War, Minus the Shooting

Socrates: 60 caps for Brazil

What with the English Premier League season starting this weekend it seems appropriate to go back to a few articles written during the World Cup. First of all Peter Singer takes Germany’s Manuel Neuer to task for unethical conduct against England. Is the only ethical imperative in a football match the will-to-victory? Of course not, avows Singer.

On the same tip, an excellent post over at Minus the Shooting on cheating, getting away with it, and transgressions (or not) of the moral law in another of the tournament’s infamous incidents, Luis Suarez’s goalline handball against Ghana. Continue reading “War, Minus the Shooting”

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A Ticklish Subject

In a recent interview for the Guardian, Slavoj Zizek rubbished a large part of his own oeuvre, declaring, “All the talk and the writing about politics, this is not where my heart is. No. I have been sidetracked. I really mean this.”

Zizek also admitted to not having watched James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar when he wrote his interpretation of it: “I had not even seen the film, but I am a good Hegelian. If you have a good theory, forget about the reality.” Continue reading “A Ticklish Subject”

The Underlying Assumptions of the Digital Economy Bill

April 7th 2010 was the date on which the Digital Economy Bill (now Act) was crow-barred through the Houses of Parliament. Aside from the obvious unfairness of the Act’s methodology (see here), the underlying principles of intellectual property which it seeks to defend require careful revaluation in themselves.

To begin with, it is based on the notion of authorship. This idea was extensively critiqued by Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault in the 20th century. For Barthes, the figure of the author closed down the possibilities of a text. By killing the author and birthing the reader, limitless interpretations of a given text are possible. Foucault meanwhile saw the author as a potential figure for blame if a text is offensive, controversial, dangerous. The author can be punished for the text he/she created. Both are united in their view that authorship acts as a form of control, though one saw this as artistic control, the other social. (Ironically, it is not the nominal authors of a creative work that are likely to benefit from the Digital Economy Act; rather, it is the owners.)

Continue reading “The Underlying Assumptions of the Digital Economy Bill”

Middlesex closes its Philosophy department

Nina Power writes over at The Guardian on the closing of Middlesex’s Philosophy department. Middlesex has an excellent Philosophy department that far exceeds its modest reputation as a university, and was particularly important for its specialisation in continental philosophy, which brought some much-needed pluralism into British academic philosophy. Continue reading “Middlesex closes its Philosophy department”

More weak democracy; censored media

Military censorship of a different case: In Hebrew: "The Israeli military censor requires local media to clear any news item about the assassination in Dubai, from any source."

In response to danitocchetto’s recent post, “Dangerous Combination: Weak Democracy and Bad Media”, here’s another case that’s been in the news recently. In Israel, journalist Anat Kam is standing trial on charges of espionage for copying secret documents she was privy to when doing her military service, and passing them on to other journalists. She has been under house arrest since December 2009, as reported by Donald Macintyre in The Independent here.

Kam passed the documents on to Uri Blau, a journalist for the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz. They were allegedly used in this story in November 2008. Blau left the country in December 2009 and has not returned since, for fear of being arrested. He details what happened to him here. Continue reading “More weak democracy; censored media”

Hauntology

An excellent, detailed introduction to the application of the term “hauntology” to music is at Rouge’s Foam here. The term was coined by Jacques Derrida in Spectres of Marx. It plays on “ontology”; the two terms sounds almost identical in French. He asserts that the spectre of Marx’s ideas will continue to haunt Western consciousness in the same way that the spectre of communism was haunting Western Europe when Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto.

In music it has come to be associated with artists such as Burial, Boards of Canada and the Ghost Box label (see the Rouge’s Foam post for listening). However, its application is much broader than music. Here it is discussed in relation to visual art. As theorist Mark Fisher notes here, hauntology can be seen as a paradigm for the malaise of postmodernism, a static world haunted by the ghosts of the past after Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. Continue reading “Hauntology”

A Conversation with one Self

Will Self

Author Will Self’s inaugural lecture of the 2008 Radio 3 Free Thinking festival is archived online here. Self traces the misguided portrayal of consciousness in fiction through history in his typically verbose way. Up for reconsideration are not just the naturalist approach of nineteenth-century literature but also the Joycean stream of consciousness approach. Self argues that the way writers have chosen to portray it does not fit in with the way we really experience our minds. Continue reading “A Conversation with one Self”