More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries.
“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.
“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.
So far, Mr Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.
Read full story at The Independent.
Different kinds of pain summon different terms of art: hurt, suffering, ache, trauma, angst, wounds, damage. Pain is general and holds the others under its wings; hurt connotes something mild and often emotional; angst is the most diffuse and the most conducive to dismissal as something nebulous, sourceless, self-indulgent, and affected. Suffering is epic and serious; trauma implies a specific devastating event and often links to damage, its residue. While wounds open to the surface, damage happens to the infrastructure—often invisibly, irreversibly—and damage also carries the implication of lowered value. Wound implies en media res: The cause of injury is in the past but the healing isn’t done; we are seeing this situation in the present tense of its immediate aftermath. Wounds suggest sex and aperture: A wound marks the threshold between interior and exterior; it marks where a body has been penetrated. Wounds suggest that the skin has been opened—that privacy is violated in the making of the wound, a rift in the skin, and by the act of peering into it.
Read Full Article by Leslie Jamison at VQR
As a critical theorist working at the intersection of Continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, and feminist and queer theory, I make observations about human life that are speculative rather than empirical. That may explain why my definition of character pertains to what is least tangible, least intelligible about our being, including the inchoate frequencies of desire that sometimes cause us to behave in ways that work against our rational understanding of how our lives are supposed to turn out.
If identity captures something about the relatively polished social persona we present to the world, then character—in my view—captures something about the wholly idiosyncratic and potentially rebellious energies that, every so often, break the facade of that persona. From this perspective, our character leaps forth whenever we do something “crazy,” such as suddenly dissolving a committed relationship or leaving a promising career path. At such moments, what is fierce and unapologetic about us undermines our attempts to lead a “reasonable” life, causing us to follow an inner directive that may be as enigmatic as it is compelling. We may not know why we feel called to a new destiny, but we sense that not heeding that call will stifle what is most alive within us.
Text by Mari Rutti at The Chronicle Review. Continue THERE
Dispossession describes the condition of those who have lost land, citizenship, property, and a broader belonging to the world. This thought-provoking book seeks to elaborate our understanding of dispossession outside of the conventional logic of possession, a hallmark of capitalism, liberalism, and humanism. Can dispossession simultaneously characterize political responses and opposition to the disenfranchisement associated with unjust dispossession of land, economic and political power, and basic conditions for living?
In the context of neoliberal expropriation of labor and livelihood, dispossession opens up a performative condition of being both affected by injustice and prompted to act. From the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa to the anti-neoliberal gatherings at Puerta del Sol, Syntagma and Zucchotti Park, an alternative political and affective economy of bodies in public is being formed. Bodies on the street are precarious – exposed to police force, they are also standing for, and opposing, their dispossession. These bodies insist upon their collective standing, organize themselves without and against hierarchy, and refuse to become disposable: they demand regard. This book interrogates the agonistic and open-ended corporeality and conviviality of the crowd as it assembles in cities to protest political and economic dispossession through a performative dispossession of the sovereign subject and its propriety.
Text and Image via Politybooks
The peephole was a central feature of Edison’s Kinetoscope, an early cinematic exhibition device through which many audiences saw their first moving images. The line of movement of a man’s hat as he passes it from one hand to the other, the mesmerising flow of a woman’s dress as she dances, the expression on a person’s face as he sneezes, these single shots were the peephole’s micro-cinematic moments. Although the Kinetoscope is no longer with us, Peephole believes that digital technologies offer the possibility for screen criticism to return to the novelty of this time of early cinema and draw attention, once again, to the micro-elements of the screen.
Peephole features short essays on single shots of film, television and other screen media. Gesturing back to the cinematic moments viewed through the peephole, each piece is presented alongside a brief animation of the shot under discussion. In restricting writers to a single shot, Peephole aims to push the boundaries of screen criticism and, in returning to this moment of early cinema, experiment with ways of thinking and writing about film.
