Month: October 2009

He’s not angry…

That’s just the way he is. Harman writes about the Slate article on Arendt:
All males eventually figure out from experience not to shave while angry, but it’s also probably a good idea never to write an article while angry. The latest proof of that comes from RON ROSENBAUM’S DYSPEPTICALLY WRITTEN SLATE ARTICLE on Arendt and Heidegger.
i’ll post links later when I have time, but Rosenbaum’s written stuff like this before. The hyperbole of this—that Arendt is a self-hating Jew—while chastising Heidegger as a Nazi (who knew?!) is horrendous, but I’m afraid we’ll see follow-up like-minded pieces in other places to this effect. And I’ll say it: banality of evil, though I thought it was overused by her readers, is quite defendable if you actually read the text. The last chapter of Eichmann is quite a nice bit of thinking of what evil and ethical judgment means in the nihilistic state of exception that was Germany. Her point, in case Rosenbaum cares, was less about paper shuffling than about trying to think evil beyond the stain on the soul, theological concepts derivative from Augustine. in other words: banal as not other-worldly. We can begin the conversation from there about how far her work takes us, but at the least let’s not try to say “banal” as simply meaning “wow, that Eichmann was just a paper pusher and so not all that bad.” But I’m not saying things none of us know, but I just see that coming down the pike are these weird “revisionary” articles on Arendt in the kind we’re now seeing on Heidegger (again). God, who wants to defend Heidegger on this count? But these people will drive you to defend him since someone has to speak up when they say he’s obviously the worst philosopher and an occultist. Heck, it even drove Brian Leiter to defend Heidegger on his website a few days ago.

Ok, now off to chair a session on Rancière here at SPEP. Great conversations, fyi, with peeps like Hägglund, Johnston, and others the last couple of days…

Lambert On Shaviro

Here’s the opening:

I often enjoy those books of philosophy that begin like good science fiction. In this vein, Steven Shaviro’s Without Criteria begins: “I imagine a world in which Whitehead takes the place of Heidegger.” In other words, he poses the question, “What if Whitehead, instead of Heidegger, had set the agenda for postmodern thought?” (ix). Starting from this “philosophical fantasy”, Shaviro sets out to describe a possible world without Heidegger, which I take to be a sort of Leibnizian wager that is bound up with the “turn to Whitehead” today. Accordingly, “a world in which Whitehead takes the place of Heidegger” must be understood as a divergence from the image of thought that belongs to a tradition of post-Kantian critical philosophy, the recurrent features of which have been an obsessive concern over the limits of representation and the critique of subjectivity, and by an allergic reaction to modern science and technology. The main objective of this tradition has been the exposure of the limits of all representational systems by a regressive procedure of critical reason that leads them into a state of crisis as an anticipatory step to their radical reconstruction; the second objective is the laying bare of all naïve and subjectivist constructions of identity, which leads to the production of difference introduced from the critical perspective of “otherness” (as in the case, most recently, in the critical perspectives surrounding the animal and the post-human).

Editor, Do Your Worst

Which is your best. I’ve gone through a few article revisions lately with suggestions from editors, and a couple of them have just been too darned polite about every change. I know from my editing experience that there are people out there that you’ll send “suggested changes” to and they take it as affront close to revising the 10 commandments. (We’ll take up those changes another time.)

But there’s just no need to be this way, unless I am editing someone whom I don’t know at all and fear might be touchy. Basically, I have no such feelings when someone is editing me. I’ve had extra words (an “a” and then a “the”) and people still politely ask to remove it. And what is I said, no, I like my semantic errors just fine! When I edit something, I generally will use Word’s track changes feature, explain the bigger changes, and then send it back to the author. I don’t ask to take out small grammatical errors (I’m not referring to the occasions in which one letter or word would actually make a huge difference).

So, please do me your worst, my kind editorial friends. Freelancer Extraordinaire, is a ruthless editor, which she picked up from me editing her way back when. It’s doing me a favor and rather than complain, I owe a thank you note, not an nasty email. I can always suggest other changes, but you’re helping me. And for the people who think their grammatical errors or run-on sentences are actually meaningful interventions in the fascistic language we call English—well, I guess be very nice to them since they’ll just pull the piece, and that sucks having a book or a journal suddenly with a hole in it. But I won’t do that. Unless I’m writing the 10 commandments.

Beyond Belief

I’ve been having somewhat of a tough time teaching Zizek in some systematic way. Let’s face it, his texts tend to move from one topic to another really quickly and my students, whom I thought could use that to brush past parts they didn’t understand to parts they do, found this somewhat confusing. But I think somewhere in here, I found everything I wanted to say about Zizek, in particular this Scientologist representative’s whole framing of what cannot be questioned:

By the way, this video is worth watching just simply for the cataclysmic juxtaposition of local sports cheese puffery and discussion of intergalactic lord Xanadu (or whatever) from Scientology.

Call For Papers

This looks to be good. Alas, I used up quite a bit of funds to go to the last objects conference. I’ll have to talk to Freelancer Extraordinaire and see what I can do since it does look good:

Real Objects or Material Subjects? A Conference on Continental Metaphysics

March 27th and 28th 2009, University of Dundee, Scotland

Keynote Speakers: Graham Harman (American University, Cairo) and Adrian Johnston (University of New Mexico)

The aim of this conference is to stage a debate between two dominant strands of contemporary continental thought, as represented by the object-oriented realism of Graham Harman, and by the transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity recently proposed by Adrian Johnston.

Along with the debate between Harman and Johnston, we hope to attract papers from both advanced graduate students and early career researchers on related topics.

Suggested topics include:
realism v. materialism, the contemporary relevance of ‘critical realism’, materialist theories of subjectivity, object oriented ontologies, the place of the political in the realism/materialism debate, the persistence of dialectical materialism, recent continental appropriations of eliminative materialism, realism and materialism in contemporary Anglophone philosophy, continental naturalism, the role of the physical sciences in contemporary philosophical materialism, the persistence of religious themes in recent materialist philosophy, the continued importance (or lack thereof) of thinking the ontological in conjunction with the political.

Abstracts of no more than 400 words should be submitted to by January 15th, 2010.

Do not hesitate to contact the organizers with any questions.