Old Russian To New Mexico: Travelogue?

As I am looking at some photos of places to visit while on a trip to Santa Fe, I thought maybe I’ll take my blogging on the road, but then after I wrote the subject-line the idea lost its appeal, so here are some photos of this strange place called New Mexico (reminds me of Mr. Burns’ exclamation: “Hold on there, pally! There’s New Mexico?”) that I’m looking forward to seeing: Continue reading

The State of Literary Theory (The Chronicle Review Links)

Stopped by the department to pick up my mail and saw a large picture of Derrida looking at me from The Chronicle of Higher Education bin, and looking quite disapprovingly too – “What did I do?” I thought immediately and picked up an oldish issue of The Chronicle Review (June 13)- this is an old conversation that I think already exhausted itself, but the three essays that constitute the section “The State of Literary Theory” are available online, so I thought I’d point them out (gathered all nicely together):

Jeffrey J. Williams, Why Today’s Publishing World Is Reprising the Past.

Francois Cusset, French Theory’s American Adventures.

Richard Wolin, America’s Tolerance for French Radicalism.

Wolin’s essay has a nice tone to it:

What accounts for French theory’s warmer reception in America? Owing to the dearth of our own innate intellectual traditions, Americans are, as is well known, inveterate borrowers of ideas from abroad. As Tocqueville observed: “America is one of the countries in the world where philosophy is least studied. … [The Americans[‘]] social condition deters them from speculative studies.” Poststructuralism’s arrival on American shores occurred at a propitious juncture: the moment when our own indigenous Enlightenment value system had been discredited as a result of its implication in the Vietnam War.

French politics has oscillated between moments of frenzied revolutionary upheaval and periods of iron-fisted autocracy. Conversely, since America’s inception as a nation some 230 years ago, a very different political culture has held sway: the culture of political liberalism. Whether one seeks to explain that by America’s lack of a feudal past (as did Werner Sombart in his classic study, Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?) or by the egalitarian traditions of New England local democracy, the results are the same: In comparison with Europe, our political extremes have rarely been too extreme; they have never wandered very far from what the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once called the “vital center.”

Reading Marx’s Capital with David Harvey

Via Larval Subjects (via Rough Theory) – a series of lectures on Marx’s Capital by David Harvey is found here. This is useful as I’m sure despite the fact that many would claim to have read it, it’s probably not true – it’s certainly not true for me as I’ve read it here and there, but never really as a whole book but I certainly claimed to have read it, to behave otherwise would be so… unprofessional – here, I said it…

Mozart’s Zaide Online (production by Peter Sellars)

You can watch the whole opera online for free (filmed on June 27th at the Aix-en-Provence Festival) at Medici.TV and there’s more interesting stuff there from Aspen Festival as well.

  • Conductor Louis Langrée
  • Stage director Peter Sellars
  • Stage Design Georges Tsypin
  • Costumes Gabriel Berry
  • Lighting James F Ingalls

  • Zaide Ekaterina Lekhina
  • Gomatz Sean Panikkar
  • Allazim Alfred Walker
  • Sultan Soliman Russell Thomas
  • Osmin Morris Robinson
  • Orchestra Camerata Salzburg

You can listen to the Festival broadcasts online through Radio Classique – on July 2nd, for example, they promise a broadcast of Pascal Dusapin’s Passions.

Book Review: French Philosophers on TV

Adding to the pile of crap on my desk, here’s a review (by Farhang Erfani of www.continental-philosophy.org. fame) of what promises to be an interesting book about French philosophers and French television.

TURNING ON THE MIND: French Philosophers on Television
By Tamara Chaplin

Reviewed by Farhang Erfani

France truly is unique in her adoring treatment of her intellectuals. Slavoj Žižek, undeniably the most mediatized philosopher alive, claims that France, Germany and Great Britain express “three different existential attitudes: reflective thoroughness (German), revolutionary hastiness (French), utilitarian pragmatism (English). In political terms, this triad can be read as German conservatism, French revolutionary radicalism and English liberalism.” Žižek illustrates their differences by showing how each country builds a different type of toilet, flushing cautiously, radically or pragmatically. This strange point, which I read in Žižek ’s work in English, heard him make in French on the radio, and watched him make on YouTube with different subtitles, highlights a particular European desire for uniqueness. In France, this is known as l’exception Française. Continue reading