Peephole is edited by Whitney Monaghan.
Susanna Siegel is the major philosophical mentalist who gets into our heads and deep into the depths of philosophical phenomenology, epistemic downgrades, how the issues can be approached from different traditions, considers a gun in a fridge, how priming examples don’t reveal underlying psychological mechanisms, cognitive modularity and what it does and doesn’t insulate, top-down effects, the rational accessibility of perception, the contents of visual experience, the richness of perception and what to do about sexism in professional philosophy. Off we go.
3:AM: You remember ‘….staring up at the ceiling as a little girl and wondering whether the marks she saw on the white surface were tiny holes or tiny dots.’ So was that when you decided you’d be a philosopher?
Susanna Siegel: I was around 4 when I wondered about the ceiling. I wanted to be a philosopher when I read Alice in Wonderland and Raymond Smullyan’s “What is the Name of this Book?” around age 7.
3:AM: Are you a very up to date phenomenologist? Can you say something about your philosophical interests in all things perceptual?
SS: Phenomenology never goes out of date.
3:AM: You talk about cases where prior mental states interfere with perception. Can you talk about this idea and why this might lead to what you call an epistemic downgrade?
SS: Suppose you are afraid that I am angry at you, and your fear makes me look angry to you when you see me. Do you get any reason from your experience to believe that I’m angry at you? There’s something fishy and even perverse about the idea that your fears can get confirmed by fear-induced experience. I focus on the general notion of rationality. I am interested in the epistemic status of the type of “top-down” influences on perception from fears and desires. If you could confirm your fears through such fear-influenced experiences, rational confirmation of fears would be too cheap.
Continue interview of Susanna Siegel by Richard Marshall at 3AM Magazine
Some things are worth memorizing–addresses, PINs, your parents’ birthdays. The sine of π/2 is not among them. It’s a fact that matters only insofar as it connects to other ideas. To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs parallel to the best parts of learning, never intersecting. It’s a detour around all the action, a way of knowing without learning, of answering without understanding.
Memorization has enjoyed a surge of defenders recently. They argue that memorization exercises the brain and even fuels deep insights. They say our haste to purge old-school skills-driven teaching from our schools has stranded a generation of students upriver without a paddle. They recommend new apps aiming to make drills fun instead of tedious. Most of all, they complain that rote learning has become taboo, rather than accepted as a healthy part of a balanced scholastic diet.
Excerpt from an article written by BEN ORLIN at The Atlantic. Continue THERE
Debora L. Spar writes: In 2005, I was teaching a first-year class at Harvard Business School. As usual, slightly under a third of my students were women. As always, I was the only female professor.
So one evening, my female students asked me and one of my female colleagues to join them for cocktails. They ordered a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres and white wine. They presented each of us with an elegant lavender plant. And then, like women meeting for cocktails often do, they—well, we, actually—proceeded to complain. About how tough it was to be so constantly in the minority. About how the guys sucked up all the air around the school. About the folks in career services who told them never to wear anything but a good black pantsuit to an interview.
Over the course of the conversation, though, things began to turn. The women stopped talking about their present lives and started to focus on their futures, futures that had little to do with conferences or pantsuits and everything to do with babies, and families, and men. Most of the women were frankly intending to work “for a year or two” and then move into motherhood. These were some of the smartest and most determined young women in the country. They had Ivy League degrees, for the most part, and were in the midst of paying more than $100,000 for an M.B.A. And yet they were already deeply concerned about how they would juggle their lives, and surprisingly pessimistic about their chances of doing so.
Continue text at The Chronicle of Higher Education
Recent encounters between art and real life, the ubiquity of images of violence and humiliation in visual culture and the media, and the persistence of controversial debates on public and participatory art projects are raising fundamental questions about the importance of ethical decisions in art and curating. How far can provocation in art go, before it becomes cynical and abusive? Does “good censorship” exist? Are ethical decisions seen as more urgent in participatory art?
