Mark Pennington argues political systems should be decentralized in order to facilitate experimental learning about distributive justice. Pointing out the problems with Pennington's Hayekian formulation, I reframe his argument as an extension of the Millian idea of 'experiments in living.' However, the experimental case for decentralization is limited in several ways. Even if decentralization improves our knowledge about justice, it impedes the actual implementation of all conceptions of justice other than libertarianism. I conclude by arguing for the compatibility of (...) egalitarian redistribution with the epistemic virtues of markets pointed out by Hayek. (shrink)
HLA Hart and Joseph Raz are usually interpreted as being fundamentally opposed to Lon Fuller’s argument in The Morality of Law that the principles of the rule of law are of moral value. Hart and Raz are thought to make the ‘instrumental objection’, which says that these principles are of no moral value because they are actually principles derived from reflection on how to best allow the law to guide behaviour. Recently, many theorists have come to Fuller’s defence against Hart (...) and Raz, refuting the ‘instrumental objection’ and affirming the non-instrumental moral value of conformity to the principles of legality. This article argues that although this moral value should be affirmed, the orthodox view is incorrect, because Hart and Raz never understood their arguments about the instrumental or ‘purposive’ value of the principles of legality as denials of their moral value, as a close reading of their work shows. (shrink)
Various researchers have suggested that below 7 years of age children do not recognize that they are the authority on knowledge about themselves, a suggestion that seems counter-intuitive because it raises the possibility that children do not appreciate their privileged first-person access to their own minds. Unlike previous research, children in the current investigation quantified knowledge and even 5-year-olds tended to assign relatively more to themselves than to an adult (Studies 1 and 2). Indeed, children's estimations were different from ratings (...) made by their mothers: Their mothers sometimes rated themselves as knowing more about their child than they rated their child as knowing (Study 2). While previous research seemed to suggest that children shift from viewing their mother to viewing themselves as the authority on knowledge about them (the children), these new findings surprisingly suggest the opposite. (shrink)
The context for these interviews was a seminar [Peter Gratton] conducted on speculative realism in the Spring 2010. There has been great interest in speculative realism and one reason Gratton surmise[s] is not just the arguments offered, though [Gratton doesn't] want to take away from them; each of these scholars are vivid writers and great pedagogues, many of whom are in constant contact with their readers via their weblogs. Thus these interviews provided an opportunity to forward student questions about their (...) respective works. Though each were conducted on different occasions, the interviews stand as a collected work, tying together the most classical questions about “realism” to ancillary movements about the non-human in politics, ecology, aesthetics, and video gaming—all to point to future movements in this philosophical area. (shrink)
In his New Essays on Human Understanding, Leibniz presents an extended critical commentary on Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Leibniz read some of Locke’s work in English and then, a few years later, the whole of it in French, a language in which he was more comfortable. Over a period of about two further years, on and off, he wrote his New Essays, which he finished at about the time Locke died and which was not published until about half a (...) century after Leibniz’s death. (He left them unpublished partly because they had been motivated by a hope of getting Locke to reply, and Locke’s death put an end to that; though his character made it a forlorn hope in any case.) The New Essays has been an important work: for one thing, Kant read it on its first appearance, and scholars say that this was a decisive event in his philosophical development. Anyway, given that this is one of Leibniz’s only two philosophical works of substantial book length, in all the torrent that poured from his pen, and given also that it is focused - critically but with respect and careful attentiveness - on the greatest classic of English philosophy, it is surprising that the New Essays had to wait until 1981 for a usable English translation.1 In 1896 there was published a sort of translation by A. G. Langley;2 but it is inaccurate far beyond the bounds of normal incompetence, as well as being grimly unreadable for stylistic reasons. As Chesterton once said about The Origin of Species, it is surprising how many people think they have read it, but I'll bet that nobody alive has slogged through the Langley version from cover to cover. It is a pity that the work was not decently available in English for nearly three centuries, because even for those who can read the French of, say, Descartes, Leibniz’s French is difficult. He reserved his native German for writings on history and politics, using French and Latin for philosophy and mathematics; presumably French was chosen for the New Essays because Leibniz wanted to respond to a popular work by a popular work.. (shrink)
Few stage plays have much to do with analytic philosophy: Tom Stoppard has written two of them— Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Jumpers . The contrast between these, especially in how they involve philosophy, could hardly be greater. Rosencrantz does not parade its philosophical content; but the philosophy is there all the same, and it is solid, serious and functional. In contrast with this, the philosophy which is flaunted throughout Jumpers is thin and uninteresting, and it serves the play (...) only in a decorative and marginal way. Its main effect has been to induce timidity in reviewers who could not see the relevance to the play of the large stretches of academic philosophy which it contains. Since the relevance doesn't exist, the timidity was misplaced, and so the kid gloves need not have been used. Without doubting that I would have enjoyed the work as performed on the London stage, aided by the talent of Michael Hordern and the charm of Diana Rigg, I don't doubt either that Jumpers is a poor effort which doesn't deserve its current success. I shan't argue for that, however. I want only to explain why Jumpers is not a significantly philosophical play, before turning to the more important and congenial task of showing that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is one. (shrink)
In the West, one might say that understanding Sufism is a difficult task. Without authentic information and deep empathy, one has to contend with only the language about Sufism. The words cut off from the Sufi practices represent a simulacrum of Sufism, not its reality.In this thoroughly researched book, Sedgwick is confident enough as a historian to start from Plotinus and end with Ian Dallas and John G. Bennett, touching almost all issues that he finds related to Sufism and (...) visiting almost all the intellectuals whom he associates with Sufi practices in the West. The book is divided into four parts, fourteen chapters, and fifty-one sub-chapters and has a seventeen-page index of names and concepts. All illustrate... (shrink)
Arguing against the doctrine of double effect, Bennett claims that the terror bomber only intends to make his victims appear dead. An obvious reply is that he intends to make them appear dead by killing them. I argue that the alleged refutations of this reply rest on a mistaken test question to determine what an agent intends, as Bennett's own test question confirms, and that Bennett is misled by confusing metaphorical death and literal death. Moreover, Bennett's (...) argument is half-hearted anyway, and going the whole way would not only undermine the DDE but also Quinn's revision of it. (shrink)
In this paper I outline the main features of Karen Bennett’s (Australasian Journal of Philosophy 1–21, 2011) non-classical mereology, and identify its methodological costs. I argue that Bennett’s mereology cannot account for the composition of structural universals because it cannot explain the mereological difference between isomeric universals, such as being butane and being isobutane. I consider responses, which come at costs to the view.
The purpose of this note is to tidy up some matters concerning ascriptions of intention and the employment of the doctrine of double effect (henceforth DDE). I first argue that Jonathan Bennett’s efforts to show that DDE is a foolish doctrine are unsatisfactory. I then consider a puzzle of Mark Johnston’s that seems to pose a problem for the defender of DDE. I turn to possible solutions to the puzzle, criticize one, and then offer the one I find (...) most appealing. I then show how my proposal for employing DDE enables it to make some distinctions between courses of conduct without issuing foolish pronouncements about moral permissibility. (shrink)
Karen Bennett has recently argued that the views articulated by Linsky and Zalta (Philos Perspect 8:431–458, 1994) and (Philos Stud 84:283–294, 1996) and Plantinga (The nature of necessity, 1974) are not consistent with the thesis of actualism, according to which everything is actual. We present and critique her arguments. We first investigate the conceptual framework she develops to interpret the target theories. As part of this effort, we question her definition of ‘proxy actualism’. We then discuss her main arguments (...) that the theories carry a commitment to actual entities that do not exist. We end by considering and addressing a worry that might have been the driving force behind Bennett’s claim that Linsky and Zalta’s view is not fully actualistic. (shrink)
Intentionality and phenomenal consciousness are the main candidates to provide a ‘ mark of the mental’. Rorty, who thinks the category ‘mental’ lacks any underlying unity, suggests a challenge to these positions: to explain how intentionality or phenomenal consciousness alone could generate a mental-physical contrast. I argue that a failure to meet Rorty’s challenge would present a serious indictment of the concept of mind, even though Rorty’s own position is untenable. I then argue that both intentionalism and proposals such (...) as Searle’s ‘Connection Principle’ fail to satisfy this explanatory burden. I conclude with the suggestion that only introspectibility may be able to unite intentional and phenomenal states whilst meeting Rorty’s challenge. (shrink)
Karen Bennett argues that there is no distinct problem with metaphysics, and she proposes a disjunctive conception of the subject matter of metaphysics. This paper critically examines her arguments and positive view. I defend that metaphysics prima facie is distinctly problematic, and I raise some questions about Bennett’s disjunctive conception of the subject matter of metaphysics and the a priori aspect of its methodology.
