Faceless Life

When prodded for some details about his biography Michel Henry responded:

I would like to tell you how much I feel stripped away by the very idea of a biography. For one who thinks that the true self for us all is a no-worldly self, foreign to every empirical or objective determination, the attempt to approach him through these kinds of reference points seems to be problematic. The history of a man, the circumstances which surround him, are they anything other than a sort of mask, more or less flattering, that he and others agree to put on his face–he who, at bottom, has no face.

I think I like this…

To Bike Or Not To Bike.

bikeI live about 6 miles away from campus, but on the other side of town (not quite, but certainly that’s how I imagine it).  There is a nice bike trail that goes almost all the way from where I live to campus.  I have a bicycle, I have an interest in biking to campus.  I’m not sure I have enough will though.  Walking to the train station and taking it to campus is easier and it only takes about an hour from leaving the house to entering the classroom.  If I were to bike to work, I’d have to leave slightly earlier and I’d have a new strange experience of urban bicycle commuting which has its charm but still… I’ll decide tomorrow.  It might be fun.

Justice w/ Michael Sandel

I saw this article in NYT and I found this slick website – philosophy never looked so cool, it seems (and so sponsored by a delicious juice). In fact, this looks to me like a dawn of new tele-philosophy – Would it be great to turn on your TV late at night and catch a philosophical sermon on substance and accidents? ?If only philosophers looked after themselves a bit and weren’t in their majority balding and slightly overweight losers…

Only two lectures are available at this point, but more are coming. Continue reading

The Red Book

Here‘s something to start your week off, a long piece in NYT about the infamous Jung’s “red book”:

The book tells the story of Jung trying to face down his own demons as they emerged from the shadows. The results are humiliating, sometimes unsavory. In it, Jung travels the land of the dead, falls in love with a woman he later realizes is his sister, gets squeezed by a giant serpent and, in one terrifying moment, eats the liver of a little child. (“I swallow with desperate efforts — it is impossible — once again and once again — I almost faint — it is done.”) At one point, even the devil criticizes Jung as hateful.

Well, the story is long and interesting, but now that the book is finally coming out in October, you can judge for yourself. That is, of course, if you have an extra $195 laying around.

I Hear Drums, I Hear Bass.

I’m possibly the last person from our bunch who still occasionally reads the always entertaining Object-Oriented Philosophy blog with its eternal host Graham Harman. I admit it, I can’t stop myself, it’s fascinating. But I have to object to one observation by the all-knowing master, this does not sound like drum’n’bass at all, and as a former aficionado of this excellent genre, I’ d like to register my protestation. I’m not linking to Harman’s post, I don’t want the angry professor to go after me. I know he probably threw it in to impress the kids, but still. This is what real drum’n’bass (which is a specific rhythmic pattern, not a presence of drums and basses) sounds like. Just sayin’…

SPEP 2009 Program

Speaking of program’s being available. SPEP 2009 program is here. Again, some interesting papers, familiar names, intriguing paper titles. There are definite sessions I would go to, if I were attending. Like this one:

Session 2: What Should We Do with Our Brain?
Georgetown Moderator: Elizabeth Rottenberg, DePaul University
Speaker: Daniel Smith, Purdue University
Speaker: Hugh Silverman, Stony Brook University
Respondent: Catherine Malabou, Université de Paris X-Nanterre Continue reading

My Teaching Day: A Topography

I teach on Mondays and Wednesdays this semester, I am on campus all day, I have a morning class, an afternoon class and a late afternoon class. I have two breaks between classes that I attempt to fill with productive activity. More often than not I fail to do so.

I rise early in the morning, I creep around trying to minimize noise despite the explicit permission to disregard such efforts. I was raised to be quiet when others are sleeping. I make coffee (two cups, French press, cream, no sugar), I read a bit, I look out of my window, I think about my classes, I think that it is about time I should be leaving the house, I get distracted, I am going to be late. I bike to the train station, I join my fellow travelers on the platform, I recognize faces, I move slighty to the left to be right at the door when the train comes, I board the train.  Continue reading

Oblivion and Beyond Being

Jean-Louis Chretien–in his short book The Unforgettable and the Unhoped For –offers an interesting connection between oblivion and the “beyond being:”

This correlation between the beyond being and the non-rememberable is rediscovered, in what may seem an identical manner, in the thought of Emmanuel Levinas. And after all, can there be a thought of beyond being that is not in some way Platonic? The very project owes its title to Plato, who foresees the horizon of everything that one calls “neo-Platonism,” epekeina tes ousias (30). Continue reading

“Aude Describere!”

D. R. Koukal (from here):

My reading of the western tradition of philosophy tells me that the exegetical attitude has a long history, and that this attitude has periodically nettled various thinkers, who have generated movements to counter this trend.


Phenomenology should certainly be counted as yet another attempt to bring philosophy back to the world, in the face of the reductionism of the natural sciences. It may also perhaps be the most comprehensive, since it claims that the explanatory dimension of all of the various theoretical disciplines must necessarily have their ultimate grounding and unity in a descriptive realm of a single lived world. The most exciting aspect of phenomenology is its fundamental claim that it is a philosophy which contacts life and does so directly, thereby allowing us the possibility of seeing it again, as if for the first time. In this phenomenology is not a speculative system or a school of thought that we are enhancing and defending in the memory of Husserl or Heidegger or Merleau-Ponty. It is, first and foremost, a manner of philosophical practice, a human activity that allows us to see the world again in a primordial fashion. The aim of phenomenology has always been to bring philosophy back to the larger world, that is, to describe the relationship between lived experience and consciousness, without necessarily turning to theories or other conceptual constructs that are typically employed to “explain” experience.