Month: May 2014

Derek Gregory, ‘The Natures of War’ – Neil Smith memorial lecture | Progressive Geographies

I had missed this when Stuart linked to it the first time, but I’m glad his second link made me get to it for some Sunday morning viewing: Derek Gregory, ‘The Natures of War’ – Neil Smith memorial lecture | Progressive Geographies. (I really rely on people telling me lectures online are good, since I’d rather read a paper in half the time most papers take to read.)

On Professionalization and Greatness in Philosophy

Eric Schwitzgebel has a nice post on Mulliken’s recent argument that philosophy is, these days, too rushed because of the hyper-professionalization of departments and the tenure process. He notes his (slight) disagreement, given that it shouldn’t be too awful for someone at a research institution to produce a given number of articles a year and such. As I note in the introduction to my forthcoming book on speculative realism, I find the quick move to out-do one another in the race to the next new thing a drawback of the contemporary period. But on the other hand, the problem of the terminal associate means that this could quickly become a bad faith argument by someone forever tinkering on some never-ending project that really doesn’t exist, all while holding a spot better taken up by an up-and-coming young scholar who could really use the space to escape the turmoils of the current market. I just don’t know how one threads the needle between these two phenomena–not pushing for too many (ultimately useless) publications early, while also making sure a more-or-less permanent spot isn’t taken up by someone who will never produce. Sure Kant and Gadamer published their first great works at 57 and 60 respectively but they were also writing quite constantly lectures and so on.

Schwitzgebel makes a great point that philosophy is done through writing. Precisely. It must be done constantly and consistently–or it’s an art never realized. Yes Socrates never wrote and oral discussion is often paramount. But I often find that, as question periods at conferences make clear, one can seem quite impressive by asking the hard questions or delighting in dialogue but then one really can’t put together any sustained writing (you know the type: the one who goes for the jugular but has never published anything and seems to delight in taking down those who have). I know too well my book on time has taken longer than I’ve wanted, that I’ve escaped to tinker on ideas that end up false paths, when I could take short cuts to just getting it out there. And I know the best philosophy is one that is patient, does not just get caught up in the now, and takes time to brew. But the brewing process–to use a not-very-good metaphor–is writing itself, not avoiding it by convincing oneself (as is easy to do) that unlike those high publishing rascals, you’re just the genius biding his or her time.

‘This is not a cover image’ – bad covers of books on Foucault

This is quite funny, and it just so happens a colleague and I were talking about bad book covers this morning and how it’s so unnecessary. I can’t even think of the thought process behind some of them.

Progressive Geographies

tumblr_inline_n59vvohFao1r1ogyf A set of images of covers of books on Foucault … and their problems. I actually like the Lois McNay cover, but there are some hideous ones here…

Something to bear in mind for Foucault’s Last Decade, though I continue to like the cover image for the book Jeremy Crampton and I edited on Foucault – one of only two times in my publishing career where my/our suggestion for the cover was enthusiastically welcomed by the press (the other was The Birth of Territory). All my book covers are here.

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Clarence Thomas’s Use of Malcolm X’s language

A good piece on Clarence Thomas’s striking occasional use of black nationalist language: Clarence Thomas’s Counterrevolution — Crooked Timber. As opposed to the normal rendition of him as thinking we are post-race, Corey Robin argues that in fact he is so pessimistic about whites ever being able to see past race that it leads him into his radical strict constructionism of the constitution (it’s yes a non sequitur, but it’s a more interesting read than the read of him as intellectually lazy [the constant stuff about him not talking during Q&A] and deluded about race relations).