This reader introduces current notions of ethics in several contexts related to the cultural field. Responding to the instrumentalization of ethics as a privileged tool of neoliberalism, the reader claims the need for an ethics that critically reflects the mechanisms of contemporary global power structures. The contributions discuss models of subjective and situational ethics and pit them against a canon of unquestioned principles and upturned notions of ethics and human rights.
Texts by Petra Bauer and Annette Krauss, Franco Bifo Berardi, Galit Eilat, Ronald Jones, Maria Karlsson and Måns Wrange, Nina Möntmann, Peter Osborne, Marcus Steinweg, Nato Thompson; conversations between Simon Critchley and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro, Renzo Martens and T. J. Demos
Scandalous: A Reader on Art and Ethics
Text and Image via Sternberg Press
A unique theory about how life arose on Earth may reveal clues to whether and where else it might have arisen in the universe.
Does life exist elsewhere or is our planet unique, making us truly alone in the universe? Much of the work carried out by NASA, together with other research agencies around the world, is aimed at trying to come to grips with this great and ancient question.
“Of course, one of the most powerful ways to address this question, and a worthy goal in its own right, is to try to understand how life came to be on this planet,” said Elbert Branscomb, an affiliate faculty member at the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The answer should help us discover what is truly necessary to spark the fateful transition from the lifeless to the living, and thereby, under what conditions and with what likelihood it might happen elsewhere.”
While many ideas about this fundamental question exist, the real challenge is to move beyond speculation to experimentally testable theories. A novel and potentially testable origin-of-life theory—first advanced more than 25 years ago by Michael Russell, a research scientist in Planetary Chemistry and Astrobiology at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory—was further developed in a recent paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (PTRSL-B), the world’s first science journal, by Russell, Wolfgang Nitschke, a team leader at the National Center for Scientific Research in Marseille, France, and Branscomb.
All text via Dan Satterfield at AGU Blogosphere. Read full article HERE
Researchers have provided the first comprehensive compendium of mutational processes that drive tumour development. Together, these mutational processes explain most mutations found in 30 of the most common cancer types. This new understanding of cancer development could help to treat and prevent a wide-range of cancers.
Each mutational process leaves a particular pattern of mutations, an imprint or signature, in the genomes of cancers it has caused. By studying 7,042 genomes of people with the most common forms of cancer, the team uncovered more than 20 signatures of processes that mutate DNA. For many of the signatures, they also identified the underlying biological process responsible.
All cancers are caused by mutations in DNA occurring in cells of the body during a person’s lifetime. Although we know that chemicals in tobacco smoke cause mutations in lung cells that lead to lung cancers and ultraviolet light causes mutations in skin cells that lead to skin cancers, we have remarkably little understanding of the biological processes that cause the mutations which are responsible for the development of most cancers.
Read full article HERE
Tel Aviv University researchers use a zoological method to classify symptoms of OCD and schizophrenia in humans.
Because animals can’t talk, researchers need to study their behavior patterns to make sense of their activities. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are using these zoological methods to study people with serious mental disorders.
Prof. David Eilam of TAU’s Zoology Department at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences recorded patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and “schizo-OCD” — which combines symptoms of schizophrenia and OCD — as they performed basic tasks. By analyzing the patients’ movements, they were able to identify similarities and differences between two frequently confused disorders.
Published in the journal CNS Spectrums, the research represents a step toward resolving a longstanding question about the nature of schizo-OCD: Is it a combination of OCD and schizophrenia, or a variation of just one of the disorders?
The researchers concluded that schizo-OCD is a combination of the two disorders. They noted that the behavioral differences identified in the study could be used to help diagnose patients with OCD and other obsessive-compulsive disorders, including schizo-OCD.
