April 12, 2009

If the identity of philosophy is so slippery, this is because philosophy is always a relation to its outside

Apr 11, 2009 Silence as Found Object from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak
The very existence in Greece of a "code of silence" that involves the body and pervades cultural manifestations as diverse as religious rituals, Homeric epic, drama, and medical texts, points to a shared tendency to associate an absence of words with specific gestures and postures; an association, in turn, which suggests that for the Greeks silence was a highly formalized behavior, much more so than it is for us. (Silvia Montiglio, Silence in the Land of Logos, p. 8)

(title unknown) from enowning by enowning on the spirit of edo, or understanding what's going on in On the Way to Language.
And then he talks about the emptiness of the Japanese Noh-stage as something unaccceptable to Europeans for some reason, apparently content to ignore similar European art forms, from ancient Greek drama through to Elizabethan drama.I think it helps to understand the larger context.

Raymond Williams on "Sesame Street" from The Joyful Knowing by Mike Johnduff
Certain forms have evolved within the conventions of current television programming. In American television, with its extraordinarily short units and as it were involuntary sequences, mainly determined by commercials, there have been such interesting innovations as Laugh In, Sesame Street and The Electric Company. The comic effects of fast-moving disconnection, using many of the local techniques [...]

Apr 11, 2009 The Ricardian case against YouTube from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen
I love being reminded of the history of economic thought:
It seems safe to assume that YouTube’s traffic will continue to grow, with no clear ceiling in sight. Since the majority of Google’s costs for the service are pure variable costs of bandwidth and storage, and since they’ve already reached the point at which no greater economies of scale remain, the costs of the business will continue to grow on a linear basis. Unfortunately, far more user-generated content than professional content makes its way onto the site, which means that while costs grow linearly, non-monetizable content is growing geometrically as compared against the monetizable content that YouTube really wants and needs to survive. This means less and less of YouTube’s library will be revenue-contributing, while the costs of delivering that library will continue to grow. The article is interesting through and the hat tip goes to Andrew Sullivan.

Beyond national capitalism? from The Memory Bank by keith
Humanity is caught between national and world society. This is both dangerous and an opportunity for us... Money in capitalist societies stands for alienation, detachment, impersonal society, the outside; its origins lie beyond our control (the market). Relations marked by the absence of money are the model of personal integration and free association, of what we take to be familiar, the inside (home). This institutional dualism, forcing individuals to divide themselves every day, asks too much of us. People want to integrate division, to make some meaningful connection between their own subjectivity and society as an object. 8:36 AM

Against Spectacle from Grundlegung by Tom
k-punk on the G20 protest and the response to the economic ‘crisis’. This follows up on similar analyses from Savonarola, Owen Hatherley (and another), and an earlier k-punk post... Secondly, a new economism is needed, returning to the sphere of production as the site of struggle. With a moribund political climate (even in these interesting times), this is where capital can be challenged most effectively. David Harvey is right to call for a ’socialisation of surplus’ — though this ought to be not just at a governmental level (e.g. progressive tax and spending policies) but at the local level. The aspiration would be for workers — both material and immaterial — to have far more control over the products of their labour. But initially it is the conditions of labour which are more readily influenced. Traditionally, of course, this has revolved around matters of pay, hours and especially in cases like industry, safety. However, k-punk correctly centres upon opposition to managerialism as the new great front. I think we should see this as bound up with the demand for worker autonomy — to be free from interfering micro-management and the panoptican-nature of modern working practices.

[Is God also dead in America?
from An und für sich by Adam Kotsko... This second version of religion after the death of God could be called cultural, in the strict literal sense of cultivating or growing human beings — its natural affinity with nationalism should therefore come as no surprise. Sexuality is of course not the only thing on the agenda. In the US, for instance, there is the question of evolution or prayer in schools. But notice how closely both questions are tied to children and the role of education in maintaining the continuity of a certain cultural identity.
This religion is a distinctively secular religion, one aimed firmly and exclusively at shaping our shared world. It is a religion that implicitly recognizes the death of God insofar as God can no longer take care of himself: it is not enough for the faithful remnant to hold fast to God’s laws and let the rest go to hell. What’s more, no “strong” concept of God has any real credibility — for instance, the seemingly interminable battle over predestination has been decisively won by the free will crowd, not through superior argumentation but through simple attrition. Who really cares about predestination anymore? Who can even get themselves into a mental state where the question would arise in any serious, existential way?
In conclusion, then: yes, God is dead in America as well. The resurgence of “religion” is actually the best possible evidence of that.

Thinking the Present– What is Philosophy?
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects... I do not know that I share Badiou’s particular characterization of our present, but I think he’s hit upon something fundamental in just what it is that philosophy does or what the vocation of philosophy might be. What Badiou seems to be declaring is that philosophy strives to think that which provokes thought in the present, to reflect on its meaning, and to capture its pulsating essence or what is eternal within it. In doing so, philosophy is not a self-contained discipline, but rather always takes its material, its matter, its “stuff” of thought, from outside and elsewhere. If the identity of philosophy, what philosophy is, is so slippery, if we find that it is so difficult to say just what the questions of philosophy are and what the objects of philosophy are because they are so historically variable, then perhaps this is because philosophy itself has no identity, but is instead always a relation to its outside. Rather, philosophy is the attempt to think that which is new and transformative in its present, or what is unprecedented with regard to its history.

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