Conversation overheard between an ambitious grad student and a simpleminded process-relational philosopher . . .
Jake Wanano-Everton: Sir, where do you draw the line between what’s real and what’s not real?
Prof. Noah Fewthings: The only things that are real are the moments of experienced reality — drops of experience, let’s call them — pulsing through the vector stream of the universe right now. There are lots and lots of them, too many to count: what you and I are experiencing right now are only two, or more accurately some, of billions and billions unfolding at this moment. And this one. And this one. They are all that’s real; and they are irreducibly real.
The metaphor of “occupation” strikes me as a provocative one not only for what the activists in Manhattan and elsewhere are doing, but for what they are struggling against.
Some, and perhaps many, of these are people without traditional “occupations,” so they are occupying themselves by re-occupying the public spaces that have been occupied for too long by the values, habits, and appeals of the Occupation Force — the whole industry of slogans, gestures, come-hither looks, sales pitches, jingles, hooks, nods and winks (backed up by policies, and ultimately by laws and policing) that keep us steered into the spectacle of Politics-as-Usual-and-Consumption-Above-All.
While I’ve been too busy to follow the Wall Street occupation very closely, let alone participate in any but the most vicarious ways, I’m encouraged by the persistence of its participants. Isn’t it time Americans started saying basta! to government of the lobbyists, by the politicians, and for the corporations?
Okay, it’s just an ad… and for a book that focuses on a single node within a complex, multi-scaled set of relations. But that node ought to be obvious, and the fact that it isn’t tells us as much about the last 40 years as we need to know to start fixing things.
Whatever one may think of Brian Leiter as a philosopher (and I have no strong opinions, not having read any of his books), he has to be commended for having what may be the best philosopher’s blog for conversations on yesterday’s Canadian election.
Ecology, ontology, politics: These three terms are among the most common themes of this blog, but their intersections deserve a more sustained exploration. This is the first of a series of posts that will do that through critical discussion of various readings and concepts.
This first post reviews and reflects on some of the questions raised by Andrew Pickering’s latest book The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2010). The next two posts will examine the integral theory of Sean Esbjörn-Hargens as applied to climate change, and integral theory pioneer Ken Wilber’s critique of process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.
The Bill Cronon-Wisconsin Republican party tangle is making me — and many others, judging by the responses I’ve seen on academic listservs — think a little more deeply about how we use our e-mail addresses. Like many, I’m troubled by the possibility that someone could ask to see my e-mail correspondence on any old topic. But I also recognize that they have that right, or something like it, and that the same Freedom of Information laws allow me to ask for others’ e-mails — not everyone’s, but anyone’s who works for a publicly funded institution, like a university. That’s part of the price we pay for a publicculture, which keeps us from the Hobbesian state of everyone’s liberty (with guns) against everyone else’s. It’s also what makes that culture vulnerable, but that makes it all the more important to use our public profiles in ways that enhance that culture’s viability.
A few observations from the events of the last week or so:
(1) Tsunamis happen. When they do, in a globally media-connected world, they bring us all a little closer together. (Not all of us; those who don’t wish to be brought closer may drift further apart. But, to risk getting overly psychoanalytical, those who’ve had a reasonably loving upbringing, or those whose instincts and/or the influences they were exposed to helped them overcome a loveless upbringing, will drift closer together — because empathy works on, with, and through them, and the images and thoughts of tragedy resonate.) This is something new in human history, and it gives me cause for hope.
Loughborough University geographer Jon Cloke shared this piece with the Crit-Geog-Forum in response to the recent discussion about blogs and social media (see here for more on that). Jon’s been kind enough to allow me to share it on Immanence. I think it provocatively gets at the larger picture in which blogs (and related media forms) are both filling in the communicative gaps for social movements that have not been well served by traditional media or academic circuits, and are helping create new circuits for informational exchange. – ai