Drugs To Make You Smart.


Interesting piece from Economist:

Drugs to make you cleverer are in the test-tube.

Illustration by Claudio Munoz

THIS drug is peddled on every street corner in America, and is found in every country in the world. It is psychoactive, a stimulant and addictive. Users say that it increases alertness and focus, and reduces fatigue. But the high does not last and addicts must keep consuming it in increasing quantities.

Put this way, sipping coffee sounds more like an abomination than the world’s most accepted form of drug abuse. But centuries of familiarity have put people at their ease. In the coming years science is likely to create many novel drugs that boost memory, concentration and planning. These may well be less harmful than coffee—and will almost certainly be more useful. But will people treat them with as much tolerance? Continue reading

LOST Season 4 Finale!


Can’t do anything today but think about last night’s LOST season finale – big day for all of us philosophical geeks! How awesome was that finale? Will have to watch it again tonight (you can stream it on ABC) and write more later, for now – courtesy of Nicole Hawthorne – here’s a cool discussion going on here.

UPDATE: Instead of thinking all by myself, I basically read this website from now on, so why waste space on this humble blog?

New Michel Henry Translation due out in September


From Fordham University Press:

Material Phenomenology
Michel Henry, Translated by Scott Davidson
$24.00
ISBN: 9780823229444
Book (Paperback)
Fordham University Press
180 pages
September 2008

Requisite Pre-Publication Praise:

“A very important contribution to the foundation and the method of philosophy.”
—Adriaan T. Peperzak, Loyola University, Chicago“

One of the most accessible introductions to the thought of one of 20th-century France’s most important phenomenologists.”
—Jeffrey Kosky, Washington & Lee University

Informative Blurb: This book is Michel Henry’s most sustained investigation of Husserlian phenomenology. With painstaking detail and precision, Henry reveals the decisive methodological assumptions that led Husserlian phenomenology in the direction of Idealism. Returning to the materiality of life, Henry’s material phenomenology situates central phenomenological themes— intentionality, temporality, embodiment, and intersubjectivity—within the full concreteness of life. One of the most accessible of Henry’s books, Material Phenomenology is essential reading for those interested in the future of phenomenology or in a philosophy of life in the truest sense.

Summer Reading: American Nerd: The Story Of My People


As all of you are preparing for the “summer of George” out there in the field, I thought I’d recommend this new book that I just bought:

AMERICAN NERD: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent.

Book Hardcover
240 pages
Item Number: 056916
Publisher: Scribner/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May, 2008

Blurb: For many kids and former kids, it’s no honor to be called a nerd. The image it evokes—thick horn-rimmed glasses, pocket protector, ill-fitting pants—is one of scorn. But as Benjamin Nugent shows in American Nerd, nerdiness has a rich culture and history, worth celebrating by nerd and non-nerd alike.

In his book’s first section, “A History of the Nerd,” Nugent identifies two classes of nerds. The first, disproportionately male, is distinguished by a set of characteristics that includes being passionate about some technically sophisticated activity, avoiding confrontation, and enjoying machines more than others. The second class of nerd, equally male and female, is marked by social exclusion.

We learn that nerds have existed for at least 200 years and see how the evolving archetype of the daring and muscular American sportsman in the 19th century set the stage for its oppositethe nerd. Mary Shelley may have stereotyped nerds as sinister in the guise of Dr. Frankenstein, but Hugo Gernsbackeditor of Amazing Stories—gave nerds the sci-fi genre as a milieu to call their own. The nerd stereotype had fully crystallized by the 1960s; afterward, it became a mainstay of popular culture from Revenge of the Nerds to Steve Urkel to Elvis Costello and beyond.

The book’s next section, “Among the Nerds,” assesses various manifestations of nerdiness in American society. Nugent traces the exploits of members of the debating team at Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C. (He dubs debating a “nerdy activity.”) We assess the extent to which the hipster subculture was inspired by nerds, and discover that Asperger’s syndrome occurs “more often in regions where there are large numbers of computer programmers, which is to say regions where there are large numbers of nerds.” We also visit a science fiction convention and ponder the impact of role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. A concluding section establishes Nugent’s own credentials as a nerd.