The taxonomy of mental disorders
“I realized my methodology for studying rat models could be directly applied to work with humans with mental disorders,” Prof. Eilam said. “Behavior is the ultimate output of the nervous system, and my team and I are experts in the fine-grained analysis of behavior, be it of humans or of other animals.”
The main features of OCD are, of course, obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted and cause marked distress or anxiety. In contrast, compulsions are repetitive motor behaviors, such as counting, that occur in response to obsessions and are performed according to strictly applied rules. Schizophrenia is marked by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal motor behavior, and diminished emotional expression, among other symptoms.
Eilam and graduate student Anat Gershoni of the Zoology Department and Prof. Haggai Hermesh of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine set out with Dr. Naomi Fineberg of the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in England to resolve the controversy. To this end, they recorded and compared videos of diagnosed OCD and schizo-OCD patients performing 10 different mundane tasks, like leaving home, making tea, or cleaning a table. The patients met the criteria of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
A matter of space
The researchers found that both OCD and schizo-OCD patients exhibited OCD-like behavior in performing the tasks, excessively repeating and adding actions. But schizo-OCD patients additionally acted like schizophrenics.
For a typical OCD patient in the study, the task of leaving home involved standing in one place and repeatedly checking the contents of his pockets before finally taking his keys and cell phone and going to the door. In contrast, a typical schizo-OCD patient traveled around the apartment — switching the lights in the bathroom on and off, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to scan the bedroom, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to empty the ashtray, then taking his keys and phone to the door and so on. A typical healthy person would simply pick up his keys and phone and walk out.
Overall, the researchers found that the level of obsessive-compulsive behavior was the same in OCD and schizo-OCD patients. This suggests that both types of patients had the difficulty shifting attention from one task to another that helps define OCD. The schizo-OCD patients, though, did more divergent activity over a larger area than did OCD patients. This suggests that the schizo-OCD patients were continuously shifting attention, which happens in schizophrenia but not OCD.
“While the obsessive compulsive is obsessed with one idea; the schizophrenic’s mind is drifting,” said Eilam. “We found that this is reflected in their paths of locomotion. So instead of tracking the thoughts of the patients, we can simply trace their paths of locomotion.”
Eilam plans to conduct research comparing repetitive behavior in OCD and autism patients.
In the below video provided by the researchers, an animation describes the paths of traveling performed by an OCD patient who is about to leave his apartment (left) and by a co-morbid OCD and schizophrenia patient performing the same behavior (right). Black circles indicate the number of acts performed in each location. As shown, the COD patient is mostly stationary, while the schizo-OCD patient travels all over the apartment. All text and video via AFTAU
Kindness and patience seem to have a clear moral dimension. They are forms of what we might call ‘concern’ — emotional states that have as their focus the wellbeing of another — and concern for the welfare of others lies at the heart of morality. If Nina and Tess were concerned for the welfare of my son then, perhaps, they were acting morally: their behaviour had, at least in part, a moral motivation. And so, in those foggy, sleepless nights of early fatherhood, a puzzle was born inside of me, one that has been gnawing away at me ever since. If there is one thing on which most philosophers and scientists have always been in agreement it is the subject of human moral exceptionalism: humans, and humans alone, are capable of acting morally. Yet, this didn’t seem to tally with the way I came to think of Nina and Tess.
Many scientists (and more than a few philosophers) would have no hesitation in accusing perhaps several billion people of such delusional anthropomorphism. A growing number of animal scientists, however, are going over to the dark side, and at least flirting with the idea that animals can act morally. In his book Primates and Philosophers (2006), the Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal has argued that animals are at least capable of proto-moral behaviour: they possess the rudiments of morality even if they are not moral beings in precisely the way that we are. This was, in fact, Charles Darwin’s view, as developed in The Descent of Man. In a similar vein, the American biologist Marc Bekoff has being arguing for years that animals can act morally, and his book Wild Justice (2009) provides a useful summary of the evidence for this claim. Perhaps scientists such as Darwin, de Waal and Bekoff are also guilty of anthropomorphism? The evidence, however, would suggest otherwise.
