Pippin on Honneth

A video. Hard to imagine a better combination. 

How impact is ruining science

On this remarkable radio programme. 

Julia Markovits on ignorance and moral blameworthiness

Good post here.

The Eternal Return of Hegel

Slavoj Zizek has a new book on Hegel coming out soon, here.

Something like this?

hegel zizek[6]


‘Der digitale Big Brother lagert seine Arbeit gleichsam an seine Insassen aus.’

‘The digital Big Brother outsources its work, as it were, to its inmates.’

from Han’s Psychopolotik.

‘All that happens must be known…Secrets are lies’

from The Circle

Addendum: and now this interesting post. Here’s a quote from the replies: 

coercive uses of self-tracking devices are already in place. Heart-rate monitors are being introduced into school physical education to ensure that students don’t slack off when they should be reaching a certain exertion level. Corporate wellness programs in the US encourage workers to be physically active or face higher health insurance premiums, while car insurers are installing devices in customers’ cars to measure their driving practices and customise their insurance premiums accordingly. Virgin Pulse offers a package to employers of tracking devices that monitor not only employees’ progress towards achieving a certain fitness level or losing weight but also their sleep patterns, because well-rested and fit workers are productive workers (according to their website). 

See also the London scheme, and the Venezuelan one.

An embryonic account of the (political) apocalype

*SPOILER ALERT* Presumes knowledge of T-2 and Book of Eli. 

I am currently in the early stage of writing a paper for the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture’s September conference, the abstract for which can be found here. The presupposition, on which the paper is an elaboration, is the suggestion, made by Fredric Jameson and popularised by Slavov Zizek, that it maybe ‘easier to imagine the end of the world than imagine the end of capitalism’.

For Jameson, the apocalyptic genre, and sci-films more widely, synthetically tie the continuity of a neo-liberal economic and social order (post-industrial, post-modern, techno-rational, late capitalism, culture industry – pick your poison) with the experience of hyper-business but no actual change.

For example, in Book of Eli, the hero travels across a post-apocalyptic wasteland with the Bible in hand – preserving ‘the book’. He delivers it to its final destination, only for the leader of this cultural refuge to say that this book will assist in ‘returning everything back to how it used to be’, without irony. Isn’t it how the world ‘used to be’ that lead to this current barrenness? Should they not be aspiring, logically, to something new, not to an eternal recurrence of the same? Doesn’t he here damn himself, demonstrating for all to see his political and imaginative impotence?

Or in Terminator 2: the model T-800 sacrifices itself at the end of the film so that the Skynet world never comes about, allowing the Connors to get on with their ‘normal’ lives. Here the cyborg sacrifices itself (in a quintessentially Christian form of self-sacrificial morality), so that there will be no cyborgs. The radical discontinuity of the invasion of the future into the present (in the form of bodies that travel from apocalyptic future to current present) hides the deeper impulse of the films – towards a maintenance of the present and a reassertion of (the pure) ‘human’.

As Jameson himself argues, this line of cultural criticism is ethically and political (should I: theologically) indeterminate. Why?

My answer to this, and here is the nub of the paper, can be expressed in the inversion of a joke. Groucho Marx said ‘I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.’ Maybe for those, like myself, who read compulsively – always trying to catch up with the latest academic vogue, fulfill the expectations of our supervisors and co-workers, satiate the guilt and maintain the production of academic research (let alone ‘impact’) – the joke should be reversed: ‘I find reading very educating. Every time somebody sits down to read, I go into the other room and turn on the set.’

Maybe, instead of submitting ourselves to the servile propagation of perennial capitalist innovation, idleness is the best we can hope for. Resisting the injunctions of production, sustaining the necessity of privacy (here, in the form of watching TV). Lest this appear the most middle-class and bourgeois of critiques, let me suggest that it might be the basis of a radical politics as well. For, is it not privacy that the rough sleeper lacks – constantly submitted to the interrogations and disdain of the state and the public shame of charitable dependence. For those working-class men and women who work two or three jobs just to pay the bills and secure their tenure, leisure might be one of the most pressing and significant of needs.

An essay by Kate Schick

Available here; highly recommended.

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