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Some books I’ve recently received and/or am currently reading… If you’d like to review any of them for this blog, let me know. And if there are others published in the last year that should be on this list, let me know that too (in the comments).

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Both Open Culture and The New York Times have reported on the Open Syllabus Project, which has tallied over a million college course syllabi to determine the 10,000 or so most commonly assigned texts.

The project also provides a cluster map of these texts, which is probably less interesting (and more confusing) in its large form than when one pokes into it from a given text — to find, for instance, that The Communist Manifesto (at #3) is assigned most commonly with Capital, The Social Contract, and Leviathan; Thoreau’s Walden (#31) with texts by Emerson; and Barbara Bush’s The White House (at #69?!) with William Rehnquist’s The Supreme Court, Time, Inc.’s World War Two, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf (interesting…).

(Meanwhile, The Guardian recently polled booksellers, librarians, publishers, and the public to create a list of the 20 most influential academic books of all time. The overlap between the two lists is interesting, even if the Guardian‘s methodology leaves a great deal of room for improvement. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species topped that list, followed by The Communist Manifesto, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Plato’s Republic, and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.)

Here are a few quick observations about the Open Syllabus Project mega-list.

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Indiana sale

My book Claiming Sacred Ground is available for half price from the publisher, Indiana University Press, all this week.

But then you can always get a copy from me for at least as good a deal as that, as I still have some kicking around at the office.

(Here’s how it relates to my later work.)

I shared my previous post on the Peirce-L discussion forum and received about 16 responses in five days. The following is an edited version of the summary response I sent to the forum regarding the main comments presented there. I’ve eliminated names or substituted them with single initials where that seemed warranted.

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I’ve been struggling with how my triadic framework for interpreting art works relates to C. S. Peirce’s categories.

When I first developed my triadism (fleshed out in Ecologies of the Moving Image) into the non-Peircian terms of materiality, experience, and representation — which I did in the context of teaching a course on the environmental arts — I loosely considered the first of these to be analogous to Peircian firstness, the second to secondness, and the third to thirdness.

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Front Cover copy

Vegetarianism has been part of my identity for the last 25 years (thanks to arguments like this one and this one), but I’ve been increasingly recognizing the term’s limits.

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He left us with this to mull over.

(Thanks to Roy Scranton for the title idea.)

This article has been revised since it was first posted. It consists of a list of useful sources providing ongoing coverage of, and initial post-conference reactions to, the COP21 conference and mobilizations in response to it. Please suggest any other helpful sources and links in the “Comments.” (Previously suggested links have been added and the comments removed.) 

Originally published: Dec. 3. Last (& probably final) revision: Dec. 16

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The Paris climate talks were successful in that they resulted in an agreement that is both better than nothing and better than most of us expected. They were a failure in that even if they are followed to the letter — and there’s no provision for enforcing whether anyone follows them or not — they would still likely result in changes to the world climate that will bring tremendous hardship to millions, possibly billions, of humans and countless other organisms.

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Here’s how I would explain the concept of Climate Justice in four easy steps:

  1. The wealthiest 1% emit 2500 times more greenhouse gases than the poorest 1%.
  2. Those greenhouse gases are in the process of changing the Earth’s climate to render it uninhabitable for the kind of mix of human & nonhuman species that exists today.
  3. The poorest & most vulnerable will suffer the worst & the soonest from that change; many are feeling it already.
  4. This sucks & needs to be remedied.

A few years ago, the concept was largely unknown; a few years from now it will have become the reason for the next global revolution. Climb aboard now or run for your lives later.

 

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Writing in The Independent, “Left accelerationists” Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek make the case that we need not bother protesting the Paris climate summit. There are better things to do than that.

They argue, first, that the negotiators won’t change anything under pressure, and probably won’t even notice that pressure coming from the streets. (Especially when street demonstrations are banned.) And second, they argue that the tactics, whether it is marches or gamified street actions, are ineffective — they may be fun photo-ops that make sense during earlier phases of a movement, but they are too little, too late, for climate change.

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Wes Enzinna’s New York Times Magazine article on “The Rojava Experiment” finally gives mainstream recognition to what has been happening among the Kurds of northern Syria. As he writes,

“In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.”

Ocalan’s philosophy, in turn, is a revolutionary Kurdish version of eco-anarchist Murray Bookchin’s philosophy of “social ecology” and “libertarian municipalism.”

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