Excerpt from an article written by Mark Rowlands at AEON. Read it THERE
As punk reformulated topics and modes of resistance in the late 1970s, the impact of wars in Southeast Asia, as well as continuing histories of imperialist aggression elsewhere, served as a way for Los Angeles’s racially and sexually diverse punk scene to imagine itself as resistant through (sometimes simultaneous) affiliation with and disassociation from the state, military, and acts of capitalist violence. This article reimagines the context for punk’s politics by following racial, residential, and economic patterns, the influx of refugees, and the subsequent reimagination of punk spaces such as Hollywood, the Canterbury Apartments, and Chinatown to trace themes of race, sexuality, and violence.
Text via Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory – Volume 22.
See more HERE
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The Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller, in a chapter she contributed to a book published in 1992, stated with some confidence her view that there was no such thing as European culture. There was certainly, she wrote, Italian and German music, and Florentine and Venetian painting, “but there is no European music and no European painting”.
It is true that the history of art and culture was not really Heller’s field, but it would seem that those who, in the same year as she wrote her essay, framed the Maastricht Treaty, signalling the transition from European Community to European Union, at least partially agreed with her. The treaty was the first time the community had taken for itself significant powers in the cultural field. European cultures (note the plural), the relevant article stated, were to be understood as requiring “respect” – by which one understands freedom from too much supranational interference (“The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity …”). At the same time however, the Community was to be entrusted with the task of “[b]ringing the common cultural heritage to the fore”.
Excerpt from an essay written by Enda O’Doherty at DBR. Continue THERE
This paper explores the uses of the sublime in recent art theory, philosophy, and literary criticism, focusing on Weiskel, Hertz, and Lyotard. I propose that the concept of the sublime, and the postmodern sublime in particular, are over-used tropes in critical writing. They sometimes serve a covert religious purpose, as a way of smuggling theological concepts into secular discourse; and they are stand-ins for notions of epistemological, linguistic, and psychological failures that do not require the specific discourse of the sublime.
Text and Images HERE
In this paper, we develop an impure somatic theory of emotion, according to which emotions are constituted by the integration of bodily perceptions with representations of external objects, events, or states of affairs. We put forward our theory by contrasting it with Prinz’s (2004) pure somatic theory, according to which emotions are entirely constituted by bodily perceptions. After illustrating Prinz’s theory and discussing the evidence in its favor, we show that it is beset by serious problems—i.e., it gets the neural correlates of emotion wrong, it isn’t able to distinguish emotions from bodily perceptions that aren’t emotions, it cannot account for emotions being directed towards particular objects, and it mischaracterizes emotion phenomenology. We argue that our theory accounts for the empirical evidence considered by Prinz and solves the problems faced by his theory. In particular, we maintain that our theory gives a uniﬁed and principled account of the relation between emotions and bodily perceptions, the intentionality of emotions, and emotion phenomenology.
As if making food from light were not impressive enough, it may be time to add another advanced skill to the botanical repertoire: the ability to perform — at least at the molecular level — arithmetic division.
Computer-generated models published in the journal eLife illustrate how plants might use molecular mathematics to regulate the rate at which they devour starch reserves to provide energy throughout the night, when energy from the Sun is off the menu. If so, the authors say, it would be the first example of arithmetic division in biology.
But it may not be the only one: many animals go through periods of fasting — during hibernations or migrations, for example — and must carefully ration internal energy stores in order to survive. Understanding how arithmetic division could occur at the molecular level might also be useful for the young field of synthetic biology, in which genetic engineers seek standardized methods of tinkering with molecular pathways to create new biological devices. Text and Image via NATURE. Continue THERE
For half a century, one theory about the way we experience and express emotion has helped shape how we practice psychology, do police work, and even fight terrorism. But what if that theory is wrong?