Derridalogy: A Remark

Having finished about half of Alex Thomson’s Deconstruction and Democracy: Derrida’s Politics of Friendship this afternoon, I got distracted from the actual content of the book – a rather dry, even if erudite, summary of Derrida’s discussion of “democracy” – and realized that I am growing increasingly disappointed with the state of what one might label “derridalogy” [copyright – Perverse Egalitarianism] as opposed to “Derrida Studies” primarily for a following reason: books and articles dedicated to Derrida’s philosophy that are coming out in the recent years (and, of course, I haven’t read them all but, after having finished Bayard’s awesome book in one sitting, I can discuss them nonetheless in their totality) are strangely of two main types: Continue reading

Craptastic Academic Drek! (on My Desk)

We bloggers (ack) are always tediously prating upon whatever trivial notion enters our field of vision, but today I’ve decided to jot down some things I’m not doing.  Here’s a few interesting, but unread articles collecting dust on my desk (in handy pdf form).  What can I do?  I’m distracted by the Euro Cup (which generally involves beers) and now, in addition to that there’s the near constant Wimbledon coverage (where I can watch everyone mis-pronounce Shahar Peer’s name, it’s not Shah-har, it’s Shachhhh-arr, Mary Carrillo!).  Watching Dick Enberg falling apart on air is always fun, give these people a coffee break!  Not to mention, um, you know, teaching. There’s always that.  These all look worth paying some attention to, someday:

1. Michel Henry, “Material Phenomenology (or, Pathos and Language)” [pathos_and_language]

2. Here’s Jacques Derrida and Francois Laruelle chit chatting about some stuff:  “Controversy over the Possibility of a Science of Philosophy”  [laruelle-derrida]

And here’s two by Graham Harman:

3. “On Vicarious Causation” [harman_vicarious_causation]

4. “The Metaphysics of Objects: Latour and his Aftermath” [harmangraham-latour]

Reading Catherine Malabou’s Les nouveaux blessés

UPDATE II (September 2009): The word on the (philosophical) street is that Fordham University Press will commission the English translation of  Les nouveaux blessés due to appear in some unknown future.

UPDATE I (June 2009): Unfortunately this project of Summer 2008 was never completed in terms of posting on all the chapters of this fascinating book – summer ended and so did my free time, plus things got a bit more complex in the second part of the book and rendering them into English was taking too much time. I do want to finish posting on this book though, and now I am told that Fordham is considering the book for a possible translation into English, I’ll give more details as I know more. If you are reading this book or about to read it and want to discuss it here, let me know and I will revive this enterprise.

These are some notes on Malabou’s book Les nouveaux blessés.

Part One – Introductory Matters

Part Two – Cerebrality vs. Sexuality: Malabou On Rethinking Psychoanalysis and Neurology.

Part Three – Neurological Subordination of Sexuality.

Part Four – No Regulation Without Representation.

Part Five – Cerebral Autoaffection Interrupted.

Digression I – Post-Traumatic Plasticity.

Part Six – Ruins of Identity: Irretrievable Damage

Part Seven – Neutralization of Cerebrality: What Is Psychic Event?

La Scala – Aida – Your Town – Awesomeness

Just a reminder to all why Italians think Verdi is the greatest opera composer (Americans like Puccini the best, according to the new issue of Opera News) – this is from the La Scala production that will be coming to your local theater (see my previous post below):

(video is a bit screwed up in the very beginning)

Levinas and the Materiality of Language

Fido the Yak has been reading all the yet unread Michel Henry articles sitting on my desk. In a recent post about Michel Henry and the intertwining of self, others, world and language, “Existence Says,” Fido the Yak writes

Nominalization (or reference) hardly begins to describe what language does or is. Reference is petty. Unconcealing is petty. This judgment is the basis of my profound disagreement with Henry. The language of the world is not indifferent: not to the things it names, nor to the world, nor to speakers nor listeners, nor to itself, nor to the operations, feelings, entities, assemblages nor intertwinements it brushes up against. This is of course a crude way of phrasing things. There are languages and there are worlds, and before we can ever come to a question of whether a language is its own world, which may not be to say that it is enclosed or isolated, we stumble across the question of what a language is (or does). We should probably say “does” at this point to give speaking precedence over Speech or Language (*language) though it may raise a question of whether the epoché says anything, whether it is speaking or speech, the saying or the said or an altogether different sort of operation.

I can’t help but note (read into?) a veiled reference to Levinas here and thought of Levinas’s own comments regarding sincerity and Saying. Continue reading