Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Parallel Lines: Spinoza and Foucault (by way of Deleuze)


The pile that I am working through

I think that it is safe to say that Foucault never really got that interested in the revival of Spinoza that took off in France in the late sixties. As far as I can tell the only sustained reference to Spinoza appears in his lectures on the Will to Know, and there in that text, he considers Spinoza much in the same way that Nietzsche did, as someone who named the will to knowledge, but did not criticize or problematize it. As Foucault writes,

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Fun with Hegel and Kojève: On Matthieu Renault's Maîtres et Esclaves: Archives du Laboratoire de Mythologiques de la Modernité


Perhaps it is time to have fun with Hegel. In the past year I have now read two books that have taken up a relation to Hegel that could be referred to as playful, which is not to say that the stakes or questions of these books are not serious. The first was Gray and Johnson's Phenomenology of Black Spirit, which posed the scandalous, and even heretical question, what if the subject of Hegel's Phenomenology was black. The second it Matthieu Renault's Maîtres et Esclaves: Archives du Laboratoire de Mythologiques de la Modernité. Both books in different ways show how that Hegel's thought can be all the more productive,  and all the more interesting, if one changes from the question what did Hegel mean (admittedly not an easy question) to what does Hegel make it possible to say. (Also oddly enough, both books read Hegel's dialectic against the actual struggle of Frederick Douglass to liberate himself from his master). 

Sunday, July 07, 2024

Farce Before Tragedy: The Post-Satire Present


I used to listen to a film podcast, I forget the name of it, the worked on the premise that there were certain films, that should be outside of discussion, films so good and revered that it did not make sense to talk about them. They were put in a penalty box of sorts. I often thought the same thing about certain passages that appear again and again in theoretical and philosophical discussions of the present. A few that come to mind are Jameson's often cited remark about it being easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, Benjamin's "There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism," and Marx's first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. 

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Zine, Blog, Podcast: A Media History of Self-Indulgence


Sometimes I find myself thinking about the sequence, zine, blog, and podcast. I think about this in part because at one time or another I have had, or been involved with all three. In some ways each offers the same promise of DIY, self produced, media. Although I different scales of influence and material investment. 

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Draft Translation: For a Systematic Study of the Relation of Marx to Spinoza by André Tosel


Draft Translation: Not for Citation

What follows is another attempt at a translation of an important text by André Tosel on the Marx/Spinoza relation. It is not a finished, or polished translation, but a rough sketch put forward to help people get a sense of this overlooked articulation of the relation between Marx and Spinoza.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Witness Me: Intellectual Property and Pleasure in Furiosa and I Saw The TV Glow

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and I Saw the TV Glow

When one looks out at another summer of sequels, reboots, and prequels it is possible to resort to the cliche that "they are out of ideas"--to pose the problem as a crisis of originality. It is for this reason, among many others that it is worth reading Daniel Bessner's piece for Harpers, "The Life and Death of Hollywood: Film and Television Writers Face an Existential Threat" One of the merits of Bessner's piece is that he makes it clear that the crisis Hollywood is facing is not one of ideas, of the imagination, but of capital, of profits. As Bessner writes,

Friday, May 10, 2024

2 Apes 2 Planets: On Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes


The recent Planet of the Apes films can be defined by two questions: one internal to the films themselves, to their own universe, albeit with allegorical dimensions, and the other external, to their status as commodities in the culture industry. The first question is what is the nature of the conflict between humans and apes? Is it a natural conflict, a conflict between two species for domination, or is it a political conflict, a conflict between different ways of living. The second question is will audiences watch and identify with apes, with CGI characters, rather than humans played by human actors.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

The Concept Worker Doesn't Wear a Hardhat: Spinoza, Marx, Nesbitt and Common Notions


"They would not agree with one another any more than do the dog that is a heavenly constellation and the dog that is a barking animal." Spinoza

"The concept dog doesn't bark." Louis Althusser 

Ever since reading Margherita Pascucci’s Potentia of Poverty I have been thinking about the relation between Marx’s thought and Spinoza’s common notions. The question I am asking is not did Marx write Capital in and through common notions, as an application of Spinoza’s thought. Although I am not entirely discounting such influence. Rather, what would be at stake in reading Marx through the common notions? 

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Two Thesis on the Limits of Philosophy: Marx and Spinoza


I once contemplated getting my favorite Spinoza proposition 
as a Vanity Plate 

In the past few months, longer even, but before the recent wave of student occupations (more on that later), I have found myself in the grips of a kind of depression that stems in part from what can only be described as a gap between theory and practice. How this works is like this, all day, or at least part of it, I read books, and get into discussions understanding how the world works, and what could be done to change it and yet the world goes on unchanged, or, more to the point, it just seems to get worse and worse. (I will let the reader fill this in with whatever ecological, political, or economic calamity that comes to mind) The disconnect between the classroom and the world creates not just division but despair.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

One, Two, Many Spinozist-Marxisms: A Postscript to The Double Shift


This post is illustrated by some of the promo work 
I have done for the book

I have commented before, more than once even, that the intersection of Spinoza and Marx is less a position, something like Spinozist Marxism, than a field of intersecting problems and questions. In some sense it is possible to even map out the way in which different Marxists draw from different elements of Marx (and Spinoza) creating different articulations of the relations which intersect with different problems in the critique of capitalism.