Forty-six years ago a young San Francisco–based cowboy of a psychologist named Paul Ekman emerged from the jungle with proof of a powerful idea. During the previous couple of years, he had set out trying to prove a theory popularized in the 19th century by Charles Darwin: that people of all ages and races, from all over the world, manifest emotions the same way. Ekman had traveled the globe with photographs that showed faces experiencing six basic emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and surprise. Everywhere he went, from Japan to Brazil to the remotest village of Papua New Guinea, he asked subjects to look at those faces and then to identify the emotions they saw on them. To do so, they had to pick from a set list of options presented to them by Ekman. The results were impressive. Everybody, it turned out, even preliterate Fore tribesmen in New Guinea who’d never seen a foreigner before in their lives, matched the same emotions to the same faces. Darwin, it seemed, had been right. Continue at BOSTON MAGAZINE
The discovery of a law governing the growth of cities means that future urban populations can now be forecast in advance. When you live in a city, you can sense its pulse, experience its pace of life and get to know its unique character. It’s almost as if a city is a living, breathing entity in its own right.
That may be little more than the fantastical imaginings of city dwellers who tend to humanise all things inanimate. And yet, there is much demographic evidence to show that cities have their own unique identity, even though they are made up of millions of seemingly independent individuals.
One test of the idea that cities are coherent entities is the ability to predict their future characteristics based on their past behaviour. Text and Image via MIT Technology Review. Continue THERE
The familiar trigonometric functions can be geometrically derived from a circle.
But what if, instead of the circle, we used a regular polygon?
In this animation, we see what the “polygonal sine” looks like for the square and the hexagon. The polygon is such that the inscribed circle has radius 1.
We’ll keep using the angle from the x-axis as the function’s input, instead of the distance along the shape’s boundary. (These are only the same value in the case of a unit circle!) This is why the square does not trace a straight diagonal line, as you might expect, but a segment of the tangent function. In other words, the speed of the dot around the polygon is not constant anymore, but the angle the dot makes changes at a constant rate.
Since these polygons are not perfectly symmetrical like the circle, the function will depend on the orientation of the polygon.
Most works in philosophy enter the world quietly, but not Thomas Nagel’s recent “Mind and Cosmos.” With its chin-leading subtitle, “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False,” the slim volume met with a firestorm of indignation from critics who thought Nagel had lost his mind or, worse, had thrown in with intelligent design theory. (Steven Pinker tweeted: “What has gotten into Thomas Nagel? . . . a once-great thinker.”) What incited the reaction was Nagel’s questioning whether advances in neuroscience are on the verge of resolving the mysteries of consciousness, and with it issues that have fueled philosophical speculation for centuries, from subjectivity to free will.
Rather like Nagel, but angrier, is the novelist and critic Curtis White. Though neither a research scientist nor a trained philosopher, he is infuriated by the sunny confidence of neuroscience, arguing that it is not just a product of ambitious overreach but, more, a willful act of arrogance. In his rambling book “The Science Delusion,” he writes that the coming battle in this neo-Darwinian culture war will be an all-out assault against imagination by scientists and popular science journalists: “Freed at last from the limits imposed by religion, science has extended its ambitions beyond the debunking of Christian dogma. It has now turned its attention to another old competitor, the secular world of the humanities and the arts.” This may come as news to some of White’s would-be shock troops, who generally haven’t announced their hostile intentions to art and the imagination, but White sees their pernicious effects spreading across contemporary American life.
Excerpt from an article written by ERIC BANKS at NYT. Continue THERE
In the days following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, speculation online regarding the identity and motive of the unknown perpetrator or perpetrators was rampant. And once the Tsarnaev brothers were identified and the manhunt came to a close, the speculation didn’t cease. It took a new form. A sampling: Maybe the brothers Tsarnaev were just patsies, fall guys set up to take the heat for a mysterious Saudi with high-level connections; or maybe they were innocent, but instead of the Saudis, the actual bomber had acted on behalf of a rogue branch of our own government; or what if the Tsarnaevs were behind the attacks, but were secretly working for a larger organization?
