Contra Dad Rock Pedagogy

I woke up this morning to a retweet of JKAS’ Wall Street Journal “Has Anyone Seen Last Year’s Promising Freshman?” It was, umm, “interesting” to read a pedagogical perspective dripping with utter contempt for his students especially as I had gone bed late last night reading bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress. hooks encourages her readers to foster an openness in the classroom driven in part by student desire but also that recognizes that every pedagogical decision is a political decision, that when one teaches only the canon that one has advocated something. Teaching is never simply teaching and if you think it is you’re either not thinking or being willfully ignorant. Now, if we take JKAS at his word at being “invited into this exclusive club” of “liberal enlightenment”, would should, I suppose, trust that he is smart enough to know how insulting his article will be taken as an insult. After all, in it he lambasts professors, his very colleagues (I suppose tenure makes rascals of folks), for not simply  extolling the virtues of the Western and instead “confuse teaching with advocacy”. But setting aside the veracity of such a claim (it seems to me to lack merit) we may assume that while JKAS is aware enough to know it will cause offense we may also assume, since he wrote the article, that he enjoys the fact that it will be offensive. He may even feel that he’s struck a blow against the complex of PC college professors whose only taste for intolerance is against the intolerant. In other words, JKAS is a contrarian and so shares less in common with the lover of wisdom than he does with the sophist who likes the way the words feel in his mouth. Ironically this means he shares more in common with the common right-wing caricature of “social justice warriors” who get off on their outrage as he clearly is enjoying his own smug denigration. Read the rest of this entry »

These Young Men Are Heroes: Kill the Whitey in Your Head


It is quite possible that tomorrow we will wake up this photo on the covers of major newspapers. Reportedly the photo was taken in Ferguson, MO where the militarized police force murdered a young man named Michael Brown in cold blood for the crime of being Black in america. The anger at this injustice is not the anger at just this iteration of the open season on Black people in america. No, this anger runs deep, it runs down to the very foundations of anti-Blackness the wealth of the West was built upon. In the morning, today for those reading it, you may have woken up to the media using this photo to spread anti-Blackness. The body of the young Black man as a violent body, as a threatening body. That’s what they want you to see. But they want you to see that because the media is a wing of american white supremacy, it enshrines the cultural values of white supremacy through the way it directs your vision. Resisting that, refusing it, is a small part of the resistance that is required.

The militarized cops in Ferguson and the rest of the structures of the state want you to look at these photos and see scary “black boys” whose violence may be committed against you (and especially the “you” who is white or middle class or can pass as such). But that is not what is happening in this photo. These young men are heroes. These young men are braver than the shock troops of capital showing up with the powers of air, land, and sea to fight individuals with barely any weapons. These young men are braver than the cops in Ferguson, MO who take off their badges and ID tags. Who hide behind machine guns, tear gas, body army, urban tanks, and other accoutrements of the modern cowardly police officer. When you see these young men refuse to pathologize their blackness like the media wants you to do. Did they kill an unarmed teenager? Did they respond to their crime against humanity by refusing to face up to it? And when their community rose up to demand justice did these young men shot teargas, wooden and plastic bullets at people standing on their own lawns? Did they declare a no-fly zone and kick out the reporters, suspending the 1st amendment? No, they did not do that. White supremacy did. A popular piece of graffiti in the 60s read “kill the cop in your head”. Well, today the imperative for you today is to kill the whitey in your head. When I see these young men I see an ultimatum and an imperative. Something that I would hope I could live up to, even while I fear I would not. These young men inspire me. The cops and their actions are ugly, but these young men, well, they are beautiful.

An Index of an Archive — Blood Book Event

“For what and where, Derrida rightly insisted, is the archive?” – Anidjar, Blood (241)

I want to understand what kind of text Blood is—what Blood does—in the light of Anidjar’s claim that it is not a book: “I will merely assert that I did not wish for this to be a book.” What does it mean that this text, that gives us the impression of being a book, that has the heft of a book, that has the citational apparatus of a scholarly tome, that has the right organization into parts and chapters and subheadings, that moves deftly amongst a whole range of thinkers whom the papers and the pundits would puzzle at, what does it mean to claim that this text isn’t a book or that he didn’t want it to be? Do we take Anidjar at his word? Do we trust him? What would it mean for us, us Christians, if we are Christians, and Anidjar suggests that we all are covered by the blood, to trust a man named Gil Anidjar? A polyglot, who moves from familiar European languages like French and German to Greek, the acceptable Mediterranean language as an ancient source of European identity, but who also speaks in Arabic and Hebrew and do we detect something of a North African accent, something that would make the ears of border control agents prick up? Suddenly it becomes a matter of distance and boundaries marked by waters littered with rafts and bodies. Marked, of course, by a history of blood. Or perhaps it would be better, in light of Blood not being a book of history, to say it becomes a matter of a story of blood as it is diluted in the sea. The tinnie taste of blood rich in iron flowing out of a body by way of steel and dissipating into a salty sea. But it also a matter of love, of the salt of love, but also the claws of love. “—I remembered you, when I kissed your man face, slowly, slowly kissed it, and when the time came to kiss your eyes—I remembered that then I had tasked the salt in my mouth, and that the salt of tears in your eyes was my love for you (Lispector, The Passion According to G.H., 86-87).” Read the rest of this entry »

Untimely Italians: A Profile of The Italian List and Interview with Alberto Toscano

