Henri Lefebvre’s magnum opus: a monumental exploration of contemporary society.
Critique of Everyday Life Volume One: Introduction. A groundbreaking analysis of the alienating phenomena of daily life under capitalism.
Critique of Everyday Life Volume Two: Foundations for a Sociology of the Everyday. Identifies categories within everyday life, such as the theory of the semantic field and the theory of moments.
Critique of Everyday Life Volume Three: From Modernity to Modernism. Explores the crisis of modernity and the decisive assertion of technological modernism.
Verso Books: Henri Lefebvre’s three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers. Written at the birth of post-war consumerism, the Critique was a philosophical inspiration for the 1968 student revolution in France and is considered to be the founding text of all that we know as cultural studies, as well as a major influence on the fields of contemporary philosophy, geography, sociology, architecture, political theory and urbanism. A work of enormous range and subtlety, Lefebvre takes as his starting-point and guide the “trivial” details of quotidian experience: an experience colonized by the commodity, shadowed by inauthenticity, yet one which remains the only source of resistance and change.
This is an enduringly radical text, untimely today only in its intransigence and optimism.
Text and Images via Verso Books
Surrealist and Sociologist Roger Caillois was known for his writings on biomimicry, especially within the insect world, pareidolia and lithic scrying. His latter interest provided us with The Writing of Stones, a book in which he unravels the ‘unfathomable graphic madness’ etched onto the rocks contained within the ‘archives of geology’. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a species of rock – in each he channels ever increasingly dense, extravagant, and at times morbid tales from the authorless inscriptions each stone contains.
“Life appears: a complex dampness, destined to an intricate future and charged with secret virtues, capable of challenge and creation. A kind of precarious slime, of surface mildew, in which a ferment is already working. A turbulent, spasmodic sap, a presage and expectation of a new way of being, breaking with mineral perpetuity and boldly exchanging it for the doubtful privilege of being able to tremble, decay, and multiply.”
About the book, from the flaps:
The Writing of Stones is a fascinating meditation on the human imagination contemplating the interior of stones. Caillois examines patterns that are revealed by polishing sections of minerals such as agate, jasper, and onyx. He considers the impact these configurations have had upon the human imagination throughout history and he reviews man’s attempt to categorize and explain them.
Marguerite Yourcenar [in her introduction] points out that “there had taken place in [his] intellect the equivalent of the Copernican revolution: man was no longer the center of the universe, except in the sense that the center is everywhere; man, like all the rest, was a cog in the whole system of turning wheels. Quite early on, having entered ‘the forbidden laboratories,’ Caillois applied himself to the study of diagonals which link the species, of the recurrent phenomena that act, so to speak as a matrix of forms.” Caillois found the presence throughout the universe of a sensibility and a consciousness analogous to our own. One way which this consciousness expresses itself is in a “natural fantasy” that is evident in the pictures found in stones. Man’s own aesthetic may then be no more than one of many manifestations of an all-pervasive aesthetic that reveals itself in the natural world.
The Writing of Stones PDF
Two eyes, aligned horizontally, above a nose, above a mouth. These are the basic elements of a face, as your brain knows quite well. Within about 200 milliseconds of seeing a picture, the brain can decide whether it’s a face or some other object. It can detect subtle differences between faces, too — walking around at my family reunion, for example, many faces look similar, and yet I can easily distinguish Sue from Ann from Pam.
Our fascination with faces exists, to some extent, on the day we’re born. Studies of newborn babies have shown that they prefer to look at face-like pictures. A 1999 study showed, for example, that babies prefer a crude drawing of a lightbulb “head” with squares for its eyes and nose compared with the same drawing with the nose above the eyes. “I believe the youngest we tested was seven minutes old,” says Cathy Mondloch, professor of psychology at Brock University in Ontario, who worked on that study. “So it’s there right from the get-go.”
Excerpt from an article written by Virginia Hughes at NatGeo. Continue THERE
A new theory of viral relationality beyond the biological
In this thought-provoking work, Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Virality does not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors; it instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is how society comes together and relates.
Virality: Contagion Theory in the Age of Networks
What, if any, evolutionary advantage does intelligence give us?
Actually, less intelligent people are better at doing most things. In the ancestral environment general intelligence was helpful only for solving a handful of evolutionarily novel problems.
Suggested reading: “The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life” by Herrnstein, Richard J. and Charles Murray (1994)
You mean our ancestors did not really have to reason?