Ever since Jonathan Bennett wrote about Huckleberry Finn's conscience in 1974, Mark Twain's young hero has played a small but noteworthy role in the moral philosophy and moral psychology literature. Following Bennett, philosophers read Huck as someone who consistently follows his heart and does the right thing in a pinch, firmly believing all the while that what he does is morally wrong.1 Specifically, according to this reading, Huck has racist beliefs that he never consciously questions; but in (...) practice he consistently defies those beliefs to do the right thing in the context of his relationship with his Black companion, Jim. Because of this, Huck is morally admirable, but unusual. Perhaps he is an "inverse... (shrink)
continent. 1.1 : 3-13. / 0/ – Introduction I want to propose, as a trajectory into the philosophically weird, an absurd theoretical claim and pursue it, or perhaps more accurately, construct it as I point to it, collecting the ground work behind me like the Perpetual Train from China Mieville's Iron Council which puts down track as it moves reclaiming it along the way. The strange trajectory is the following: Kant's critical philosophy and much of continental philosophy which has followed, (...) has been a defense against horror and madness. Kant's prohibition on speculative metaphysics such as dogmatic metaphysics and transcendental realism, on thinking beyond the imposition of transcendental and moral constraints, has been challenged by numerous figures proceeding him. One of the more interesting critiques of Kant comes from the mad black Deleuzianism of Nick Land stating, “Kant’s critical philosophy is the most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth.” And while Alain Badiou would certainly be opposed to the libidinal investments of Land's Deleuzo-Guattarian thought, he is likewise critical of Kant's normative thought-bureaucracies: Kant is the one author for whom I cannot feel any kinship. Everything in him exasperates me, above all his legalism—always asking Quid Juris? Or ‘Haven’t you crossed the limit?’—combined, as in today’s United States, with a religiosity that is all the more dismal in that it is both omnipresent and vague. The critical machinery he set up has enduringly poisoned philosophy, while giving great succour to the academy, which loves nothing more than to rap the knuckles of the overambitious [….] That is how I understand the truth of Monique David-Menard’s reflections on the properly psychotic origins of Kantianism. I am persuaded that the whole of the critical enterprise is set up to to shield against the tempting symptom represented by the seer Swedenborg, or against ‘diseases of the head’, as Kant puts it. An entire nexus of the limits of reason and philosophy are set up here, namely that the critical philosophy not only defends thought from madness, philosophy from madness, and philosophy from itself, but that philosophy following the advent of the critical enterprise philosophy becomes auto-vampiric; feeding on itself to support the academy. Following Francois Laruelle's non-philosophical indictment of philosophy, we could go one step further and say that philosophy operates on the material of what is philosophizable and not the material of the external world.  Beyond this, the Kantian scheme of nestling human thinking between our limited empirical powers and transcendental guarantees of categorical coherence, forms of thinking which stretch beyond either appear illegitimate, thereby liquefying both pre-critical metaphysics and the ravings of the mad in the same critical acid. In rejecting the Kantian apparatus we are left with two entities – an unsure relation of thought to reality where thought is susceptible to internal and external breakdown and a reality with an uncertain sense of stability. These two strands will be pursued, against the sane-seal of post-Kantian philosophy by engaging the work of weird fiction authors H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti. The absolute inhumanism of the formers universe will be used to describe a Shoggothic Materialism while the dream worlds of the latter will articulate the mad speculation of a Ventriloquil Idealism. But first we must address the relation of philosophy to madness as well as philosophy to weird fiction. /1/ – Philosophy and Madness There is nothing that the madness of men invents which is not either nature made manifest or nature restored. Michel Foucault. Madness and Civilization. The moment I doubt whether an event that I recall actually took place, I bring the suspicion of madness upon myself: unless I am uncertain as to whether it was not a mere dream. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Idea, Vol. 3. Madness is commonly thought of as moving through several well known cultural-historical shifts from madness as a demonic or otherwise theological force, to rationalization, to medicalization psychiatric and otherwise. Foucault's Madness and Civilization is well known for orientating madness as a form of exclusionary social control which operated by demarcating madness from reason. Yet Foucault points to the possibility of madness as the necessity of nature at least prior to the crushing weight of the church. Kant’s philosophy as a response to madness is grounded by his humanizing of madness itself. As Adrian Johnston points out in the early pages of Time Driven pre-Kantian madness meant humans were seized by demonic or angelic forces whereas Kantian madness became one of being too human. Madness becomes internalized, the external demonic forces become flaws of the individual mind. Foucault argues that, while madness is de-demonized it is also dehumanized during the Renaissance, as madmen become creatures neither diabolic nor totally human reduced to the zero degree of humanity. It is immediately clear why for Kant, speculative metaphysics must be curbed – with the problem of internal madness and without the external safeguards of transcendental conditions, there is nothing to formally separate the speculative capacities for metaphysical diagnosis from the mad ramblings of the insane mind – both equally fall outside the realm of practicality and quotidian experience. David-Menard's work is particularly useful in diagnosing the relation of thought and madness in Kant's texts. David-Menard argues that in Kant's relatively unknown “An Essay on the Maladies of the Mind” as well as his later discussion of the Seer of Swedenborg, that Kant formulates madness primarily in terms of sensory upheaval or other hallucinatory theaters. She writes: “madness is an organization of thought. It is made possible by the ambiguity of the normal relation between the imaginary and the perceived, whether this pertains to the order of sensation or to the relations between our ideas” Kant's fascination with the Seer forces Kant between the pincers of “aesthetic reconciliation” – namely melancholic withdrawal – and “a philosophical invention” – namely the critical project. Deleuze and Guattari's schizoanalysis is a combination and reversal of Kant's split, where an aesthetic over engagement with the world entails prolific conceptual invention. Their embrace of madness, however, is of course itself conceptual despite all their rhizomatic maneuvers. Though they move with the energy of madness, Deleuze and Guattari save the capacity of thought from the fangs of insanity by imbuing materiality itself with the capacity for thought. Or, as Ray Brassier puts it, “Deleuze insists, it is necessary to absolutize the immanence of this world in such a way as to dissolve the transcendent disjunction between things as we know them and as they are in themselves”. That is, whereas Kant relied on the faculty of judgment to divide representation from objectivity Deleuze attempts to flatten the whole economy beneath the juggernaut of ontological univocity. Speculation, as a particularly useful form of madness, might fall close to Deleuze and Guattari’s shaping of philosophy into a concept producing machine but is different in that it is potentially self destructive – less reliant on the stability of its own concepts and more adherent to exposing a particular horrifying swath of reality. Speculative madness is always a potential disaster in that it acknowledges little more than its own speculative power with the hope that the gibbering of at least a handful of hysterical brains will be useful. Pre-critical metaphysics amounts to madness, though this may be because the world itself is mad while new attempts at speculative metaphysics, at post-Kantian pre-critical metaphysics, are well aware of our own madness. Without the sobriety of the principle of sufficient reason we have a world of neon madness: “we would have to conceive what our life would be if all the movements of the earth, all the noises of the earth, all the smells, the tastes, all the light – of the earth and elsewhere, came to us in a moment, in an instant – like an atrocious screaming tumult of things”. Speculative thought may be participatory in the screaming tumult of the world or, worse yet, may produce its spectral double. Against theology or reason or simply commonsense, the speculative becomes heretical. Speculation, as the cognitive extension of the horrorific sublime should be met with melancholic detachment. Whereas Kant's theoretical invention, or productivity of thought, is self -sabotaging, since the advent of the critical project is a productivity of thought which then delimits the engine of thought at large either in dogmatic gestures or non-systematizable empirical wondrousness. The former is celebrated by the fiction of Thomas Ligotti whereas the latter is espoused by the tales of H.P. Lovecraft. /2/ – Weird Fiction and Philosophy. Supernatural horror, in all its eerie constructions, enables a reader to taste treats inconsistent with his personal welfare. Thomas Ligotti Songs of a Dead Dreamer. I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best—one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve,momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis H.P. Lovecraft. “Notes on Writing Weird Fiction” Lovecraft states that his creation of a story is to suspend natural law yet, at the same time, he indexes the tenuousness of such laws, suggesting the vast possibilities of the cosmic. The tension that Lovecraft sets up between his own fictions and the universe or nature is reproduced within his fictions in the common theme of the unreliable narrator; unreliable precisely because they are either mad or what they have witnessed questions the bounds of material reality. In “The Call of Cthulhu” Lovecraft writes: The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age. Despite Lovecraft's invocations of illusion, he is not claiming that his fantastic creations such as the Old Ones are supernatural but, following Joshi, are only ever supernormal. One can immediately see that instead of nullifying realism Lovecraft in fact opens up the real to an unbearable degree. In various letters and non-fictional statements Lovecraft espoused strictly materialist tenets, ones which he borrowed from Hugh Elliot namely the uniformity of law, the denial of teleology and the denial of non-material existence. Lovecraft seeks to explore the possibilities of such a universe by piling horror upon horror until the fragile brain which attempts to grasp it fractures. This may be why philosophy has largely ignored weird fiction – while Deleuze and Guattari mark the turn towards weird fiction and Lovecraft in particular, with the precursors