Reminder that Logical Regression is now here: http://logicalregression.wordpress.com/ .
All old posts are featured at the new site.
It's pretty basic, but the medium has potential. You just write in what you want to the characters to say, and you can change expressions and camera angles too. Remember my blog is usually held here now: http://logicalregression.wordpress.com/.
Ok, it's been a couple years, and this blog has outgrown its current space.
Please, please update your bookmarks and links to this:
And tell anyone/everyone.
The current blog will continue to exist but will not be updated.
ALL OLD POSTS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE NEW BLOG.
Lookout for a move to wordpress in the coming months. That'll give the opportunity for more people to work on the site, and for the inclusion of more tabs, allowing for more complete a promotion of an aesthetic/art oriented consideration of (challenge to...) Scientism, Object Oriented Philosphy and Ontology, Nihilism, Neurophilosphy, and so on.
In the meantime expect posts to go missing and be generally tampered with during the move.
More details soon...
exclusively on indieoma.com
1-3 Rivington Street • London EC2 Opens Thursday 15th April 2010 • 6.30pm onwards
RED GALLERY is a pop up housed in the old E-Learning School buildings on EC2’s Rivington Street. As part of Hackney
Council’s Shoreditch Regeneration Scheme, the space has seen much recent publicity, and will soon be demolished,
making way for an Art’otel, courtesy of architects Squire and Partners.
Zizek exposed in Rome - how I Read Marx, how I Read Lacan: Come Leggo Marx, Come Leggo Lacan. Comments on the talk. March 27th.Labels: 'On the Idea of Communism', Art, Badiou, Come Leggo Lacan, Come Leggo Marx, Zizek
Comments on Zizek's talk at the 'Libri Come...' event held on March 27th at the Rome auditorium.
I'd say Zizek is an important thinker, but I'm not sure that his importance has much to do with what he actually thinks, or if what he actually thinks is stable enough from one utterance to the next for it to be possible to speak of, and judge, any kind of system. Nonetheless Zizek is important, as a populariser of philosophy and as a persistent champion of the need for a better, fairer world. He is perhaps the most vocal, and prolific - in terms of both published works and talks - contemporary critic of the excesses of Capitalism the world over. Naturally then, one wouldn't want to crtiticise him out of hand. However, Zizek has a certain mode of delivery which ought to be questioned, and by this mode, I mean both the manner in which talks are delivered vocally and the way in which his message is carried in terms of argument structure.
Firstly, Zizek is not someone very easy to disagree with. One gets the impresssion that you'd be steam-rollered by this goliath if you dared cross him - quick witted and fast talking as he is. Further, it is not easy to disagree with him as it's so hard to pin him down. Zizek employs humour and irony, together with doubtlessly valid observations delivered at such speeds, and in such a circling manner, as to make it very difficult to isolate anything for even an instance so that it might be disagreed with in context. This goes for his texts as well as for his talks.
One further gets the impression that Zizek wouldn't very well listen even if you did prove yourself to have a valid point. His committed Leftism seems somehow to weigh on him emotionally. Between Zizek and Badiou a kind of two headed monster is presented to anyone wishing to point out the fallacy in Leftist methodology (both in practice, and theoretically). The symbolism and terminology of the Left must inhere because it must, is pretty much the nonsensical refrain echoing from their quarter. It appears, problematically, that socialism as a term is synonymous with social justice and if our two most prominent thinkers can't bypass that little schema, the rest of us are going to find it hard to overcome the Left-Right dyad, which I would argue is hopelessly inadequate to founding change both in light of what society is now, and in light of historical evidence.
Another thing about Zizek's mode of delivery is a tendency for it to take so many ironic turns that one gets blinded into an accepting the broad thrust if what is being said, however daft the detail is. As the audience was told in Italy, the fear in Europe of the muslim burkha was not a fear over something being hidden from us. Not a fear of the masking of identities at all, but the fear of the human face unmasked. Referring to the story of Salome dancing for King Herod (from Strauss' Salome), in which Herod implores Salome to take her layers of clothing off one by one, continuing to implore her to take her layers off even when she has got down to bare flesh, Zizek argues that it is the bare flesh - the human unmasked, as mortal material matter - which terrifies the cultural European when faced with the muslim burkha: the blank face with only eyes visible reflecting the blank facade of a face stripped of its facade – its semblance of humanity.
