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Showing posts from March, 2012

LGW Notes and Thoughts

Have just spent a week visiting old friends and tripping over old memories, in London and Oxford.  It was one of the rare occasions I only used the British Library to stash my luggage, but my intellectual self wasn't entirely dormant. The combination of plenty of time on train and tube, philosophical bandinage at various pubs, and buying lots of shiny new books crystallised a few ideas.

1. Ontology and intersubjectivity, or, 'no man is an island'. John Donne said it, so it must have an element of truth.

If we are to ask the question of who we are, then so much of the response must come with relationship or intersubjectivity. Relations to objects and objective states might give us functions, but only relations to others can give us identities. (Strictly speaking, I would argue, even the functions are logically subordinate to the identities, in the same way that space is always lived and social before it is refined into Cartesian exactness). So, for instance, it is through int…

A Note on Realism

'Arrangement is nothing else than the appropriate spacing of parts. But what shall we say spacing is but the distance between the parts? Distance, finally, is either nothing, perfectly empty space, or the mere drawing lines, but who will say that lines, which lack breadth and depth, the qualities necessary to body, are bodies?' (Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato's Symposium, V.6).
As should have been apparent, I've been thinking a lot about realism recently. One thing that I'd have liked to have pursued more in my microlecture was the relationship between realism in literature and painting. For instance, does literary realism has an equivalent for the strange irrealism we find in, say, Ingres (the point where something appears so flawlessly copied, it seems too real, it has a glassy air of illusion)? 
One further thing that came to me as I was improvising the realism microlecture was the importance of structure. Realism isn't just about details, or about thing…

Five Point Guide to Realism

Am definitely getting a little more rapid-fire. A short guide to nineteenth-century literary realism for EN256. Now with extra Bakhtin, Flemish Realism and anti-sodomite chapbooks.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I'm going to be giving a very short, informal talk on 'The Kindle and the End of the Book' as part of Dublintellectual'sConversations on Culture, a great series bringing academics, artists and other cultured folk together in Dublin. It starts at 8pm, at Ormond Wine Bar, on Wed 14th March. I hope I am up first, as on the poster, because then a) I'll be able to listen to the other speakers attentively and b) I can get stuck into the wine list.
It loosely springs out of some research I am tentatively doing on the materiality of reference, but it won't really be about that: it'll be about the cultural hysteria that surrounds reading and its preservation, as well as the fetishism surrounding the book as a physical object.
It'll also include this awesome 16th century reading machine, and I don't think you can say fairer than that....

Microlecture: Victoria + the Machine

A flash lecture for EN256 (Victorian to Modern) on Victorian culture and the machine, discussing Arnold's Culture and Anarchy, Ruskin's 'The Nature of Gothic' and Marx's Capital.

A few notes:

1. The figures for pig iron production are annual averages for the decade in question
2. 'Hellenism' refers to the influence of Greek culture.
3. The sections of Capital which are particularly important, and from which I'm citing, are chapters 14 and 15: 'The Division of Labour and Manufacture' and 'Machinery and Large-Scale Industry'.

Microlecture: History of Atheism

My first experience with trying a 'flash lecture' to support my teaching at NUI Maynooth. This was in primarily intended to complement my 'Jim Crace and the Atheist Novel' research seminar, but may be of interest in other contexts. It's 20 minutes long.

I'd like to thank Maynooth's teaching & learning people who recommended the software to do this.

Jean-Luc Nancy/Alain Badiou

My intellectual trajectory really began in earnest nine years ago, when I was taught poststructuralism at Oxford. Since then, I've drawn from various places in continental philosophy, and been influenced - in particular - by Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. So, I'm very phenomenological, a touch theological even, indebted to the 'linguistic turn' and convinced that Romanticism remains 'ahead' of us. My favourite analytic philosopher is probably Wittgenstein. Basically, I find my place among exactly the co-ordinates that Alain Badiou (the philosopher I have been most recently reading) wants to destroy - or at least radically revise. I'm not sure I want to be destroyed or radically revised.

In particular, I've been thinking carefully about where Jean-Luc Nancy, who wrote essays under the rubric of une pensée finie, or 'A Finite Thinking', and where he might stand in Badiou's polemic, which argues precisely against the 'pathos of finitude' …