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Showing posts from April 25, 2010

poetry and the savage

Two days ago, I was having coffee with a friend. This particular friend is an expert on recent and avant garde American poetry. Unlike her, I know very little about American poetry after Berryman and Lowell. So she was patiently asking me why I was so sniffy about Jerome Rothenberg or Charles Bernstein, and other carriers of the torch passed down from Pound and Stein. In response to which, I am trying to read more of these poets. However, in the course of our discussion, I did say something that wasn’t absolutely ignorant. I said this. There’s a story Yuri Lotman tells in Universe of the Mind about a Russian mathematician who advertised that he was going to give a talk on the geometry of dressmaking. Naturally, the audience for this talk filled up with dressmakers and tailors. Finally the great man arrived, ascended the podium, unfolded his manuscript and began: for the purposes of this talk, let us assume that the human body is perfectly spherical. There was a great rush for the exits

Another blog for the Middlesex Philosophy Department

Following in Nicole 's and Nina 's footsteps, I want to align this blog with saving the Middlesex University Philosophy department. But that isn't really enough. Saving it and not purging the amazingly bad and ludicrous Middlesex University Administration would mean that the Philosophy department would be nibbled to death. The administration has demonstrated that it is incompetent to run a university. What John Garner once said about the vice presidency applies in spades to the administration: they ain't worth a bucket of warm spit. In a better world - the world that New Labour failed to install - this decision would lead to an investigation of the invidious business takeover of the public university system in the U.K. That investigation won't happen, and the better world that New Labour utterly failed to create is going to bite that party on the ass. It is dying of trivial sensationalized news stories, and seems - as per this boneheaded act, which could easily hav

Slouching towards Maslow's pyramid

There has been, as far as I can tell, no canonical study of how and why certain ideas – psychoanalysis, Maslow’s theory of needs, gestalt therapy – infiltrated into the precincts of that most American of sciences, organization science, and all its business school progeny. The ultimate American utopia is the corporation – those of us on the reservation outside of it just think of ourselves as the dreamers of the better future. But inside those corporate walls, that future is manufactured wholesale. In 20th century America, war, organization and information systems formed the sinister matrix to which our best guides are still the great dark codexes: J.R., Gravity’s Rainbow, Flow my tears the policeman said. Randall Jarrett’s tailgunner glosses not simply the belly of the state at war, but the great human product of the 20th century, organizational man. Maslow’s career, to be read properly, must be read by the flickering light common to incendiary bombings and the vast, flawless labyrinth

what are human needs? The cold war perspective

… something is considered to be a need if its deprivation produces disease. – Abraham H. Maslow. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 23 “Zum Leben aber gehört vor Allem Essen und Trinken, Wohnung, Kleidung und noch einiges Andere. Die erste geschichtliche Tat ist also die Erzeugung der Mittel zur Befriedigung dieser Bedürfnisse, die Produktion des materiellen Lebens selbst, und zwar ist dies eine geschichtliche Tat, eine Grundbedingung aller Geschichte, die noch heute, wie vor Jahrtausenden, täglich und stündlich erfüllt werden muß, um die Menschen nur am Leben zu erhalten.” – Marx, DI, 28 I’ve made this round of posts about productive and unproductive labor because I wanted to say something about the class structures that evolved out of the building of the artificial paradise. But the more I have been trying to grasp the relations, here – with the help of the story of the rise and fall of a perfumer, whose trade, from a certain moralizing point of view, has less ‘value’ than that of