Zizek tied this in with his central message for the lecture as he inverted Dostoyevsky's message, 'if there is no god then everything is permitted' to become Lacan's 'If there is no God then everything is prohibited'!
Pointing to the hypocrisy of the church, to great approval from the audience, Zizek said, 'If you want to do bad, please don't become an Atheist... you need religion.'
The atheist Liberal hedonist becomes entangled in self imposed injunctions, whilst the adherent of instituional religion or communism can behave abominabally as the instrument of insitutional amorality.
The upshot is that the Liberal is frightened of our base animality, whereas the Church, to take one example, embraces it, or, at the least, permits of it.
Zizek's response? Looking to the New Testament, a constant point of reference in his works, he argues that Christianity, as the religion in which God has died (on the cross) should be taken for its word: 'If there is a God we need one tha doesn't exist and knows he doesn't exist'. In other words, man need be confident to stand alone, in the knowedge that 'God trusts us'. Only is so doing would it be possible to do the right thing both in spite of God and because of God (who is, in fact, in us).
This is all very well, but it is kind of deceitful too. One can easily find themselves nodding their head to the beat of Zizek's rapid fire delivery. Yet do really fear the Burkha as it presents 'no mask'? Do we really fear it at all? Those who do fear it perhaps fear it for what it presents otherwise, rather than what it in itself hides or shows... a threat to the sometimes sane values of the West*, values which Zizek strongly supports, arguing that the tolerance of Europe should be lauded, albeit in conjunction ith the kind of complex social system which might be able to sustain a freedom which is genuinely free (i.e. which neither descends into self denial or to institutional abuse of freedom). This latter point is a nutshell Zizek's motive for backing communism, as summed up in this talk.
I think we have to be selective when taking on board Zizek to filter out incongruous elements that evade careful scurtiny by the man himself. Afterall, he is doubtlessly the most prolific theorist writing today. It follows that a percentage of what he says may be unsound. Even so, he may make more (quantitatively) sound statements year on year than many other thinkers (an almost capitalist philospy of production). There is a responisibility that must be born by the reader to sift through his work, just as the consumer of media culture has a responsibility to dismiss false statements and misleading advertising.
Of Zizek's unsound statements the most alarming was one wedged about two thirds into his talk, with no seeming relation to its other parts, but also with no sensible basis in fact. 'Poets should be derpived of their natural rights to innocence', Zizek proclaimed, pointing out that behind every tyrant stands a poet. This last point is so astounding as to come across perhaps as a provocation, for would it not be more accurate to say that behind every tyrant stands a philosopher? Or a prophet. Or a text on communism, either taken as gospel, or dismissed as worthy of muderous contempt. In actual fact, Zizek is directly dimissive of the idea that we should posit art in opposition to Science (as a cipher for the worst excesses of rationalism).
Taken against Adorno's proclamation that art must continue in that its existence is not a surrender to cynicism the statment is sll the more suprising, for it suggests that the only way out of of social imbalance is via an atheistic State controlled and acultural management of the moral lives of the individual.Whereas, for me, art seemed the only thing left that might challenge precisely that kind of system – which exists - and imbue the subject with a sense of 'self' worth valuing'.
Now, I'll have to wait for the forthcoming book for which this talk was a promotion, but in the meantime I cannot shake the sense that Zizek is a very important thinker... an ideas machine, even... to whom seldom a sensible workable sequence of thoughts occurs.
* i.e., the obvious reason, which barely needs appropriating, even if it is representative of fearful bigotry in some cases. Not in all cases... there is an element of Islam which Europe, being, on the whole, not Islamic, feels reason to resist. However so long as non-muslims are not implored to wear the burkha, and so long as muslims refusing to wear it can find protection under Western laws (which surely they can, so far as the law is an adequate recourse for anyone wishing to protect their freedoms) I can't see a problem.