Evolution equipped humans with solutions for a whole range of problems of survival and reproduction. All they had to do was to behave in the ways in which evolution had designed them to behave—eat food that tastes good, have sex with the most attractive mates. However, for a few evolutionarily novel problems, evolution equipped us with general intelligence so that our ancestors could reason in order to solve them. These evolutionarily novel problems were few and far between. Basically, dealing with any type of major natural disaster that is very infrequent in occurrence would require general intelligence.
Suggested reading: “Evolutionary Psychology and Intelligence Research” by Satoshi Kanazawa, in American Psychologist; 65: 279-289 (2010)
Excerpt of an interview with Satoshi Kanazawa on intelligence. Continue HERE
SATOSHI KANAZAWA is Reader in Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written over 80 articles across the fields of psychology, sociology, political science, economics, anthropology and biology. One such was his widely reported article “Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent” (2010). His latest book is called “The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn’t Always the Smart One” (2012).
“Eastern Europe as such was never “backward” and marginality is the least of the region’s problems, argues Daniel Chirot. While some countries have shaken off the “post-communist” tag, in others it remains apt; meanwhile, new disparities are generating a leftwing revival that show pronouncements of the end of ideology to have been rash.”
Read interview at Eurozine
Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space employs the theme park in identifying, dissecting and describing the properties of PROPASt – privately-owned publicly accessible space in a themed mode – a hybrid form of public space emerging in urban environments worldwide Mitrasinovic does not propose that theme parks and PROPASt are, or will ever become, desirable substitutes for democratic public space, but deliberately cuts across the theme park model in order to understand the principle of systematic totality employed when such a model is used to revitalize urban public space in the United States, Asia and Europe. In doing so, Mitrasinovic has created compelling and multifaceted inferences out of a plethora of minute details on the design and production of theme parks across continents. Mitrasinovic s central argument is that the process of systematic totalization that brings theme parks and PROPASt into the same conceptual framework is not only obvious through formal similarities, but also through systemic and symbolic analogies: through values, conditions and techniques that have been extended upon the entire social realm. By illuminating the relationship between theme parks and public space, this book offers critical insights into the ethos of total landscape, a condition that emerges from overpowering convergences of the following three domains: a/ a globally emerging socio-economic system organized upon the idea of systematic totality; b/ a material apparatus that establishes its dominance on the ground; and c/ a system of totalizing narratives -designed and operated by the media and entertainment industry- that establish its dominance in cultural imaginations across national boundaries. One of the central premises of this book is that theme parks and PROPASt are complex artifacts designed to materialize such convergences and to spatialize corresponding social and environmental relationships. Mitrasinovic builds his compelling narrative by simultaneously studying phenomena, processes, practices, and forms interwoven in the types of spatial production characteristic of the total landscape. In parallel, Mitrasinovic systematically builds the argument for the necessity of a meta-disciplinary conception of the artificial by juxtaposing and integrating a great variety of insights from both emerging and established fields. In that respect, this book is an essential guide to those interested in cities and urban futures, particularly to scholars and students of urbanism, architecture, design studies, cultural studies, media studies, geography, anthropology, sociology, economy, and marketing.
Download PDF HERE
Text via Amazon
Our ears can’t blink. It is an observation that is frequently raised in areas of study such as biology, sociology and sound theory. This is used to demonstrate how valuable listening has been to our evolutionary development. It also points to why noise is so intrusive and imposing since we can’t easily block it out. The pervasive use of headphones in populated environments represents one way in which listeners maintain some level of control over their personal audio space.
The Noisolation Headphones are a critical investigation that transforms the relationship between a person and the noise in their environment. This electromechanical listening appendage is designed to exist directly between a listener and the noise that surrounds them. While worn, exposure to the noise is structured through a sequence designated by a composer which controls the behavior of the sound-prevention valves. The composer also determines what values are adjustable by the listener through the single knob built into the device. The headphones mechanically create a personal listening experience by composing noise from the listener’s environment, rendering it differently familiar.
An invention for mechanically transforming the relationship between a person and the noise that immediately surrounds them. This project is part of the graduate thesis “Listening Instruments” by Alex Braidwood. Additional experiments, collaborations, research and writings are available at listeninginstruments.com
Speakers: Professor Craig Calhoun, Professor Bruno Latour, Alan Rusbridger, Professor Judy Wajcman, David Adjaye, Professor Geoff Mulgan, Lord Richard Rogers, Polly Toynbee.
This event was recorded on 14 May 2010 in Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building.
In this exciting half-day conference two panels on ‘Public Life and Public Policy’ and ‘Cities and the Public Realm’, discuss these themes in the context of the work of Professor Sennett, the eminent sociologist whose recent books include The Culture of the New Capitalism and The Craftsman.
