Review of Peter Sloterdijk’s Der Ästhetische Imperativ – Schriften zur Kunst

At Theory Culture and Society (open access). Here is part of what is in that volume:

In order to talk about the future of art after the ‘end of art’, i.e. towards it and from within it, Sloterdijk deems it necessary to firstly talk about the future of the future. It is a question of the ‘world system’ of credit, based on virtualised spaces.,where every ‘reasonable’ person acts ‘as if’ s/he obeyed the “categorical imperative of a Kantian enlightened by a stock market report: act in a way that the maxim of your borrowing could at any time serve as principle of a universal law of the apocalypse” (457). In this highly individualised system, imaginary temporal commonalities have broken into pieces and the only common denominator might be that we are living in a historico-philosophically defined ‘risk society’ (460). However, every synchronisation also creates a-synchronisation – as such, this ‘global’ risk society in turn also already in- and excludes phenomena which are withdrawing from it and in this way create their own different temporalities, i.e. different forms of living.

Marx and Foucault

This has been up at Viewpoint Magazine for a couple of weeks, which is Pierre Macherey on Foucault’s relation to Marx. This is a perennial discussion, but one better answered than before given the publication of The Punitive Society, which I’m teaching right now. (Yes it was just published but the students happily agreed for a course correction from the previously assigned Lectures on the Will to Know.) First off, the translation is excellent and the numerous helpful footnotes by Graham Burchell feel like academic cheating: I don’t have to search for cross references to where Foucault has discussed this or that concept since he invariably provides it. And Bernard Harcourt’s afterward is likely to be quoted in any student papers at the end of the semester–clear while marking the text out in terms of the complex web of relations to other texts by Foucault. Second, it’s remarkable how far Foucault goes in attempting a detente of sorts with Marxists in the audience; when he critiques Marx’s view of labor–or rather, says that it’s a posteriori to the docile bodies necessary for the rising bourgeoisie and for the punitive society (prisons, hospitals, etc.; i.e., Foucault uses punitive as equal to disciplinary power here)–he refers to Marx in terms of “post-Hegelians philosophers.” This is far different from later, more jabbing references.

In any case, it’s great to work through the text with an excellent set of students–a couple of new PhDs here are really digging into it–after giving it a more quick read last year. What’s particularly interesting about the lectures is that one can see better than in his published Surveiller and Punir (1975) where he makes certain choices of reading the archive in terms of the late 18th century rise of punition, as well as some choices that are just puzzling to me, for example, that only with punition or discipline did morality enter into the penal system, counterexamples of which are, I would think, in the entire Western tradition, so perhaps it’s about looking at what he precisely means by morality (though it seems to be the general usage given the claim that if one wants to know morality, forget Kant and study the rise of the police). There’s much more to say; I’ll have a review out soon (at the LARB) going through more details. But quickly if one wants to get Foucault setting out why he thinks exclusion and otherness are too vague for analysis (against so many before and after him), why transgression is a facile political tool, why he uses civil war not class war, and so on through a host of topics, this is a rich and rewarding set of lectures. (And hands-down more interesting if you’re bored once more teaching well-worn passages in Discipline and Punish.)

New School Graduate CFP

This looks to be a great conference topic. CFP deadline for abstracts is December 1st.

Taking its title from Naomi Schor’s text with the same name, this conference reformulates the question that Schor posed 20 years ago concerning feminist debates around the writing of Luce Irigaray: is essentialism in contemporary critical thought still anathema? How can we think about essentialism today alongside and across different disciplines that might both nourish and contest one-another such as philosophy, feminist thought, queer theory, critical race studies, and biology? Have past outright rejections of essentialism undercut political agendas, by denying shared connections that might motivate collectivity? What can we say about essentialist, anti-essentialist, and more contemporary anti-anti-essentialist (or strategic essentialist) stances?The 2016 Philosophy Graduate Student Conference at The New School for Social Research seeks to explore these questions, and we invite all of you to engage with us in thinking about them. We welcome non-traditional presentations, including works of arts or creative writing as well as traditional philosophical papers. Papers should be roughly 3000 words. Performances should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Any accommodations you may need must be specified in your submission. Potential topics include considerations of essentialism with respect to: social constructivism, gender/sexuality, nature/animals, race, trans feminisms, femininity, identity, technology, disability, queer theory, revolution/political transformations. Please send all submissions formatted for blind review to on or before December 1.

Source: This Essentialism Which is Not One

Steve DeCaroli on Agamben

Steve, who visited Memorial last week and gave a stellar talk, has me almost convinced that I shouldn’t give up on Agamben as I have. (Okay, it’s still a lot to get past that Franciscan monasteries–all male–offer a form of life without content or propriety.) In any case, a version of his talk was given in Taiwan and is here on YoutubeGiorgio Agamben: Poverty as a Way of Life – YouTube, and there is more work up on his page. Worth a look if you want an overview of Agamben’s more recent stuff, which is finishing up the Homo Sacer series by getting to the form of life that is the inverse of that which is under the sovereign ban, then this is a good place to start.

Special LARB Articles on Deleuze

Twenty years after his death. Hopefully I’ve cut and pasted the links right:

Gilles Deleuze: The Event of Life by Brad Evans

What Is Becoming of Deleuze? by Adrian Parr

Deleuze’s Metallurgic Machines by Patricia Pisters

A Singular, and yet, Non-Arbitrary Life by Gregg Lambert

Undigesting Deleuze by Brian Massumi

The Laius Complex. Abraham, Laius, Moses — Father, Trauma, and Carrying by Bracha L. Ettinger

Jason Wirth’s Schelling’s Practice of the Wild: Time, Art, Imagination // reviewed at NDPR

Time to dust off the weblog and get it going again. Jason, who was here for our nature conference, has come out with another book, which is not just on a theory but a practice of being “wild.” (Let’s hope SUNY can get a paperback out relatively soon.) Here’s a paragraph from the review and you can read the first chapter here:

Following the later Schelling, Wirth divides Schelling’s philosophical itinerary into two periods, that of negative philosophy (the Naturphilosophie and earlier) and that of positive philosophy whose themes were foreshadowed in the Ages of the World (1815) and the Freedom essay (1809) and developed in the later works on revelation and mythology (the Berlin lectures, 1842-43). He sees the task of negative philosophy as overcoming the alienation of nature found in modern philosophy by intuiting “the infinite within the finite and . . . the ungrounded ground from which thinking arises” (118) while pointing out that it cannot account for the sovereign life of imagination, natura naturans. Positive philosophy displaces pure reason in favor of the cognition of actual experience and denies that the ungrounded ground is simply an abstraction (223). It provides a careful genealogy of past experience and a vigorous discernment of the present, and affirms the coming into the finite of the infinite as something found in the creativity of inspired living art.

Source: Schelling’s Practice of the Wild: Time, Art, Imagination // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame