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Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Fiction » Kamala Markandaya and Mary Webb: Brexit Ghosts 4 (published 26/06/2016)

Fear, constant companion of the peasant. Hunger, ever at hand to jog his elbow should he relax. Despair, ready to engulf him should he falter. Fear; fear of the dark future; fear of the sharpness of hunger; fear of the blackness of death. Nature is like a wild animal that you have trained to work for you. So long as you are vigilant and walk warily with thought and care, so long will it give you its aid, but look away for an instant, be heedless or forgetful, and it has you by the throat.

Kamala Markandaya and Mary Webb obliquely discuss Brexit.

Fiction » W.E.B. Du Bois and Saadat Hasan Manto: Brexit Ghosts 3 (published )

A resistless feeling of depression falls slowly upon us, despite the gaudy sunshine and the green cotton-fields. These curious kinks of the human mind exist and must be reckoned with soberly. They cannot be laughed away, nor always successfully stormed at, nor easily abolished by act of legislature. And yet they must not be encouraged by being let alone. They must be recognized as facts, but unpleasant facts; things that stand in the way of civilization and religion and common decency.

W.E.B. Du Bois and Saadat Hasan Manto make oblique comments about Brexit.

Fiction » George Eliot and Voltaire: Brexit Ghosts 2. (published 25/06/2016)

George Eliot: How could a man be satisfied with a decision between such alternatives and under such circumstances? No more than he can be satisfied with his hat, which he’s chosen from among such shapes as the resources of the age offer him, wearing it at best with a resignation which is chiefly supported by comparison.

Voltaire: I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.

George Eliot and Voltaire make oblique comments about Brexit.

Fiction » Ernest Gellner and Edward Said : Brexit Ghosts 1 (published )

Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement. The achievements of exile are permanently undermined by the loss of something left behind forever.

Ernest Gellner and Edward Said whisper oblique thoughts on Brexit.

Interviews » The End Times » Reid’s Common Sense, Berkeley’s Vision and Whether Gentile’s Fascism Should Matter More Than Berkeley’s Slave Plantation (published )

But you ask: do we face the same sorts of issues regarding Gentile as we do with Heidegger? Gentile – no longer at the center of power by the late 30s – helped Jews in Italy who were threatened by the Fascist regime. But his philosophy and his politics were of a piece, both contributing to a global disaster that cost many lives. Among other things, the disaster was one of nationalisms in conflict. Our politics today is still in turmoil about nationalism and nativism.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Rebecca Copenhaver.
Painting: Billy Childish

Interviews » The End Times » On Perception, Aesthetics etc etc (published 18/06/2016)

Our motor skills are developed through physical play; our perceptual skills by playing at looking and listening “pointlessly”—the infant stares, and by doing so she learns how to look. (Notice how my emphasis on active perception plays into this notion of perception as a skill.) It is this fun, I claim, that is the basis of aesthetic pleasure. A child babbling for no other purpose than the sheer joy of it—that’s the prototype of art production. Aesthetic enjoyment isn’t tied to the value of particular things, as standard evolutionary accounts maintain. It is rooted, rather, in the joy that infants get from activities that have no immediate purpose, but which have a long-term benefit in terms of learning.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mohan Matthen.
Painting: Billy Childish.

Interviews » The End Times » Who Rules? (published 11/06/2016)

When Arendt says that “truth has a despotic character,” she explains that she means that as a single person investigates questions in, say, physics or math (even aspects of history, though that’s more complicated), the correct answers are not in any way affected by the fact that there are other minds with other perspectives. It’s simply between me and the non-negotiable world. By contrast, in the domain of the moral and political, there is no subject matter at all if not for multiple minds and perspectives. The right answer is not only hard to know without help from others—that’s also true about lots of math, physics, and history (she emphasizes the need for witnesses, for example). More importantly, in normative matters the right answer is itself some accommodation of multiple perspectives, such as competing aims and convictions.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David Estlund.

Interviews » The End Times » The Logical Pluralist (published 05/06/2016)

It’s not true that everything in the world makes it true that there’s either beer in my fridge or not—there are some parts of the world that are completely silent about my fridge and its contents. You can maintain the classical insights as being correct, but still say that they don’t tell you all there is to know about consequences and logical connections.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Greg Restall.
Picture: Billy Childish.

Interviews » The End Times » Keeping the Manifest Image in Mind (published 28/05/2016)

Mental life is prospective, marked by possibilities and plans. There is, to be sure, that famous “problem of consciousness” that allegedly inserts a permanent gap between all things physical and all things mental. But even if the gap were filled – perhaps by one of the endless surprises yielded by quantum physics – there would remain the differences among persons in the matter of their plans; the different incarnations of the same person over the stages of life. Consciousness is the open shutter. Mental life is the actual or imagined plot, often unfolding in ways not anticipated by the author.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dan Robinson.