An interesting analysis of the situation in Egypt:

The first time the presidential guards and the military police showed up at Morsi’s house as part of his security team, his supporters reacted immediately by showering them with stones. It was a natural reaction coming from those young poor members who are part of this revolution at the end of the day and have no love for the army nor the police. Yesterday Morsi entered Tahrir with the presidential guards and the police, via Mohamed Mahmoud Street–the same street that saw bloody battles with the police and the army on several occasions. The RS and others withdrew from the square in protest. But how many other members from the MBs must have also been angry by the army’s presence? How do the young MBs, who’ve been chanting “Death to Tantawi” recently feel about Tantawi remaining the minister of defense, assisted by the notorious General Hassan el-Reweini of the army’s Central Command, who oversaw the Tahrir massacres?

As soon as Morsi’s speech ended in Tahrir, the square echoed strongly with anti-SCAF chants, including one directed at Tantawi, asking him to give the military salute to his president Morsi. In reality, and that’s what will those in the square will discover in the coming days, Morsi has no power whatsoever vis a vis Tantawi and SCAF. And every compromise he will make will cost him and his group disillusioned supporters and splits.

The entire piece is here.

Those Were The Days…

Blast from the past. Those were good times, I think. People were less uptight about making fun of that which was and remains rather laughable. A friend recently reminded me that it is important to ridicule that which is ridiculous lest people get used to it and treat it as legitimate philosophy. Let’s face it, unless graduate students are told something isn’t really as cool as they think it is, they will never learn: “Critical Thinking Generation”!


Massimo Cacciari, a life long friend of Luigi Nono and a former mayor of Venice, has a piece in La Repubblica:

Per comprendere come un amore, una relazione, cioè, necessaria, sia fatta di tradimenti e fraintendimenti, di radicali incomprensioni e meschine gelosie, possa trascorrere da virginee tenerezze a implacabili odi, è a Germania e Italia che occorre pensare. La Germania è “in viaggio ” verso l’Italiafin dal suo definirsi come grande nazione. È “in viaggio” verso dilei anche quando con violenza vi secede: il suo umanesimo e la sua Riforma formano un movimento inseparabile.

I have a PDF for your reading pleasure here, dear reader.

Some Things Never Change: Bogdanov

From Alexander Bogdanov’s Faith and Science (a long response to Lenin’s Materialism and Empiriocriticism):

Section X:

If we take into consideration that the larger part of Lenin’s book, about two thirds, is dedicated precisely to the accusations of idealism directed against “Machists” and Lenin provides an infinite amount of citations from the works of “Machists” themselves and from the works of philosophers who do or do not sympathize with them, then in addition to the psychological puzzle – how our author could come up with his polemics while in essence expressing the same point of view – there is also a logical puzzle: how this polemics could be formally combined in his head with his own views. The key to the solution of the first puzzle is already available to us: it is religious thinking, solid in its verbal expression but vague in its concepts. The second puzzle can be explained by the extremely peculiar philosophical-critical method that is systematically used by our author, the one I would call, choosing the softest expression, the method of the “substitution of concepts.”

It is a very simple method. “Machists” reduce all reality to “elements of experience.” What are these “elements”? Colors, forms, tones, smells, touch and so on. But Hume thought that all these colors and tones are sensations! Therefore, “elements” are the same as sensations. But Berkeley considered these same colors, forms and so on to be ideas! Therefore, sensations are the same as “ideas”! So, “elements” are ideas, and “Machism” is the purest form of idealism, i.e. “fideism,” “obscurantism” and so on.

Mach and empiriocritics understand experience realistically: experience is things and images, physical and mental complexes. Elements are the same in both cases; in some complexes they are elements of things, in others, elements of images or sensations. The elements of things (or of “environment”) are colors, forms, rigidity, softness and so on, taken as independent of an individual, in objective connection – in a complex of a “rose petal” the color red is connected to the softness, the oval shape, the certain smell and so on objectively, i.e. completely independently from whether “I” look at it or not, whether “I” can distinguish between colors or not and so on. In the complex “perception of petal” the red color is present, but if “I” close my eyes, it changes to something different, if “I” am colorblind, it is accompanied by the sensation of “softness” only if while touching it I am also looking at it; here the red color, the softness or the smell are my sensations.

