Month: November 2010

Against Nostalgia

Tomorrow, I’m teaching Nancy’s The Truth of Democracy, which was written two years ago as part of talks he gave on the legacy of 1968. Thus, Infinite Thought’s post here on the legacy (or its lack) for the UK university demonstrations is more than just timely for thinking about the protests, with an overall discussion of inter-generational strife (between the boomers, who look to be pulling up the ladder after them) and those who will be stuck with their bills:

I definitely don’t think inter-generational politics do any good – ok, so saying ‘f*** 68’ is perhaps a bit strong, but it’s the image of 68 that writers like Toynbee persist in perpetuating that irks me – parochial, self-congratulatory, cultural rather than political. Somewhat more pettily, I was a bit dismayed to see 68 posters adorning the walls of UCL yesterday (or did I imagine it?): given how organised and brilliant the students are, I wanted them to make new posters! To be fair, they did have some excellent economics stats around the room and this picture of Bentham is lovely.

I don’t ‘blame’ the boomers for the crisis, though I do think pointing out the hypocrisy of those who had free education and grants taking it away from others should be done as often as possible. Of course this is a discussion about the ruling class, on the one hand and everyone else, regardless of their generational tag. There are clearly lots of non-rich, non-second home-owning baby boomers, lots of left-wing baby boomers who didn’t sell out, those who didn’t turn revolutionary slogans into ad taglines, and so on, just as there are some young rich a***holes who care about nothing more than money and preserving their class status. The rhetoric of generations is a reactionary rhetoric, no doubt about it, and it is no coincidence that Willetts et al can tap into it while simultaneously f***ing over vast swathes of the population.

What will no doubt come after this moment (hopefully) will be new narratives of protest movements, not more of the deja vu politics that adds in another date to the list (1889, 1848, 1968, 2010, etc.)…

ADDENDUM: Speaking of which, there’s this recent piece by Toscano on Badiou’s Marxism (I’m thinking here of the relevance of the first two paragraphs before it moves to a general reading of Badiou’s approach):

Today’s radical political (or metapolitical) theory is the offspring of a contorted dialectic of defeat and reinvention.1 Though it is common to take contemporary ideas on emancipation and political subjectivity at face value, many of the defining characteristics of these recent writings are obscured if we fail to address how they emerged out of a reckoning with the failure or  distortion of Marxist politics, and, moreover, if we disregard the extent to which they maintain an underlying commitment to the Marxist impulse whence they arose…

“Philosophy in an Inclusive Key”

A summer institute announcement for undergraduates:


Philosophy in an Inclusive Key

A Summer Institute for Undergraduates


July 25-August 1, 2011

Philosophy: Experience, Reflection, Transformation

Ladelle McWhorter, Director

Professor of Philosophy, Richmond College

Guest Faculty: Jose Medina and Mary Beth Mader

Along with works in feminist, critical race, disability, and queer theory,
students will read historical and contemporary philosophical texts that
explore recurring human concerns and investigate the ways in which
experience informs philosophical reflection. In addition, writing
assignments, visiting lecturers, and mentoring will help students learn that
their own perspectives matter to philosophy.

Participants will be named Iris Marion Young Diversity Scholars and will
receive support from the Iris Marion Young Diversity Scholars Fund

Undergraduate women or men from underrepresented groups including racial,
ethnic and sexual minorities, and people with disabilities are urged to
apply. All students will receive a stipend, free transportation, and

APPLICATIONS DUE: April 15, 2011

For more details see

Co-Sponsors: APA – FEAST – Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute, College of
The Liberal Arts, and Department of Philosophy, Iris Marion Young Diversity
Scholars Fund;  2010 Institutional Co-Sponsors: Department of Philosophy,
Binghamton; Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University; Department of
Philosophy Stony Brook University


Call for Editors

I’ll post this again. (I’ll note that it’s too rare for major journals to have these kind of application processes, which are usually handled in-house.):

Society and Space – call for new co-editors

Environment and Planning D: Society and Space is looking to appoint two new co-editors from early 2011 to replace Emily Brady and Eduardo Mendieta who are stepping down after four years of excellent service to the journal. You can find details of the journal here:

The editor and co-editors work collectively in the preliminary assessment of all submissions, discussion of referee reports, and the whole process of revision, rejection and acceptance of papers. They consult on all matters of policy and content, including editorials, translations and special issues. Often co-editors generate ideas and suggestions for the journal which are again discussed by the team.