W.W. Norton & Company is the oldest and largest employee-owned publishing house in the U.S., and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with their college textbook department on a variety of incredibly inspiring projects. One of those collaborations has just been published, and is hitting campuses across the country as we write this case study.
The 8th edition of Introduction to Sociology features a series of 20 full-page information graphics designed by Kiss Me I’m Polish, covering a vast array of topics such as internet connectivity, incarceration rates, and gender empowerment. As an added bonus, a few our initial concepts for a timeline of key sociological works, ultimately led to the design of the book’s cover, the accompanying poster, and a set of promotional buttons featuring prominent sociologists. The poster and cover are, respectively, text and non-text representations of a conceptual map delineating all of the topics and sociologists featured in the textbook.
Via Kiss Me I’m Polish
Steve Fuller is a sociology professor who’s interested in how technological enhancements can improve the human body and mind. This could lead to a world full of superhumans, like Robocop but without the desire to brutalise criminals. There’s a whole movement that thinks this way and it’s called transhumanism. The idea is that technology can help us live longer, be stronger and faster and more intelligent, and generally make us better human beings than the pathetic mortals we are now.
So, maybe in a near future, race and wealth divides will be replaced by those who have technological enhancements and those who are just boring old flesh and blood. Maybe we’ll go to the doctors for updates similar to those for computer software, or there’ll be plastic surgery for the brain. Maybe you didn’t get that job because a cyborg had a better CV than you. Sounds like sci-fi, but it could be reality if the transhumanists are right. Let’s just hope we don’t end up looking like rejects from the Black Eyed Peas.
VICE: Your new book’s called Humanity 2.0. Do you think, as a species, we need upgrading?
Let’s put it this way: Humans are distinguished from other creatures by our seemingly endless need for collective upgrading. In many cases, we didn’t ‘need’ these enhancements to survive as a species. For example, without mass vaccines, Homo sapiens would still be around, though there would probably be fewer of us and we’d live shorter lives. However, we have ‘needed’ these upgrades to define ourselves as a species – to create some distance between ourselves and the other animals: namely, we are the animal that tries to comprehend and control not just the immediate physical environment, but everything. Humans have been acting on this idea – or fantasy – for at least the last four of five hundred years.
By Kevin Holmes at VICE. Continue HERE
Continuing from the Dawn of Social Networks: Ancestors May Have Formed Ties With Both Kin and Non-Kin Based On Shared Attributes. HERE
If you ever sit back and wonder what it might have been like to live in the late Pleistocene, you’re not alone. That’s right about when humans emerged from a severe population bottleneck and began to expand globally. But, apparently, life back then might not have been too different than how we live today (that is, without the cars, the written language, and of course, the smartphone). In this week’s Nature, a group of researchers suggest that we share many social characteristics with humans that lived in the late Pleistocene, and that these ancient humans may have paved the way for us to cooperate with each other.
Modern human social networks share several features, whether they operate within a group of schoolchildren in San Francisco or a community of millworkers in Bulgaria. The number of social ties a person has, the probability that two of a person’s friends are also friends, and the inclination for similar people to be connected are all very regular across groups of people living very different lives in far-flung places.
So, the researchers asked, are these traits universal to all groups of humans, or are they merely byproducts of our modern world? They also wanted to understand the social network traits that allowed cooperation to develop in ancient communities.
Written by By Kate Shaw, Ars Technica. Continue on Wired HERE
Ancient humans may not have had the luxury of updating their Facebook status, but social networks were nevertheless an essential component of their lives, a new study suggests.
The study’s findings describe elements of social network structures that may have been present early in human history, suggesting how our ancestors may have formed ties with both kin and non-kin based on shared attributes, including the tendency to cooperate. According to the paper, social networks likely contributed to the evolution of cooperation.
“The astonishing thing is that ancient human social networks so very much resemble what we see today,” said Nicholas Christakis, professor of medical sociology and medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and senior author on the study. “From the time we were around campfires and had words floating through the air, to today when we have digital packets floating through the ether, we’ve made networks of basically the same kind.”
“We found that what modern people are doing with online social networks is what we’ve always done — not just before Facebook, but before agriculture,” said study co-author James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego, who, with Christakis, has authored a number of seminal studies of human social networks.
Via Science Daily. Continue HERE
Image above: The Hadza of Tanzania live as hunter-gatherers. (Credit: Courtesy of Coren Apicella/Harvard Medical School)