:: Essays

The Alien That Therefore I Am published 02/06/2017

Organic life was born as the contingent effect of a confluence of material causes that are rationally intelligible without thereby implying an intrinsically meaningful raison d’être . David, an android named after the Michelangelo sculpture, is told by Weyland, his creator, to seek out a different answer to creation concealed beyond the Copernican sun of our galaxy. What David finds is not our alien origins, as the film suggests, but an allegory of the alienation constitutive of subjectivity.

Matt Ossias reflects on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and subjectivity.

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The Goldfish and the Whale: Honouring J. M. Coetzee published 31/05/2017

Coetzee’s presence at the ceremony failed to produce widespread euphoria. In fact, as I glanced around at the crowd of faces behind and alongside me, I struggled to detect a common interest or excitement. When I murmured something imbecilic like, “Wow, it’s Coetzee” to my neighbours, I was met with querying looks and awkward fidgeting.

By Shannon Burns.

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an introduction to politics of/as sorcery published 21/05/2017

Postmodernism is not ‘suspicious’ of empirical evidence. It is alert to the ways in which evidence is marshalled in service of particular sets of arguments and the way that ‘common sense’ ideas are invoked in order to foster and perpetuate particular formations of knowledge such that they become regimes of truth. Postmodernists, just like everyone else, use evidence to determine the credibility of a series of knowledge claims while maintaining fidelity to the assumption that credibility is contingent and conditional on a particular historical, social, and political context (as is the idea that ‘evidence’ is the determinant of credibility). As post-structural theorist Laura Shepherd points out: “one can be ‘suspicious’ of Fact as a regime of truth and still have grounds to criticise the Trump administration for peddling outright blatant lies because they are lies within the total structure of meaning-in-use that we take to be our current reality.”

Adam Kingsmith on Esoteric Politics.

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Ambiguous Authorship: throwing in with chance published 18/05/2017

Ambiguous Authorship

Say if we decide the person presenting a composite or text-dependent work is the true owner; what does this mean, philosophically and practically? Is a twitterbot creator the author of the resulting art, for programming them with the phrases to employ, or does the art only emerge with the bot’s random combinations? We could argue that without the source material, the new text would not exist, but the same is true in reverse; reimagining or butchering that source text can be a form of sublimation or reincarnation, updating it, subverting it, refreshing it.

By Kirsten Irving.

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Never Forget published 17/05/2017

If the world has been tangibly altered by the Event of September 11, it is only in direct collaboration with the simultaneous manufacturing of the Event, over and over and over again. As an American—for it is only these themes that unify us as Americans—I seem to remember the myriad tangible ways in which the world was different. And yet it cannot be verified that the actual world has changed, only that our mode and method of remembering it has.

In his second piece for the magazine on the concept of memory, Jeff Wood extends his ruminations to New York City, after returning to the city with his family in the fall.

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Death Stars published 02/05/2017

Last year was wrenching by any measure—so much so that 2016 began to take on the qualities of an object, some monstrous living entity. A total greater than the sum of its parts and something greater even than that. A thing that may only be added to, but not subject to withdrawals. The year seemed to devour every event that momentarily emerged from it. Like a black-hole: it is what it devours.

Jeff Wood considers the galactic significance of an uncommon year, 2016, in the first part of his two-part essay for the magazine

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Flavio Favelli’s Alien Objects, Ghostly Lives published 28/04/2017

Flavio Favelli’s Alien Objects, Ghostly Lives

Looking at Favelli’s work and these images of some foreign and some familiar products painted on the walls, I began to interrogate the relationship between the objects kept and objects discarded not only in his life or his mothers, but my own. It is always strange to acknowledge that memories, particularly of cultural events, are both private and shared.

By Allison Grimaldi-Donahue.

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Excerpt: Prometheanism: Technology, Digital Culture and Human Obsolescence published 24/04/2017

Yet at the threshold of what Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have recently called ‘The Second Machine Age’, an age in which ‘smart devices’, ‘the big data revolution’ and ‘networked and artificial intelligence’ are reconfiguring all aspects of the consumerist societies in which they proliferate, the trickery of Prometheus opens us to ways of thinking about technology that resist the intellectually and comfortable position of mobilizing a false opposition between ‘humanity’ and ‘technology’ when looking ahead into our digital future.

An extract from Christopher John Müller‘s new book, Prometheanism: Technology, Digital Culture and Human Obsolescence.

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The Diary of Cures published 20/04/2017

In the long history of nuns there are, of course, extremes, exceptions, firebrands, types, and examples of straight-laced female independence beloved of upper-middle-class girls, for whom nuns function as supplements for those fond daft nannies the rich used to have and remember with kindness – that is, harmless and socially inferior spinsters given to scolding and giggling. There is also Abelard’s Heloise; there is Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, and Mother Theresa. There is “The Land of Spices.” There are the cat-eyed nuns of our convent retreats in adolescence, when we were obliged to spend the day with Sister and a two-bar fire in some scorched-dust-smelling parlour discussing what Jesus meant to us; or, rather, what God meant, since nuns seem to prefer the main event.

By Niamh Campbell.

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Ghost in the Machine: so what do you have to say about the found thong? published 12/04/2017

A question I always wondered popped into my head again, me at the center of the room, performing as instructor or dancer, cutting a circle around that pulpit; cutting a circle. Turning & turning in a circle in the night, consumed by the fire. When you speak to the dead, do you ever actually want a response?

By Chris Campanioni.

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