to speculative realism as well as contemporary related thinkers have begun to view Lovecraft as making philosophical contributions. Lovecraft's own relation to philosophy is largely critical while celebrating Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. This relationship of Lovecraft to philosophy and philosophy to Lovecraft is coupled with Lovecraft's habit of mercilessly destroying the philosopher and the figure of the academic more generally in his work, a destruction which is both an epistemological destruction and an ontological destruction. Thomas Ligotti's weird fiction which he has designated as a kind of “confrontational escapism” might be best described in the following quote from one of his shortstories, “The human phenomenon is but the sum of densely coiled layers of illusion each of which winds itself on the supreme insanity. That there are persons of any kind when all there can be is mindless mirrors laughing and screaming as they parade about in an endless dream”. Whereas Lovecraft's weirdness draws predominantly from the abyssal depths of the uncharted universe, Ligotti's existential horror focuses on the awful proliferation of meaningless surfaces that is, the banal and every day function of representation. In an interview, Ligotti states: We don't even know what the world is like except through our sense organs, which are provably inadequate. It's no less the case with our brains. Our whole lives are motored along by forces we cannot know and perceptions that are faulty. We sometimes hear people say that they're not feeling themselves. Well, who or what do they feel like then? This is not to say that Ligotti sees nothing beneath the surface but that there is only darkness or blackness behind it, whether that surface is on the cosmological level or the personal. By addressing the implicit and explicit philosophical issues in Ligotti's work we will see that his nightmarish take on reality is a form of malevolent idealism, an idealism which is grounded in a real, albeit dark and obscure materiality. If Ligotti's horrors ultimately circle around mad perceptions which degrade the subject, it takes aim at the vast majority of the focus of continental philosophy. While Lovecraft's acidic materialism clearly assaults any romantic concept of being from the outside, Ligotti attacks consciousness from the inside: Just a little doubt slipped into the mind, a little trickle of suspicion in the bloodstream, and all those eyes of ours, one by one, open up to the world and see its horror [...] Not even the solar brilliance of a summer day will harbor you from horror. For horror eats the light and digests it into darkness. Clearly, the weird fiction of Lovecraft and Ligotti amount to a anti-anthrocentric onslaught against the ramparts of correlationist continental philosophy. /3/ – Shoggothic Materialism or the Formless Formless protoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms and organs and processes—viscous agglutinations of bubbling cells—rubbery fifteen-foot spheroids infinitely plastic and ductile—slaves of suggestion, builders of cities—more and more sullen, more and more intelligent, more and more amphibious, more and more imitative—Great God! What madness made even those blasphemous Old Ones willing to use and to carve such things? H.P. Lovecraft. “At the Mountains of Madness” On the other hand, affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit. Georges Bataille. “Formless”. The Shoggoths feature most prominently in H.P. Lovecraft's shortstory “At the Mountains of Madness” where they are described in the following manner: It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train – a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self -luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. The term is a litmus test for materialism itself as the Shoggoth is an amorphous creature. The Shoggoths were living digging machines bio engineered by the Elder Things, and their protoplasmic bodies being formed into various tools by their hypnotic powers. The Shoggoths eventually became self aware and rose up against their masters in an ultimately failed rebellion. After the Elder Ones retreated into the oceans leaving the Shoggoths to roam the frozen wastes of the Antarctic. The onto-genesis of the Shoggoths and their gross materiality, index the horrifyingly deep time of the earth a concept near and dear to Lovecraft's formulation of horror as well as the fear of intelligences far beyond, and far before, the ascent of humankind on earth and elsewhere. The sickly amorphous nature of the Shoggoths invade materialism at large, where while materiality is unmistakably real ie not discursive, psychological, or otherwise overly subjectivist, it questions the relation of materialism to life. As Eugene Thacker writes: The Shoggoths or Elder Things do not even share the same reality with the human beings who encounter them—and yet this encounter takes place, though in a strange no-place that is neither quite that of the phenomenal world of the human subject or the noumenal world of an external reality. Amorphous yet definitively material beings are a constant in Lovecraft's tales. In his tale “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadatth” Lovecraft describes Azathoth as, “that shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe,” that, “last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blashphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity,” who, “gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time”. Azathoth's name may have multiple origins but the most striking is the alchemy term azoth which is both a cohesive agent and a acidic creation pointing back to the generative and the decayed. The indistinction of generation and degradation materially mirrors the blur between the natural and the unnatural as well as life and non-life. Lovecraft speaks of the tension between the natural and the unnatural is his short story “The Unnameable.” He writes, “if the psychic emanations of human creatures be grotesque distortions, what coherent representation could express or portray so gibbous and infamous a nebulousity as the spectre of a malign, chaotic perversion, itself a morbid blasphemy against Nature?”. Lovecraft explores exactly the tension outlined at the beginning of this chapter, between life and thought. At the end of his short tale Lovecraft compounds the problem as the unnameable is described as “a gelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory”. Deleuze suggests that becoming-animal is operative throughout Lovecraft's work, where narrators feel themselves reeling at their becoming non-human or of being the anomalous or of becoming atomized. Following Eugene Thacker however, it may be far more accurate to say that Lovecraft's tales exhibit not a becoming-animal but a becoming-creature. Where the monstrous breaks the purportedly fixed laws of nature, the creature is far more ontologically ambiguous. The nameless thing is an altogether different horizon for thought. The creature is either less than animal or more than animal – its becoming is too strange for animal categories and indexes the slow march of thought towards the bizarre. This strangeness is, as aways, some indefinite swirling in the category of immanence and becoming. Bataille begins “The Labyrinth” with the assertion that being, to continue to be, is becoming. More becoming means more being hence the assertion that Bataille's barking dog is more than the sponge. This would mean that the Shoggotth is altogether too much being, too much material in the materialism. Bataille suggests that there is an immanence between the eater and the eaten, across the species and never within them. That is, despite the chaotic storm of immanence there must remain some capacity to distinguish the gradients of becoming without reliance upon, or at least total dependence upon, the powers of intellection to parse the universe into recognizable bits, properly digestible factoids. That is, if we undo Deleuze's aforementioned valorization of sense which, for his variation of materialism, performed the work of the transcendental, but refuse to reinstate Kant's transcendental disjunction between thing and appearance, then it must be a quality of becoming-as-being itself which can account for the discernible nature of things by sense. In an interview with Peter Gratton, Jane Bennett formulates the problem thusly: What is this strange systematicity proper to a world of Becoming? What, for example, initiates this congealing that will undo itself? Is it possible to identify phases within this formativity, plateaus of differentiation? If so, do the phases/plateaus follow a temporal sequence? Or, does the process of formation inside Becoming require us to theorize a non-chronological kind of time? I think that your student’s question: “How can we account for something like iterable structures in an assemblage theory?” is exactly the right question. Philosophy has erred too far on the side of the subject in the subject-object relation and has furthermore, lost the very weirdness of the non-human. Beyond this, the madness of thought need not override. /4/ - Ventriloquial Idealism or the Externality of Thought My aim is the opposite of Lovecraft's. He had an appreciation for natural scenery on earth and wanted to reach beyond the visible in the universe. I have no appreciation for natural scenery and want the objective universe to be a reflection of a character. Thomas Ligotti. “Devotees of Decay and Desolation.” Unless life is a dream, nothing makes sense. For as a reality, it is a rank failure [….] Horror is more real than we are. Thomas Ligotti. “Professor Nobody's Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror”. Thomas Ligotti's tales are rife with mannequins, puppets, and other brainless entities which of replace the valorized subject of philosophy – that of the free thinking human being. His tales such as “The Dream of the Manikin” aim to destroy the rootedness of consciousness. James Trafford has connected the anti-egoism of Ligotti to Thomas Metzinger – where the self is at best an illusion and we plead desperately for someone else to acknowledge that we are real. Trafford has stated it thus, “Life is played out as an inescapable puppet show, an endless dream in which the puppets are generally unaware that they are trapped within a mesmeric dance of whose mechanisms they know nothing and over which they have no control”. An absolute materialism, for Ligotti, implies an alienation of the idea which leads to a ventriloquil idealism. As Ligotti notes in an interview, “the fiasco and nightmare of existence, the particular fiasco and nightmare of human existence, the sense that people are puppets of powers they cannot comprehend, etc.” And then further elaborates that,“[a]ssuming that anything has to exist, my perfect world would be one in which everyone has experienced the annulment of his or her ego. That is, our consciousness of ourselves as unique individuals would entirely disappear”. The externality of the idea leads to the unfortunate consequence of consciousness eating at itself through horror which, for Ligotti, is more real than reality and goes beyond horror-as-affect. Beyond this, taking together with the unreality of life and the ventriloquizing of subjectivity, Ligotti's thought becomes an idealism in which thought itself is alien and ultimately horrifying. The role of human thought and the relation of non-relation of horror to thought is not completely clear in Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Ligotti argues in his The Conspiracy Against the Human Race,that the advent of thought is a mistake of nature and that horror is being in the sense that horror results from knowing too much. Yet, at the same time, Ligotti seems to suggest that thought separates us from nature whereas, for Lovecraft, thought is far less privileged – mind is just another manifestation of the vital principal, it is just another materialization of energy. In his brilliant “Prospects for Post-Copernican Dogmatism” Iain Grant rallies against the negative definition of dogmatism and the transcendental, and suggests that negatively defining both over-focuses on conditions of access and subjectivism at the expense of the real or nature. With Schelling, who is Grant's champion against the subjectivist bastions of both Fichte and Kant, Ligotti's idealism could be taken as a transcendental realism following from an ontological realism. Yet the transcendental status of Ligotti's thought move towards a treatment of the transcendental which may threaten to leave beyond its realist ground. Ligotti states: Belief in the supernatural is only superstition. That said, a sense of the supernatural, as Conrad evidenced in Heart of Darkness, must be admitted if one's inclination is to go to the limits of horror. It is the sense of what should not be- the sense of being ravaged by the impossible. Phenomenally speaking, the super-natural may be regarded as the metaphysical counterpart of insanity, a transcendental correlative of a mind that has been driven mad. Again, Ligotti equates madness with thought, qualifying both as supernatural while remaining less emphatic about the metaphysical dimensions of horror. The question becomes one of how exactly the hallucinatory realm of the ideal relates to the black churning matter of Lovecraft's chaos of elementary particles. In his tale “I Have a Special Plan for This World” Ligotti formulates thus: A: There is no grand scheme of things. B: If there were a grand scheme of things, the fact – the fact – that we are not equipped to perceive it, either by natural or supernatural means, is a nightmarish obscenity. C: The very notion of a grand scheme of things is a nightmarish obscenity. Here Ligotti is not discounting metaphysics but implying that if it does exist the fact that we are phenomenologically ill-equipped to perceive that it is nightmarish. For Ligotti, nightmare and horror occur within the circuit of consciousness whereas for Lovecraft the relation between reality and mind is less productive on the side of mind. It is easier to ascertain how the Kantian philosophy is a defense against the diseases of the head as Kant armors his critical enterprise from too much of the world and too much of the mind. The weird fiction of both Lovecraft and Ligotti demonstrates that there is too much of both feeding into one another in a way that corrodes the Kantian schema throughly, breaking it down into a dead but still ontologically potentiated nigredo. The haunting, terrifying fact of Ligotti's idealism is that the transcendental motion which brought thought to matter, while throughly material and naturalized, brings with it the horror that thought cannot be undone without ending the material that bears it either locally or completely. Thought comes from an elsewhere and an elsewhen being-in-thought. The unthinkable outside thought is as maddening as the unthought engine of thought itself within thought which doesn't exist except for the mind, the rotting décor of the brain. /5/ - Hyperstitional Transcendental Paranoia or Self -Expelled Thought Weird fiction has been given some direct treatment in philosophy in the mad black Deleuzianism of Nick Land. Nick Land along with others in the 1990s created the Cyber Culture Research Unit as well as the research group Hyperstition. The now defunct hyperstitional website, an outgrowth of the Cyber Culture Research Unit, defined hyperstition in the following fourfold: 1-Element of effective culture that makes itself real. 2-Fictional quantity functional as a time-traveling device. 3-Coincidence intensifier. 4-Call to the Old Ones. The distinctively Lovecraftian character of hyperstition is hard to miss as is its Deleuzo-Guattarian roots. In the opening pages of A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari write, “We have been criticized for over-quoting literary authors. But when one writes, the only question is which other machine the literary machine can be plugged into”. The indisinction of literature and philosophy mirrors the mess of being and knowing as post-correlationist philosophy, where philosophy tries to make itself real where literature, especially the weird, aims itself at the brain-circuit of horror. The texts of both Lovecraft and Ligotti work through horror as epistemological plasticity meeting with proximity as well as the deep time of Lovecraft and the glacially slow time of paranoia in Ligotti. Against Deleuze, and following Brassier, we cannot allow the time of consciousness, the Bergsonian time of the duree, to override natural time, but instead acknowledge that it is an unfortunate fact of existence as a thinking being. Horror-time, the time of consciousness, with all its punctuated moments and drawn out terrors, cannot compare to the deep time of non-existence both in the unreachable past and the unknown future. The crystalline cogs of Kant's account of experience as the leading light for the possibility of metaphysics must be throughly obliterated. His gloss of experience in Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics could not be more sterile: Experience consists of intuitions, which belong to the sensibility, and of judgments, which are entirely a work of the understanding. But the judgments which the understanding makes entirely out of sensuous intuitions are far from being judgments of experience. For in the one case the judgment connects only the perceptions as they are given in sensuous intuition [....] Experience consists in the synthetic connection of appearances in consciousness, so far as this connection is necessary. Here it is difficult to dismiss the queasiness that Kant's legalism induces upon sight for both Badiou and David-Menard. Kant's thought becomes, as Foucault says when reflecting on Sade's text in relation to nature, “the savage abolition of itself”. For Badiou, Kant's philosophy simply closes off too much of the outside, freezing the world of thought in an all too limited formalism. Critical philosophy is simply the systematized quarantine on future thinking, on thinking which would threaten the formalism which artificially grants thought its own coherency in the face of madness. Even the becoming-mad of Deleuze, while escaping the rumbling ground, makes grounds for itself, mad grounds but grounds which are thinkable in their affect. The field of effects allows for Deleuze's aesthetic and radical empiricism, in which effects and/or occasions make up the material of the world to be thought as a chaosmosis of simulacra. Given a critique of an empiricism of aesthetics, of the image, it may be difficult to justify an attack on Kantian formalism with the madness of literature, which does not aim to make itself real but which we may attempt to make real. That is, how do Lovecraft's and Ligotti's materials, as materials for philosophy to work on, differ from either the operative formalisms of Kant or the implicitly formalized images of Deleuzian empiricism? It is simply that such texts do not aim to make themselves real, and make claims to the real which are more alien to us than familiar, which is why their horror is immediately more trustworthy. This is the madness which Blanchot discusses in The Infinite Conversation through Cervantes and his knight – the madness of book-life, of the perverse unity of literature and life a discussion which culminates in the discussion of one of the weird's masters, that of Kafka. The text is the knowing of madness, since madness, in its moment of becoming-more-mad, cannot be frozen in place but by the solidifications of externalizing production. This is why Foucault ends his famous study with works of art. Furthermore extilligence, the ability to export the products of our maligned brains, is the companion of the attempts to export, or discover the possibility of intelligences outside of our heads, in order for philosophy to survive the solar catastrophe. To borrow again from Deleuze, writing is inseparable from becoming. The mistake is to believe that madness is reabsorbed by extilligence, by great works, or that it could be exorcised by the expelling of thought into the inorganic or differently organic. Going out of our heads does not guarantee we will no longer mean we cannot still go out of our minds. This is simply because of the outside, of matter, or force, or energy, or thing-in-itself, or Schopenhauerian Will. In Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zahn” an “impoverished student of metaphysics” becomes intrigued by strange viol music coming from above his room. After meeting the musician the student discovers that each night he plays frantic music at a window in order to keep some horridness at bay, some “impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium”. The aesthetic defenses provided by the well trained brain can bear the hex of matter for so long, the specter of unalterability within it which too many minds obliterate, collapsing everything before the thought of thought as thinkable or at least noetically mutable on our own terms. Transcendental paranoia is the concurrent nightmare and promise of Paul Humphrey's work, of being literally out of our minds. It is the gothic counterpart of thinking non-conceptually but also of thinking never belonging to any instance of purportedly solid being. As Bataille stated, “At the boundary of that which escapes cohesion, he who reflects within cohesion realizes there is no longer any room for him” Thought is immaterial only to the degree that it is inhuman, it is a power that tries, always with failure, to ascertain its own genesis. Philosophy, if it can truly return to the great outdoors, if it can leave behind the dead loop of the human skull, must recognize not only the non-priority of human thought, but that thought never belongs to the brain that thinks it, thought comes from somewhere else. To return to the train image from the beginning “a locomotive rolling on the surface of the earth is the image of continuous metamorphosis” this is the problem of thought, and of thinking thought, of being no longer able to isolate thought, with only a thought-formed structure.  One of the central tenets of Francois Laruelle's non-philosophy is that philosophy has traditionally operated on material already presupposed as thinkable instead of trying to think the real in itself. Philosophy, according to Laruelle, remains fixated on transcendental synthesis which shatters immanence into an empirical datum and an a prori factum which are then fused by a third thing such as the ego. For a critical account of Laruelle's non-philosophy see Ray Brassier's Nihil Unbound. (shrink)
Do our minds extend beyond our brains? In a series of publications, Mark Rowlands has argued that the correct answer to this question is an affirmative one. According to Rowlands, certain types of operations on bodily and worldly structures should be considered to be proper and literal parts of our cognitive and mental processes. In this article, I present and critically evaluate Rowlands' position.