Versione Italiana. English below.
‘C’è bisogno di Sinistra!’ si legge sul manifesto. Per quanto in passato io abbia inveito contro certi sentimenti (c’è bisogno di cambiamenti sociali ma la retorica della “Sinistra” è da tempo logora, anche se i suoi fini restano assolutamente validi) la Sinistra sembra in qualche modo particolarmente adatta all’Italia.
Non so se questo dipenda dal fatto che in qualche maniera lo spettro del Fascismo incombe ancora o perché i media mantengono una forte presa su questo Paese, ma è proprio vero che i parametri politici variano da un paese all’altro.
Per esempio, l’estrema sinistra nel Regno Unito è una forza svuotata di ogni energia mentre in Italia ha raccolto un numero significativo di voti. Lo stesso Presidente (Napolitano) era un membro del partito comunista fino al suo scioglimento e, successivamente, ha giocato un ruolo importante nel partito in cui il PCI si è trasformato, il Partito Democratico della Sinistra.
Probabilmente il fatto che qui il Presidente appartenga in genere a un partito opposto a quello del governo in carica fa sì che l’Italia sia per molti versi meno ‘capitalista’ rispetto al Regno Unito.
Ma questo è quanto Berlusconi sta cercando di cambiare, essenzialmente a suo vantaggio.
In Italia si discute della privatizzazione dell’acqua, avvenuta in Gran Bretagna nel 1989. E qui, forse, la Sinistra ha un suo ruolo. Fosse anche solo per un’ultima battaglia.
Ad ogni modo la mia visione politica è senza dubbio pesantemente influenzata dal fatto di essere inglese… e non sono sicuro che le idee politiche di chi, come me, ha trascorso i suoi primi 29 anni in un paese, si possano mai applicare a quelle di un’altra nazione.
Basti dire che i metodi per introdurre un cambiamento devono essere impiegati in maniera pragmatica. Mi riferisco alla necessità di allontanarsi dalla retorica della Sinistra in Italia e al bisogno di avere volti nuovi… almeno nel Regno Unito e negli USA sosterrei questo.
E l’Italia, a essere obiettivi, non è certo la promotrice di una spinta per un cambiamento mondiale.
Localmente la Sinistra potrebbe essere una cosa positiva da invocare, ma nel mondo le cose sono andate oltre.
Tradotto da Adriana Panza
'There is a need for the Left!' Says the poster. Whilst I have railed against such sentiments (i.e. there is a need for social change, but the rhetoric of the 'Left' is long worn out, even if the intended ends are completely sound) the Left seems somehow more fitting in Italy. I'm not that sure if that is because the spectre of Fascism somehow looms, or because the hold that the media here has is so strong, but it's very true that political parameters differ from one country to the next. For example, the far Left are just a spent force in the UK, whereas they pick up significant votes in Italy. The President himself (Napolitano) was a member of the communist party up until its dissolution, he then played a strong part in the party it became - the Democratic Party of the Left. It's because, perhaps, that a President here is generally opposed to the direction of the ruling party that things are in many ways less 'capitalised' than in the UK. Though that is what Berlusconi seeks to change, primarily for his own benefit.
In Italy they argue about the privatisation of Water, something which happened in the UK in 1989. So perhaps there is a role for the Left there (i,e, 'here' !). If only a last stand.
Anyhow, there's no doubt my politics is heavily coloured by my being English... and I'm not sure your politics can ever really become the politics of another nation if, like me, you spent your first 29 years in one country. Suffice to say, methods for bringing about change need be deployed pragmatically. Talk about a need to move away from Leftist rhetoric in Italy and people switch off... in the UK and US, however, I'd stand by that. And Italy, lets be fair, is not leading the thrust towards worldwide change. Locally, the Left might be a good thing to invoke, but worldwide things have moved on.
What is astounding about the American Apparel Rummage riot, in which too many people desended upon a Brick Lane warehouse where the popular clothes brand American Apparel were trying to host the latest of several worldwide sale events, is that it really isn't that astounding if one understands the London, and particularly the small area around Brick Lane, Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, in these recession hit times.
The sale turned into a small scale riot (footage can be found on youtube) peopled by screaming fashionistas, bored artsists, off shift dj's and local youth's. Looking at video footage, it seems that what London manages in multicultural diversity (people of every race are seen to behave equally brattishly here) it loses the sheer glibness of its values. American Apparel fashion items are not essential products one needs in order to live, yet the recession, and the sense that such items are out of reach for the average wage earner (or non-earner) most of the time, together with the value system held by many young people (arguably forced on them by the media) who live in London, is accountable for the chaos caused by this event. Relative to the perceived needs of the individual there was a genuine motive for the aggression unleashed at the start of the sale yesterday. This is the equivalent of Londoners chasing a UN food truck, and this is how odd things have become. Why did the governments bail out the banks? Because if they hadn't these scenes would be magnified several hundred times over, for the want of genuine essentials.
Frightening, when you think of it.
Nina Power joins Mark Fisher for an edition on 'Free Education' at Indieoma.com:
Mark Fisher and Mike Watson: Dialogue on Free Education, Capitalism, and its Alternatives
n-ideas-mark-fisher-and-mike-watson-dial ogue-on-free-education-capitalism-and-it s-alternatives
Written in response to Reid Kane's piece, 'Class, Struggle' which starts like this:
'Class struggle is not, first and foremost, the struggle between classes, social classes, already constituted as such. Struggle is the ground of such social classes, be they working and owning classes or any other. It is this struggle which, situated within the organization of human activity as a whole (and the problematicity of this formulation does not for a moment escape me), comes before and allows for the genesis of social relations in which distinct classes take shape.'
But does this mean (and I refer by extension to the whole of Reid's piece, which can be read via the above link), or could it mean, that if the working class stopped struggling, they would stop being working class? Or, rather, without struggle, there would be no class? And how would that happen?
For if death is capital, as Reid argues, would a 'dead' life characterised by its assimilation to capital best evade that death by simply not playing along - i.e. not 'working', or not 'struggling'? Here I don't refer to the 'playing dead' of Adorno's mimesis, but simply a withdrawal from 'struggle'. A refusal to get upset. A radical 'calm'.
It almost gets a bit 'self help book-ish'. But if you bear with me, I don't think that need be a bad thing. i.e. Just as when someone says, 'I am happy, I am happy, I am happy', they may feel happier as a result, if the working class subject were to say, 'I am free' (from struggle), would they not then be more 'free' on some level?
Of course, this is a gross over simplification... the process would have to be applied from the bottom up if it were to change society... but, then, that process can't happen until the subject is 'freed' first, because there would be little point changing the infratructure of society, just for it to whir on mechanistically as some kind of 'death robot' for the fact that its principal component (the 'subject' or mass of subjects) is still struggling, as a basis for its existence.
The first step towards a wider societal freedom has to be subjective freedom, and if class is 'struggle', as Reid argues, then class stratification (which keeps the subject in place) has to be broken by the subject which struggles, refusing to struggle. They must simply cease to struggle. Or not struggle in the first place. This does not mean that the subject should capitulate to whatever it is struggling against, but simply that the only way to stop struggling is to stop struggling.
I find Reid's talk of struggle a bit disconcerting. It comes across as some kind of masochism. And he may be right that there is an element of the working class that is perpetuated by 'struggle', but the seeming identification of this as 'positive' seems a little over romantic:
'Everything existing struggles in doing so, and often, in order to do so as well; although, it is not unheard of that, in the struggle to cease existing, one only persists all the longer. This latter struggle is that of the Proletariat.'
Yet, one might 'struggle' to unlock a door for what seems like hours, then stop for a minute, exasperated, hands shaking with pain after fitfully forcing the key dozens of times, before trying just once more, ever so gently. The door finally opens. The stubborn will say that the time spent forcing the door softened up the lock for its final assault. Only the wise will admit their foolishness; all the key ever needed was a gentle turn. Maybe this will be the history of the 'struggle of the proletariat', and how many lives would have been wasted (not necessarily 'killed', but often just 'wasted' struggling) before we try applying a little less 'struggle'?
