October 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This past Friday Amy and I embarked on a journey to the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Theory and Criticism, and despite the weather we arrived safely and had an excellent lunch with Peter Schwenger on campus where we talked about Vilem Flusser and Peter’s forthcoming At the Borders of Sleep. After lunch we sat in on Ben Woodard‘s seminar discussion group on Speculative Realism where we discussed Ian Hamilton Grant’s essay in The Speculative Turn. At 3:30 I presented “What is a Compendium?” which was met with a great response and several pointed and charitable questions and comments from the excellent MA and PHD students at the Centre. Afterwards I had an excellent discussion with Andrew Weiss about his writing on Derrida’s The Animal that Therefore I Am and a further discussion with a few others about the methodology of writing a sermon on the existentialism of the book of Job. Overall the discourse and conversation were incredible, including the feedback I received on the paper. The people were charitable and friendly to my theological convictions, and I felt able to speak freely in that space between the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and writing – a space where I intend to remain for the foreseeable future. There’s some great stuff going on at the
June 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I have decided, now that my major thesis is under review for publication, that I should clarify the direction of my minor thesis. “Notes on the Compendium: A Theoretical Itinerary”, the abstract for which I have posted on the Compendium Project tab, will serve as my scaffolding/seedling for the creation of Being and Chiasmus, Notes on the Compendium Volume 1. Before getting to work on that however I do have a review essay to write for Symposium (Hermeneutic Communism), and a review for the Conrad Grebel Review (Atonement, Justice and Peace).
In the meantime Speculations III should be out soon, in which I have reviewed Graham Harman’s Circus Philosophicus. Also, in the Fall be on the lookout for information about a publishing initiative I will be starting with Paul O’Hagan called “Theory Printers”, and my Theory Session at UWO in October called “What is a Compendium?” (in the spirit of Marcel O’Gorman’s “What is Necromedia?” or even Heidegger’s “What is Metaphysics?”).
Throughout the summer keep an eye on my blogging for the Canadian Mennonite (link on the sidebar), and maybe a post or two at Ortus Memoria…
March 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
At long last the draft for my undergraduate thesis, which also happens to be the culmination of my theoretical work since 2006, is completed in a draft form that I am very happy with. On Tuesday March 6th I met with Bob, Jon, Ryan, and Paul and received some feedback on the first section, and on Tuesday March 13th I handed the draft to Dr. Siemerling in his office.
The draft took from February 21st until March 3rd to write in a rough draft, and from March 3rd to March 10th to edit. The core matter is 15 000 words and 50 pages double spaced, with 25 pages of endnotes adding another 10 000 words. It 100 hours to draft from the outline, and 10 hours to edit.
I would really like to publish it, and I’m planning on sending it out in late summer well after I get feedback on it from some people.
The outline is pictured below in the first two stages:
July 5, 2011 § 3 Comments
The Invisible Committee. The Coming Insurrection.Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009.
Proclaiming the entrance of civilization into “an era whose predominant mode of government is precisely the management of crises,” the opening paragraphs of The Coming Insurrection read like that of a postmodern manifesto. Written anonymously by members of “The Invisible Committee” the small book is published by Semiotext(e), the company who brought the works of Jean Baudrillard (Simulations) and Paul Virilio (Pure War) to the West. Anonymously translated from the French publication by Editions de la Fabrique (2007), this manifesto for nothing less than revolutionary action serves as a polemic against the contemporary malaise of capitalist realism.
The original French work, curiously enough, is a central text in the Tarnac 9 trials in France(2008) in which nine individuals were charged with conspiring to destroy overhead lines of the French rail network. Connected to these individuals is a group known as “Tiqqun” whose Introduction to Civil War has recently been published by Semiotext(e). Tiqqun, like The Invisible Committee, attributes collective authorship to their own texts dating back to the short-lived journal Tiqqun which dissolved in 2001.
Divided into seven “circles” (on identity, entertainment, work, security, possessions, environment, and civilization) and four additional chapters, The Coming Insurrection speaks to the exclaimation: “all power to the communes,” drawing upon the concept of ‘the coming community’ of Giorgio Agamben. Aside from a few troubling passages expressing violent attitudes towards authority figures in France, the work is an inspiring read that sheds light upon certain problems with contemporary society (particularly that of French governance and policing). The contemporary French thinker Alain Badiou writes with disgust about the harassment of his son by French Police in his work Polemics (Verso, 2006). As if to follow The Invisible Committee expresses similar attitudes, labeling the misuse of police forces (gendarmerie) by the government as being wrought with a ‘cold pragmatism’.
While now considered to be a primary text in many anarchist circles The Coming Insurrection should be treated far more seriously for its imperative to critique capitalist realism of which they write prophetically: “A day will come when this capital and its horrible concretion of power will lie in majestic ruins”. The use of the imperative, prophetic, narrative, and polemical voices abounds in the prose of The Coming Insurrection; tones since lost in the sea of pulp politics and the rigidity of so-called ‘serious analysis’. At the risk of reducing the work to its form, it could be said that as a piece of writing alone it is an excellent example of how to go about writing a political text. References are also made to the work of both Alain Badiou (Being and Event, Logics of Worlds) and also Giorgio Agamben (The Coming Community), two political philosophers who express similar anticapitalist convictions.