Since 2008 I have been closely following the conceptual/performance/video work of Daniel Peltz. Gently rendered through media installation, ethnographic, and performance strategies, Peltz’s work reverently and warmly engages the inner workings of social systems, leaving elegant rips and tears in any given socio/cultural quilt. He engages readymades (of social and media constructions) and uses what are identified as interruptionist/interventionist strategies to disrupt parts of an existing social system, thus allowing for something other to emerge. Like the stereoscope that requires two (...) identical images to create an illusion of a three-dimensional image, Peltz sometimes visualizes two separate elements to create an object or moment that requires space and depth to focus on its varied layers. They say your brain has to process and make meaningful sense out of all that visual information before it can accept the illusion. I say your brain has to do a similar thing when looking and seeing the divine, magical, and faithful (social) art making of Daniel Peltz. Daniel Peltz is Associate Professor of Film/Animation/Video at RISD. He divides his time between Rhode Island and Sweden and is currently at work on an exhibition at Botkyrka Konsthall, Stockholm opening February 2013 and a new project to be included in the IASKA: Spaced Biennial (Australia) in 2014. This interview took place on Skype and is part one of a two-part interview. Feliz Lucia Molina: Are you in Providence, RI? Daniel Peltz: I’m at my house in Providence. I’ve been back for six days teaching winter session at RISD and doing this workshop series—these investors’ drum circles with a group of wealth managers. a client of the firm, 2013, photo Shirin Adhami FLM: The wealth managers were all drumming together? DP: They were all drumming in response to the performance of their retirement portfolios. FLM: Is this part of the “Unrealized Gain/Loss” piece? DP: Yes, it’s part of a show I’m working on in Sweden. I can show you because it was just today. I’ll show you some of this. Lets see—share screen [click, click, click]. This is the room. I’ve been using the camera system that’s already installed in the conference rooms to record them. So the video is being recorded directly by the wealth management office’s tech staff. These are the people I worked with in the last workshop. This conference table is less wondrous. They’ve been learning to drum in response to their retirement portfolios. I started by bringing in my little bit of wealth for them to propose a management strategy, I came to the follow-up meeting with a counter proposal, which was this workshop. So they agreed to do this series of workshops instead of managing my wealth. FLM: Does everybody in the room manage your wealth? That’s kind of a lot of people. DP: That woman in the back there and Craig —they handle new client business. So when you come there with your wealth, they sit down with you and suggest to you how they would manage it. They’re very nice, responsible people. FLM: And where is this? DP: This is in Providence and the one I was showing you is in Waltham, where I was today. Then I’m going to Newport for the last one on Friday. So I will have done four of them. This is the group in Waltham that I just played with today. I played directly with the two groups in Providence and I’m working with an ethnomusicologist at Brown, Asha Tamarisa, who is facilitating the last two. She’s helped develop the workshop in terms of figuring out how to train a group to do this and thinking about the compositional challenges of working in response to retirement portfolio data. FLM: Screensharing helps me to figure out tiny bits here and there about the project. DP: I might even be able to play you a little of the audio I’ve also been working with a group of professional percussionists on what will become a quarterly public investors’ drum circle event. Their stuff was really nice, but I want you to hear what we sounded like in the workshops. They’ve all been recorded by the a/v system in the offices. We use a simple structure where the drummer investors interpret the sensation of gain or loss as embellishments to a base heartbeat rhythm. The group holds the heartbeat and, as each person experiences gain or loss, they embellish that rhythm. "Screensharing helps me to figure out tiny bits here and there about the project" FLM: Is the process all very spontaneous? DP: Its actually quite structured. We produce a custom stock ticker that shows the performance of their collective portfolios. In advance of the workshop each participant submits assets in their retirement portfolio. Then we make a stock ticker that shows the real-time performance of their assets so that they can respond to almost live data. FLM: Are they reading the stock ticker projected up on the screen in the room? Do people drum in correspondence to the visual live data of the performance of their assets? DP: Exactly. They’re looking at the stock ticker as opposed to each other, so it’s a slightly shifted drum circle. They’re looking at the ticker but they’re listening to each other—that’s what we’re practicing. For example, NVO—the price is 172.08 but it’s down -1.16 and as that moves across the screen, the person who’s retirement is invested in that asset starts to embellish when that arrow first appears, based on their experience of loss. They stop when it exits the screen and return to the heartbeat. You could have one ticker for each retirement portfolio, but the way the workshop is constructed is that we just isolate one asset from each person’s portfolio so that everyone in the group is represented in a single ticker. So they’re drumming and looking at the ticker, but they’re hearing each other experience gain and loss. We’ve removed direct visual engagement from the social structure of a drum circle but the oral engagement is still there. FLM: So they had their own sound interpretation of gain and loss? DP: Yeah and that part is quite spontaneous as you were saying. In some of the preparatory exercises we’ve been working to give the participants more strategies for interpreting the sensations of gain and loss. We’re trying to develop their capacity to embellish a heartbeat or base rhythm but I’m not invested in having a melodious result. I’m quite curious about what this kind of structure will result in without any desire for a particular result. FLM: For context, can you talk about the project you did a couple years ago in Bali, “Unrealized Gain/Loss” in relation to this current wealth management project? DP: The workshops I’ve been doing use a similar strategy to the other components in this project. It started in Indonesia on my sabbatical and I was really trying to understand where I was physically and where I was being on sabbatical—this kind of strange jubilee structure where every seventh year you’re supposed to renew your self. And it was around the time of the global financial crisis. I was on sabbatical for the global financial crisis. I remember watching my father, in particular, respond to the financial crisis by monitoring his retirement portfolio and trying to make sense of it. I realized on a visit to their home that he checked his retirement portfolio every single day and I was really struck by that because in some way our parents are mysteries to us as children, especially their moods. We know how important their moods are but we don’t know what governs them. And somehow it was like I’d figured it out, it’s the performance of the DOW! So I think there was something in that. Then I was in Indonesia and I had been drawn there by an interest in their highly ritualized Hindu culture, where so much of life is driven by a ceremonial calendar. I was interested in Bali as this predominantly Hindu pocket within a predominantly Islamic country and life there being organized by this ritual calendar functioning as a kind of resistance to the dominant global religion of free-market capitalism. So I started to explore that correlation between the ways in which this culture that I was living in was sort of “living for the afterlife” and this idea within certain segments of American society of “living for the afterwork life”. The idea that your wellbeing in the “afterwork life” is tied to forces that are unseen and largely beyond your control has strong similarities to many religious understandings of the universe. So I started to explore that and the crafts and materials that were around me were primarily Batik and percussion. Percussion is a huge part of daily life in Bali. These gamelan troupes were everywhere. And I also happened to be there for Nyepi, the day of silence, which is preceded by a very elaborate procession and construction of demonic statues. These were the things that were around me and I started studying Batik with one of the Batik artists there and also started a conversation with two master Batik artists, one who is American and her Indonesian husband. I developed these patterns that were based on symbols from the performance of my retirement portfolio and worked with the batik artists to produce two sarongs. d. peltz - 2012 In producing the designs, I treated the performance of my retirement portfolio since my arrival at RISD [7 years] as a significant interval and then I looked at the ways in which decisions are made within retirement portfolios as having an extension outwards from the individual assets that underlie the retirement portfolio, which are kind of like the base elements of the retirement world. Then there’s the allocation of your assets, which is a global way of understanding an individual according to typologies, which are often referred to in terms of risk—this notion of a ‘risk profile’. What type of ‘person’ you are is determined by your attitude towards risk, or potentiality, and I found that to be a really fascinating way of understanding the universe. I remember looking at the tabs in my retirement portfolio and finding this one for viewing ‘Unrealized Gain/Loss’ and that’s often how I work—is just going through the Cambridge Parking Code, for example, and finding this section of the code that was called ‘Crossing Non-Signalized Locations’ and just feeling “I can’t do any better than that,” you know? That’s what I was talking about in terms of ready-mades that exist in the social sphere. So I found that tab, actually, a long time ago, and I pulled it out of a journal when I was there [in Bali] working on these pieces and I wound up making these two sarongs and later on a series of porcelain vessels for holding one’s unrealized gains and losses. At the time, I knew that I wanted a performance to come out of them, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I was inspired very much by this sort of thing: Pulls out a TIAA-CREF brochure with a man in a suit seated at a table. This guy is probably an actor, and [the brochure] says “TIAA-Cref announces “Individual counseling sessions at the Rhode Island School of Design. Individual counseling sessions at no additional cost to you. You can discuss your personal financial situation with an experienced TIAA consultant on a confidential basis. We are available to help you discuss how to achieve your financial goals by investing in financial solutions such as mutual funds, brokerage, life insurance, and annuities...etc....What retirement benefits best fits your situation?” Often I encounter this and I think O.K., this is one way to prepare for the after-work life and it seems inadequate to me. But, I also find it really inspiring. I really like the visual language of it. I kind of want to be that man. I’d like to see if I could maybe buy his clothes. FLM: What it is about the man on the brochure that interests you? DP: He’s offering personalized objective advice and a detailed evaluation of everything you need to know and do. Who wouldn’t want that? But he’s also something of a contemporary priest or priestess, mediating between the unseen all-powerful universe of global capitalism and the common worker. So I started off developing Unrealized Gain/Loss directly from the charts that represent the performance of my retirement portfolio. Then I came home and I wanted to use those. I had this word in my journal “unrealized gain/loss vessel.” I had this notion of vessels that would contain unrealized gains and losses. That felt really important to me that they would have somewhere to go. I had been thinking a lot about altars and making offerings—that somehow this really fickle, massive, difficult-to-comprehend-universe of the financial world—that somehow it might be nice if you could making an offering to it. [In Bali] they made such beautiful elaborate offerings. So I studied offering making as well with one of the women there and she taught me some of the standard forms created by folding leaves and the significance of the floral arrangements. I started working in clay and then moved to porcelain and I made these unrealized gain/loss vessels. I made a few of them, they have holes on either side that you can’t get your fingers in. But something can go in there and something can go out of there. It’s a nice size for putting on an altar. Then I got this commission from Artists in Context who was interested in my doing something for this project “Artists Perspectives for the Nation” project. I proposed initiating these investors’ drum circles as a new public performance form. I’m interested in bringing together those two symbols—the symbol of the djembe and the drum circle. unrealized gain/loss vessel - d.peltz - 2012 FLM: I can imagine the public digital stock ticker performing like a soft fleeting stream of information, a kind of (meaningless) illusory comfort blanket. DP: In some way you have to understand its relevance outside of the obvious, right? Because the obvious is illogical. Nobody is actually using that data to day trade, for example. People aren’t sitting there with their computers watching the market data in Times Square or setting up an outdoor office and being like “OK it’s up 3 points or it’s up 1.56, trade! Ok now buy, Ok now sell!” That would be a kind of a nice performance, actually. But actual day traders would want more up to date data than that. To understand what that data is doing is really important. And that’s something I’ve realized—that I’m interested in a particular kind of data visualization, which is not about what data can tell people, but what data can tell people who are visualizing it. For example, in the Cambridge Project “Crossing Non-Signalized Locations” I was interested in the 10,000 excuses archive of data recording five years worth of excuses for why people thought they shouldn’t have received their parking ticket. I was not interested in making that excuse wall so that the public could see and understand this data. Inevitably the data will be seen by others but I was really interested in what the action of visualizing the data told those who were visualizing it. The parking attendants themselves were writing those excuses on the wall—I was interested in what that kind action of writing the excuses on the wall told them about the data. Similarly, I’m interested in designing a way to allow people to pass this data from the unseen universe of the market, through their own bodies, which happens through the merging of the drum and the stock ticker. I’m interested in those two also as symbols; the drum as this symbol of the earth, the body and a pagan counterculture, and the stock ticker referring to the ethereal world of global markets—bringing those two together and making them dependent. I’m often drawn to conceptual propositions that I become invested in testing in a sincere way—at first they often they sound humorous to others, but I have to remember that there is humor in them. I don’t sit around and laugh about these things. I stop finding them funny at all. I’m interested in the proposition that we could know something about the after-work life by drumming in response to our retirement portfolio. So then I become really interested in how to craft that into a viable performance form for myself and others. FLM: The aspect of using sound in “Unrealized Gain/Loss” as a way of embodying the information to the asset holder is really intriguing—using sound as a means of embodying the asset data. Was sound a medium that made sense to use immediately or were you considering other means of attempting to embody it? DP: Well I do use other mediums within the project like textile, ceramic, and batik patterns. I was first drawn to the history of Batik patterns as a socio-economic stratification system and the vessels as a way of embodying or manifesting this data of unrealized gain and loss. My first approach was to work with meditation actually—a meditation workshop with my colleagues. I was going to offer this “Unrealized Gain/Loss” workshop where you would explore the sensations of gain and loss by adapting the way yogi-nidra brings you into contact with your physical surroundings and stretches your perception. FLM: At Naropa University there are/were business & compassion workshops—a sort of mash-up of business and compassion and how compassion could be incorporated into a business model. This process and engagement of “embodying data” also has to do with “Participatory Democracy and the Future of Karaoke” you created at the DNC in Denver in 2008. DP: That kind of appropriation and instrumentalization of spiritual practice could be disturbing and thus compelling as a strategy. For various reasons, I’ve come to be drawn to both the form of a quarterly public performance and the established performance form of a drum circle. Its something I’ve seen myself do before, that is to mess up a really good functional social system like a drum circle or karaoke. I remember I was developing language for the karaoke project and started calling it “Participatory Democracy and the Future of Karaoke” and one of my assistants on the project, who’s an incredible artist, said, “but don’t you think the future of karaoke is guitar hero?” and I realized that maybe he thought I was trying to improve the form. I’m just trying to get people to have this shifted embodied experience, I need to craft the performance context so that they can do that. In the case of the karaoke project, for example, what did I need in order to be able to do this [a person to stand up in front of a bar and deliver a karaoke speech]? I realized that the body is very vulnerable so I built a podium so that the speaker can feel secure enough to do this, otherwise you couldn’t get to this state achieved by passing these speeches through the body. Then I was, like, well you need to be able to practice the lyrics because you don’t know all the “songs” by heart, which became an insert to the massive track books carried by most karaoke VJs. And then sometimes the crowd in the bar isn’t there with me, so I needed to extract the voice of the crowd cheering from the original venue and I needed the local audience to cheer if they wanted to. I’m interested in both where the form succeeds and fails. In particular, one of the most interesting things is this auditory gap between the space where you are, the reduced scale of applause in your own little bar, and this grand scale of applause at the convention center where the speech was originally delivered. FLM: How did the concept of “Participatory Democracy Karaoke” come about and why did you use karaoke as a means of engaging what was happening at the DNC in 2008? DP: I was looking at a lot of different readymade media infrastructures within the city at the time. I was interested in the emergency broadcast systems and I developed a proposal to repurpose that system and karaoke became an important symbol because it was this populist form that was already engaged in exploring the sensation of celebrity but also visualizing the gap between ourselves and those with more power and influence. So it had this readymade capacity to play with power and celebrity and I felt like the Obama presidential campaign, the first one in particular, had some very curious overlaps with this culture of celebrity. Obama of course rose to power partly based on his oratory abilities and I was interested in how karaoke as a vehicle was so adept at offering people all that was left of authentic expression in a political speech. Managing a politician and constructing their identity is such a developed practice that it becomes, kind of automatically, a metaphor for the way that our own identities are constructed. Of course the Obama campaign was very hip and savvy and deploying this notion of grassroots. It was really