That is not to say that the worst excesses of Captialism will give way with a gentle nudge, but, rather, to say that, if, as Reid says, class is sustained by struggle, then perhaps we might better see a way to a healing of class rifts (so far as they exist; I actually think that class terminology is distinctly shakey, speaking as a PhD student who grew up on a council estate) if we just stopped the self perpetuating struggle, and opened our eyes. I say this partly as so many people do so clearly struggle as a means of sustaining their persona, regardless of what income bracket they are in. Perhaps social stratification is cemented by different groups of individuals struggling to define themselves as separate from each other. From the grimace of the Prime Minister, to the grimace of the diassaffected youth, social constipation perpetuates itself.
In respect of my aversion to Reid's 'struggle' I'd like to introduce a notion that came out of an e-mail exchange with artist Andrew Cooper. In the said exchange, Andrew helpfully explained to me the logic in the Left holding on to Leftist terminology, which is something I have challenged recently, not least as the Left, and terms associated with it, are so unpopular with the public which it aims to appeal to. Andrew explained that Badiou argues that the working class need to own something... they are entitled to own a part of history, and this part is/should be, for Badiou, a revolutionary Leftist history. He has a point (Andrew/Badiou), but I queried whether it was sensible to follow the history of Lenin, the Jacobins, Che Guevara, 1968, etc? Would Gandhi not make a better model? Or the Left plus Gandhi?*
I say this knowing the complexity of Gandhi's story, and I'd like to study it a lot more before committing myself even to elements. But there are certainly parts of his strategy which would be useful to the fair minded socially concerned person today... i.e. 'be the change you want to see' - I am not struggling.
Of course, the pacifism and humble dedication espoused by Gandhi are other aspects which could be taken up by those wishing to see a positive change in society today. One feels the quick fix hedomisn of the extreme Left - 'Warehouse Raves and Revolutions' - which tallies with our crass times, could benefit from looking outside its usual nexus of explosive influences.
* people might now point out that Gandhi was opposed to Imperialism, a Capitalist product, and is therefore a Leftist figure, but I feel he differed from the usually cited Leftist figures significantly, and in any case, Gandhi's anti-Imperialism did not spawn an empire (although that is not to belittle the justifiable woes suffered by many people on the Indian sub-continent as a result of the territorial carve-up following independence), whereas the revolutionary Leftist call has always intended upon expansion, naturally.
See the above link for my review-article on Mark Fisher's 'Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?'
Open Ideas Project. Graham Harman Interview. Nick Srnicek Speaks. Paul Sakoilsky looks at objects in his studio.
Some interesting articles up at indieoma.com, including an interview from Graham
Harman, in which he talks openly about philosophizing today, and about his object-oriented stance.
There are some great moments, including the following:
Q4: Your philosophy is ‘object-oriented’. That is to say that you consider the object to be as important as the (human) subject. Many people think this is dangerous, as activity in the blogosphere testifies. I think the issue here is that if the subject is considered as a mere object amongst others, people feel that humans might find it easier to justify abuse of other humans. What do you say to that?
GH: Freud always claimed that psychoanalysis was the third affront to human dignity in modern times. Copernicus moved the earth out of the center of the universe. Darwin made us no more special than animals, plants, and fungi. And Freud made conscious thought derivative of less palatable underground currents in the psyche. As a fourth supposed affront to the dignity of humans, let’s add the notion to which you just referred: that the human is not metaphysically special either, so that my perception of fire is no different in kind from the relation of cotton and fire among themselves. Cognitive and causal relations all end up on the same footing. And it does seem to be a bit of a traumatic claim for people, judging by how upset they have become about it (I wasn’t expecting this to happen).
Nick Srnicek introduces Speculative Realism, giving us a clear a indication of what is at stake as debates unfold within the original SR line up of Brassier ,Hamilton-Grant, Harman and Meillassoux.
Paul Sakoilsky writes about three objects randomly chosen from his studio, giving a good indication of where an object based interpretation of the artwork might lead.