Start Your School Year Right, Read Some Marx.

Nate and some other fellars are reading themselves some Marx – I would certainly like to pitch in, but I’m a bit slow on the technological side of the matter and I’m not sure who and how will follow all the posts on all the blogs, if someone can give me a hand, I’d be happy to get right into it.


Aesthetics Research Group

An interesting resource:

The Aesthetics Research Group at the University of Kent is pleased to make public its archive of recorded lectures in aesthetics:

The archive includes audio and video recordings of research talks given by Noël Carroll, Howard Caygill, Gregory Currie, David Davies, Susan Dwyer, Jonathan Friday, Andrew Kania, Jerrold Levinson, Patrick Maynard, Aaron Meskin, Alex Neill, Kathleen Stock, Cain Todd, Rob van Gerwen, Scott Walden, Kendall Walton, Tom Wartenberg.

Jerrold Levinson’s entire lecture series on “Key Concepts in Aesthetics” is also available in audioformat.

For more information:

Liquid Books: The Post-Corporate University

As I noted here, an interesting online experiment is currently taking place. Entitled The Post-Corporate University (Edited and curated by Davin Heckman), it is the second volume in Culture Machine’s Liquid Books series. The volume is available now online and is open for discussion, contributions and open collaboration.

The first chapter, “Neo-liberal Arts and the 21st century University,” is up. From the opening page, “A Call to Action:”

This project presumes that the University is in crisis and that this crisis has been caused by the social and economic characteristics of “Neoliberalism.” I am far from the first person to identify this crisis. I do, however, feel that it has not been addressed adequately or consistently. And, I am certain that it cannot be adequately or consistently addressed but in a systemic way, by many people, in many settings, with many relationships to the University, through multiple attempts at critique and action. As a result, this project belongs to Liquid Books, a free and open wiki-based publication. While I believe in such things as the “Creative Commons,” this project does not belong to everyone, rather, it can belong only to those who hold it in common. Possession of such a project is not simply a given, rather it can only be had by those who care to make it. Thus, I invite readers to participate actively, to build it from the ground up.

As readers will note, this first chapter provides a bit of personal background, a bit of theory, and concludes with a proposal. What comes next is entirely to be determined. I am not an authority on the University. I am only one person teaching at one school. But I do hope that the limited information in this first chapter is provocative enough to generate additional content, some of which might be incorporated into this first chapter, but much of which will likely result in new chapters. My personal goal with this project is not a unitary answer, but possible answers suggested by a multitude of theories and experiences that can move us beyond the grim prospect of our inert state.

As you read, think about what you might write, and let us give our answers to the question: Is Another University Possible?

I’m hoping to have a closer look and make some more substantive comments, but the whole project looks rather promising.  Please see:

BBC Proms: More Shostakovich

Having done 11th with Bychkov the other day, BBC Proms gives us 8th symphony (it’ll be available for 7 days to listen online here), conducted by Valery Gergiev – this symphony was written in 1943 – again, you might skip the pre-symphony chatter (annoying Russian lady that ends every sentence with “ya?” and all, but it’s generally very informative, plus Gergiev gets to say a few words starting from around minute 9), symphony begins at 12:25.

To give you a sense of what I described as a “secret dissident” interpretation of Shostakovich that I think is rather idiotic in its simplicity, check out this description of the symphony and its hidden anti-tyrannical “message” – yak!

BBC Proms: Bychkov Conducts Shostakovich’s Eleventh

If you skip all that chatter (symphony begins around minute 13) in the beginning (all that bullshit about how Shostakovich was really a secret anti-Soviet rebel, sneakily writing music about 1905 but in fact criticizing Soviet system without, however, really leaving any evidence of that), this is a great version of Shostakovich’s 11th symphony.

Hyperbole, Zizek and Israeli Politics

UPDATE: As Hjalmar notes below, this is from the Guardian website referring to the original op-ed: This article was amended on 20 August 2009. The online version originally referred to “Palestinian-frei”, while the print version had been edited to say “Palestinian-free”. This editing change should have been applied to the online version.  [As I’ve been thinking about it, I’m not sure how much difference this actually makes, however.-SO]

The level of discourse about Israel is sinking lower and lower. While I hesitate to even post this given the often unproductive discussions I’ve engaged in online and in-person with people about these issues, I’m just kind of annoyed. An idiotic op-ed from Zizek appeared in the Guardian the other day. I will say this; when Zizek writes:

When peace-loving Israeli liberals present their conflict with Palestinians in neutral, symmetrical terms – admitting that there are extremists on both sides who reject peace – one should ask a simple question: what goes on in the Middle East when nothing is happening there at the direct politico-military level (ie, when there are no tensions, attacks or negotiations)? What goes on is the slow work of taking the land from the Palestinians on the West Bank: the gradual strangling of the Palestinian economy, the parcelling up of their land, the building of new settlements, the pressure on Palestinian farmers to make them abandon their land (which goes from crop-burning and religious desecration to targeted killings) – all this supported by a Kafkaesque network of legal regulations.

there is some element of truth to this. Yes, the “occupation” does not stop. It won’t stop until, if we take Zizek seriously, there will be no possibility for a Palestinian state. I’m not so sure about that at all, however, the issue is that I don’t think it’s possible for Israelis to merely dismiss the occupation as the major problem in this conflict today. For any progress on that front we need to wait for a new administration, but the manner in which Zizek procedes throughout the article is shameless. Here are two absolutely idiotic statements from Slavoj Zizek: Continue reading