Hume, Kantians and Plekhanov understand experience individualistically-psychologically: experience consists of “my” mental images, and nothing else. “My” here means that we cannot speak of any independent connection between the elements, that this connection is always subjective, and all the component parts of experience are always only “sensations,” only individual “my” sensations. “It is ridiculous,” writes, for example, Plekhanov, “to ask what color rose has when no one is looking at it, what smell is has when no one is smelling it…” (“Materialismus militans”, Second Letter). Here the rose has no color and no smell because no “subject” is “sensing” them.

And finally Berkeley understands experience idealistically, and therefore all the component parts of experience are conceived by him as elementary “ideas.”

In other words, since these are different understandings of experience, naturally, they produce different concepts of what experiences consists of.

Lenin’s conclusion: we can use these different concepts interchangeably!

Things That Are Bullshit In This Review of Žižek’s Book

Original is found here.

Pointing out things that are wrong by conflating “I disagree” with “It is not so” is my favorite past time, of course.

1) “He has become the saint of total leftism: a quasi-divine being, than whom none more radical can ever be conceived.” – Nothing of this sort has happened to Žižek. There are plenty of more radical people. And Žižek is probably more criticized from the Left than any other people.

2) “Even if you are attracted by Žižek’s Hegelian fundamentalism, you are bound to wonder how it connects with his spectacular radicalism.” Žižek’s Hegel is far from any “fundamentalist” Hegel (if such even exists), it’s barely Hegel at all. The author might need to revisit “ragged volumes of Hegel and Marx” forgotten on his shelves.

3) “Two hundred years later, Hegel’s view of philosophy is at best a magnificent ruin, and no one can believe in it any more.” This is untrue on so many levels, the authors needs a reality check by looking at books on Hegel from the last 10 years.What does it mean “to believe in a philosophy” anyway? Does anyone “believe” in Plato’s Forms?

4) “He is happy to leave the world to burn while he plays his games of philosophical toy soldiers.” Please, this is rather stupid. This is the sort of idiotic comment one finds in reviews. “The author fails to address the issues that I think he must address!” It’s a book about Hegel, Žižek has plenty to say about other things in other books!

This review is ranked as “full of bullshit”!

Why reading Marx’s Das Kapital still matters

Mike Wayne discusses his new book Marx’s Das Kapital for beginners here.

Whether we are talking about obesity epidemics, water shortages amid torrential downpours, or environmental degradation and toxification, the hollowing out of representative democracy, the erosion of workers rights, the growing inequalities between the rich and the rest, the dismantling of the public sector and the destruction of social gains and rights built up over decades; whether we are talking about a lost generation of young people whose skills and potentialities can find no gainful employment; the reduction of education to obedience, conformity and discipline; the transformation of the media from tools of information, connection and creativity to purveyors of ignorance, sensationalism and tired clichés; whether we are talking about the economic violence of the system  or the surveillance society or the decreasing room to peacefully protest without being truncheoned, tasered or worse – all these problems and more can be traced back to the question of capital and unless we name the system within which these problems are developing, public debate, public discourse and policy agendas, are doomed to stay at the surface level, addressing symptoms at best, or making the problems worse by following the same discredited capitalist nostrums and prescriptions that are responsible for the problems in the first place.


Nabokov’s Autobiographical Sketches

I recently started reading Nabokov’s rather old collection of autobiographical essays, covering various aspects of his life, but not of his works.

I have to say that I am rather taken with it. It is extremely well-written and provides such a vivid account of the events and circumstances that one has to remind oneself that this is not a fictional account (although it, of course, is as any autobiographical account). I knew bits of the story but I think this has been a real discovery.  Continue reading

Concerto Vocale, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, René Jacobs, Choeur de la Staatsoper de Berlin : La représentation de l’âme et du corps d’Emilio de’ Cavalieri

I see that WordPress still does not do Flash videos. Go and see this amazing concert here.

Salle des concerts
Emilio de’ Cavalieri
Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo
[La Représentation de l’Âme et du Corps]

Livret : Agostino Manni
Réalisation musicale : René Jacobs, d’après l’édition établie par Murray Bradshow (American Institute of  Musicology, 2011) Continue reading