To find the contemporary political import of The Coming Insurrection and its illicit authorship, we need only look to the 2009 article by the philosopher Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths) who asks us to distinguish between the category of sabotage and the category of terrorism (the latter of which the Tarnac 9 have been accused). In his article for The Guardian, entitled “Criminalising Dissent,” Toscano writes:
“To consider the Tarnac case is to be faced with a pattern for the criminalisation of dissent which is becoming ever more general, and which is likely to intensify as Europe (witness the recent events in Greece) is confronted with forms of social conflict which challenge the viability of the socio-economic order.”
On this note and in closing, one might look to recent events in Tunisia, Cairo, Bahrain, and Libyaand ask, “what would it mean to criminalize dissent in these places?” These Arab uprisings point to a dissatisfaction with dictatorship and oligarchy. What would it mean, inversely, to think upon resistance arising from a dissatisfaction with hyper-capitalism and corporate government? (Alain Badiou’s recent article in Le Monde comes to mind). The Coming Insurrection, prescriptively speaking, encourages the populace to question the Western logic of capitalist realism and liberal democracy and centers upon a call to “enter into the logic of insurrection,” a logic which opposes the contemporary hegemony of reason, materialism, and disenchantment. I would hope, in the spirit of resistance and the tradition that comes with it, that we could take The Invisible Committee seriously and enter into critical reflection upon revolutionary consciousness without the cynicism and skepticism that pervades the typical discourse on these subjects in the West.
May 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
*This’ll be out in the Communicator’s next issue*
Being back at Steinmann’s for a second summer is very surreal. I’ve had many conversations with members of the congregation about working at the church so far, and a thought that continues to come up in my mind is how difficult it is to find valuable work as a student. Many of my peers do not enjoy their jobs, which results in the attitude that work is only a means to an end. This end might be money, power, or relaxation time at the end of the day. This problematic attitude arises when a worker (like myself) is alienated from the product of their work. I am very pleased to say that I have been offered employment that does not result in myself, as a worker, being disconnected from the product of my work.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what the product of a pastors work is, and this is probably because (1) there is no commodity being created, and (2) because there are many things that arise from pastoral work. Karl Marx, the economic theorist and the writer of the book Capital, warns his readers of the negative results of being disconnected from our work. I have worked in data entry, where the only task was inputting numbers into a computer for the purposes of keeping records in case of an audit. This was a time in my life where I was very disconnected from my work. I did not value the end product (a string of numbers that had no meaning to me), and at the end of the day I was left feeling unfulfilled. Contrast this with my current place of employment where I feel fulfilled and connected to my work. While visiting and doing pastoral care there is a sense that I am participating in a greater community of believers, all the while trying to represent a God who always escapes human categorization.
Writing sermons is particularly valuable for me, not only because of my love of writing and theology/philosophy, but also because presenting a sermon is an act of service to both God and the community. I believe that it is important for the Church to continually reinterpret the messages that are fed to us by our culture, and in doing so critique the negative ways that our culture forms us (media, economy, education, etc.). This is to say that I am happy to be doing important work. On the other hand, there is a great deal of pressure in representing divinity from the pulpit and speaking on behalf of a God who escapes our grasp. This is where I am thankful for the grace that God provides, and the charitable and understanding attitudes of this congregation who have not only raised me but also provided me with valuable employment. Recent events remind me that it is the institution of the Church that oversees life events such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death. I am happy to add ‘employment’ to this list for myself, and even more pleased that this work has spiritual learning and growth built into it.
May 3, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Amy and I have returned from New York state safely (about three hours before the news that Osama Bin laden was killed) and it’s good to be back. The conference at SUNY Oneonta was excellent, and the organizers did an great job with the conference even in the wake of the death of two of their department members. Seanna Murray did an excellent job connecting us up with Alex Svoboda and his family who were kind enough to give us a ride from Syracuse to Oneonta. Eian Kantor also deserves so much credit for heading up the organizational team, and Erica Cecala was very generous in her giving us a ride to the bus station in Albany.
I presented “Towards an Ontology of Division,” a very risky paper which was charitably received and commented upon by Matthew Lefavor. There are more notes to come from the conference itself – and I’ll put them up as additions to this post in the coming days!
March 5, 2011 § 6 Comments
For someone who has both ‘theology’ and ‘speculative realism’ listed as research interests this came as a bit of a surprise.
February 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s been a while since there have been posts here. I’ve been working on a load of articles and reviews for about two months, and now (on reading week) I’m ready for a break. The discussion group will not be running this week as I will be at home (stripping wallpaper and playing shanghai). It’s been a busy term so far but things have been fun.
A few discoveries:
> The Boar
> Librus, the University of Waterloo Political Science and International Affairs paper/journal
> Semiotext[e], and Guattari’s Machinic Unconscious
> …more to come on the downloads page as well…
Enjoy reading week for those who are in school!
January 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Part 1 – “Towards a Binary Metaphysics” (in progress)
Part 2 – “Towards an Ontology of Division” (SUNY)
Part 3 – “Towards a Theory of the Contradictory Entity”
Part 4 – “Semiotics and Ontology”
Part 5 – “Enlightenment Realism”
Part 6 – “Sainthood, Genius, and Madness”
Part 7 – “Postmodern Christologies”
Part 8 – “Seminar on Technology” (MCC)