Engagingly quirky, American Nerd offers keen insight into a set of subcultures with many unexpected dimensions.

5/31: Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Eugene Onegin (On The Radio)


This upcoming Saturday (5/31) tune in to WQXR and hear Chicago Lyric Opera‘s version of Eugene Onegin with Dmitry Hvorostovsky who sang Onegin with Fleming last year at the Met (DVD of that performance is available) – it is the same production as the Met’s so you’re not missing anything, if you saw it in HD Broadcast last year, but the singing cast is different (except, of course, for DH):

May 31: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
Sir Andrew Davis is on the podium, leading a cast featuring Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Onegin, Dina Kuznetsova as Tatyana, Frank Lopardo as Lensky, Nino Surguladze as Olga, and Vitalij Kowaljow as Prince Grenin. 1PM (Eastern Time)

Here’s a review of the production. It’s kind of annoying but it does give you some details about the opera performance. For example, this part of the review is kind of overly… Russian? Continue reading

“Diagrammatic Metaphilosophy:” Mullarkey and “Post-Continental Philosophy”


One of the central problems throughout Mullarkey’s Post-Continental Philosohy: An Outline is if everything is immanence then it would only make sense that a philosophy of immanence itself would be, well, immanent. After having read Deleuze, Henry and Badiou and showing how each has a blind spot with regards to such an understanding of immanence, error and explanation–Badiou’s pure quantity and Henry’s pure quality supplement each other but end in monism, for one example–Mullarkey turns to examine the “non-philosophy” of Francois Laruelle, a figure whom I’ve never read a word until now (and which vacillates between very interesting/novel and sheer nonsense). This chapter is far more forgiving then the three previous chapters dealing with Deleuze, Henry and Badiou. Here’s Mullarkey quoting Laruelle from an article in Angelaki, “What Can Non-Philosophy do?”:

Non-Philosophy is not an intensified reduplication of philosophy, a meta-philosophy, but rather its simplification. It does not represent a change in scale with respect to philosophy, as though the latter was maintained for smaller elements. It is the “same” structure but in a more concentrated, more focused form (138).

Somewhat reminiscent of Foucault, as Mullarkey suggests, is one of Laruelle’s central claims: all philosophy/philosophical positions are ultimately circular because they rest upon a decision through which its whole structure is given all at once. For Laruelle, all of the terminology, grammar, neologisms etc of a philosophy show themselves all at once tautologically, rather than as an argumentative series. This circularity can only be overcome vis a vis non-philosophy, a move which literally draws out the movement of philosophy all the while “bracketing” philosophy. Continue reading

CFP: ‘Way down in the hole’ – The Wire Files


darkmatter – special ‘dialogue’ issue [www.darkmatter101.org]

‘Way down in the hole’- The Wire files

call for contributions

The critically acclaimed US television drama The Wire has recently ended its fifth and final series. The Baltimore set HBO show has been celebrated for its gritty realism and complex representation of urban crime, policing and American city politics. Through the TV cop genre The Wire has weaved together issues of drugs, poverty, policing, inner-city murder, surveillance, political corruption, institutions, labour, schooling, print media, youth, sexuality and gender, with an ensemble cast of African-American and white characters and intricate plot-lines, providing one of the most compelling accounts of race, class and the city in contemporary media.

To mark this event the online journal darkmatter [www.darkmatter101.org] is putting together a special ‘dialogue’ issue exploring the aesthetics and politics of The Wire. If you are interested in making a contribution send a 300 words abstract outlining your proposed piece by 30 June 2008. If accepted, final pieces between 1500 to 4000 words to be submitted by 1 September 2008. We welcome contributions in the form of essays, reviews, interviews or creative media pieces on any aspect of the show – from detailed analysis of specific characters and episodes to the examination of The Wire in relation to the history of television, film and literary genre fiction, or as a mapping of the crisis of race, politics and the neoliberal capitalist economy in Baltimore, America and globally.

send abstracts and any enquires to ash sharma [ash.disorient@gmail.com]