When someone begins to study European philosophy and theory, or Continental philosophy as the unhelpful designation goes, the focus is usually on the traditions of French and German philosophy (leaving the term analytic to denote the work of the British, those living on that island off the coast of Europe proper). The relationship between this kind of national identity and those philosophers varies. Oftentimes the position of these philosophers disappoint us, as with Bergson during World War I writing about “French spirit” needing to overcome the “German barbarism” or Heidegger during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany doing much the same with more horrific results. But there is something to naming these traditions if only because the way in which language and location shapes one’s thinking, to say nothing of the importance of particular political situations that arise within these fictional but nonetheless efficacious spaces of the various nation-states. Italian philosophy has largely been ignored by those anglophone readers interested in European thought. This despite the fact that the fictional element of the nation-state is perhaps nowhere better on display than Italy, which never quite coalesced its various cultures into a singular Italian culture the way that French republicanism did. This creates an interesting dynamic and leads to a different style of philosophy. This seems to me to hold especially true for leftwing theorists and perhaps arises from what Roberto Esposito identifies as the clear manifestation of antagonism within the Italian context. Nothing like Italy the nation-state exists except through the process of conflict, the creation of antagonism that continues when Italy the nation-state has to become a part of Europe the economic union.

Italian philosophy has long been an interest for many authors here, with Adam’s work on Agamben and my own less intenstive work on Negri, as well as with many of our readers. We have here discussed Esposito’s attempt to reclaim the distinctiveness of Italian philosophy, already mentioned, and many readers will be familiar with the collection edited by Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano The Italian Difference with re:press. So I was excited to see that Alberto was editing a new series called The Italian List with Seagull Books (which has the support of the University of Chicago Press, but apparent autonomy from the usual deadends of academic publishing). While the list has published three shorter texts by Agamben, I wanted to highlight the lesser known figures that Alberto and Seagull Books were bringing to a new audience. In what follows you will find a conversation between Toscano and myself as well as a few side remarks where I provide some summary information about the texts. Because of the length of this post I have also generated it as a PDF for those who prefer that medium for reading longer texts. Read the rest of this entry »

Theologian, Token, Troublemaker: Casting Female Identity in Academic Career Development

This is a guest post from Kate Tomas, DPhil candidate in Theology at Oxford University. It continues the discussion opened by Marika in her post from yesterday. – APS

I read Marika’s post on the SST Gender, Feminism and Theology panel, and as the woman who raised the issue in the first place, (and subsequently had a bad experience as a consequence), I feel the need to respond.

The organizers of the panel, along with Dr Matthew Guest, who was one of the men on the panel, attempted to fix the PR problem I had raised. Their solution was to find a woman – any woman – to be physically present. As Marika knows, I think tokenism is bad, and that tokenism requires tokens, and tokens are actively formed, not simply found. Tokenism complicates women’s agency, and we have to be aware of this when being asked to be a token. 

Having said that, I really think Marika was put in a difficult situation by being asked to be the token. Those who asked her occupied (and occupy) positions of power. Like me, Marika was a graduate student (now a Dr following her viva) and like hundreds of other graduate students, we are both looking for jobs. The organizers of the panel have jobs. They are also potentially in positions to give jobs. As Marika wrote she has ‘often felt that subtle pressure to play nice in both academic and Christian contexts; and I have felt it at SST specifically.’ Asking a female graduate student to be the token woman on a previously all-male panel, just because you have been called out, is more than subtle pressure. Read the rest of this entry »

Laruelle: In Translation Seminar Series and Crowdsourcing

Michael O’Rourke is capitalizing on the presence of three Laruelle translators being in Europe around the same time and has organized a series of seminars. The information for that is below, but we do need your help to make this happen. Our budget, which only includes the cost of travel for the speakers to Dublin as we will be sleeping on Michael’s couches with his cats, comes to about $700 for the three of us. We will be recording these seminars and broadcasting them via my podcast and can make excerpts of the drafts available as well. As a side note, for those who have enjoyed the three episodes of the podcast, this will also support the podcast as it will facilitate interviews with some other folks in Dublin and Berlin (where I will be coming from). So, if you can, please consider supporting this seminar series and the podcast by donating via PayPal.

Laruelle: In Translation

Organizer: Michael O’Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin)

Dublin, July 2014 (venue tbc)

In July 2014 a series of events will be on held on the work of François Laruelle in the company of three of the foremost experts on his work:  Alex Dubilet, Joshua Ramey and Anthony Paul Smith. The events will showcase three forthcoming translations of Laruelle’s work and the translators of these texts will guide us carefully through them.  As well as providing an advance preview of these books  the sessions will also be a unique opportunity to study Laruelle in detail with his translators and explicators. Advance copies of excerpts of the texts will be made available to participants and all three events will be recorded and audio made available on-line afterwards through the My Name Is My Name podcast. Other confirmed participants include the Laruelle scholar and artist Alice Rekab.

Saturday July 5: Joshua Ramey (Grinnell College, USA) will guide a seminar on his forthcoming translation of Mystique Non-Philosophique à L’usage des Contemporains/ Non-Philosophical Mysticism for Today

Sunday July 6: Anthony Paul Smith (La Salle University, USA) will lead a seminar on his forthcoming translation of Introduction au Non-Marxisme/ Introduction to Non-Marxism

Saturday 26 July: Alex Dubilet (University of California, Berkeley, USA) will provide a session on his co-translation (with Jessie Hock) of Théorie Générale des Victimes/ General Theory of Victims

Universalism and Its Discontents: Thursday, June 5th 12pm EST

Some of you all may enjoy watching a discussion take place between Peter Wolfendale and myself, moderated by Deneb Kozikoski, for the Fixing the Future series of seminars and conferences. Universalism and Its Discontents will be a free one-hour lunch discussion (for those of us on the East Coast anyway!) where we are going to discuss #accelerate with a particular focus on the recent description of their upcoming summer school “Emancipation as Navigation: From the Space of Reasons to the Space of Freedoms” Also, for those who can’t watch live, it will be archived on YouTube for your enjoyment and my eternal embarrassment.

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