Skip to main content


Showing posts from February 22, 2015

the tourist's world of contemporary liberalism

Tourist guides never advise tourists to go to working factories. Tourist guides avoid, as well, pointing out the wonders and spectacle of doctors’ and insurance offices, tire and brake repair places, janitorial supply warehouses, and loading docks. In other words, the world, seen through a tour book, is a world in which the sphere of production is shut out, and the sphere of circulation is severely abridged. The people who do work in the tourist’s country, who prepare food and bring it to the tourists table, who check the tourist into the hotel and change the sheets on the bed, who sell t shirts on the beach or post cards at the museum shop, are indeed working hard, to please the tourist. But the massive mechanism behind these people is simply assumed by the tourist. The tourist isn’t there to see it. If in fact the tourist comes into contact with this world – say in a car wreck, or because the tourist becomes ill – this is not part of the vacation. It is the part one subtracts from t

confessions of a gnostic

The gospel version was: “in the beginning was the word.” That is a very attractive idea for the intellectual, the creature of formulas, chalkboards, debates, science, and all that stuff. The word gets a big advantage, heritage-wise, and can lord it over the rest of creation. However, as we know, the Gospel of John touches on gnostic heresy. It is the most philosophical of the gospels. In Genesis, the star turn is taken by the creation of the heavens and the earth – not by the instrument God uses. Whereas there is a variant within gnostic belief (gnostic gathering together the mixed cosmic schemes of the first to third century A.D.) that I have some sympathy with. This variant took a dim view of the heavens and the earth. In a sense, in this view,  “in the beginning was the mistake.” The mistake was, precisely, to begin. And the reason that mistake was made was the subject of the colorful mythologies that we can extract from obscure texts by Origen and Iraneaus, who were always slagg

he do the police in several voices - Kristen Ross's police conception of history

Kristin Ross, in her excellent book, May 68 and its afterlives, begins with a meditation on what she calls the police conception of history, riffing off Jacques ranciere. She begins in this way because she has noted a strong tendency in the 1990s to dismiss 1968 as a failed revolution. Nothing happened, is the refrain. Nothing happened.” In a recent text, Jacques Ranciere uses that phrase—only in the present tense: “Nothing is happening”—to represent the functioning of what, broadly speaking,he calls “the police.” “ Police intervention in public space is less about interpellating demonstrators than it is about dispersing them. The police are not the law that interpellates the individual (the “hey, you there” of Louis Althusser) unless we confuse the law with religious subjection. The police are above all a certitude about what is there, or rather, about what is not there: “Move along, there’s nothing to see.” The police say there is nothing to see, nothing happening,