Asceticism without end: Stiegler’s call to Philosophy

I just picked up Acting Out by Bernard Stiegler.  In the first of two essays, Stiegler recalls how he was “called” to philosophy while serving a five year prison sentence.  However, while Stiegler continually mentions and discusses an “act” that led to his incarceration and then eventually, his philosophical “acting out,” he never really spends any time discussing his crime.   Though, the blurb on the back of the book tells us that Stiegler was serving a five year sentence for armed robbery (I wonder if that helped sell some copies).   The essay is a wonderfully written account of how he became a philosopher.  Stiegler details his incarceration: when deprived of exteriority (and I suppose one might argue that this means one is possibly deprived of interiority as well), he put together a rigorous schedule of reading (slowly reading Mallarme every morning, working through Plato, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger and Derrida) and writing in order to produce “signifying practices” that would allow him to (continue to) individuate  while in prison.  Continue reading

Announcements, Texts & a little Academic Pretension

Or rather: 1. Announcement 2. A Response to a Little Academic Pretension 3. Some “Speculative” Texts.   Anyway, this announcement has been floating around at various sites, but I thought I’d throw it up here anyway.  It’s an interesting new series that may just be able to break the monotony of academic pageantry (I’m quite optimistic this evening, it would seem, but the proposal does specifically ask for “gamblers”).

New Metaphysics

Series editors: Graham Harman and Bruno Latour

The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics. The New Metaphysics series aims to provide a safe house for such thinking amidst the demoralizing caution and prudence of professional academic philosophy. We do not aim to bridge the analytic-continental divide, since we are equally impatient with nail-filing analytic critique and the continental reverence for dusty textual monuments. We favor instead the spirit of the intellectual gambler, and wish to discover and promote authors who meet this description. Like an emergent recording company, what we seek are traces of a new metaphysical “sound” from any nation of the world. The editors are open to translations of neglected metaphysical classics, and will consider secondary works of special force and daring. But our main interest is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy. Please send project descriptions (not full manuscripts) to Graham Harman,

Open Humanities Press is an international Open Access publishing collective. OHP was formed by scholars to overcome the current crisis in publishing that threatens intellectual freedom and academic rigor worldwide. All OHP publications are peer-reviewed, published under open access licenses, and freely and immediately available online through Continue reading

Critique, Thinking and the Shock of the Encounter

Larval Subjects concludes a well thought out and interesting response/diagnosis to student malaise (as well as some of the issues raised here, here and here):

In light of the foregoing, it seems that we are faced with two possible pedagogies. If we assume that thought is a natural attribute, an innate disposition, then we will pursue a pedagogy that assumes it is sufficient to explain in order for students to engage in certain forms of intellectual engagements. This seems to lead to much frustration, for in the humanities and social sciences, at least, we discover that very few of the students seem capable of benefiting from our explanations. However, if we begin with the premise that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that disrupts our habitudes, then we will not be surprised that students have a difficult time distinguishing rhetoric from arguments, recognizing ideology, or discerning deeper strata of texts. Such students have not made the transition from the immediacy of the being in question (language, social organization, texts), to the reflection-into-self that problematizes these phenomenon and turns them into a question.

Since I’ve been on something of an Althusser kick as of late, this kind of materialism and the suggestion that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that interrupts our habitual formations seems by and large quite correct to me. I don’t have too much time this morning, but here a few thoughts. Continue reading