talk about a pro-anthropocentric crowd is a change in the ground from when anthropocentrism was the default position that needed no overt adherents. So, maybe I don't mean backlash, as much as the rising pro-anthropocentric response.

My hope wasn't to create "a weird kind of pre-ad hominem", but I certainly understand why my post came across that way. Rather, I want to point out that the lay of the land is changing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The pro-anthropocentric backlash

I haven't read the interview yet (I plan to), but I want to highlight Graham Harman's post on Andrian Johnston's interview, here.

I've been telling people for the past few months that I feel the anti-anthro crowd, in all various and contradictory forms, is gaining ground within the academy. And because the cutting edge is always to be opposed to whatever the cutting edge is, I assume to see a pro-anthro backlash. I'm not blaming Johnston of any of this. I've never meet him, and everyone I know who knows him says he is a great guy and a sincere intellectual. However, I really do assume that the pro-humanism or pro-anthropocentrism conference is on the horizon. The special issue for anthropocentrism will be coming out in journals soon, In Defense of Humans or whatever will be a title forthcoming book. You know it's coming.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Post of Links

I have waited too long to do this one, which means that I will inevitably miss far more than I normally do. There is a lot of cool and interesting things that have happened since I did the last one, and if I forget to add something you did, it is not at all an indication of the importance I give to your work. With that said...

HJM has an essay up at 7S webzine on drinking.

Jason Wirth reviews Devin Shaw's book on Schelling. Hopefully one day his book will get into paperback so the rest of us will need to read it.

Over at Critical Legal Thinking is an interesting post on Sovereignty & its Ground. From the beginning: "Metaphysics was meant to have died a long time ago, to have been awarded an esteemed position in the philosophical cannon but ushered off the stage of world-history with the King’s head. But it is still to be found lurking persistently in the most public of places, hiding in the broad daylight of everyday speech and accepted ideas, in court rooms and the great offices of State."

I suggest this from Harman, and this follow up from Peter Gratton. Here is the key quotation from Harman:
The other strategy that I disagree with is the Leiteresque strategy of saying that analytic philosophy doesn’t exist, which is kind of like Darth Vader saying that “the Empire doesn’t exist.” It’s simply an attempt to deny that there is any rebellion, and to try to dismiss the rebellion as nothing but a low-quality version of something the Empire already does better. In other words, “continental philosophy done in continental departments is crap, and you need to go to study with analytic philosophers who happen to work on Heidegger, Hegel, Nietzsche, etc.”

Here are the videos of the CUNY Speculative Realism talks.

Jason Read has an interesting (rather old, now) post on Contagion.

Speaking of Jason Read, here is him doing a teach-in at Occupy Main.

Speaking of the occupation, here are some other posts.

Here is a collection of links put together by MLA. I'm not going to repeat any of those links, so go read it.

Ben Woodard has an interesting and useful post on OWS over here. Different than a lot of other stuff being said, worth reading.

Sometimes I feel I should be writing on the Occupation, but I don't have a lot new or interesting to say. Right now, the occupation is something to root for, support, participate in. And at some point, I am sure I will theorize more about it. But not right now.

I don't have anything really interesting to share about this, but here is an article that argues that Utilitarians have some sort of sociopath tendencies.

Lastly, here is your safety tip reminder of the day. Figure out some basic cloud security and do it.

Tapes 'n Tapes with Badaboom. I can't seem to stop listening.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Derrick Bell

I think we have all heard that Steve Jobs passed away yesterday, but significantly less attention has been directed to the passing away of Derrick Bell. I first ran across Bell's work when I was a freshman in high school (in debate, naturally). As a 14 year old white liberal, Bell's work was breathtaking. Damning, intriguing, controversial, and moving all at once. Long before I heard of Foucault or read a book of Marx's, I learned about the central reality of power from the Critical Race Theory file I had. I never developed more than a debater's knowledge of Bell's personal work, but he started me along a path that me read and engage materials relating to racism, domination, power, privilege, colonialism, intersectionality, multidimensionality, different forms of academic expression, etc. I am sure I am among one of the least affected by his work and life, and I still consider myself profoundly changed from an early exposure to critical race theory and the work of Derrick Bell.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Forms of Life Conference CFP

Forms of Life: Literature, Politics, Aesthetics

The Department of Comparative Literature

Binghamton University

March 2nd-3rd 2012

What comprises the matrix within which a given language has meaning? How is meaning constructed and how is it operative across social, cultural, and linguistic impasses? How is conflict and antagonism orchestrated both across and within disparate forms of life? To interrogate the emergence of sense as well as the conflicts that arise as a result of making sense, we welcome submissions that theorize the concerns outlined above with a particular eye toward their theorization as forms of life. In this way, we seek submissions that span disciplinary boundaries and topics, broadly speaking, related to literature, linguistics, politics, alternative and utopian imaginaries, aesthetics, and tactics of resistance.

The form of life, but even more broadly, the theorization of sense and meaning, have historically been thought and inhabited in and through a variety of frameworks and styles of thought. Linguistically, forms of life have been theorized as the condition of possibility for sense itself. Ecologically, thinking the operation and function of alternative forms of life offer a means of thinking against and beyond anthropocentrism. Forms of life have been theorized in relation to global biopolitical regimes and concomitant forms of resistance. The very practices of making sense and meaning come to be interrogated within and across a variety of disciplines, often at the expense of disciplining knowledge itself. The question of forms of life, but even more broadly, the question of making sense, is one around which the work of many scholars has revolved: Ludwig Wittgenstein on language games, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s work on the multitude, Giorgio Agamben on bare life, Chantal Mouffe on liberal democratic projects, Michel Foucault on biopolitics and securitization, Sylvia Federici on feminism and a politics of the commons. We also see these questions to stand in relation to Jasbir Puar’s work on terrorism and homonationalism, Deleuze and Guattari’s work on signification and assemblage, and Judith Butler’s work on the politics of gender and frames of war. While this is by no means an exhaustive theoretical list, it does hint at the depth of the theme our conference seeks to interrogate.

In keeping with the interdisciplinary emphasis of Binghamton University’s Department of Comparative Literature, we seek work that engages in the conjunction of multiple frames of epistemological inquiry, from fields including, but not limited to: critical theory, translation, postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, queer and gender studies, psychoanalytic theory, critical animal studies, ethnic studies, urban studies, science and technology studies, media and visual culture studies, continental philosophy, and historiography.

Workers, writers, and thinkers of all different disciplinary, inter-disciplinary, and non-disciplinary affiliations are welcome, whether academically affiliated or not. Submissions may be textual, performative, and/or visual. Please submit an abstract of approximately 200 words to Matt Applegate at formoflife2012@gmail.com by December 15th, 2011.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Interview with David Graeber about Occupy Wall Street

Here. What makes this interesting is first of all, it is simply a smart interview. But more importantly, I have been impressed by the ways that the Occupy Wall Street movement is beginning to garner some serious attention by more mainstream lefty policy wonkish blogs. I am curious what will ultimately come of this cross-pollination. Maybe nothing. However, I really am interested and committed to things like good policy. But I am also a radical, and I tend to find there is a natural tension between those two poles. I think that ultimately the liberal desire to turn radical movements into simple policy disagreements will probably mean that long-term the radical prospects of the Occupy Wall Street movement will be unthinkable for these blogs, but it is still interesting.