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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.

Interviews » The End Times » In Praise of Desire and Some (published 22/07/2016)

man-walking-in-snow-1999-by-Billy-Childish

People of relatively low intelligence can be morally wonderful if they desire the right and the good (not necessarily under the description “right” or “good”). Their low intelligence sometimes results in their accidentally doing something wrong, but doing something wrong out of low intelligence alone is like stepping on a person’s foot because you are (literally) blind or missing a cry for help because you are (literally) deaf. We do not judge the blind or deaf person as morally bad. This is a lot of what motivates my view that virtue is about wanting right and good things, not about being particularly good at thinking.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Nomy Arpaly.

Image: Billy Childish.

Interviews » The End Times » Frege and Necessary Beings (published 15/07/2016)

I’m still inclined to believe that numbers are abstract objects, but there’s been quite a bit of work recently, partly by people who know a lot more about linguistics than I do, arguing that contrary to some appearances, number-words are best understood as predicates rather than names or singular terms. Given my broadly Fregean view of the relations between syntactic and ontological categories this might be the basis of an argument for viewing numbers as properties rather than objects. I used to believe that there was a compelling argument for taking them to be (abstract) objects, but now I am not really sure about this. What seems to me far more important is not whether numbers are objects rather than properties, but whether, and in what sense, they exist.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bob Hale.

Interviews » The End Times » evolution, bioethics and human nature (published 08/07/2016)

Once we acknowledge that ‘human nature’ can include abilities, beliefs or values that have become widespread throughout our species because of learning processes, it’s clear that we will have to be rather liberal when it comes to what we include as part of human nature. Very large numbers of people can eat with chopsticks, very large numbers of people can recognize David Beckham. It’s hard to keep these traits out of ‘human nature’, while keeping imitation in.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tim Lewens.

Interviews » The End Times » Philosophy and Diversity (published 04/07/2016)

The principle of non-contradiction, for example, contains within it the Western worldview that, metaphysically, something either is or it is not; and epistemologically, it is either true or it is false. It cannot be both real and unreal; true and false. Nor can it be resistant to this schematic. But the fact that something either is or is not (true or false) limits the playing field of that which is (or that which is the case) considerably. There is no room for hybridity, no room for mixedness, nor room for ambiguity or nuance.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tina Fernandes Botts.

Flash Fiction » Billy Childish and Jimmy Cauty: Brexit Ghosts 5 (published 02/07/2016)

Please don’t hit me…But…

…my dad says he refuses to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… He believes that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word… But my mum says you’re a cunt!

Comments about Brexit from L13.

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.