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Showing posts from September 26, 2021

Finding, Discovery and the episteme me hearties

I’ve always thought Foucault missed a trick, in Les Mots et les choses, by not devoting attention to the epistemological position of the term “discovery” in the 17th and 18th century. I don’t think that neglect was negligible, either – it points to one of the oddities of Foucault’s book, which is that it removed the conceptual history he was telling from the trans-Atlantic context of colonialism that was one of the great material events of his donnee. Not only trans-Atlantic, but Indian and South Asian as well. Restoring “discovery” to its place would both confirm certain of Foucault’s intuitions and shuffle the order of things in interesting ways – it would give us a handle on deconstructing Foucault’s text. Discovery is writ large not only in the period’s natural philosophy, but in its law, its ‘anthropology”, such as it was, and in the practice of adventure that traverses the disciplines. Discovery did an enormous amount of work at the time, legitimating a trans-Atlantic order tha

Who are the "poor"?

  Who are the "poor"? A few years ago, Paul Collier penned a review of some left leaning economics books in the TLS that contained an exemplary rightwing view of what left wing economics is all about. The key sentence is here: “In thinking coherently about capitalism, a helpful starting place is to ask yourself: why are poor people poor?” Brandishing this question, Collier proceeds to find the left wing answer inadequate, and offers his own critique of financialized capitalism. However, for a left winger, this is certainly not a helpful starting place to plunge into an analysis of capitalism. It hasn’t been a helpful starting place since Karl Marx, in 1842, starting reading the French radicals and discovered the economic and sociological category of “class”. Such is the amnesia that has befallen contemporary liberal and lefty-leaning groups, who’ve inherited all the shit of the Third way movement of the 80s and 90s, that they have forgotten their own history, and might well

Atomic Soldiers on Parade - a poem by Karen Chamisso

  O you bone-seeking babes of micro-light You downwind masses with your glow-in-the-dark milk money! You paid the secret tithe – secretly. The pledge of allegiance in such small hands! While Dr. Strangelove’s voyageurs explored the glands. Desolation row has long been gentrified In a win-win for the creatives, public-private funding. What flakes blow in the hair dryer gusts In the alley where the dumpsters overflow With cartons of spoiled truffles, no one knows Or measures with the zombie Geiger counter. Down in the narco baroque private room, A party is watered with La Mordorée 1991: His money’s LBOs, hers, bein' 18 We’re all hypnotized by this barely legal routine, And search the IAEA safety glossary For appropriate responses. “Migration: the movement of radionuclides” “… most commonly in groundwater flow”; It’s a cute meet as cute meets go But my question’s about the whole body dose Or “how to survive the atomic Bomb”, in paperback Found in a box of Mama’s old clothes. Bikin

prisoner's dilemma world - Cold War lives

  The conceptual children of the Cold War came out of its belly with the apocalypse in their eyes, a mindset conditioned by the great global unconditional surrender of the Axis. There was a ghastly optimism in it that danced in the nuked ruins of cities, and then rebuilt them carefully, like the potential targets that they were. Keep your high use population away from the epicenter, and let the low use population take the brunt - that was the day's secret slogan. Its secret epic was composed of the classified memos the AEC scientists and functonaries send each other about the "downwinders" who took the greatest fallout hit from above ground atom bomb tests. But downwind is a generous wind, which is how testbomb strontium 90 became a component of every pint of milk drunk on the Eastern seabord too. Among this progeny one finds the “prisoner’s dilemma.” Like all the problems in game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma arose in the fold between economics and the Air Force – bet