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Showing posts from July 22, 2012

Pierre Menard and Thomas Hancock

The metaphysics of paper is not only the metaphysics of writing. It is the metaphysics that grounds 'intellectual property".  The problem of intellectual property is linked to the problem of definition by the fact that both invention and definition float in an ocean of anonymous uses, practices, discoveries and performances – a commons of what everybody knows, somehow. Intellectual property lays claim to something in that ocean, and some value added claimed for the individual as engineer, organizer, and genius. Definition lays claim to an insight into how bits of the ocean of language are organized and meant. Invention is personal; definition is impersonal. At the intersection of the two, we get intellectual property law. Although we live in the era of the resurgence of piracy against monopoly – the latter in the form of IP claims – we don’t entirely realize what the modern enclosure movement is all about, or how tangled is its history.  Intellectual property was re

bit of life

I'm a fierce partisan of Paris. Yet, there is something funny about Paris in the heat. In Montpellier, where we just spent around two weeks, the heat was familiar, southern, and its grammar was full of the commas and semi-colons of breeze. The light on Montpellier buildings highlighted something clear about them, something that made you think that the builder's intended the shadows to fall just so. In Paris, the heat is more cluttered, more dirtying. Yesterday, I was drinking a beer in a cafe near Jussieu and there was a little heat-driven contretemps between the waiter - who was a boy of around 20 - and one of those middle aged men with the kind of slinky beachtan that makes them irresistably untrustable. The man walked out without paying - the boy came after him - and the man turned to the owner of the place, who was sitting outside, and said he was a regular, and he was going to his car to find his wallet to pay. And then he called the boy a cretin. Which is

literature's brooder

In the lexicon of cognitive states, brooding has a distinctly low ranking. We meditate or reflect to achieve illumination; brooding, however, is the prelude to a tantrum. To think means trying to see the object of thought whole – but the brooder is peculiarly averse to letting go of the object of thought, and thus condemns himself to repetition and compulsion. Argument is meant to persuade us to let the personal go, to, in effect, accept the autonomy of discourse. In Socrates’ dialogues, the argument is often treated as though it were some live thing, a spirit, a genius that must be respected. As such, the argument is extra-personal. From this perspective, brooding is a failed, or at the very least, a pariah cognitive act. Yet, the brooder does have one fierce insight on his side, for the ideology of cognition obscures the moment of surrender, or sacrifice, in the release of the object of thought to the drift of discourse – to “what everybody knows”. The brooder understands t