A couple of off-line conversations about the inspirational power of music and of SF (science/speculative fiction) have gotten me to dig up this old Facebook piece and to share it here. See bottom for details.
I dedicate it to Little Rinpoche.
1. My best friend in kindergarten used to mix up mind and matter; he would say “It doesn’t mind” and “I don’t matter.” Somehow that’s stuck with me. I think he was on to something.
2. My first radio was in the shape of a little soccer ball and played a very tinny version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” when my cousin and I turned it on for the first time. We danced to it until it broke.
3. I joined the Columbia Music Club in seventh grade and promptly ordered some Black Sabbath albums. The name sounded cool. My intuition was right: I loved ‘em, and would go around playing (electric) mouth guitar in middle school.
4. I was a plump little kid until I went to boarding school in Rome for a year at age 12. While there (my parents hoped I would grow up to be a Ukrainian Catholic priest), I got good at foosball and billiards and got turned on to Jethro Tull and Amon Duul II. I was a sucker for dramatic electric guitar openings and unusual chord changes. “Sitting on a park bench/Eyeing little girls with bad intent/Aqualung.” Some days we walked in the fields outside the city and wondered about the used condoms; other days we went into town and saw graffiti saying “Fuori Americani!” I was glad to be Canadian.
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It’s probably inappropriate to review a book about four films when one has only seen one, and by far the shortest (it’s a music video), of the four. So this isn’t a review so much as an appreciation of Steven Shaviro’s Post-Cinematic Affect, along with some half-digested notes I made while reading it, but which I haven’t been able to synthesize into what would constitute a proper review. Due to time constraints (which will continue for a while), I’ll share them as is. (I would also recommend Chris Vitale’s response to the book.)
I’ve been a fan of Shaviro’s work since a web search for “Dhalgren” led me directly to Shaviro, who it turned out was a fan of the book by Samuel Delany that was formative in my early intellectual development. I was 13 at the time I read Dhalgren, and I hadn’t read anything quite like it until then (or much like it since). I had come across Shaviro’s writings earlier, but I’ve followed them more diligently — and been inspired by his writing on science fiction, films, music, politics and culture over the years (his Stranded in the Jungle provides a great snapshot of how widely his tastes range) — since chancing onto his site. His turn to Alfred North Whitehead in the book Without Criteria accompanied a move in my own thinking toward Whitehead’s process-relational understanding of the universe. Since then, Shaviro and I have found ourselves on the same side of the process-objects debates that have been staged here and on other blogs.
Post-Cinematic Affect is a short work. Much of it appeared as an extra-length article in Film-Philosophy, and most of the rest is readable here and there online, but I would urge you to buy the book to support Zero Books’ laudable effort to make philosophy affordable. Its shortness, however, and the small sampling of films it discusses, belies a depth of argumentation that generates rich insights on media, capitalism, affect, allure, celebrity culture, and much more. View full article »