We are looking for people with energy and enthusiasm, excellent organisational skills, lots of good ideas, part of diverse networks, and with wide-ranging research interests. The aim is to appoint people whose expertise enhances rather than duplicates those of the existing team: Stuart Elden (Geography, Durham); Deborah Cowen (Geography, Toronto) and Natalie Oswin (Geography, McGill).

We are keen to have a geographically diverse group of editors, so applications both from within and beyond North America and Europe would be very welcome. Applications can be from any discipline: we are looking for people who have an interest in the interrelation of society and space, broadly conceived.

We would particularly welcome co-editors with expertise in social/spatial theory as it relates to nature/environment, race, the postcolonial, and/or economy.

The editor and continuing co-editors will make the decision on appointment, in consultation with the current co-editors and the journal’s founding and honorary editors. Applications should consist of a 1-2 page expression of interest, along with a CV. Expressions of interest should cover why you would be good for the role and what you could bring to the journal. They should outline your interests, expertise and networks, and what you could enable. We would welcome ideas for taking the journal forward: these can be critical of the journal as it is at present.

Please send applications to by 1st December 2010. Informal inquiries are also welcome to that same address.

Links on UK Protests

I was gathering a bunch of links on the UK higher ed protests, but I’m glad to outsource it to Stuart. See here.

In the U.S., we’ve had “50 Hoovers,” as Paul Krugman, the NY Times columnist, has long pointed out. That means not one government but 50 different states doing their best to cut state universities and increase enrollment at private, for-profits like the U. of Phoenix. Thus, the ability to fight these dramatic changes, across the U.S., are harder to take on.

Morton on Buddhophobia

Did I spell that right? For someone who moved to SoCal and rolls his eyes at any hint of New Age Religion, Morton’s posts are always a nice read to think again about Buddhism. (Would it be the same, Tim, though, as homophobia? I’ll submit that there’s a lot of unthinking rejection of Buddhism, as opposed to the unthinking un-rejection of Islam or homosexuality, but power does matter here. Again, though, point taken.) Here’s Morton’s own words:

Buddhaphobia, like homophobia, is the fascination with and fear of something that is already profoundly, intimately “in your face.” Something unconditional. Something that’s just there. It’s the fear of an open-ended subjectivity, if you like, or if you don’t like, an object-like entity that withdraws from access. In psychoanalysis it’s called narcissism. And you need it to have good relationships with yourself and with others.

The ultimate refuge of the narcissistic personality—that is, someone whose narcissism is wounded—is the accusation that the other is narcissistic. Like the person who says “I don’t like bullies” and then proceeds to bully you, the wounded narcissist is obsessed with pointing out the other’s narcissism.

A fundamentalist recently told my Lutheran pastor sister in law that Buddhism was “self-centered” while Christianity was “Christ-centered.” I rest my case. Hegel’s nightmare of Buddhism is a statue of a baby sucking its toe. (Actually this is a Hindu image, but he was so blinded by his obsession with A=A or the narcissism of the other that I guess he didn’t check.)

What this adds up to is the usual orientalist racism that “Asians” are “inscrutable.” How dare those Buddha statues not look at me directly? How dare they turn their eyes downward, as if inward? Is it secretly conspiring against me? Is it a faceless, desireless automaton?

I think the last paragraph gets to the point: it’s the old Orientalism (mirrored in hate/fetish) that is salient.

A Case of the Wednesdays

Alas, I’m trying to give myself many reasons to cancel my three classes Wednesday to attend the Harman/Bryant/Morton event in LA (a mere three hours, crazy traffic permitting, from San Diego). But it looks good. So here’s to hoping for very few posts telling us how good the sessions went, etc., before putting recordings up on the intertubes. (Eleanor Kaufmann was kind enough to email me to let me know about the room changes and invite me to lunch, but I just don’t know if I can make it. But lunch with Eleanor does have its own gravitational pull towards LA…)