pioneering in its use of social media and this deployment of notions of populism. I was interested at that time in the capacity of karaoke to track speech patterns, precise tempos of anyone’s delivery, and that to me was a way of thinking about what might be left of the authentic self. I was interested in karaoke’s capacity to extract that authentic component and offer it to others. So not just to stand up and be them, but to [literally] pass their speech patterns through your own body. A long time ago, it started to strike me as odd that one would make media at all. It struck me as a kind of un-contemporary way of going about making art in an age of media overflow. That logic extended into my thinking on delivery devices and installation as well. Why would one buy a screen or even set one up when there are so many out there? And the way in which these media displays function in karaoke bars and bars in general is very interesting to me. I’m drawn to this passive consumption of media where your primary social interaction is with the bartender or a few other individuals but these screens are around you and your attention is shifting back and forth between these spaces. So much political rhetoric is spoken to a half-listening audience. I was interested in what was happening in the slippage and that karaoke was a kind of slippage amplifier. So if you put people in a bar and they are delivering a Kucinich speech and Kucinich comes up on a screen then your getting a sound bite of Kucinich and an image of Kucinich and your friend is talking to you— FLM: A kind of magic takes place in that incongruency between sound and image and the karaoke participant who’s relaying the speech-text at the same time. DP: Exactly and there’s some kind of truth in that experience of reality. FLM: Yeah, there’s something uncanny about seeing the body close-up like that as though it can’t lie to you in that moment or context. It’s a weird moment of luminous clarity. The work you’ve done and all of what you’re saying about karaoke is so very interesting to me. Growing up, my dad and uncles sang karaoke a lot (and still do) and being first-generation Filipino American is a different cultural subtext entirely. I’m also seeing it from the position of witnessing family members who are carriers of these stories and songs. And seeing them cherish these Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley songs so much, I also see how their bodies are literal vessels of popular music that signifies something greater—it signifies their cultural and socioeconomic place in the world. The way that they cherish these American 1950s and 1960s pop songs is similar to having a certain kind of reverence for their spiritual faith or Catholicism. It’s a similar kind of care, focus, and attention exerted in karaoke and Catholicism—that these two structures and systems give something to focus on. Setsuko, Seiji and Hitoshi in Obama, Japan as Obama in Indiana — d. peltz — 2008 DP: Sure there something about the relationship we have to our candidate or the way we go about choosing a candidate, which is very similar to a deity or idol. I learned a lot about karaoke culture through this project. I’d never done karaoke. I’d never been interested in it as a form and then I travelled to Japan as part of the project when I made “Setsuko, Seiji and Hitoshi in Obama, Japan as Barack Obama in Indiana” and it was quite fascinating because my image of karaoke had always been this very public forum in a karaoke bar and then I discovered there’s this whole other world of karaoke where people even go on their own, they go and rent a room or cubicle and sing, or they go on a date—just the two of them go and sit in a room and do karaoke together. FLM: I’m interested in issues that take place within or as a result of specific karaoke culture(s). In the Philippines within the last several years there’s been occurring the “My Way Killings” phenomenon. Apparently baklas or gay men are employed by karaoke establishments to help “smooth over conflicts over karaoke singing”—these social forms of conduct, or lack thereof that arise out of the infrastructures of this social sport. In this one rural part of the Philippines there’s a village karaoke machine that the whole village shares—the Aeta indigenous people have an appointed “keeper” of the karaoke machine. I also see karaoke as a proxy to the confessional box in Catholicism where one goes to pour out their sins (minus the penance and redemption). The karaoke machine enables one to literally sing out whatever’s going on internally, but through highly saturated popular song lyrics. While karaoke is a public and social sport, it can also be a private one. Karaoke is a means of communion with each other. DP: Right, this preference for this kind of mediated communication. In Japan I was trying to organize people to work on this project and I was talking about throwing a party and they were like, well, we have to rent a karaoke machine because what else are we going to do? And I think its kind of serving that function of surrogacy—emotional surrogacy. FLM: And karaoke tools can be read as ritual tools—the magic mic that holds everything. There’s got to be some overlap at some point—between religious ceremony and devotion to the karaoke machine. DP: The way I designed the piece was so that it could slip right on top of the ready-made karaoke infrastructure. There was a flat-packed podium and it was made of a single sheet of plywood with no fasteners that slotted into itself. Those were sent out to a network of karaoke bars that I invited to become “karaoke convention centers.” The local VJs downloaded our custom-made, speech-extracted tracks that were designed to play on their existing equipment. In this sense the piece is a permanent installation. If you go to Denver today, some of the VJs still have the tracks in their library of offerings, the Ramones and Romney. It was this notion of re-purposing readymade infrastructure to create a distributable populist form. Obama was coming and the convention was in the Pepsi Center and 30,000 people were coming including 10,000 journalists. The impetus behind the larger art project that commissioned international artists to make works in Denver, was that local people weren’t going to have much access to this convention. It was like an invasion, the city was being descended upon, but if you lived a block away from the site, you had the same access as people in Zimbabwe&mash;30 second media bits excerpted from the speeches. So it seemed to me that the fundamental gesture was how do I take that signal, which was travelling out of the convention center, and create a local interruption? FLM: Is that what you mean by ‘intervention’? The term is frequently used to help describe your work. DP: It depends on the day. Around that karaoke project I had a conversation with Krzysztof Wodiczko and he was proposing that maybe rather than intervention, we should consider the word interruption. Because intervention is kind of an overused term in the field of art and it has militaristic and therapeutic associations outside of the art context. Fundamentally, the idea of intervening speaks to the readymade social world as your primary material. So it’s basically suggesting a kind of subtractive process, which gets back to this question: what is the role of the contemporary media artist in a world that’s so saturated with media? You can’t work additively in a saturated field. If you want to make a visible mark you have to work subtractively. That’s what intervention is about to me, just another way of saying “to work subtractively.” FLM: So the interventions or interruptions aren’t necessarily adding or subtracting, but are they putting orange cones there? What are they doing exactly? DP: I think you’re right about that, they’re not really subtracting. They’re adding to the scope of possibility. I’ve been thinking (with this exhibition I’m mounting next month) about the work as explorations and expansions of social possibility. Maybe it’s more insertion. I started calling the pieces ‘insertions’ that I was making in Rejmyre—a small town in Sweden where I’ve been working for six years now. My favorite site to install there is the tourist bureau. I started calling the video pieces that I made for the tourist bureau, video insertions. This idea that you’re inserting something into the readymade media infrastructure of the world resonates with me. Insertion leverages a context, creating a possibility that the inserted object might be naturalized in the process — that someone can encounter my video in Rejmyre as tourist information. And then all of a sudden tourist information can include some American guy prostrating through town and it can include really bad relationship advice. Maybe insertion is a better word. tourist information – d. peltz 2009-present  . (shrink)
In this paper, I will critically assess the expressive justification of punishment recently offered by Christopher Bennett in The Apology Ritual and a number of papers. I will first draw a distinction between three conceptions of expression: communicative, motivational, and symbolic. After briefly demonstrating the difficulties of using the first two conceptions of expression to ground punishment and showing that Bennett does not ultimately rely on those two conceptions, I argue that Bennett’s account does not succeed because (...) he fails to establish the following claims: punishment is the only symbolically adequate response to a wrongdoing; and punishment is permissible if it is the only symbolically adequate response to a wrongdoing. (shrink)
At least some (perhaps the most serious) moral problems, public as well as private, concern the ways in which we should construe and specify the problems we face. The present paper, as the subtitle indicates, reexamines the conscience of Huckleberry Finn, which means both that I provide a close reading of key chapters of Mark Twain’s great novel and that I engage Jonathan Bennett’s well-known and oft-cited paper, “The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn.” Bennett tells us, early in (...) his paper, that an episode in chapter 16 of the novel “brilliantly illustrates how fiction can be instructive about real life.”1 I agree that fiction can teach us about life—though of course living beings must judge fiction’s .. (shrink)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens o Mark Twain es el autor del Diario de Adán y Eva, Un yanki en la corte del rey Arturo, Las aventuras de Tom Sawyer, Las aventuras de Huckleberry Finn y otras. Este escritor norteamericano asumió la práctica literaria como un asunto que va más allá del entretenimiento: escribió para interpelar al lector. Y este detalle salta a la vista con un libro que rara veces es referenciado: Sobre la decadencia del arte de mentir, texto que (...) aborda una enfermedad axiológica en el mundo moderno: los peligros que acarrea seguir al pie de la letra los postulados universales de un Deber y una Verdad abstracta. A continuación se hace un análisis de este problema. (shrink)
Samuel Langhorne Clemens o Mark Twain es el autor del Diario de Adán y Eva, Un yanki en la corte del rey Arturo, Las aventuras de Tom Sawyer, Las aventuras de Huckleberry Finn y otras. Este escritor norteamericano asumió la práctica literaria como un asunto que va más allá del entretenimiento: escribió para interpelar al lector. Y este detalle salta a la vista con un libro que rara veces es referenciado: Sobre la decadencia del arte de mentir, texto que (...) aborda una enfermedad axiológica en el mundo moderno: los peligros que acarrea seguir al pie de la letra los postulados universales de un Deber y una Verdad abstracta. A continuación se hace un análisis de este problema. (shrink)
Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are increasingly common. Yet there are too few specialists to offer help to everyone, and negative attitudes to psychological problems and their treatment discourage people from seeking it. As a result, many people never receive help for these problems. The Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions marks a turning point in the delivery of psychological treatments for people with depression and anxiety. Until recently, the only form of psychological intervention available for patients (...) with depression and anxiety was traditional one-to-one 60 minute session therapy - usually with private practitioners for those patients who could afford it. Now Low Intensity CBT Interventions are starting to revolutionize mental health care by providing cost effective psychological therapies which can reach the vast numbers of people with depression and anxiety who did not previously have access to effective psychological treatment. The Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions is the first book to provide a comprehensive guide to Low Intensity CBT interventions. It brings together researchers and clinicians from around the world who have led the way in developing evidence-based low intensity CBT treatments. It charts the plethora of new ways that evidence-based low intensity CBT can be delivered: for instance, guided self-help, groups, advice clinics, brief GP interventions, internet-based or book-based treatment and prevention programs, with supported provided by phone, email, internet, sms or face-to-face. These new treatments require new forms of service delivery, new ways of communicating, new forms of training and supervision, and the development of new workforces. They involve changing systems and routine practice, and adapting interventions to particular community contexts. The Oxford Guide to Low Intensity CBT Interventions is a state-of-the-art handbook, providing low intensity practitioners, supervisors, managers commissioners of services and politicians with a practical, easy-to-read guide - indispensible reading for those who wish to understand and anticipate future directions in health service provision and to broaden access to cost-effective evidence-based psychological therapies. (shrink)
We typically assume that there is a difference between foreseeing an effect of one's voluntary action and intending the effect. Call the view that there is such a difference 'the Ordinary View'. My dissertation is a defense of the Ordinary View against two recent challenges. ;The first challenge to the Ordinary View I call "Holism". The upshot of the holist's position is that we intend all the foreseen effects of our voluntary actions. I begin by considering and arguing against a (...) couple of different versions of holism. ;The second challenge to the Ordinary View is made by Jonathan Bennett. Bennett argues that there is no unproblematic way to mark off effects of action which are intended as a means from effects which are merely foreseen. His conclusion is that the notion 'indended as a means' is incoherent. ;These challenges to the Ordinary View are of interest because they threaten to undermine the Doctrine of Double Effect which claims that whether an agent intends or merely foresees a harmful effect of action sometimes matters to the moral permissibility of performing the action. In response to Bennett, I first examine a view put forth by Warren Quinn. Quinn concedes to Bennett that the distinction between intended versus merely foreseen effects faces serious problems, but attempts to limit the ethical implications of Bennett's challenge by offering a replacement principle for DDE which he believes is not subject to Bennett's objection. I defend Quinn's replacement principle against certain recent attacks in the literature, but point out that Quinn's replacement principle really doesn't escape Bennett's objection. I then return to Bennett's objection and argue that it rests upon two false assumptions. I conclude that the Ordinary View withstands the two challenges. (shrink)
This edited collection had its origins in a two-day conference held at the Tate Britain, organised collaboratively by research staff and students at Middlesex University and the London Consortium in order to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the publication of Edmund Burke's famous book on the sublime. The conference was funded by Middlesex University, the London Consortium and the Tate Britain's AHRC-funded "Sublime Object: Nature, Art and Language" research project. The conference set out to critically examine the legacy of the (...) sublime in contemporary art, culture and society and to assess the value and the dangers of this concept as it is articulated in current thought and practice. The book selected from and expanded on the papers delivered at the conference in order to pursue this goal further. It was broken into themed sections (each of which had an introduction), each exploring an different issue around contemporary uses of the sublime. The sections were: 1. Nature, Ecology and the Sublime; 2. The Sublime After Kant; 3. Capitalism, Terror, Art and the Sublime; 4. Baroque and Beyond: Art, Sex and the Sublime; 5. The Cinematic Sublime. The volume reflects the interdisiplinarity of the concept of the sublime today, and includes essays whose appraoches come from aesthetics and ethics, ecological and political thought, psychoanalysis, feminism, film studies, literary studies, art history and popular culture. It includes papers by internationally renowned authors from the UK, America and Europe alongside the new voices of younger academics. The contributors were: Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University), Mark Bould (University of the West of England), Eu Jin Chua (London Consortium), Gudrun Filipska (Middlesex University), Cornelia Klinger (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna / University of Tübingen, Germany), Esther Leslie (Birkbeck), William McDonald (Middlesex Univeristy), Laura Mulvey (Birkbeck), Claire Pajaczkowska (Royal College of Art), Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Gene Ray (Geneva University of Art and Design), Bettina Reiber (Central St. Martins), Jan Rosiek (University of Copenhagen), Sherryl Vint (Brock University, Canada), and Luke White (Middlesex University). (shrink)
According to the thesis of the extended mind (EM) , at least some token cognitive processes extend into the cognizing subject's environment in the sense that they are (partly) composed of manipulative, exploitative, and transformative operations performed by that subject on suitable environmental structures. EM has attracted four ostensibly distinct types of objection. This paper has two goals. First, it argues that these objections all reduce to one basic sort: all the objections can be resolved by the provision of an (...) adequate and properly motivated criterion—or mark—of the cognitive. Second, it provides such a criterion—one made up of four conditions that are sufficient for a process to count as cognitive. (shrink)
Mark Balaguer’s project in this book is extremely ambitious; he sets out to defend both platonism and ﬁctionalism about mathematical entities. Moreover, Balaguer argues that at the end of the day, platonism and ﬁctionalism are on an equal footing. Not content to leave the matter there, however, he advances the anti-metaphysical conclusion that there is no fact of the matter about the existence of mathematical objects.1 Despite the ambitious nature of this project, for the most part Balaguer does not (...) shortchange the reader on rigor; all the main theses advanced are argued for at length and with remarkable clarity and cogency. There are, of course, gaps in the account but these should not be allowed to overshadow the sig-. (shrink)
An archive of Mark Sharlow's two blogs, "The Unfinishable Scroll" and "Religion: the Next Version." Covers Sharlow's views on metaphysics, epistemology, mind, science, religion, and politics. Includes topics and ideas not found in his papers.
In the twenty-four years since the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, a body of high-quality scholarship on socialism has slowly accumulated. Here I discuss two superb additions to this incipient post–Cold War canon, Mark Bevir’s The Making of British Socialism and Jonathan Sperber’s Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life. Both authors take it as axiomatic that the socialist utopia, with its quasi-eschatological promise of complete human emancipation, is an idea whose time has passed. But Bevir and, to a lesser (...) degree, Sperber discern a utopian afterglow that warrants our interest—and is still quite capable of providing inspiration. “This book has been a long time in the making,” Mark Bevir admits in the .. (shrink)