Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Graham Harman's "Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy"

I recently read Graham Harman's new book Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, published by Zero Books, and would like to share a few thoughts concerning the book. Let me say first that it is very enjoyable. Lovecraft and phenomenology? Why the heck not! Of course the book represents what seems to be an exceptionally idiosyncratic project, arguing that a position similar to the one Hölderlin fills for Heideggerian phenomenology should be occupied by H. P. Lovecraft for thinkers of Speculative Realism. I am a passionate fan of Lovecraft but even I found the project at first audacious. Being the type of thinker I am, however, I also found this very audacity amusing and intriguing, an affect I suspect Harman intended. There is, in and of itself, a philosophically important performative force in placing Lovecraft beside accepted standard bearers of high art who have become central figures for philosophy such as Hölderlin, Mallarmé or Beckett. What would it be for Lovecraft to occupy a position of world historical importance in the manner that Heidegger thought Hölderlin did? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Heidegger's Bremen Lectures and the Erroneous Path

I recently finished reading Andrew Mitchell's new translation of Heidegger's Bremen and Freiburg lectures of 1949 and 1957 respectively. Let me first say that the Bremen lectures in particular, from which the much better known "The Question Concerning Technology" takes its origin, are a breathtaking text both in terms of poetic beauty and powerful philosophical suggestions. I have no doubt that a portion of the text's surprising force comes from Mitchell's translation which has managed to capture the singing in Heidegger's at times oracular speech. Students of Heidegger's thought are clearly in Mitchell's debt for this much needed translation.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Sorry for me recent silence. I have been adding finishing touches to my book on Heidegger in preparation for shopping it around to publishers as well as finishing a paper or two. I have also almost finished reading Zizek's new book Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism while engaged in a reading group for the book involving a few philosophy colleagues and a practicing Lacanian psychoanalyst. I may be sharing some thoughts on the book soon. I may also get back to some posts concerning both the Heidegger Circle and the Ancient Philosophy Society.

On a totally non-philosophical topic, a good friend of mine just self-published his first fiction book in collaboration with a friend of his, entitled Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan. It is a retelling of the story of Peter Pan from the perspective of Captain Hook. Should any of my readers be interested, and have some spare time aside from philosophical labors, it is available on Amazon as an e-book and through Lulu as a paper back.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ancient Philosophy Society, Second Post: Rethinking Plato's "Republic"

I would not like my readers to think that I have said all I intend to concerning the Ancient Philosophy Society. Rather, I will be bouncing back and forth between discussions of the APS and the Heidegger Circle. What I will do in this post is discuss two papers I deeply enjoyed dealing with Plato's Republic. They both appeared on Friday in the session "Plato's Reframing of Ownership and the Common Root of Tyranny and Philosophy".

Sara Brill "Plato's Critical Theory"

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heidegger Circle, Third Post: The "Inner Truth and Greatness" Scandal

Julia Ireland: Heidegger and the "Inner Truth of National Socialism": A New Archival Discovery

As I had suggested previously, there was a moment during this year's meeting of the Heidegger Circle that I believe is historically important. This is the case not simply because the work presented by Julia Ireland carries important implications for the study of Heidegger's thought generally but more because it is also an intercession into a larger debate concerning the status of Heidegger's thought within world historical events generally.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heidegger Circle, Second Post: Still Troubling the Ontological Difference

Before I get down to business I would like to take a moment to thank Andrew Mitchell and Emory University for an exceptionally well organized and smoothly run conference, to say nothing of a very enjoyable and important meeting. In some posts to follow this one I intend to discuss what I saw as some of the most (historically?) important work presented at this year's meeting. Particularly a new archival discovery concerning Heidegger's claims about the "inner truth of National Socialism" offered by Julia Ireland and the panel discussion of/with Thomas Sheehan concerning his proposed paradigm shift in Heidegger interpretation.

Christopher Ruth "Dwelling and the Ontological Difference"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Heidegger Circle, First Post: Troubling the Ontological Difference

My first posts concerning the Heidegger Circle will deal with two papers, both by very talented Villanova graduate students, which were given on different days but share the theme of tracking changes in the status of the Ontological Difference throughout the course of Heidegger's work.

Raoni Padui's "From the Facticity of Dasein to the Facticity of Nature: Naturalism, Animality, and the Ontological Difference"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ancient Philosophy Society: First Post

Keynote Address: Anastasia-Erasmia Peponi's "Dance, Aesthetics and the Polis"

One of the highlights of this year's meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society for me was the keynote presented by Dr. Peponi of Stanford University. Peponi is an accomplished Classicist and expressed some trepidation about addressing an audience primarily made up of philosophers. Her work, however, deals extensively with philosophy and often focuses on Ancient Greek aesthetic experience. Ultimately her trepidation was misplaced as her paper was very well received and was also very philosophically productive. In particular the question period following her paper was exceptionally rich.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Brief Note

Before I begin my posts concerning the A.P.S. and Heidegger Circle I wanted to note a rich new post over at Seynsgeschichte on the subject of Das Selbe. Check it out.

Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 Ancient Philosophy Society and Heidegger Circle

I just returned from Atlanta where I was attending the 2012 meeting of the Heidegger Circle at Emory University. Two weeks earlier I was in San Francisco for the meeting of the Ancient Philosophy Society at the University of San Francisco. Both meetings were, as usual, amazing.

I am planning on sharing some summaries and thoughts about several of the papers I attended at these two meetings. Unlike last year, when I promises to post about each day of the meeting of the A.P.S. and failed to do so, I will make no specific promises here. I will write something about those papers which I attended, found interesting, feel I have something to say about, remember well or have time for. In other words, I wont be mentioning everything that was presented at each conference and those papers I fail to mention are in no way left out based on an assessment of their quality or importance. As always, everyone is welcome to comment especially the authors of the work I mention particularly if there is any question of the accuracy of my memory and (admittedly partial) summaries. Also feel free to email me with any concerns.

My organization wont be as neat as last year's posts about the A.P.S., rather I shall move back and forth between discussions of each meeting at will. I will make clear, however, which group I am discussing at any moment. More to follow soon.   

Monday, February 27, 2012

"The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life"

Just a brief note to inform you that the collection The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life that my paper "Jean Genet: A Case Study of the Artist's Explication and Alteration of Social Practice" is published in is now available. I received my copy today and it is gorgeous. The collection of work in it seems very impressive as well.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Graeber's "Debt"

Here is a link to a great hour-long interview with anthropologist David Graeber concerning his new book Debt: The First 5000 Years. There is also a wonderful blog seminar on the book going on over at Crooked Timber. I am working through the various blog posts as we speak and many of them are great, as are the discussions occurring in the comment sections. I highly recommend both the seminar and the interview. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Zizek on Heidegger on Hegel

I recently read a new paper by Zizek on Heidegger's criticism of Hegel. The pdf can be downloaded here. Like much of Zizek's work, it is an impressive and exciting paper particularly in the way it clarifies and presents Lacan in relation to both Heidegger and Meillassoux. I suspect this paper is something of an opening volley in the battle to come with Zizek's publication of his magnum opus, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism, in April of this year. Zizek has claimed that this century will come to be known as the Hegelian century and he no doubt hopes his book will be a major step in philosophy's recognition of this fact. It may be that one of the major things standing in the way of Zizek's Hegelian Return, at least on the Continental side of the issue, is the ongoing influence of Heidegger. Heidegger himself oriented his work, as he put it, on the front in opposition to Hegel and, I would claim, this opposition continued in one form or another throughout his career.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Heidegger and the "Dialectic of the Enlightenment"

I have been rereading the Dialectic of the Enlightenment in Edmund Jephcott's fairly new translation. In the course of working through it I have been struck as never before by certain similarities between this work and Heidegger's concerns in the 1950s. This, in turn, will connect in the future to certain reflections on Vattimo and Zabala's Hermeneutic Communism. I would like to take the time to note some of these similarities and the even more striking differences, in connection with Hegel and Marx, these aspects make apparent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Philosophy of Culture

Just a brief note that you should check out a new website dedicated to Philosophy of Culture. It includes papers from many of my former colleagues at the University of South Florida as well as a paper by the head of my current department.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Levinas, Marion and the Same

In the comments to my previous post West asks: "with regard to Marion: would you say, in his phenomenological reduction of the Other, that Marion posits some new totality? some new Same? Your conclusion makes it sound as if you think so, but what is this Same?"

As I state in my brief response, I find this to be an exceptionally difficult question and I am not sure there is an adequate answer to it. I hope in this post, however, to be able to at least say something on the subject.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On the Edge of the History of Being: Assessing the Terrain

I apologize for my absence but life does intrude from time to time and I have been rather busy developing several of the projects I am juggling. For the outcome of one such project, check out Existentia 2011 Volume XXI in which my paper "Discourses of Excess and the Excess of Discourse: On Georges Bataille's Lasting Influence Upon Foucault" was just recently published. Most of my time, however, has been focused on rewriting and expanding my book in preparation for sending it out to potential publishers. 

I want to take the time to fill you in on where some of my recent thought has been gravitating, specifically towards proposals that seek to reveal the limits of Heidegger's History of Being. This had already been an overt interest of mine, one that I pursued in my paper "What Homer Can Teach Us About Seynsgeschichte" which I presented at the 2011 meeting of the Heidegger Circle. In this paper I offered my own suggestion for how Heidegger's project might be extended through the resources made available to us in a focus on the transition from orality to literacy in Ancient Greece. It is a work I am still developing. Recently, however, I have been looking at often more critical engagements with his project that suggest either ways to correct and expand the project or ways to reveal its supposedly fatal inadequacies. It is this terrain I would like to begin mapping for you now in preparation for later posts in which I intend to consider more fully some of the hints or attacks I will mention here. I would like, then, to discuss (often small) parts of five books; Levinas' Totality and Infinity, Derrida's Specters of Marx, Marion's Being Given, Agamben's Homo Sacer and the collaborative work of Vattimo and Zabala Hermeneutic Communism.