Written by MAGGIE KOERTH-BAKER. Continue Reading at NYT
Peter Sloterdijk turns his keen eye to the history of western thought, conducting colorful readings of the lives and ideas of the world’s most influential intellectuals. Featuring nineteen vignettes rich in personal characterizations and theoretical analysis, Sloterdijk’s companionable volume casts the development of philosophical thinking not as a buildup of compelling books and arguments but as a lifelong, intimate struggle with intellectual and spiritual movements, filled with as many pitfalls and derailments as transcendent breakthroughs.
Sloterdijk delves into the work and times of Aristotle, Augustine, Bruno, Descartes, Foucault, Fichte, Hegel, Husserl, Kant, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Marx, Nietzsche, Pascal, Plato, Sartre, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein. He provocatively juxtaposes Plato against shamanism and Marx against Gnosticism, revealing both the vital external influences shaping these intellectuals’ thought and the excitement and wonder generated by the application of their thinking in the real world. The philosophical “temperament” as conceived by Sloterdijk represents the uniquely creative encounter between the mind and a diverse array of cultures. It marks these philosophers’ singular achievements and the special dynamic at play in philosophy as a whole. Creston Davis’s introduction details Sloterdijk’s own temperament, surveying the celebrated thinker’s intellectual context, rhetorical style, and philosophical persona.
Text and Image via CUP
Contemporary art is increasingly part of a wider network of cultural practices, related through a common set of references in cultural theory. Within Europe, relations between national theoretical traditions have become more fluid and dynamic, creating an increasingly transnational—or postnational—space for European cultural and art theory. This book offers a snapshot of recent influential work in contemporary art and political theory in France, Italy, and Germany, in the form of original writings by major representatives of each of the three overlapping national traditions.
In France, debates center on the status and possibilities of the image. Éric Alliez, Georges Didi-Huberman, Elisabeth Lebovici, and Jacques Rancière each adopt a distinctive approach to the making, undoing, and remaking of aesthetic images in contemporary art and their political significance. From Italy, Antonio Negri, Maurizio Lazzarato, Judith Revel, and Franco Berardi each address the “immaterial” situation of contemporary art. From Germany, Peter Sloterdijk, Peter Weibel, and Boris Groys reassess the contemporary legacy of postwar art, demonstrating appropriations of vitalism, structuralism, and deconstruction, respectively.
Text and Image via MIT Press
Is the Internet a vast arena of unrestricted communication and freely exchanged information or a regulated, highly structured virtual bureaucracy? In Protocol, Alexander Galloway argues that the founding principle of the Net is control, not freedom, and that the controlling power lies in the technical protocols that make network connections (and disconnections) possible. He does this by treating the computer as a textual medium that is based on a technological language, code. Code, he argues, can be subject to the same kind of cultural and literary analysis as any natural language; computer languages have their own syntax, grammar, communities, and cultures. Instead of relying on established theoretical approaches, Galloway finds a new way to write about digital media, drawing on his backgrounds in computer programming and critical theory. “Discipline-hopping is a necessity when it comes to complicated socio-technical topics like protocol,” he writes in the preface.
Galloway begins by examining the types of protocols that exist, including TCP/IP, DNS, and HTML. He then looks at examples of resistance and subversion—hackers, viruses, cyberfeminism, Internet art—which he views as emblematic of the larger transformations now taking place within digital culture. Written for a nontechnical audience, Protocol serves as a necessary counterpoint to the wildly utopian visions of the Net that were so widespread in earlier days.
