Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Calling Bullshit: On Graeber's Bullshit Jobs

Graeber's book Bullshit Jobs is the kind of book I generally avoid. It is an expanded version of an essay originally published in Strike magazine. For the most part I find articles turned into books to be largely filler. The original essay or article made the point, and did so succinctly; expanding it into a book largely entails adding more and more examples with maybe a little bit of context and clarification. However, Graeber's essay was provocative enough, and close enough to my interests that I decided to read it. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Philosophers at Work: On Alexis Cukier's Que'est-ce que le travail?

Kathi Week's book The Problem with Work opens with a paradox of sorts: political theorist should be interested in work, work makes up the most immediate and daily experience of power, hierarchy, and command, but work is considered private and social rather than political so it falls outside of the purview of political theory. A similar paradox could be said to open Alexis Cukier's book, Qu'est-ce que le travail?. Philosophers should be interested in work, work and labor are intimately implicated in not only our concepts of subjectivity and society but also transformation and change, but seldom are. Work is simultaneously too quotidian and too contingent to generate much philosophical interest.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Divisions of the Imagination: Imaginations of Division

What follows is neither the presentation I gave in Milan (in the picture above), nor the one from Rome (indicated in the picture below), but a combination of both, or more importantly, of the thoughts that emerge from the questions and conversations that followed each presentation. Why would we go to conferences after all if not to have our thoughts confronted and transformed by the ideas of others? 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Slogans and Concepts: More on The Young Marx

I was asked to write a longer review of The Young Marx to be published in Italian. I am posting the English here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wave of Mutilation: Marx and Spinoza in Fischbach's Philosophies de Marx

Nothing in the title or the structure of Franck Fischbach's Philosophies de Marx suggests a return to the Marx/Spinoza relation explored in La Production des hommes: Marx Avec Spinoza. The title plainly states that it is a consideration of Marx's philosophy, and the book is organized to consider Marx's philosophical practice through three different philosophical intersections, hence the plural, the philosophy of activity, social philosophy, and critical philosophy. Despite this focus on Marx, and Fischbach's turn away from the specificity of the Marx/Spinoza relation in later works that have broadened the considerations of questions of activity and the social to include everything from Heidegger to Dewey, the book on Marx ends up returning to the productivity of the Marx/Spinoza relation in the margins. 

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Biographies Real and Imagined: On Peck and Barker

When I was in college I took a class on Contemporary Political Thought with Dana Villa. He would introduce every thinker, from Nietzsche to Foucault, with a few anecdotes told manly to amuse, stories of Adorno's meeting with Chaplin and the caricature of Lukács in Magic Mountain. Once the biographical gossip was dispensed with we could move onto discussing the text at hand. It is perhaps because of this that I have never been much interested in biography. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Means of Individuation: Castel on the Dialectics of Individuality

In the essay publishes as the conclusion to La Montée des Incertitudes: Travail, Protections, statut de l'individu Robert Castel gives a genealogy of the contemporary individual. First, in a line of thinking that would seem to parallel Etienne Balibar because it is one of his sources, Castel argues that the modern individual is founded upon property. As Locke argued, Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself." As Castel stresses this connection between property and individuation is not a theoretical assertion but a practice as well. Bourgeois modernity is founded upon the reciprocal connection of the individual and property.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Spectacular Compromise: Or, On the Accuracy of Broken Clocks

Much to my surprise I am going to begin this post with a citation of Ross Douthat. In recent column "Woke Capital" Douthat argues that the current social consciousness of some corporations should be read along the lines of the the "Treaty of Detroit," in which the UAW agreed not to strike in exchange for benefits and cost of living increases. That Fordist compromise frames the basis by which we should understand the contemporary neoliberal compromise, a compromise not based on wages or productivity but image and identity. As Douthat writes, 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Anti-Aesthetics: Or, Towards a Spinozist Theory of Cultural Production

In all of the various attempts to produce and reproduce Spinozism, creating a Spinozist account of society, economy, and politics, little attention has been paid to Spinoza's aesthetics, or really anti-aesthetics. This Anti-Aesthetics is sketched between a few scattered propositions, scholium, and other remarks that address the basis of judgements of taste and value, at every point it shows that any aesthetics is at best an inadequate idea, making effects into causes, and at worst a kind of alienation. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Losing Strategies: Negative Solidarity as Practice

Once in class a student said, "Bernie Sanders wants to give free tuition to everyone: I can't pay for everyone else's tuition I am having a hard enough time just paying for my own." My interest in this statement has less to do with the merits of Bernie Sanders campaign, or such promises, than its strange logic. I admit that I almost had a stifle a laugh when this was uttered in class. I wasn't trying to be mean, but I thought that the student must by joking. When I saw that he wasn't, that he did not grasp the contradiction at the heart of what he was saying, it struck me as a stunning example of negative solidarity.