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Showing posts from June 13, 2021

There's no there, there - some thoughts about substitution

  Anyone who reads continental philosophy or the philosophical essayists will soon be impressed by the almost obsessive mooning over the concept of absence. This has no parallel in Anglophone philosophy – absence is at most treated as a simple description of a physical phenomenon. Jack doesn’t show up for the exam – he is absent. There is nothing here for the analytics (or post-analytics) to get moony about, or so they say. Nevertheless, there is something strange about the absence of absence in Anglophone philosophy. The unexamined master-trope of that philosophy is substitution. Surely it if were examined, understanding substitution should encourage us to look at absence more closely. Substitution implies that a place is preserved – in logical or physical or social space – that is filled with one or another variable. In a sense, the presence of the variable isn’t total, since it isn’t identical to the place. One can find another variable to put in that place. The latest metap

RIP Janet Malcolm

 J anet Malcolm - one of the four angels of the 70s and 80s, with Joan Didion, Renata Adler and Elizabeth Hardwick - is dead. Damn. One of the few essayists who I read on name only - if it was by Malcolm, I read it. The NYT remembers her for the line about how journalist's practice an immoral profession - that burns them up. Of course, in the age of neoliberal BigMedia, we see them more as minions of the billionaires. Still, we can honor her as being the founder of modern cancel culture. From the beginnning, the the big male poobah - in this case, Joe McGuiness - never got cancelled. The poobahs piped us into every neoliberal disaster, every foreign policy cul de sac, every moral panic, and they keep going. But I didn't read her for her moral judgements so much as her unobtrusive, fascinating style - her rare ability to make the question into a narrative. God bless her. This - this is is just greatness . I didn't always agree with Malcolm's conclusions, but I always con

corny Joyce

  Yes, yes, yes I too have bought the lemon soap at Sweeny’s. Bloomsday is corny – it is a corniness laid at the foot of the monument, Ulysses. I can say it: this is my "favorite" novel. In a consumerist gesture we’ve learn to do automatically, we make lists of favorites: favorite songs, favorite books, favorite tv shows. But within my soul, to get all gaudy about it, there’s a complaint: the favorite position pretends that consumption is possible. I have, on occasion, an inverse desire: to become the |favorite of." For instance, to become the favorite reader of Ulysses. A trickier thing altogether. Corniness is one of the many aesthetic zones traversed in Ulysses, which is unashamed about the way potboiler novels try to get the reader hot and bothered. Fuck books, or at least wank lit. Paul de Kock figures as largely in the novel as Shakespeare. The officially censored Dublin of 1904 could allow de Kock, under the counter, with illustrations - which is, to a reader of

remote control

  The channel changer was put on the market by Zenith in 1950 under the label “Lazybones” – an oddly moralizing kind of brand name. In the fifties, as home technology reshaped the house, the house became a refuge of laziness against the ideal of the grime and stress of the working life. That the cleaning of the home was itself labor was lost, as it has always been lost, under this advertising driven thematic. The union ticket worker never had it so good. The eight hour day was solid. The pay a little per month credit structure was solid. You could lounge in your lounger, you didn’t have to take the steps to the tv to change the channel. Such was the idea. Remote control was in its infancy. It really found its legs when it changed from a sonic device to one using infrared technology, which was marketed in the eighties at the same time that cable tv started to make inroads on network tv. Myself, I owned my last television set under the ancien regime in 1980. After that, I lost intere