Text and Image via MIT PRESS
The HIV epidemic animates this collection of essays by a noted artist, writer, and activist. “So total was the burden of illness—mine and others’—that the only viable response, other than to cease making art entirely, was to adjust to the gravity of the predicament by using the crisis as a lens,” writes Gregg Bordowitz, a film- and video-maker whose best-known works, Fast Trip Long Drop (1993) and Habit (2001), address AIDS globally and personally. In The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous—the title essay is inspired by Charles Ludlam, founder of the Ridiculous Theater Company—Bordowitz follows in the tradition of artist-writers Robert Smithson and Yvonne Rainer by making writing an integral part of an artistic practice.
Bordowitz has left his earliest writings for the most part unchanged—to preserve, he says, “both the youthful exuberance and the palpable sense of fear” created by the early days of the AIDS crisis. After these early essays, the writing becomes more experimental, sometimes mixing fiction and fact; included here is a selection of Bordowitz’s columns from the journal Documents, “New York Was Yesterday.” Finally, in his newest essays he reformulates early themes, and, in “My Postmodernism” (written for Artforum’s fortieth anniversary issue) and “More Operative Assumptions” (written especially for this book), he reexamines the underlying ideas of his practice and sums up his theoretical concerns.
In his mature work, Bordowitz seeks to join the subjective—the experience of having a disease—and the objective—the fact of the disease as a global problem. He believes that this conjunction is necessary for understanding and fighting the crisis. “If it can be written,” he says, “then it can be realized.”
Text and Image via MIT PRESS
Bruno Latour’s forthcoming book, An Inquiry into Modes of Existence. We discuss his intellectual trajectory leading up to actor–network theory and the pluralistic philosophy underlying his new, ‘positive’ anthropology of modernity.
Bruno Latour’s work on actor–network theory (ANT) put him at the forefront of a wave of ethnographic research on scientists ‘in action’ in their laboratories and in the wider world. Starting with 1979’s Laboratory Life, his many books, written independently and in collaboration, have traced the chains of reference that connect instrumental inscriptions in labs to factual statements in journals and, eventually, to the laws of nature found in textbooks. Along the way, he has shown, facts take on increasing ontological weight, growing increasingly ‘universal’ through extensions of the scale and reach of networks and alliances between humans and nonhumans. His work has also contributed to rethinkings of modernity, leading scholars to study how scientists, engineers, and their heterogeneous allies have redefined and transformed both nature and society. Compelling, controversial, and constantly on the move, Latour’s arguments and collective projects have helped orient many research perspectives in Science and Technology Studies (STS) over the past three decades, creating bridges between science studies and anthropology, history, literary studies, art history, and environmental studies; philosophers have also increasingly engaged with his ideas (e.g. Bennett, 2010; Harman, 2009; Rouse, 1987; as well as Latour, 2010).
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Isabelle Stengers is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting figures in the panorama of contemporary philosophy. A mobilized scientist who chose desertion, a free electron of thought, she has finally found refuge in the philosophy department at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where she initiates students into the abstract charms of Alfred North Whitehead’s speculative philosophy on the one hand, and the political practices of neo-pagan witches borne from the anti-globalization movement on the other. Her prolific theoretical output is both open and original. One dimension of her thought has initiated a renewal of the relationship between the sciences and philosophy, particularly in The New Alliance (1979), written with Nobel Prize wining chemist Ilya Prygogine, and in The Invention of Modern Science (1993), winner of the Prix Quinquennal de L’essai (1996). A second key aspect of Stengers’ philosophy has developed into a constructivist-inspired cosmopolitical reflection around the concept of an ecology of practices, as in Cosmopolitics I and II (1997/2003), Capitalist Sorcery (2005), and Au temps des catastrophes (2009). Between these two poles, there is one question that cuts across all of her work: “What has rendered us so vulnerable, so ready to justify the destruction committed in the name of progress?” This decisive problematic is animated by a vital exigency long ago articulated by William James and relayed by Gilles Deleuze: To believe in the world. It is with remarkable generosity that she agreed to this interview, which took place in July 2010, at her ULB office. —Erik Bordeleau
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