:: Essays

Cheerleading with an agenda: how the press covers science published 25/10/2016


In practice, storytelling codifies the neoliberal logic by which universities increasingly evaluate research. In her book Undoing the Demos, political theorist Wendy Brown described how under this logic, academics are made “not into teachers and thinkers, but into human capitals who learn to attract investors, game their Google Scholar counts and ‘impact factors,’ and above all, follow the money and the rankings.” This logic has been internalized by many scientists and granting agencies.

By Yarden Katz.

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The Calvinist Roots of American Anti-Intellectualism published 23/10/2016


Trump sounds familiar because he is doing on a grand stage what they are told to do every day from pulpits across America. They are told to stick to their guns and to reject the evolution crap and the carbon dating crap and more generally the logic and inductive science crap, and they know that it is HARD. But here is Trump, a man who can proudly, unashamedly, stand up to Renaissance and Enlightenment-forged principles of rational inquiry and rational discourse.

EJ Spode takes down the Calvinist roots of American Anti-Intellectualism – hard.

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Muhammad Ali Came to Tea (A Discordia Concors) published 19/10/2016


It was such an exciting moment, an honour to have this man, ‘The Greatest’, in our living room, with a bunch of excited kids outside our apartment door, in a ball, pressed up, listening, waiting to see this great man. Perhaps that is part of the power that this photograph has over me. It was a moment of shared joy and excitement for our family, an extraordinary moment, which was a rare thing, glowing for a short while before being snatched away by the act of the cut. A reminder of what our family life was like in reality.

This photograph is both that moment and that moment being taken away. It is at once sweet and painful, whole and fragmented. It is a photograph of three events spanning time. The day Muhammad Ali came to tea; the day my father cut the photograph; and the day my mother glued it back together, shortly after my father’s death. This photograph shows us all together, yet split by a fault-line. Together and not together. Both/And, not Either/Or.

Salma Ahmad Caller explores the complexity of identity through her photograph of a photograph with Muhammad Ali.

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The Impossibility of Return published 15/10/2016


No one returns to a woman, as much as a woman cannot return to herself, without being confronted by what has changed – be it Odysseus to Penelope or Woolf to herself, via her double, Isabella. A person, like a place, no longer remains the same because time does not guarantee any recovery. The mirror and the glass are always in fear of being – ready to be – shattered. That shattering is also the shattering of a myth, the myth of Penelope and of everyone after her.

An essay by poet Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee.

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The Marxian Slip published 02/10/2016


A wage hike ultimately means a hike in the profit margins of companies, even if it also means some profit for those in the margins, whose labor and time the companies would continue to exploit. How this phenomenon increases the power of proletarians is beyond explanation, as increasing the power of capitalist enterprise axiomatically means decreasing the power of workers in the Marxist schema. Increase proletarian buying power to infinity, and the interests which buy their labor and time will multiply infinity, and thereafter trademark it.

Jeremy Brunger on Bernie Sanders and the Marxian Slip.

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Tom Wolfe’s Reflections on Language published 01/10/2016


I simply cannot fathom how Wolfe can claim this idea for himself without slitting his wrists in a fit of self-loathing. How else could he write entire book criticizing Chomsky’s method and his mathyness, and his shtetl Jewishness, and his faux-manly shirts (cf the picture above) and his politics and his spic and span air conditioned office and then, at the end of it all announce that he, Wolfe, has this brilliant insight – an insight that heretofore no licensed savant has ever had — and it turns out to be… a Chomsky Internet meme. And oh yeah, I almost forgot: He does this just a few chapters after accusing Darwin of not properly crediting someone else for their ideas.

E.J. Spode takes down Wolfe on Chomsky – hard!

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Of MacArthur Grants, Regimes of Visibility and Meritocratic Orders published


If one examines the list of those to whom the MacArthur Foundation awards its ‘Genius’ Grants of $625,000 each year one quickly discovers two very evident things. In the first instance, those receiving awards in the humanities and in the sciences are almost without exception professors at leading research universities. In other words, they are already in positions where the work that they do, “the genius” that they enact, are supported in the best ways possible… In this sense, those who consistently receive MacArthur Grants in the humanities and even more in the sciences do not need MacArthur Grants.

Steve Light reflects on who needs support grants and reading the poet Wanda Coleman.

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Derrida’s Seminars: Writing Before Writing Before the Letter published 12/09/2016


After beginning with the end, we have ended up at the beginning. The newest of Jacques Derrida’s seminars is the oldest yet published. Encountering deconstruction in the context of this newest older publication can help to shake our conviction that we know what was meant by it.

Jonathan Basile on Jacques Derrida‘s newly published seminar.

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It Doesn’t Matter the Country: Learning the Meaning of Borders on Raton Pass published 06/09/2016


Borders: blocking bodies and allowing capital. A border can be innocuous to me because white Americans are capital embodied. The invisibility of the Colorado-New Mexico border disguises a colonial power relation by making it look natural. The US-Mexico border is visible, but we believe it to be natural too. Prehistoric. Foregone.

By Caroline Tracey.

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Utopia At 500 published 01/09/2016


For Catholics it is a moral allegory by one its most famous patron saints; for Communists, the first major proposal for the abolition of private property; for Neo-Liberals, a farce on the absurdity of this proposal. Like the greatest works of political fiction, it has bucked the rhetoric of ideology and managed to resist being coopted.

Jared Marcel Pollen on the 500th anniversary of Thomas More‘s Utopia.

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